Rob Caggiano - Anthrax - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com

The last twelve months have been very busy for one time Anthrax axe-man Rob Caggiano. With Anthrax currently out on the road with the ‘Among the Living’ line-up and no one really knowing what’s install after the tour is over, Rob has been keeping very busy both behind the scenes and onstage. Recently Rob joined fellow RoadRunner artists onstage to celebrate the 25th anniversary, Rob has also been hard at work in the studio producing and mixing bands such as A Life Once Lost, Cradle of Filth and the recently released Bleeding Through album ‘The Truth’. I caught up with Rob to talk about his work on these projects. We also spoke about the 2004 Australian Anthrax tour, Rob’s first encounter with Anthrax, the current state of heavy metal, the future & more. Strap yourself into the Cadillac Rock Box it’s time to take a ride with Rob Caggiano!

Metal Fanatix: Hi Rob, thanks for putting some time aside to answer the following questions for all of our readers. You have been really busy these last few months & we will hopefully get to everything, I want to start by talking about the recent Roadrunner 25th anniversary show. It must have been a great experience playing on stage with so many great artists, how did you get involved in the show?

Rob Caggiano: Oh it was a blast. My friend Mike Gitter over at Roadrunner contacted me about the show. I guess they had everything together for the show except the keyboard player situation. I thought it would be fun, & it definitely was, I just wish I was playing guitar that night! [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: Rob, I want to congratulate you on doing a fantastic job on the last Cradle of Filth album ‘Nymphetamine’, how did you initially get involved with the guys?

Rob Caggiano: Thank you! I got involved with Cradle on the Damnation record. They were looking for a mixer, so I had my manager at the time contact them. I've been a Cradle of Filth fan for a long time & I definitely have a feel for their music. To make a long story short I ended up mixing one track for them & they loved it. The rest is evil history.

Metal Fanatix: I remember reading an interview with Dani Filth surrounding the recording of ‘Nymphetamine’. In the interview Dani went on to talk about the “curse” put upon them from stealing a bronze horse’s head from a pub, having three guitar amps blow up, a bass cabinet set on fire, among other things that happened I believe your guitar that you swear stays in tune also wouldn’t stay in tune [laughs], looking back at the time spent in the studio during the making of that album did you & the guys laugh most of this off or really put it down to a curse?

Rob Caggiano: [Laughs] There is always an amazing amount of strange stuff surrounding a Cradle record! It's just the way it is! I embrace it at this point because I believe that it adds to the record in a weird indirect kinda way. It definitely affects the final result. Funny shit nonetheless!

Metal Fanatix: You’re currently working on the new Cradle album, can we expect much of the same sound that we heard on Nymphetamine?

Rob Caggiano: Umm, I think this record is gonna be a lot more varied than the last one. The feel of the new stuff is a little more "groove" oriented & in a lot of ways that translates into being "heavier". We're also doing a couple of cover tunes that are sure to shock the shit out of people....very bent! [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: Oh Awesome, I look forward to hearing those. Besides your work with Cradle of Filth you also produced & mixed the recently released Bleeding Through album ‘The Truth’, were you pleased with the final product?

Rob Caggiano: I think "The Truth" is an incredible record on many different levels. I just listened to it top to bottom for the first time yesterday & it totally rules! It's hard to gauge how good a record really is when I'm in the middle of it because I just get too close to the music. Anyone that's a fan of heavy music will be into the Bleeding Through record. It's brutally heavy, melodic & the playing is amazing it’s like being clobbered over the head with a really nice sledgehammer [laughs]. We worked really hard on it & I'm extremely proud of the end result. To all the people reading this right now, Pick up the new Bleeding Through record ‘The Truth’ immediately or forever walk the earth with "little horns"!

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] Great quote dude. Rob you have been keeping very busy which is great to see, besides working with the bands mentioned above you also recently produced work by Agony Scene, & A Life Once Lost, is this something you are looking at doing more than actually getting out & recording/touring yourself?

Rob Caggiano: I've been producing/mixing records for a long time now & I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. As far as playing & touring goes, I will definitely be out there again soon. I still have a lot to say as a musician/performer so I basically have no choice but to get out there & play. I have some stuff cooking right now. Hmmm!

Metal Fanatix: For those who don’t know; being the producer basically makes you the boss in the studio, how do these guys take your direction, is there fight after fight going on or is it all very casual & calm?

