Neil Turbin - Neil Turbin’s Deathriders, Anthrax - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com

Legendary thrash metal front man Neil Turbin has been singing up a storm from the ripe age of fourteen. Growing up on the mean streets of New York City Neil always knew that this was the path that he would walk along and has stayed on now for more than twenty years in a business that has seen so many come and go. Not only did Neil help put Anthrax on the metal map with ‘Fistful Of Metal’, his songs ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’, ‘Deathrider’ , ‘Panic’ and ‘Gung Ho’ are still being recorded & played live today by Anthrax, proving that Neil’s classic thrashing songs will live on forever. After Neil left Anthrax in 1984 he showed no signs of slowing down. Neil has been ripping it up onstage ever since. 2003 saw the release of Neil’s solo album ‘Threatcon Delta’ which was received with great acclaim in the metal community. In November 2004 Neil won best male vocalist in the south bay music awards and the people’s choice award at ‘All Access Magazine Music Awards’ proving that he can still hit it with the best of them. Neil has had the honor of performing with bands such as Metallica, Raven, Overkill and more recently Primal Fear, Motorhead, Testament and Beyond Fear. The metal thrashing madman who helped innovate the Thrash Metal genre is gearing up to release a new album with his band Neil Turbin’s Deathriders which also features Beau Simpson (Lead Guitar), Kurt James (Lead Guitar), Mike Giordano (Bass) and Gene McEwen (Drums). The new at this time untitled album will hit stores later in the year and is sure to be a killer slab from one of the metal world’s greatest singers. I recently called Neil to talk about writing & recording, his influences, his new band Neil Turbin’s Deathriders and much more. As a huge Anthrax fan I was also thrilled & honored to speak with Neil about his time with Anthrax in those early days. I hope you all enjoy reading this one as much as I enjoyed conducting it!

It’s now time to take a ride with death!


Metal Fanatix:
Hi Neil how's things mate?

Neil Turbin: Hi Cameron I’m good buddy.

Metal Fanatix: Let’s begin by talking about growing up in New York, what was that like for you?

Neil Turbin: If you want to get down to the nitty gritty, I was more than someone who was just a rebellious youth. I guess there is a concept about New York. There are a lot of things that people think & the media perceptions that people have but it is one step closer to the nuclear age than I guess other parts of the country. You get on the train, you get on the buses & people don’t look at each other. You never look in someone else’s eye unless you want blood to come out of it. In New York it’s not like you have a cursing match “fuck you, no fuck you”. In New York if you look at someone funny they punch you in the fucking mouth. It’s not a competition it’s like kill this mother fucker! So there was a certain mentality coming up in New York as far as survival of the fittest, there were people that could run fast & strike deadly on the first run. I think there’s a lot of information to know within this statement I guess because it really set the stage for the style of lyrics I would write & the perception & mental place for where a person might be. I guess that’s where I was coming from in that first Anthrax album or even before that, I just had a very aggressive nature about me. When I was in that band we wrote songs that had diversity. We didn’t just write song after another with a fast snare drum happening. Like you hear in some thrash bands, a lot of bands there in the eighties for a while were just an explosion of thrash bands & the second part of the eighties where everyone started to sound like a fast snare drum. There were other styles of music that exploded as well but it just became an over saturation.

Metal Fanatix: You started singing at a young age & formed your first band when you were 15 years old, even then at such a young age did you know this was the career path that you wanted to follow?

Neil Turbin: You know what I even started before that… I actually auditioned for this band that had a drummer named Larry Rudolph, I think he became the manager for Britney Spears or someone like that [laughs] but the guy was a great drummer. I was about 14 when I auditioned for them & they were playing Montrose songs & some other hip stuff like that. We’re talking back in 1977-78. That was the absolute first time that I had ever played with a band & that was tough, those guys had been doing it for a while. Whenever you’re a little bit on the green side it’s really a challenge, but you’ve got to learn somehow, like kids today! You’ve got to give them a break everyone needs a fair chance, that’s what it’s really about, if you want to dedicate your life to music that’s cool. Back then people would think hey you’re gonna have this wonderful life & do music & so forth. I was never really like that, I never thought about the consequences as much as me being compelled by the purpose of the creation of music. I was a writer as well as a singer & I could write my own material. I wasn’t someone who needed to perform other people’s material; I was always a big music fan.

In my case I didn’t have a family of famous actors & musicians, actually that’s not true my uncle is pretty well known in other genre of music & on the Broadway stage. But he does something that’s completely different to what I do. He’s worked with a lot of big names & played everywhere but that wouldn’t be of interest to anyone into metal [laughs]. I’d go to parties at his house & he’d have all kinds of celebrities from the Broadway stage at his house it was kind of a trip.’ Its totally unrelated to metal, no one in metal would care & no one in Broadway would really care about the people in metal [laughs] it’s a nice connection but it didn’t really take me anywhere.

