With heavy-metal trailblazers Anthrax, Charlie Benante has revolutionized the art of drumming, blowing minds with his super-fast double-kick technique and popularizing the blast beat in thrash and beyond. A drum hero to many, Benante has his own idols and influences, of course, so when we talked to him recently, we asked him to pick his five favorite drummers. Before answering, he clarified, "They don't have to be in one field — it could be from anywhere, right?" As such, his answers may surprise you.
The first drummer that, still to this day, I get inspiration would probably be Neil Peart. I mean, what other drummer writes drum fills that people play air drums to, you know what I mean? He's still one of my favorites.
I just love Alex Van Halen, always have. He just has a signature sound. When I hear it, it's like, Well, that's Alex Van Halen, you know?
He always kind of just makes my head spin a bit. He'll throw in these kind of syncopated fills that just always get me, you know, it's like, "Ah, god, that's great," you know. There's a song on Gretchen Goes to Nebraska where he just lays this pattern down — it's called "Burning Down" — he just does this pattern for the rest of the song and just the way he does it, he doesn't push it, he doesn't pull it — it's just beautiful. It's like a drum machine, but it's not, because it's human and it's very Jerry Gaskill.
Some of these Big 4 drummers have a place here, too, 'cause we all were coming up together in this whole movement, this whole thrash movement — me, Lars and Dave. And I think the three drummers always had something that was different from the other. I love the way Lars would think in a song ...
... and I love the way Dave's aggression in the song propelled the song. So I'd have to say those two.
The first drummer I ever heard was Ringo. And Ringo's one of those drummers that, Ringo started off as a fucking killer drummer — I mean, he just had that swing, everything. Later on the Beatles' albums, he kind of lost it a bit for me. He just kind of become very lazy. But those first few Beatles records, man, where he would just rock it. He's fucking awesome.