Rob Caggiano: Every band is totally different. It's usually pretty calm though. The bottom line is this: I will always give my opinions & ideas to the band but at the end of the day it's their record! If the band isn't feeling a particular idea it just doesn't get used. I'm not an asshole like that. The only thing I ask is that they at least try it & live with it for a day. Having said that I've been pretty lucky as far as that stuff goes. Even the most stubborn band members usually end up loving the new ideas after trying them out. A lot of times my ideas will inspire a band to come up with their own ideas that are even better. This is rock n roll, it should be fun. That's one of the most important things to me. If its not gonna be fun in the studio then I'd rather not do the record regardless of how much money is involved.

Metal Fanatix: When we spoke earlier in the week you told me that you just relocated to Los Angeles & that you are currently setting up your new studio, tell us more about the studio, is it open to all bands or just friends & why did you choose Los Angeles when these days it really wouldn’t matter where studios are based?

Rob Caggiano: Well, my partner Eddie Wohl & I (Scrap 60) have been running our own studio for a long time now. We were New York City based for the past two years but I really felt it was time for a change. I can't fucking stand the weather in New York City [laughs]! I always loved LA & it's definitely a great place for making noise. Anyway, our studio only gets used by us for the records we work on. It's not a commercial studio at all.

Metal Fanatix: Rob I’d like to talk to you about your time with Anthrax; tell me about your first encounter with the guys?

Rob Caggiano: I've known the Anthrax guys for a long time now. I've been a fan since as long as I can remember so the first time I got together with them it was a trip! I remember being really nervous at the first rehearsal [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: Yeah, [laughs] I’d be exactly the same, tell us about that first rehearsal, what did the guys ask you about, do you remember what they asked you to play etc?

Rob Caggiano: Umm I think we just went over a bunch of stuff. It wasn't like a proper audition. It was more like an Anthrax rehearsal (very rare in & of itself) [laughs] that I sat in on. I think everyone kinda knew where I was coming from as a guitar player before hand & a lot of their stuff is like second nature for me because I've been a fan for so long. It was just a matter of getting back into "guitar player" mode for me because I took some time off from playing back then. I like to do that every now & then to avoid getting into "ruts" & to keep everything fresh. I'm definitely not one of those guys that practices for hours on end. In fact, I can honestly say that I don't practice at all, in the traditional sense anyway.

At the time when I started playing with them, I hadn't picked up the guitar in about eight months so it really felt great to get back into it. Like I said earlier, I've been an Anthrax fan for a very long time. I think I learned most of the ‘Among the Living’ record when I was around twelve or thirteen years old & I knew most of the John Bush stuff already so it was all pretty familiar to me [laughs]. Actually that first day had a bit of a "Twilight Zone" feeling for me but the vibe between all of us was definitely great.

Metal Fanatix: In 2004 you toured Australia with the guys, for what can only be classed as a whirlwind tour. What memories do you have from the tour?

Rob Caggiano: That tour ruled! The shows were fucking sick! I only wish I had more time to check out Australia. We were basically playing every day with no days off & we had to fly to every gig. It was pretty chaotic to say the least. The only thing I remember about Australia is how great the shows were, because that's all I saw! [laughs] I can't wait to get back there!

Metal Fanatix: So you have plans to return to Australia in the future?

Rob Caggiano: Oh Yes, definitely.

Metal Fanatix: Now, I won’t go into the whole Anthrax reunion with you, I’m sure everyone knows exactly how you feel about that, what I do want to know is do you think you will ever work with the guys again down the track?

Rob Caggiano: I really don't know. I wish I could give you definite answers about this shit but they've been so elusive & mysterious about everything that I really don't know what's gonna happen. I'll just say this; there is a lot of stuff that needs to get worked out between Anthrax & myself before I would even consider going back to playing with them. Some people might think I'm bitter after reading my last interview with the "Reunion Bashers Club" (that still makes me laugh!!) about this reunion etc. I was just speaking from my heart, as a fan & as a friend. The fact that they went & did a reunion tour doesn't make me bitter at all, it's not like I'm sitting at home right now with my thumb up my ass. I just don't agree with the way things have been handled on a lot of levels. I know the guys in Anthrax weren't too pleased when they saw that interview either but they had to know they were gonna rub some people the wrong way by going about things the way they did. I'm one of those people! They know exactly where I'm coming from. I still wish them luck in whatever they decide to do.