Metal Fanatix: For those who don’t know the story how did you get involved with the guys in Anthrax?

Neil Turbin: Well its pretty interesting actually, I went to school with Scott Ian & Danny Lilker. We went to the same high school & came from the same neighborhood so we would bump into each other through mutual acquaintances. We weren’t really buddies or anything. Actually Scott & I were in a class together in freshmen year in high school. I was out of my first band at that point some of the guys were into drugs; some of them were into school & business etc.

One of the guitar players was a mutual friend & he had an ad out, I had an ad out & Anthrax had an ad out.

They were looking for a singer because they didn’t have one. They had people trying to sing. Not a singer but they had Scott's brother Jason trying to sing, at the time he was a 14 year old kid trying to sing. Scott basically told him “Jason you’re the singer” [laughs]. It was basically like that. Jason did do a few gigs with them. Jason’s a great guy I will actually go have a beer with him down here where I live probably today. I don’t know of any other singers at the time that was trying to sing for Anthrax.

I had heard rumors that one of the roadies John Connolly who eventually ended up in Nuclear Assault tried out, he was a friend of Danny Lilker’s & he hung around the band. But back in those days it was Jason. Jason was the person that Scott had assigned [laughs]. Basically it was Scott’s band & why was it Scott’s band? Well that’s the way it always was. Scott had the money & he had the control. I had an ad in ‘Good Times’, they called me up & I had already joined this band Amra with a friend of mine. I was committed to something, & if you’re committed to something you’re not gonna say well fuck this I’m gonna go & jump on this ship. We didn’t even meet. I said thank you very much for your interest but I already have a band.

At that age I wasn’t thinking the way I am now where you can multi task. It was stupid on my part to pass up any opportunity not just because it might have been Anthrax, but for any band. It eventually happened; I called them back because Amra didn’t work out. I called Scott back up & said “Are you guys still looking for a singer”? He said “yes” [laughs]. This was a couple of months later. The fact of the matter is there was no singer. They had Jason filling in, no matter what the media & people are saying that’s the facts. They had to use somebody & with all due respect Jason was very successful. He played drums in Reverend with David Wayne, [Metal Church] he got out there & did his own thing & I give him props & respect for that because having a successful family member in the business people tend to over look you.

I got back with Scott & we arranged a meeting, Scott & Danny came over to my house & played some tapes for one another, they figured out that I could sing & I figured out that they could play [laughs]. That’s basically what happened.

The next step was to get a copy of their stuff & I don’t know if they gave it to me then I think they did & I had to learn the material quick because we had a show in two weeks. I was in the band from September 1982 until August 1984. It’s interesting that people seem to forget that I wasn’t in the band for two weeks. It was a long time & at that age it was more than 10% of my existence on the earth. There was a lot of time spent with that band to not have gotten anything out of it, that’s really the bottom line.

Metal Fanatix: Can you share some dirt with us from your school days with Scott?

Neil Turbin: When I was in class with Scott, I was into the punk rock. I’d come in with my Sex Pistols shirt on, that’s what I was into. What’s funny is we did this project in my freshman year. We're talking tenth grade in New York at that time. We had this TV studio I even remember the teachers name but I won’t get into that, the guy eventually got arrested & put away for child pornography or something. Its really weird cause he was one of those teachers that was one of the cool guys, he wasn’t on your back & cracking a whip so that was a class that everyone was always looking forward to. We were doin' stuff on one inch video tape, just to give you an idea of when this was. I did my project on Jimi Hendrix. We did a short film & I did one on Van Halen & this was right after Van Halen II came out so we’re talking 79’ & what I did was I had the album cover, the artwork from the inner sleeve & I had ‘Runnin' With The Devil’ playing & I would zoom into David Lee Roth jumping up in the air, all the imagery from the first & second Van Halen albums & then you would hear that stuff playing. I think Scott did his on Pink Floyd or Pat Benater or something. He was into Cheap Trick actually; he had a Cheap Trick jacket his friend was into Pat Benater. It kind of gave you an idea of who was brutal & heavy [laughs]. “It’s only cool to listen to Black Sabbath all the time” no I don’t think so. I don’t have a problem saying that I listen to all kinds of music, I was into punk but I was into the real punk. When it happened was when hardcore punk became the second wave of punk music but a little bit different. A couple of the Anthrax guys, Charlie & Scott went totally wild for it they wanted to make us more like that kind of music & suddenly wanted to change what it was all about.

