DAN LILKER Says He Is ‘Just Filling In’ For FRANK BELLO At Upcoming ANTHRAX Shows: ‘I’m Doing My Friends A Favor’

Earlier this week, ANTHRAX announced that, due to personal reasons, bassist Frank Bello will not be able to accompany the band on its upcoming South American tour, set to kick off April 13 at MXMF The Metal Fest in Mexico City. Filling in on those dates, as well as two U.S. festival shows in May, will be ANTHRAX founding member and original bassist Dan Lilker, marking his first appearance with the band in 40 years. Lilker, who co-wrote and played on ANTHRAX‘s debut album “Fistful Of Metal”, was also a member of STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH with ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante and guitarist Scott Ian.

Asked in a new interview with Metal Mayhem ROC when he was first approached about reuniting with ANTHRAX for the aforementioned shows, Lilker said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “I was actually contacted, I guess, about a month ago… I had a lot more advance notice than when everybody just found out a couple of days ago. It was just that’s when the press release went public. So, yeah, about a month, ’cause I needed some time to learn some of the material, obviously, to play it correctly and play it with authority, too. You don’t wanna just learn it; you wanna play it with confidence and look like you’re up there being metal and not tentative. So, yeah, you could say late February, early March, something like that.”

Pressed about whether there was a reason given as to why Bello isn’t able to commit to these shows, Dan said: “Well, we’re just saying personal reasons. I am not at liberty to say. But Frank is fine and the picture of health, and it’s nothing like that. But [it’s] nothing I can go into; it’s not my place.”

Regarding what his initial reaction was to being asked to play these ANTHRAX shows, Lilker said: “I got a text from Scott when he was in Japan on tour with MR. BUNGLE. And I was actually at work. I work in precision optics [at the Rochester, New York-based company called Sydor Optics], because I’ve realized that playing the type of music I played for the most part wasn’t lucrative enough to not have a job. But point being that, yeah, I was just [having] a little smoke break at work at, like, 8:13 a.m. on a Monday or something, and I got a message from Scott going, ‘Do you think yo’d be able to do some shows with us next month?’ So, yeah, it would have been the very beginning of March. And it’s funny. I just looked at my boss who’s also a metalhead — that’s that’s how I ended up working for the company — and said, ‘Hey, I just got asked to be do some ANTHRAX shows next month.’ And he goes, ‘You’d be fucking crazy not to.’ And so I knew it would be cool there. And I said, ‘Sure. Sounds like fun.’ I looked at the tour dates and said, ‘I’ve never been to Uruguay before,’ so I can cross that off the list.’ Everybody at [the] company [I work for] has been really super supportive about that. So I’m very lucky in that aspect.”

On the topic of how long it took him to accept the invitation, Lilker said: “Oh, I just pretty much said, ‘Sure, that sounds cool.’ I informed my wife, but I can’t imagine that she would have said, ‘No, don’t do that. That’s crazy.’ So, I’m pretty sure the order of things was replied and said, ‘Yeah, that sounds cool.’ And then I went about clearing it with the people I have to talk to here [at home and at work].”

Asked what he is most excited about when it comes to playing with ANTHRAX again, Lilker said: “Well, one thing that’s cool is since we haven’t done S.O.D. for a while, it was always fun jamming with Scott and Charlie, because the other guys are cool, but remember in ‘Fistful Of Metal’, that was pre-Joey [Belladonna, current ANTHRAX singer] and everything like that. So we were like the nucleus of the early, early ANTHRAX and, of course, S.O.D., which had one guitar, so in that aspect, jamming with those guys. But also the other dudes — I’ve never been on stage with Joey or anything like that. And, of course, Jon [Donais], the new [ANTHRAX guitarist], who’s been very helpful with showing me riffs. So it’ll be that. And also, some of the stuff on [ANTHRAX‘s third album, 1987’s] ‘Among The Living’, it’s real heavy, fast thrash metal — I actually have a couple of riffs I wrote on some of that stuff — so it’ll be fun to actually play that stuff too. And, of course, the latter-day stuff from the ’90s is fun because it was actually really easy to learn because it was more kind of slow. So, obviously, for me, playing grindcore and death metal and black metal, some of this stuff is going to be nice and easy. I have to make sure I don’t start daydreaming.”

Regarding what fans can expect from the setlist for the ANTHRAX shows that he will be a part of, Dan said: “I would just say that if you look at recent ANTHRAX setlists, subtract a song or two and add another song or two, that would be pretty close. And as far as subtracting songs, nobody’s going to be rapping on stage too much.”

After one of the interviewers expressed hope that ANTHRAX will play a “Fistful Of Metal” deep cut like “Subjugator”, Dan said: “That’s a pretty deep fucking cut, dude. You might get something else that ends with an ‘R.'”

Lilker later confirmed that ANTHRAX will perform some material from “Fistful Of Metal” at the upcoming shows. “I mean, that’s not many beans to spill there,” he said. “They’ve always played ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’, and since I already [said] we’ll be doing another song that ends in ‘R’, that would be the song before it [‘Deathrider’] on ‘Fistful Of Metal’. And, yeah, that’s kind of our one thing toward acknowledging me doing the stuff, because that was a pretty primitive album for what ANTHRAX ended up progressing into, some of that having to do with my writing style.”

Asked about his current relationship with Scott, Charlie and Frank, having attended Ian‘s 60th-birthday party this past New Year’s Eve in Van Nuys, California, Dan said: “Well, we’ve always had a relationship. It’s just been more kind of like one of those off-on things because you’re not traveling in the same circles or whatever; they’re out doing something and I’m doing something else. So [at Scott‘s birthday party], it was more just kind of like getting to see old friends again, catching up with them. Frank, I hadn’t seen Frank for a long time; I’ve seen Scott more recently than that, I believe. And, yeah, it was a really good time going out there with my wife and celebrating his birthday and playing a few tunes.”