Metal Fanatix: Rob, thanks for your thoughts, I can understand where you’re coming from. Let’s talk about being on the road! What’s the most ridiculous thing you have ever asked for on a tour rider?

Rob Caggiano: I'm easy, just give me a bottle of Johnny Walker Black & I'm good for the night [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have shared the stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most & could you share a funny road story with us from the tour?

Rob Caggiano: I had a lot of fun touring with Motorhead. I really like those guys on a personal level. Phil Campbell rules! I also had an amazing time touring with Judas Priest. Glenn & K.K. are amazing! It was a weird feeling looking over by my amp & seeing K.K. Downing rocking out back there, it was just too fucking cool! It was also a lot of fun touring with Lamb of God...I love that band!!!

Metal Fanatix: What's the strangest/funniest thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

Rob Caggiano: I fell down a couple of times but that's no big deal, oh I don't know.

Metal Fanatix: Do you do anything specific to warm up & prepare for a show?

Rob Caggiano: Not really. I usually have these oriental balls that I warm up my hands with but I never play guitar before going on stage.

Metal Fanatix: Did you always want to be a guitarist?

Rob Caggiano: I always wanted to be a musician. I've been playing guitar & drums since I was nine years old. In fact I first started out playing drums & then switched my focus a couple of years later. I still play drums whenever I get a chance, I just like to make noise! [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] Me too, what was the first guitar you owned?

Rob Caggiano: The first guitar was a Montoya Strat.

Metal Fanatix: Using only five words, how would you describe your playing?

Rob Caggiano: This is a weird question [laughs]. I don't know: Aggressive, Melodic, Fiery, Rhythmic, Loud, Drunk....oops that was six. [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] That’s o.k. I’ll let it slide this time [laughs]. Rob, from all the albums you have appeared on & or produced, what one would be your favorite to listen to & why?

Rob Caggiano: Oh I don't know. I've done quite a few records that I'm proud of so I'm not sure where to begin. I love the Bleeding Through ‘The Truth’, A Life Once Lost ‘Hunter’, The Agony Scene ‘Darkest Red’, Cradle of Filth ‘Nymphetamine’ & Anthrax ‘We've Come For You All’ records each for different reasons.

Metal Fanatix: In your honest opinion what do you think about the direction that Hard Rock & Heavy Metal music has taken over the last few years?

Rob Caggiano: I think it's great that the heavy music scene has been so active over the past few years. A lot of great bands came out of that whole movement. I love Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Bleeding Through etc. Unfortunately it seems like it's all getting a little stagnant right now though. There are too many bands doing the same thing so the sound becomes less effective. It happens with every genre of music. There's always gonna be a few bands that really push the boundaries & then you have all these other bands following in their footsteps. I think heavy music is gonna change very soon too. Bands like Pig Destroyer, Cult of Luna, 1349, Deathspell Omega etc are really pushing the boundaries a lot!

Metal Fanatix: What advice do you have for up & coming rock/metal bands?

Rob Caggiano: Well I would start off by telling them to make sure they really want to make music their life. It's definitely not easy to stay afloat in the music business lately & with the way everything is changing due to downloading & iPods etc it's only getting harder! On a more positive note, they should keep writing! There are so many different variables that contribute to a bands success or failure, but it really all boils down to the music. If the music rules & you stick with it, success will find you.

Metal Fanatix: Rob you have had the pleasure of working with many talented musicians, who do you think you have learnt the most from?

Rob Caggiano: I learn things every time I work with a new band. Every situation is different.

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] I believe you’re a huge fan of vampire books? Have you read any decent books lately?

Rob Caggiano: I'm reading a book right now called Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It's not a vampire book but it totally rules. It's a great tale about English magic etc...

Metal Fanatix: Awesome, I’m a huge horror movie fan myself, is it just the books that interest you or the movies too?

Rob Caggiano: I love horror movies! Dani Filth and I just watched a film called ‘The Descent’, it was fucking killer! Very black metal-esque! [Laughs]

Metal Fanatix: I haven’t heard of that one I will have to check it out. Rob, thanks so much for your time today, it’s been great speaking with you. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Rob Caggiano: Metal up your ass!

To Keep Up To Date With All The Latest News On Rob Check Out The Following Websites

http://www.myspace.com/rcaggiano - Rob Caggiano MySpace Site
http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com - Dedicated to 40 years of hard rock & metal music
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/INSIDE_OUT666 - INSIDE_OUT666 Yahoo Group

© Cameron Edney January, February 2006 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.