Metal Fanatix: Tell us about doing that first Anthrax album & the relationship with Johnny Zazula?

Neil Turbin: When we were trying to get established & innovate a genre of music & go where no man had gone before, there was Metallica & they were the leading edge. I remember they had really great songs they were very solid live & a very strong band from the get go & they had original ideas. I didn’t think they had the world’s greatest vocals, but they sure had some catchy memorable songs. It wasn’t that we weren’t original it’s because that’s who Johnny Z was behind. Johnny Z was behind Metallica. Anthrax was an afterthought to be honest.

Anthrax became more of a thought as time went on but he was really behind Metallica & kept coming back & saying you’ve gotta do this, that & the other. Everyone had there own ideas, I think when we changed drummer & guitar players I had a little bit more input into what was goin' on. I think a problem that exists in bands is like a family getting ready for dinner. You’ve got eight people trying to fuckin' cook, I’m sure you have dinner with a few different friends & I’m sure some of them cook real good & some of them should just stay out of the fuckin' kitchen. When you put them all together you get some good points & you get some bad points. You’ve got people throwing in stuff that becomes polluted instead of pure.

What happened on that first record was that pureness, that aggressiveness, tenacious type of intensity that I’m all about.

I wrote all those lyrics, it was part of who I was & where I was at. It wasn’t just some angry youth type of thing; it was a lot deeper than that. For example one song is about Greek mythology, another is about martial arts, which is on the second Anthrax album.

It’s kind of interesting reading that the other guys in Anthrax weren’t even aware of what the songs were about. It was very difficult to write songs in Anthrax because of the fact that there was all this push/pull. Everyone was trying to put their two cents in just to show up on the score card. If you want to pay everyone for a hard days work that’s fine, giving credit to people for things when they weren’t even a writer on anything! Is another story, my contribution was basically 50% & they were taking a lot more than that. I had no problem taking 20%; you’ve got words & music. The way that they put out there “Neil didn’t do that or write that” or whatever people wanna think that’s fine. They can believe whatever they want. But the fact of the matter is that I put in a lot of hard work. A lot of effort to write these songs & it was a very hard process. The thing I have to tell you Cameron is that my writing, singing skills & abilities have only grown; some people over the years just fall apart. There performance becomes less & their ability to sing high & hit those top notes disappears, but for me it’s become more. My voice is a lot fuller than I might’ve sounded like when I was eighteen years old, what do you expect? Of course things are gonna change a little bit, I’ve benefited from writing for all these years, I’ve been in bands for all these years. There hasn’t been the internet all this time. I wasn’t there to meet chicks, I wasn’t there to be a millionaire & I wasn’t there to be famous. Personally I wasn’t there to do any of those things. I mean sure it’s nice if someone pays you; it’s nice to get compensated for working. If a nice looking women wants to buy you drinks & talk to you there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s nice people like yourself would want to talk to a person like me about “tell me about yourself”, “tell me about your music”, “what’s goin' on with you” or more specific questions like you ask, these are all nice things but I think for me the most critical point is that I’ve done it because of my love & passion for my music. There’s no question that I know that I can write music that is a value to people. So the number one critic is me. I know what I have to live up to, when you’ve written songs like “Metal Thrashing Mad” & “Deathrider”, songs on my solo albums that definitely had a high standard, you know what you have to do. I have control of what I'm doin' now, before when I did my solo record I had a lot of artists helping me out. I didn’t have a band at the time. What comes out next is going to be the strongest material I have ever done. It’s more than just my band Neil Turbin’s Deathriders. I have other things in the works. There are some big things for me. I’m not trying to look good or blow it up for the media but I’m just talking about big things for me & things that are taken me to the next level, where I wanna be. In other words I'm workin' on more than one album! And it’s more than just my band lets put it that way. It’s something that I aspired to do & I totally fucked up your question [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Do you keep in contact with any of the guys these days?

Neil Turbin: My only contact with the guys in the band would be seeing them at trade shows like N.A.M.M. & other concerts or events. Back in the eighties I was walking down Sunset blvd one time & supposedly most of the band was together, I only bumped into Frank & Charlie. Frank has always been friendly, always a decent person. He doesn’t have an attitude where he can’t say hi or something he always jokes around & stuff. That’s the kind of band anthrax were, always goofing around & trying to get work done when everyone’s goofing around all the time in this peer pressure environment its like ok fine! I’m a serious guy & I’m trying to get something done. We’re out there playing with bands like Metallica & Manowar. I have a great sense of humor believe me but there’s a time & a place for everything.

Metal Fanatix: Tell me more about those early Anthrax days, writing the material for the first album, the direction the band was undertaking etc?

