Celebrating 40 years of pioneering thrash metal, the Big 4's East Coast representatives, Anthrax, grace one of the collectible covers of Revolver's new Summer 2021 Issue. But that's not all. For the deluxe bundle edition of the magazine, drummer Charlie Benante designed an exclusive Anthrax shirt with original artwork that puts a cool street-art twist on the iconic cover of the band's 1987 classic Among the Living. The limited-edition shirt is printed on GLOBAL Merch tees in sizes small through XXXL, and each features a custom tag with matching edition numbers to the slipcase also included the bundle. (The bundles are limited to 500 worldwide — order yours at our shop now.)
A talented visual artist as well as a skilled drummer and songwriter, Benante drew on a wide range of influences and inspirations to create the striking piece emblazoned on the shirt. We caught up with him ahead of Anthrax's big 40th anniversary livestream to get the inside scoop.
LET'S START WITH THE OBVIOUS — WHY THE TAKE ON AMONG THE LIVING?
CHARLIE BENANTE I was planning to do an art show and I was doing a lot of artwork, variations of covers that I had designed, so I did an Among the Living, I did a State of Euphoria and a Persistence of Time. Among the Living was pretty much inspired by street art, and I really dove down a rabbit hole for a lot of it. I've always been a fan of Banksy. I think that what he's done is so amazing because he's kept a mystique going — I just love his style, I love his artwork. So, this was kind of like a cross between a Banksy and where I grew up in the Bronx. I would see graffiti everywhere and I used to take part in it, writing on buses and stuff like that. So this was my take on graffiti art, and if I had painted an Among the Living-style piece on a wall, this is how it would have looked.
CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH YOUR PROCESS OF CREATING THIS PIECE?
First I did a sketch of it, then I imported it into my CoCreate program on my iPad, and I did a lot of it on there. Then my art agent took it and printed it out on canvas so it was mixed media. Then I painted over that. ... It's digitized, but it has elements of paint over it, as well. My art agent had teen telling me about this mixed-media idea, and I decided to go with it, so that's what you see here.
YOU ARE SO INVOLVED IN THE VISUAL IDENTITY OF ANTHRAX. HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN CREATING ART? WAS IT FROM COMICS? WE KNOW YOU'RE QUITE THE COLLECTOR.
The one for Among was my favorite. There were two reasons I started to create these: One was that I enjoy working on reissues of our records, so the one for Persistence of Time was such a fun one to work on because the original idea I had for the cover was to be a melting clock, like a Salvador Dali piece. When the actual piece of art came back from the artist who was doing the Persistence cover, it didn't have the melting clock, it has just a regular clock. With all of our albums, we run out of money, so we can't really go back and change things, so I left it. But when I worked on the Persistence 30th anniversary, I wanted to re-image it and I wanted to put the melting clock back on it. This is how it all started for me.
Then I got the call from Z2 comics and [they] wanted to do a graphic novel based on Among the Living, and I was going to contribute some art. I started doing all types of different designs, and this one for Among the Living is one I did. I just wanted to re-imagine it and do it like a Banksy style.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR BIGGEST ART INFLUENCES?
Some of my favorite artist growing up were comic book artists, and then I got into artists like Salvador Dali — someone who completely blew my mind. To this day, when I go to an exhibit, I'm standing there and just staring at this huge piece that's in front of me, and I wonder, How did this man do this? It amazes me. He's one of my favorites.
And of course, I said earlier, growing up in New York, in the Bronx, I saw graffiti every day of my life. I'll never forget the day I walked out of high school — you had the 6 train that would run right in front of the school, and you could see all the trains run by. There was this one day when Black Sabbath were playing Madison Square Garden, and this one artist, Richie Seen, he did this "hand of doom" piece on a full car, and it was amazing, just to see that. It completely blew me away. I love graffiti art. I love everything about it: the style, the colors, how things pop, and you're doing it all with spray paint. It's always intrigued me.
In terms of modern day artists, I still love comic book artists, Alex Ross being one of them. He's done a few pieces for us — he's one of my favorites. I'm just always blown away by art. I just stop and wonder, 'What is this?' So yeah, I love art!