He added: “But, in general, yeah, I’m looking forward to sharing a stage with those guys, helping them out and having some fun, playing some metal. ‘Cause I’m not really playing in bands anymore, which is by choice, and so just getting to do occasional little forays like that are cool with me.”

Asked if there are any long-term future plans for him to play with ANTHRAX again, Lilker said: “Well, as far as I know, I’m just doing the 10 shows that I was asked to do — the eight that are in Central and South America and then the two U.S. fests. It’s just filling in for Frank — I wanna make sure and stress that. I am not [rejoining] the band, even though I formed it before. This isn’t gonna be, ‘Finally after 40 years, my plan…’ I’m doing my friends a favor. And if that situation changes in the future, it will not have anything to do with me taking any steps to do so, let’s put it that way.”

Lilker has not been idle over the past four decades, having played in a wide variety of bands. He was the bassist for the thrash/metal band NUCLEAR ASSAULT and the grindcore band BRUTAL TRUTH. He also plays bass for EXIT-13, MALFORMED EARTHBORN, THE RAVENOUS, OVERLORD EXTERMINATOR, VENOMOUS CONCEPT, and more.

With Lilker on bass, dates for ANTHRAX‘s upcoming tour dates are as follows:

April 13 – MXMF The Metal Fest, Ciudad De México, Mexico
April 15 – Cancha Diamante, San Salvador, El Salvador
April 17 – Pepper’s, San Jose, Costa Rica
April 19 – The Metal Fest, Quito, Ecuador
April 21 – The Metal Fest, Santiago, Chile
April 23 – Sala de Museo, Montevideo, Uruguay
April 25 – El Teatro Flores, Buenos Aires, Argentina
April 28 – Summer Breeze Open Air, São Paulo, Brazil
May 09 – Welcome to Rockville, Daytona Beach, FL
May 17 – Sonic Temple Festival, Columbus, OH

To celebrate ANTHRAX‘s 40th anniversary in 2021, the band’s social media accounts offered a series of video testimonials sent in by former bandmembers, fellow musicians, colleagues, and industry veterans sharing behind-the-scenes stories of working with the band and what ANTHRAX‘s legacy has meant all these years on. These videos honored each album in chronological order beginning with the original release, “Fistful Of Metal”. The 11-week series included video contributions from former ANTHRAX bandmembers Lilker, Dan Spitz, John Bush, Neil Turbin and Rob Caggiano.

Lilker, who played bass on “Fistful Of Metal” and wrote most of the music for the record, told Knotfest about ANTHRAX‘s 40th anniversary: “I’m definitely proud of that whole thing. I think it’s great that those guys are still going… That was real good memories back then. I know people go, ‘Oh, they fucking threw you out after that,’ and blah blah blah. But, obviously, I got over that and formed NUCLEAR ASSAULT. And next year we were doing S.O.D. So I’m not the kind of guy who stays bitter forever. But, yeah, the memories of those times, writing that record and recording it and everything was… ‘Cause there was no blueprint or anything; we just had influences and just tried to put our own stamp on ’em back then. So, yeah, it kind of sucks being thrown out three days before [it got] released, but it gave me an excuse to do something else.”

When interviewer Daniel Dekay noted that it was “really cool” of ANTHRAX to allow Lilker to tell his side of the story in the above-mentioned documentary series, Dan said: “There was times in the past where I might have been a little neglected on some of the stuff. So I think they wanted to make sure to just have a nice, inclusive vibe and not forget any particular details. Like the fact that I wrote 75 percent of ‘Fistful Of Metal’. You know, a minor detail.”

A number of years ago, Lilker told Voices From The Darkside that he was fired from ANTHRAX due to “a conflict” with the band’s then-vocalist Neil Turbin. “He was an egotist (like most singers, haha) and it bothered him that I was taller than him,” Lilker explained. “Also, he had no sense of humor, so if you busted his balls he took it seriously. So, he told the other members, ‘I can’t take Lilker anymore. It’s him or me.’ They decided he was more important as a familiar frontman to the fans, so they threw me out, even though I wrote 75 percent of the music on ‘Fistful…’. Oh well. He was, of course, thrown out seven months later, and I played with Scott and Charlie in S.O.D. the next year.”

In his 2014 autobiography “I’m The Man: The Story Of That Guy From Anthrax”, Ian described Lilker‘s dismissal from ANTHRAX 30 years earlier as “the worst moment for me in the history” of the band. He went on to say that the decision to kick Dan out ANTHRAX was made by Turbin and not the other members of the group.

“The biggest dick move Neil ever pulled was when he fired Danny Lilker behind our backs after ‘Fistful…’ came out in January 1984,” Ian wrote. “The main reason he did it, in my opinion, was because Danny is taller than him. He honestly didn’t think someone should be taller than the frontman onstage. He thought it made him look bad, so he tried to stand as far away from Danny as possible, which was hard when we were playing stages the size of ping-pong tables.”

In recent years, Ian has voiced his appreciation for the role “Fistful Of Metal” played in giving ANTHRAX its start, telling Metal Hammer: “Let’s face it, ‘Fistful Of Metal’ gave us our career. It got the band some attention, made people all over the world aware of what we could do — and for that reason alone I have to be grateful to everyone involved. The record was vital in launching us, and everything we’ve done, and become, since stems from that debut record. I may be critical of it in some ways, but I could never do anything other than admit we owe it all to ‘Fistful Of Metal’. If that had never happened… well, perhaps you would never have heard of ANTHRAX.”


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