Neil Turbin: There were these lyrics, these songs that were substandard really. I don’t say that to put anyone down, they were good for where these guys were at that time but by no means was it anything that was to be heard on a record. We did some demos & we tried to pick out which songs we were going to record. Some of them made it & some of them didn’t. We worked for a while with those songs & one of the songs that survived through that process was “Howling Furies” which wasn’t my favorite song to sing to be quite honest & not because someone else wrote it. It just didn’t go anywhere vocally for me.

Some of the other songs had this kind of Iron Maiden feel to them, I guess that Scott listened to a lot of Iron Maiden & so did Danny, basically we had a lot of Iron Maiden sounds through the band & it wasn’t anything that really had much to do with me.

I mean I liked Iron Maiden a lot but I sure didn’t want to copy them. Once the band found out about Metallica they started to do the same thing with Metallica. It’s interesting to see that progression [laughs]. I mean everyone evolves there own way that’s what I noticed about Anthrax back when, before the defining sound of course. They had a sound not to take anything away from them but you addressed me about the early days.

My intention was really what ‘Accept’ & ‘Judas Priest’ was all about. I really wanted to take the band in that type of direction, where it was more arena focused not hardcore punk because I was already part of the punk rock scene in New York, where The Sex Pistols had played through & all those new wave bands. I worked at the same place as Deborah Harry did from Blondie when I was fifteen. I knew all those people. I used to go & see The Ramones all the time, I’d hang out with everyone who came in there like Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy & Lemmy from Motörhead this is back when I was 15. To me that was the punk rock scene to me, the real punk rock scene was The Sex Pistols, The Clash, the English bands & of course there was some American bands too but it was more the English invasion of punk. Black Flag out here from California were around then as well.

I saw Anthrax drifting in that direction & that’s when I wrote ‘Armed & Dangerous’ & was writing ‘Gung Ho’. Before I left the group we were still on that verge of one way vs the other. I know after I left they still kept a similar direction or tried to but it’s far different from what would have occurred if I had stayed there & written the rest of the second album.

There was no chemistry, there was a great chemistry on stage there was no denying that. You always knew when you were fucking killing, because you’d look over & you’d see Scott with this big goofy smile & of course there were moments where it wasn’t like that.

There was times where it was all Scott & Danny & you couldn’t get anything voted on in the band. Scott & Danny were such good buddies; I always had a point that this was supposed to be a band. Dan Lilker wasn’t doing things he was supposed to be doing in the band, he was always in sloppy looking stuff, I'm not trying to pick on him, he didn’t pay his rehearsal rent, and he wasn’t pulling his fucking weight.

When we were in the studio doing ‘I’m eighteen’ on the first record, it took him a day to cut the tracks for it, 30 takes. He could play the Iron Maiden stuff but that was all he could play. We didn’t always see things eye to eye. Dan figured he was Scott’s buddy it didn’t matter what I thought, he would always try to instigate or make things into a big joke & make fun of me.

I would be like “O.K. I'm not gonna take your shit”. And one day I didn’t, we were at Sonic Recording Studios out in Long Island. What happened was there was this deli store right around the block from the studio & we’d go there & get some drinks. There was this drink & at the time you could only get it in New York or on the east coast, now you can get it everywhere. It’s a chocolate milk drink & they had devil dogs which are like a cake with chocolate icing. It kinda looked like a dog bone with a vanilla cream filling. I sent Dan to the fuckin' store he was gonna buy stuff for everyone but he was the one going with one of the other guys. I gave him five bucks & back then that was a lot of money for me. I was being generous we were getting a box of devil dogs & two chocolate milks. The milks might have been about forty five cents back then, we’re talking early eighties, and the box of devil dogs was a dollar. So I should have had about three dollars change, dollar bills right. If he had have given me two $2 bills & some change at least he would have been honest with me. Anyway he comes back & hands me a nickel, a penny & a dime. I looked at him & I said “is that my change”? He said “yeah here’s your change”. So he’s given everyone their stuff & I looked at him & I fuckin' opened up three devil dogs & I said “here’s your devil dogs”, then smashed them right into his face.

His face was covered, he was pulling it out of his eyes like he got hit with a pie or something, the other guys in the band were looking at each other & they couldn’t control themselves from breakin' out in laughter. It was kind of funny, I wasn’t trying to be mean but the guy just stole my fuckin' money & I was not happy about it. It’s like I was telling you about new Yorkers, they don’t take shit. I mean that’s all it was. I didn’t have anything against him, he was cursing & upset but it goes to show you what happens when I send you to the store & you don’t fuckin' bring back the right amount of change, I will get pissed off at that. I don’t mind giving people presents but on my terms not there’s.

