Anthrax’s guitarist Scott Ian recently admitted that letting their iconic vocalist Joey Belladonna go was a mistake that cost them many fans.

Anthrax is one of the Big Four bands that are considered the leaders of thrash metal. They have inspired and led the genre alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer since their formation in 1981. They sold 2,5 million records between 1991 and 2004 and received gold certifications on four albums.

Joey Belladonna was Anthrax’s vocalist from 1984 to 1992 and was credited for carrying the band to success. Apparently, the band’s fans were into Anthrax mainly for Belladonna as the band lost a significant percentage of their audience after he was let go and replaced by John Bush.

Scott Ian recently addressed that period of the band’s career and admitted they knew the consequences of letting him go would be harsh. Even though he doesn’t regret working with Bush and following their ‘heart,’ Scott knows they took a big risk. Belladonna returned to the band in 2005 but was replaced by Dan Nelson in 2006. However, he has been active in Anthrax since 2010.

Here is what Ian said about firing Belladonna:

“I never felt like I needed to really point the blame elsewhere. Look, every record is not going to be ‘Among the Living.’ Every record is not going to – even if we may feel it is, I still think ‘Sound of White Noise’ is one of the best things we’ve ever done.

But I’m not that blind and that ignorant or stupid to think that we didn’t lose half our audience when Joey was gone – a hundred percent. I know a lot of people hated ‘Bring the Noise,’ and that we did that. We didn’t just do it and put it out, we fucking did it, we went on tour.

I bet we lost a big part of our audience at that time, it wasn’t ‘fucking metal.’ I’m not blind to any of that. We went in all of that shit with our eyes open, knowing the risks we were taking, doing these things, and always willing to roll the dice because creatively, that’s where our hearts were.

And I’ll never apologize for any of it. But at the same time, I will certainly admit that, yeah, we fucked up. We made mistakes, but when you’re in it, you got to follow your heart, what else can you do?”

You can watch the full interview below.