We’d been trying many weeks to arrange this interview with Neil Turbin, the original Anthrax frontman and current singer of a relatively new outfit called Deathriders. The guys are gearing up for their first studio album and we didn’t need a better “excuse” in order to track down Neil for all the details. One thing was obvious right from the start of this exclusive interview: Neil is a passionate man who loves heavy metal music…actually, he is first a metal fan and then a musician associated with metal music!
Interview: Sakis Nikas
Rockpages.gr: Neil, you are about to release an album with your band Deathriders. Before you tell us a few details about it, would you like to tell us how did you decide to form the band?
Neil Turbin: I did a solo album back in 2001 and the whole idea was to have a touring, a live band to support the new material. So, I decided to gather a bunch of really capable and remarkable musicians and that was actually the basis of Deathriders.
Rockpages.gr: “Back With A Vengeance” is the title of the upcoming record. How long did it take to write and record the whole thing?
Neil Turbin: “Back with a vengeance” is our tag-line! Nowadays, with all the major steps in technology, there are many possibilities and we have the ability to work in remote capacities over the same album. So, in our case, the work was divided in between the studio in Phoenix and Sweden where we collaborated with a gentleman called Jonas. All in all, the recording process is different in comparison with the past. The songs are being put together and with the aid of Pro-Tools we handle things more easily. With Deathriders, we don’t have a label to support us but on the other hand we are not pushed to come up with new material. So, we take it slowly and go with our own pace.
Rockpages.gr: In this time and age, with the overload of releases, which is the best reason for a metal fan to choose the album?
Neil Turbin: Sakis, I’ll be honest with you…I don’t really care if people will buy it or not. We can’t do much about it…there is the download thing and there are obviously many new bands around…Deathriders creates music for all the true metal fans out there. We are metal fans ourselves and we support all the good metal bands. Obviously, our album will be appreciated more by the old-school fans, but the truth is and that’s how I see it…Deathriders brings a new breath of air to the metal sound.
Rockpages.gr: The name of the band is an obvious reference to your past and the album that you recorded with Anthrax (“Fistful of Metal”). Is it really a blessing or a curse to have your name linked with such an established act?
Neil Turbin: The fact of the matter is that I’m linked with the fucking name whether I like it or not. I have every right to use the name…after all, I wrote the song. You know, once you get involved in something successful, then people automatically link you to that period of your life…it’s like the case of an actor who finds himself tied up in a role and people almost refuse to see him playing any other role…they put you in a category! Deathriders is an original metal band and if people or even Anthrax don’t like the name or the attitude of the group…well, Fuck’em!
Rockpages.gr: You were a member of Anthrax for almost two years. What was the reason behind your departure?
Neil Turbin: I was a member of Anthrax from August 1982 up until August 1984. I was a member of Anthrax for exactly two years. The reason I left…well, there were a number of things, actually. The whole relationship started to deteriorate after a while, there was definitely backstabbing from certain people who chose to hang around with other people instead of focusing in the band. I was into metal…focused on music while Scott Ian and Charlie Benante formed an alliance and Dan Spitz just followed. In a matter of months it was simply a case of them versus me. It was very difficult to deal with them, because it was obvious that we wouldn’t get along and they were also more interested in other things than music…at least back then. We didn’t establish a trusted friendship within the band…that’s for sure!
Rockpages.gr: I guess that you haven’t kept in touch with them, right?
Neil Turbin: There is no reason to see your ex-girlfriend!
Rockpages.gr: Whose idea it was to cover Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen”?
Neil Turbin: Scott was the one who really wanted to do it. I really wanted to do a Bon Scott song…maybe, “If You Want Blood” or “Highway To Hell”. Let me tell you something about “Fistful of Metal”…you don’t need to be a genius to realize that the production was horrendous. Whereas, Scott and Charlie had two weeks to record their parts, I had only a couple of days to record my vocals…you get the picture? Carl Canedy did a hell of a job…I mean, he tried but with a 10.000-15.000-dollar budget, one cannot do much!
Rockpages.gr: Neil, you have a very distinguished voice and you are considered a really capable singer. Which were your influences?
Neil Turbin: I really appreciate great singers regardless the style or the genre…I admire Paul Rodgers for his great ability and his unique vocal range. Also, Glenn Hughes for soulful style…we are friends and he has been a great influence. The other day, I had the luck to meet Stevie Wonder in the airport and get to shake his hand…he is one of my heroes I’ve been blessed to have met some really important musicians, but I don’t want to isolate singers…I love metal music…all kind of bands from Loudness, Sortilege, Blitzkrieg, Raven, Accept to Nocturnal Rites –this guy has a spectacular voice-, Hellhound from Japan, Symphony X, Kreator, Destruction…you name it!
Rockpages.gr: Characterize with a single word or phrase the music of Deathriders…
Neil Turbin: Fierce!