Metal Fanatix: Anthrax was heavily influenced by a lot of the same bands that I have grown up listening to. Do you feel that you have played a large role influencing a lot of today’s bands?

Neil Turbin: I find it very interesting when I get comments from people on my pages at myspace.com, ultimatemetal.com & my message board. We have played a lot of shows, not as much of course as Anthrax does because we don’t have management, booking agents & the kind of different people behind us that are gonna be your best friends. We’re getting off the ground here & they’re well on their way right? But I get blown away when people come up to me & say ‘Fistful of Metal’ is the only Anthrax album they even like. I thought there were some pretty cool things on some of their other albums. But more than just a couple of people have said that to me in other countries that we’ve played, other cities that we’ve played & even here in L.A. Do I feel like I’m this great influence? Well I know what I’ve done & I know what I’m capable of doing. I know that if I wasn’t here there would be no ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’. I wrote those songs, it’s not like I collaborated with anyone on them. I had a lot to do with what was going on back then. I tried to write with Dan Spitz but it didn’t really fit, it came out more like Van Halen or Dokken. Not really Anthrax.

Metal Fanatix: What did you think of the guys re-recording songs like ‘Deathrider’ & ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’ on last years ‘The Greater Of Two Evils’ album?

Neil Turbin: Well I was curious to why they would pull those up out of the archives to be honest; I didn’t think that anyone had any interest in the old songs I wrote when I was in Anthrax. I know that they have to pull one out from the first album every band has to do that. I think that it’s something that they wanted to do & I think that the fans wanted to hear that. I thought it was cool that John Bush would do that. Of course it’s not going to be like the original but it was never meant to be that. It was the 2004- 2005 version of that. He definitely changed some things. I didn’t buy the album or anything. I went to see Anthrax at the Greek theatre so I did hear it. It was unfortunate that the attendance there wasn’t better. Dio played a show at the Greek theatre with Anthrax & the place is half full.

Metal Fanatix: When you left Anthrax you were driving a cab around New York for a few months, how often would you pick up fans & what was there reaction?

Neil Turbin: You know what’s funny Cameron? People like to make a big deal out of that, like its some big fuckin' deal. Before I was in Anthrax & during my time in the band, I went to school for a period of time while I was in Anthrax early on & college, so did Scott everyone was involved in stuff like that. You have to get a job & support yourself, the problem was when I was in Anthrax I wasn’t getting paid anything, zero. I was pleading with Johnny Z saying “when are we going to get paid”? I’d call him up. It must have got to the point where it became a nuisance because he didn’t want to take my calls & talk to me. So we did a tour, we sold t-shirts, bandannas & we had all kinds of Anthrax merchandising. They didn’t want to listen to my ideas about it; they wanted to be very controlling. They took Scott over to Europe & England for all the promotional things.

I was excluded from that inner circle & that’s probably something that not a lot of people knew about the band. Cause there’s an inner circle & basically once Charlie joined the band it was Charlie, Scott & who ever was part of their club of course Frankie is Charlies nephew, Danny Spitz lived in upstate new York which was three hours away so he didn’t show up for most things but Danny’s father was an attorney & his family was successful he had money, equipment he had a nice place. Scott’s father was a jeweler& his mother worked for Modern Photography magazine, so Scott had a job earning five hundred bucks a week working for his father’s jewelry business. I didn’t know what five hundred dollars smelt like in those days. Scott could buy guitars, he could do all these kinds of things so basically he had control of the band because he had money & he had a car. My family didn’t have all those things so I had to work to support myself.

Metal Fanatix: During the eighties you auditioned for Vinnie Vincent’s invasion? How did that come about?

