Frankie Bello is one of the most seasoned bassists as far Metal goes. He has been the bassist of legendary and influential Thrash Metal band Anthrax for almost forty years and he has cemented a legacy as one of the finest players in the business. He is also a dedicated and caring father, which is one of the many topics he addresses in his upcoming memoir, Fathers, Brothers, and Sons, set to be published in October.
In that book, Frankie not only addresses and tells many stories about his time in the music industry, but also about growing up without a father, becoming a father himself and the tragic passing of his own brother, Anthony. It was a great pleasure to do this interview with one of my personal favorite bass players in Metal and also a great guy to boot. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did asking these questions.
Thank you for being here, Frankie. As a fan of Anthrax and of your work as a bassist, it’s a pleasure. First and foremost, how are things going for you during this pandemic?
Things are going as well as we can all expect during a pandemic. I’m hoping things will get better for everybody sooner than later so we can all get back to a better life.
How much did that affect Anthrax’s plans in the last year or so?
Like everybody else- we have to adjust our plans day by day while we move forward. One day at a time.
Frank Bello’s upcoming memoir, Fathers, Brothers, and Sons.
Of course, one of the biggest news concerning you at the moment is the release of your memoir, Fathers, Brothers, and Sons. How did that project come to be?
Yeah, man. My friend and co-writer Joel McGyver have been talking about writing a book together for years, so when the whole lockdown thing started and I was going to be home, it felt like the right time to do it.
When it comes to organizing your thoughts, did you have problems remembering all the different stuff you have gone through in your life?
Not really. I have a pretty good recollection of the main events. Some good, some not so good, but Joel is amazing at bringing up a thought in my mind that usually triggers a great memory and story to go with it, so it all flowed really well.
Looking back on your career, what are the things that surprise you the most? Things that make you go “Damn, that happened”.
Well, as you know, Anthrax is celebrating our 40th year anniversary, and just that alone is incredible to me because it doesn’t feel like it’s been 40 years, which is amazing. I’ve been watching all the YouTube video segments we’ve been putting out for the celebration and it brings back great memories as I continue to enjoy the ride that it’s been and continues to be.
As the title implies, the book deals a lot with the role of male figures in a young boy’s life. Would you care to talk about the main themes of the book?
Sure. The book tells two stories. One story tells the story of my 40 crazy years with Anthrax, and the other story is my life as a kid growing up without a dad, a man whose brother was taken from him and his family, and me as a father who loves his son.
How becoming a father influenced your views of what it means to be a male role model in a kid’s life?
Actually, after my dad took off, it left emptiness in my life, and I promised myself I would never let my child feel anything like that. My main mission in this life is to try to be the best dad I can be always be there for my son. Being a role model to my son is everything to me.
You wrote this book with Joel McIver, who is known for doing Metal biographies. How was the experience of working with Joel?
Joel is a great friend of mine who I’ve known for a long time. He’s not only a great writer, but he’s compassionate and trustworthy. He’s also a great dad. I found it very easy to work with Joel. In fact, most of our writing went so smoothly that we would usually lose track of time. Joel really helped me get through reliving some of the dark times in my life for the book as well as getting me to tell all the great Anthrax stories that are in there that most people have never heard before.
For those Anthrax fans that want to know more about the band’s history, would this book be a nice read for them?
Absolutely. Honestly, the close friends and family that I have around me, that know the band and that I trust, all say that every Anthrax fan will definitely enjoy this book, which I’m grateful for. It’s also a book that I hope helps people know that they can rise above the adversity in their life. This is my story of how I did and continue to do it. It’s an ongoing process…
Anthrax’s Pieces, sang by Frank Bello and dedicated to the passing of his brother, Anthony.
Believe it or not, my older brother’s favorite Anthrax song is Pieces, which I know is dedicated to the life and passing of your own brother. I’m well-aware that this is a sad topic to discuss, but I wanted to know how was the process to write and record that song since you don’t usually sing in Anthrax albums.
Thanks for this question, and please tell your brother thanks for giving Pieces a listen. As I write in my book, my brother Anthony was murdered on March 25th, 1996 in the Bronx, New York. Three weeks after his passing, Anthrax was to start a tour of Japan that we couldn’t cancel. As I sat and cried nonstop in my hotel room, I wrote Pieces as way of saying goodbye to my brother as I was looking for some kind of healing and closure.
Yes, it is a sad subject, but on the positive side of things, SO many people have written me and come up to me saying how that song has helped them in their lives, so I’m grateful that it’s actually helping people out there. It’s a song of healing. I’m also grateful to my band for putting it on our Volume 8 record as a hidden track.
Changing the topic a bit: What were the biggest challenges of writing this memoir?
The biggest challenges were leaving it all out there, and telling my “whole” life story. It’s scary, yet cathartic. I’m usually a very private person, but this is as raw and open as I’ve ever been.
Looking back on your career, what legacy do you think you have left behind?
That’s for other people to say, but for me, the legacy that I leave behind is one of a blue collar guy that worked really hard to get to whatever goals I went after in life. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but I’m always gonna go for it. I’ve been very fortunate in this business and I’m very grateful for every day I’m in it…
For those young boys that are starting out as bassists and look up to you, what advice would you give them?
Live it!!! Go for what you have passion for in your life, if it’s playing bass, guitar, or anything else you love, because that will drive you there, and good luck!!!
And any final advice for fathers starting out?
My only advice for fathers staring out is- please be there for your child. You are their support and guide through life, so just remember back when you were a kid and what you looked for in a dad- and give them that and much more because they deserve a great dad. Good times ahead!!
Thank you for the interview!