Interview with Former Anthrax Frontman Dan Nelson (Wolfpack Black, Year of the Tyrant, BlackGates)

                                                                   Photo by Robb Webb

by Mick Michaels

Recently, I had a very cool chance to speak with prolific singer, songwriter, guitarist Dan Nelson.We chatted about inspiration, awards, his time with Anthrax and his new band Wolfpack Black.

COSMICK VIEW: Hello Dan! Welcome to the Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.

CV: Right out of the gate… How would you define yourself as an artist?
Dan Nelson: My wife says quirky... so we’ll go with that. Haha!
That and a constant perfectionist... (I’m) always striving towards improvement. We can always do better and get better. 

CV: What type of things inspire your music?
DN: Everything and Anything. From real life issues to fantasy, movies to books, comics....and anything in between. 

CV: Who has been your biggest influence?
DN: Anyone with a true passion for what they do.
CV: Many people have said that bands today exude an "entitlement" attitude, where certain things are just expected? Has this been your experience?
DN: Honestly, I try not to worry too much about anyone else’s band/world.

Got enough to worry about with my own stuff, ya know? 
I believe in the old adage. Ya give respect, get respect.....and always work hard, and the reward will be what you’ve earned. 

CV: What do you see is the biggest difference between the up and coming bands of today to the up and coming bands of yesteryear?
DN: Same stuff different millennium....I believe in a lot of ways new and younger bands have it harder than my generation and those before us. 

CV: What do you feel is the biggest challenge new artists face in today industry?
DN: Being able to turn a buck, or at least enough to get out there and play some decent shows for rock and metal fans.

Most bands aren’t greedy, or money hungry....they just can’t afford in today’s day and age to even get to the venue. 

CV: Do think flexibility is an artist’s greatest asset, especially now in music?
DN: I believe in all facets of life....we either adapt or die. 

CV: What other vital qualities or characteristics do you believe artists need today to survive the long haul?
DN: Positivity, respect for one’s peers... and the drive of a muscle car. 

CV: Let’s talk about your time with Anthrax. How did you come to sing with Anthrax and what was that like?
DN: Rob Caggiano now of Volbeat brought me on board.

Every experience in life brings us to where we are....and I have zero complaints. 

CV: Your time with Anthrax has you credited with co-writing eight of the 13 tracks that appeared on the 2011 release “Worship Music”. With recording of the album originally started in 2008, and your departure in 2009, were any of your vocals recorded during that time?
DN: Yes, a version of the record was completed with me singing. 

CV: “I’m Alive” which was originally titled “Vampires” debuted as a live song while you were with the band... why the song title change? Or was this something done after you were no longer with the band?
DN: Not sure, the title was changed after I was no longer in the band. 

CV: How did it feel to have “I’m Alive” nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance?
DN: Was cool to have a song I was part of recognized....but in my opinion awards and contests have no place in art and music. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. 

CV: Does having a Grammy nomination under your belt change the game for you in any way?
DN: Not really. I enjoy singing and playing rock/metal because I love creating, performing and the camaraderie being in a band represents.

Accolades and kudos are for attention seekers....long nights and empty pockets are for the artist. Haha! 

CV: “Worship Music” was cited as being a return to form for Anthrax. How much of an influence do you feel you had with that “return to form” based on your writing contributions and time with the band?  
DN: I’m pretty sure those cats place was cemented in metal history long before I came along. 

We wrote a very cool bunch of tunes together, that a lot of folks seem to really dig. 
If my songs and contributions helped turn some new and younger fans on to metal.....then awesome. 

CV: What was your first clue that music was going to be your life choice?
DN: Much like my son, who’s five now, I was always singing since as long as I could remember. But once I discovered the Guitar and metal was hook, line and sinker. 

CV: When you first started out, how did you envision your music career going?
DN: I just remember always wanting to jam and perform....constantly writing songs... and loving every minute of it. Nothing’s changed. Haha! 

CV: Do you feel your initial vision has been on point so far?
DN: I love to play. 

CV: Tell us about some of your more recent projects… like Wolfpack Black?
DN: Wolfpack Black is something I’m super excited about. It’s my first pure metal band since BlackGates, and it really feels like coming home when writing these songs.

Photo by Nicole Harrissiadis 
My band mates Pat Foote and Dan Mintzer are both amazing players, incredibly driven... and two of the best cats I could have the honor of calling both friends and band mates.

I also have the honor of singing and playing rhythm guitar for the band Year Of The Tyrant, which has some outstanding tunes in store, from some unbelievable musicians... and some super cool cats to boot. 

That band has Jason VieBrooks (Grip Inc., Heathen) on Bass, Vinnie La Bella (Exhorder) on Guitar, and Sasha Horn (Forbidden) on drums.

CV: With being involved in several projects and bands, how do you maintain inspiration to keep creating? How do you manage the time?
DN: A cloning device and lots of caffeine. 

CV: Who would you like to work with if given the opportunity?
DN: Any passionate artist or driven musician really.

I’m honored to jam with anyone who wants to share their time on this planet making noise with me for a spell. 

CV: What’s next for Dan?
DN: Onward and upward. 

Wolfpack single and music video in March… EP and/or full length release to follow. 
Then Tyrant hits the studio in Cincinnati, mid March, to record the debut album.
Then tour, write, sleep....repeat… ‘til the dirt says otherwise.

CV: Thank you again Dan for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and much success with all your projects.

Check out Dan and his array of projects at the following:

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