Neil Turbin: Yes that’s true. I worked with this lady who was getting me auditions & she was getting a lot of people connected in L.A. Her name was Lucy Forbes, & her company was called Rock Congress, that she ran out of her house. Really cool down to earth person. She was a promoter who booked Anthrax into the country club in Reseda. She had this company at that time called ‘Heavy Metal Night Productions’. She had Anthrax & Stryper on the bill there along with Raven. I went on a few auditions with a few bands. Lucy bought me to meet with Geoff Nichols back in the 86’ time frame & she bought me to meet up with Rudy Sarzo & Gregg Wright among a lot of other bands. With Vinnie Vincent I thought I was a good pick for that because I did the Robert Fleischman material real well. We started to track it & Vinnie really liked my voice. He wanted a high clean voice much like Robert Fleischman, I wasn’t that guy. I know Jeff Soto was doin' the same thing. Vinnie never actually came down to meet me. Everything’s over the phone with Vinnie & I thought that was kind of rude back then, nowadays you do everything over the phone, we have the technology now that we can put up a phone & say here’s what things sound like. Not necessarily with a mobile phone but a landline works clear. So I was singing stuff over the phone to Vinnie [laughs] & it was like what the fuck? I went into Cherokee studios & my experience there was pretty cool I went in & sang with Dana strum engineering. God bless Lucy for doin' that for me, she got Mark Slaughter into Vinnie Vincent’s band. If it wasn’t going to be me or Jeff Soto, it was going to be someone else & we all know how that turned out. I never actually met Vinnie which is kind of weird [laughs]. It was a weird deal. They kept me hanging on for quite a while, it wasn’t just come in for one time, they kept me goin' for a month, I think they did that with a few people & probably had different levels of interest. When I was in the studio for Vinnie Vincent, Yngwie was in there at the time & so was Journey so I got the chance to meet Steve Perry [Journey] & Randy Jackson who everyone knows now from American idol. Randy was the fuckin' coolest guy & so was Steve because they were in Journey. They were bigger than shit back then, they said to me “come on in hang out with us”. This was a band that was all over the radio, touring all over the world back then & I thought it was really cool that they were such warm people & didn’t have attitudes, it really taught me that people can actually be cool in this business they don’t have to be dickheads & that’s a good example. Randy Jackson is a very humble guy, I'm sure he hasn’t changed much & Steve Perry another very nice guy. I’m sure if you work with them it’s a little different; they know what there time is worth. They were nice people they didn’t know who I was. I just had to mention that because I’ve never had a chance to before.

Metal Fanatix: Now let’s talk about the new band Neil Turbin's Deathriders? Gene McEwen from Steel Prophet recently joined the band, how is he settling in?

Neil Turbin: Oh he’s great man a great drummer, better than any other drummer we’ve played with. He’s a machine, he can play all the Dream Theater stuff, all that serious off time drumming, Gene plays double bass, all the double time & all the speed metal. I can’t be playing Deathrider & panic & the majority of the material on my up & coming next album which is a double bass onslaught without a drummer who can’t handle the material. It’s not all the same tempo of course but its heavy double bass drumming, you’ve got to have feet [laughs] that are just as limber & as fast as your hands.

Metal Fanatix: Did you guys hold auditions for a new drummer or was it more like calling up a friend?

Neil Turbin: I don’t do any auditions, I don’t like cattle calls. Actually Kurt James & I had a band back in the eighties & we auditioned over a hundred drummers. We passed on people like Mike Terrana [laughs]. Mike Terrana’s one of the greatest drummers out there & we passed on him. Maybe it was image, maybe his drum kit wasn’t perfect? There are a lot of things that can go wrong. The playing has got to be up to speed but even more important to me than the playing is the person. You have to have a person that you’re going to get along with. Of course we’re not going to have a drummer who’s not gonna play double bass & not gonna play great, but most important thing to have a person who is a human being.

Metal Fanatix: A few weeks back now you guys played the ‘Thrash against Cancer’ benefit how did that come about?

Neil Turbin: I booked the show myself with the promoters, I’m friends with pretty much all the bands that were on the bill, I don’t know some of them & some I’m not too familiar with like Testament. Hirax are good friends of mine, Dreams of Damnation are very good friends of mine. These are all great bands, legendary musicians really if you look at people like Jim Durkin from Dark Angel & Dreams of Damnation & Loana they’re just amazing. Loana does everything that male singers in her genre do, she’s just as phenomenal & Hirax are such an underrated band, I’ve seen them live a hundred times. They’re great guys & I love that band. Being able to share the stage & the same bill with not just one of my friends but more than one & playing with Testament, playing for a cause such as fighting against cancer trying to help families that may have been affected by this disease. I think it was something that we were very honored to be apart of. We have always wanted to be apart of the fight against cancer it’s such a terrible & at this point incurable illness. I do it for the love of music as you know so to go & help out families & do something positive with our music especially metal music was great. Metal gets such a fuckin' bad wrap out there. And to be able to say hey were trying to help our community, help our people & do something good for our fellow brothers & sisters of metal that to me is worth that. Would I do it again? I’d do it again over & over. Any opportunity I had I’d do it where it’s possible. It was a lot of fun it was a great metal love fest to be around all the other bands.

Metal Fanatix: You guys also played at the Monterrey Metal Festival & did a show the night before the festival in Mexico how did that go?

