Singer Neil Turbin Talks About Anthrax Years
Marko Syrjälä and Jarno Huovila of Metal-Rules.com recently conducted an interview with former ANTHRAX vocalist Neil Turbin. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Metal-Rules.com: How did you end up joining ANTHRAX back in the day?
Neil Turbin: I put out an ad out in what was called Good Times magazine. After the issue was out for about 3 or 4 weeks, Scott [Ian] called me and asked if I would be interested in his band called ANTHRAX as they were looking for a singer for months and had just started to do some shows. I then proceeded to tell him that I was in a band called AMRA for a month at that point and only lasted a few months. This was back in early 1982. I saw an ad in Good Times magazine from a month previous and it turned out to be Scott and ANTHRAX. Scott sounded reluctant on the telephone. Scott and Danny Lilker came over to my house in Bayside, NY and we then proceeded to play demos and live tapes for each other. At the time out of necessity they were using Scott's brother Jason Rosenfeld who was 13 or 14 years old. Then I met with the other guys in the band at rehearsal: Greg Walls and Dave Weiss. Soon after that I met the ANTHRAX roadies, Scott Setari, Tom Beach and John Connelly, who were buddies of Dan Lilker and Scott. Greg told me years later how Scott had said that he didn't want me in the band in the first place, but Greg, Danny and Dave all voted me in. They told me they were looking for an experienced singer and I already had a history and had experience playing the NYC club circuit with numerous gigs at Max's Kansas City, Great Gildersleeves, CBGBs, etc. I had two weeks to learn all of ANTHRAX's material and play at Great Gildersleeves in September 1982. It was interesting material at the time which was a mixture of classic heavy metal, hard rock and some IRON MAIDEN riffs thrown together for those of you out there who might have early ANTHRAX demos you know what I'm talking about. It was very guitar riff-oriented, but not really tailored for the vocals. Since everything was more or less in the key of E and tuned to standard A440, which makes you sing in a much higher range than if you were tuned to E flat or dropped D as most metal bands are tuned to today.
Metal-Rules.com: Did you have any idea about the business side of things back then?
Neil Turbin: I was not fully acclimated into business yet and to be honest, I was very naive about the entire process. I was purely an artist for art's sake and out to create the best music I could dream up. I did not consult with attorneys, I was not prepared to fight with sharks, savages and bloodsuckers. I should have because that's who we were dealing with. There was no exit clause in our contract and I helped establish the brand during the time I was in the band. I never saw a penny for any merchandise that was ever sold during the two years while I was in the band. I once called Johnny Z and asked him for $200 and a tour jacket that he was giving away to everyone else in the band. He told me "No" on the $200 and asked me to pay for the tour jacket. I told him he could pay for the tour jacket himself out of all the money he'd been making from T-shirts and album sales or go find somebody else to sing for free. It was great, because that night we played Roseland and it was the one and only time I had my own hotel room and dressing room on the tour. It was cool because I had some people backstage that were actually nice and fun to be with like Richie Stotts from THE PLASMATICS. What happened after that was already set in stone.
Metal-Rules.com: Do you still get paid royalties from the songs you wrote for ANTHRAX?
Neil Turbin: The answer is yes to "Fistful of Metal", but NO on the other albums with my songs on them. There are albums on Island, Universal and Sanctuary that have songs I've written on them, like "Deathrider", "Metal Thrashing Mad", "Panic", "Gung Ho" and "Armed and Dangerous" that I have never received any royalties on. ANTHRAX has re-recorded my songs several times and I have not seen DIME ONE!
Metal-Rules.com: Is it really true that you fired Dan Lilker back in the day?
Neil Turbin: No, not at all. No one gave me the keys to the kingdom, I wasn't in charge of ANTHRAX and never had that kind of decision-making power over the rest of the band. We were a band on a record label, so no, I didn't have that kind of control over the band. No one died and left me in charge. It was a band decision and not my personal decision. The label and management were behind the bands decision to replace Dan Lilker. There were four members in the band and the three other than myself could've outvoted me, if they wanted to. Scott called Dan Lilker and broke the news to him. Scott called me the same exact way. That was before they invented email. They just used me as a scapegoat after I was out of the band. If they wanted him so badly, why didn't they invite him back to rejoin the band when they had the chance?
Metal-Rules.com: What about Dan Spitz?
Neil Turbin: You mean Dan "THE DIVA" Spitz? Dan Spitz had this HUMONGOUS EGO, was highly opinionated, high maintenance and Napoleonic. He tried to jump on the bandwagon and blame me and say I had lead singer's syndrome, but anyone who has read his interviews can attest to the fact that Dan is the opposite of humble.I can remember a few times when we tried to write together, we once tried to write a theme song for a WWF wrestler named Sergeant Slaughter (CraZed Management's brilliant idea) and the parts he would come up with sounded like something a fan of VAN HALEN would come up with. It certainly didn't sound like ANTHRAX! We couldn't get it to work, so we abandoned it. When I showed him my guitar riff for the verse in "Death from Above" on my 1978 Gibson Explorer when he was over at my house, he claimed it for his own after he conveniently forgot to remember I wrote it. The reason I didn't write more music is because the guitar players in the band did not want to listen to or respect my musical ideas since they had their own strong opinions. Hence the then working environment and politics of the band. Dan was really a part-time band member of the band since he lived in Orangeburg, New York, a couple of hours away and he would infrequently come to band rehearsals that everyone else were at five nights a week. I went out of my way to try to get him into the band, to convince him because we needed a hot lead guitar player and thought his pentatonic scales were interesting at the time.
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