Neil Turbin: That was a different experience, but with good friends, the guys in Metal Church, Motörhead, and Danzig were on the bill. It was a lot of fun, me and Ripper Owens played together. He came up & sang with me that was really cool. It was funny because we played at the same place that Anthrax were at a month before. We had that place sold out. Then we played the Monterrey Metal Festival the next day. I think I had three hours of sleep in between the shows. We were supposed to go on at ten pm & we ended up going on after midnight. We were on the plane ride coming back from Mexico & the plane nearly went down. I was on the plane with Lemmy, Danzig, my band & a few others.

Metal Fanatix: That would have been a horrific experience I’m sure.

Neil Turbin: Oh yeah, the flight attendants were screaming. On the way out of there when the pilot was standing by the entrance I just looked him in the eye & said “tell me something? That was a very close call wasn’t it”? I was looking at his eyes to see his reaction I don’t know how much English he spoke but he said “very dangerous”. I said “that’s what I thought”. We flew into the eye of a storm over Mexico the plane started shaking it wasn’t like a drop it was shaking left & right, we saw the wings bend up. The guys in my band were talking to Lemmy after it all, Lemmy said I thought we were gonna hit the ground a bit sooner than expected. And for Lemmy to say that! The guy has been on more planes then days both of us have woken up.

Metal Fanatix: When is the new album due out?

Neil Turbin: Well to be honest I haven’t recorded it yet, we’re writing it right now. We’re getting past song number five & we have five to seven more. I’m not the type of person who writes twenty five songs than chooses the best ten. I figure lets write the best fuckin' twelve & we’ve got ten tracks plus a couple of bonus tracks. I can always re-record every song that I’ve ever written with Anthrax, I could sing it better. I could have it recorded better, no ripping performances, just from a stand point of energy. I’m not trying to say that those performances weren’t great but a lot of my songs that I wrote in Anthrax weren’t even sung by me. Quite a few of the ones that weren’t sung by me were recorded in such a poor capacity & I don’t think they have any interest in remastering it, they have their own agenda, their own business plan & in my case there is no reason why I shouldn’t do it.

Not to say I am going to go & ride anyone’s coat tails, I would be the last person to go & put together a thrash band & push the next Anthrax thing a little further from the time I left Anthrax, which would have been great timing to do that but that was not my intention, I went in a bit of a different direction & popular music at that time was bands like Mötley Crüe, Poison, Bon Jovi & Whitesnake. Bands like Metallica were up & coming, making ground but pretty much it was a struggle out there. Then there was an over saturation of these thrash bands as I mentioned then of course you had grunge come out in the nineties and that was a buzz killer if there ever was one for metal.

Metal Fanatix: Can we expect to see you in Australia anytime soon?

Neil Turbin: You know what I wish I could say that. Because it only takes money [laughs] to get our asses to Australia. It’s the air fair to get five people there, rental cars & a venue [laughs] or a few venues. If it’s a festival, a few venues, we would love to play Australia as you would know everyone that you’d talk to would love to come over to Australia it’s a beautiful country. I’d love to be there. Hopefully you guys won’t have to wait too long.

Metal Fanatix: Neil tell us who some of your influences have been over the years?

Neil Turbin: One person who has been an influence of mine & I have the good fortune of being friends with not much lately because he got remarried but Glenn Hughes, back in the nineties me & Glenn would hang out quite a bit, I’ve been to a few places with Glenn. We went to Jeff Soto’s wedding together, I helped him buy his home theatre, hung out with him back when I was cool enough [laughs]. It’s funny because he was always someone that I looked up to musically. I’m a big Thin Lizzy head. I’m totally into Thin Lizzy & John Sykes, that whole world of music I’ve got every release. You must know who Jimmy Barnes is right?

Metal Fanatix: Oh yeah I know who he is.

Neil Turbin: I think Barnes at some point was the Australian equivalent to Michael Bolton back in the eighties & he had that potential to be far reaching. I just think his career is pretty phenomenal. What Jimmy Barnes is, is a metal singer he is someone who could have sung for Ac/dc if he really wanted to & if they had a job opening. His voice is powerful, unique & very dynamic. He has great control. He has a soulful ability as well as a metal ability & it’s pretty evident in his body of work. I really love what he did with John Farnham as well.

Metal Fanatix: Laughs

Neil Turbin: Hey I’m a singer so I like singers.

Metal Fanatix: Its just really funny hearing you mention vocalists like John Farnham and Jimmy Barnes.

Neil Turbin: He’s all balls to the wall, Jimmy is fuckin' high octane he gives his heart & soul & rips & tears as a singer. I love that kind of a singer & there’s no bullshit, he’s really done a lot more of the R n B & Blues based stuff, but a voice like that can cut through the air. He’s a very loud singer. Of course without a question we could move on to some of my other favorite bands that I like. I mentioned the Australian bands because shit you’re from Australia & you’re there in Australia. I can tell you about other bands. I had the first Rose Tattoo album because my girlfriend at the time before Anthrax was working at the Management Company in New York that was handling them. I knew all about Angry Anderson & their style of music back in oh it must have been 1979 – 80. I really loved them because they were just bad ass. You had a few bands that had the sound that was in the AC/DC world. You had Krokus & you had Def Leppard & a few others. But Krokus actually back in the earlier days was just a phenomenal band & they had really great songs, that singer Marc Storace what an amazing voice. He’s not a fuckin' copycat of AC/DC plenty of people get all confused just because you have a little bit of that raw sound in your voice doesn’t mean that you’re trying to sound like AC/DC.

Metal Fanatix: I was only listening to those guys just over a week ago & was thinking to myself that he could have easily have replaced Bon Scott.

Neil Turbin: He would have been an amazing choice. He still has that power & same ability today I think even more so than Brian Johnson. I don’t know if Brian blew out his voice or it’s because he’s up there in age. It’s not easy to sing that stuff & if you sing that style & your voice is natural than that’s fine but I think Jimmy Barnes voice is that natural flavor, I don’t know if Brian Johnson is putting on a little texture in his voice. It’s like there is this texture switch & if I turn it to the right to much you might blow my voice & get the screeching goin' on.

There’s a singer in the band Accept Udo Dirkschneider, an amazing talented singer & his voice is naturally like that & you hear him sing on anything that he does its always got that screechy element, there’s just a little bit of that Bon Scott quality in their. Udo would have been a great choice in his hey day. Udo still rocks. When it comes to Brian Johnson though I have to give the guy all the credit in the world & AC/DC is not replacing their singer [laughs]. I’m hypothetically saying who could sing like that & stand up to the test of time as they say. Motörhead are another great band that I grew up on.

Metal Fanatix: Out of all the newer hard rock/metal bands, who are you currently listening to?

Neil Turbin: Talking about some of the more modern bands, you might think I’m talking about Linkin Park or Disturbed or some of the Ozzfest bands, personally I think Disturbed is one of the better ones out of all of those bands. But I’m more into the progressive power metal. I like Symphony X, Nocturnal Rights, and Dream Theatre. I like the bands with great singers like Russell Allen from Symphony X, great singer & I like Primal Fear. I like Tobis Sammet in Edguy to me those are bands that excite me; those are bands that are taken it to the next level. Edguy are as commercial as any pop band I have ever heard but as heavy as hell. To me it’s the good songs if you can walk away after hearing a song & hear the melody in your head that’s the markings of a great song.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t like other bands, I could mention more but some of these other bands you really need to go out of your way to know about them. I think Sweden is a hot bed for great bands & Germany is as well. Anything that comes out of those two countries I am very interested in knowing about. I don’t just listen to one fuckin' band & never pull the cd out. The problem with a lot of that nu metal is a lot of the bands are tuned down because they can’t sing the way a normal singer would. A lot of Nu-metal is just disappointing. They don’t do anything different from the one before.

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

Neil Turbin: Become a lawyer. Then when people try to fuck with you, you can sue their fucked up ass. I’d become an attorney if I could start all over. Why wouldn’t you become an attorney? You can afford to pay for shit, you can go where ever you want & then when anyone wants to fuck with you, O.K. we will see you in court. It’s good to know how the business works & how contracts work then you won’t end up like me where I got fuckin' ripped off & taken to the cleaners. Play your music & keep your focus on the music not all the other stuff, the drugs etc. That’s one problem that I don’t have. I’m focused on the music not the fringe benefits.

Metal Fanatix: Well Neil thanks again for your time today, I have really enjoyed speaking to you. Do you have any last words for the readers?

Neil Turbin: Stay metal thrashing mad & check out my next album, which will probably be called ‘Diary of a Metal Thrashing Mad Man’. It will be Neil Turbin’s Deathriders, it is a band it’s not just some solo project or some ego trip. I will also be coming out with a metal album with another band, so keep a look out for that. It’s been really nice talking to ya Cameron. Be well!

To keep up with all the latest news on Neil Turbin’s Deathriders you can visit the following websites:


http://www.neilturbin.com - Official website
http://www.myspace.com/neilturbin - Neil’s myspace website
http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com - Dedicated to 40 years of pure hard rock & metal music

You can catch Neil Turbin’s Deathriders at the following:

9/24/2005 San Marcos, CA

The Jumping Turtle

1660 Capalina Road
San Marcos, CA 92069-1208

Neil Turbin’s Deathriders will be playing along side…
Helstar
Agent Steel
Cryudown
The Midas Touch

For more tour dates keep it posted to the websites listed above!

© Cameron Edney August 2005 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.