Anthrax Guitarist Scott Ian: “I really, really don’t care or think about what other people think about what we do and I never have since day one”
Anthrax founder and main man Scott Ian is an icon in the hard rock and metal worlds as the lyricist and guitarist behind one of the most revered heavy bands of the modern era. He has stories for days and is now undertaking the task of telling some of those tales on his new “Speaking Words” tour which kicks off this Thursday February 20th in Chicago. I had the chance to talk to Scott briefly before the tour starts about the speaking dates, his band, the next album and more; read on….
LRI: I wanted to start by telling you that the “Metal Masters” clip of you guys doing “Freddy Krueger” along with Phil Anselmo is sick. That might be the one of the best sounding versions of that song ever.
Scott Ian: Oh thanks
LRI: Obviously NAMM can be a bit of a grind with all of the appearances and interviews but was that little moment as fun as it looks on YouTube?
Scott: That part was fun yeah, getting to do that “Metal Masters” thing is fun and the whole reason we do it is because all of the guys there all just dig hanging out with each other and we don’t get to do that too often. So yeah, getting to play those songs that don’t really get to be played very often and getting to do it with Phillip was just amazing. Playing those songs and the Pantera stuff we jammed is just a blast.
LRI: Your “Speaking Words” U.S. tour is starting out here in the Midwest in Chicago this Thursday, obviously Chicago is pretty important to Anthrax so is this particular date one you’ve been looking forward to?
Scott: Oh absolutely yeah. I even thought about that when I first started putting together these dates, originally it was just gonna be like east coast from maybe D.C. up to Boston or something but then I was like, “Man, it would be so cool to be able to do this in Chicago and I don’t know when I’m gonna be able to do something like this again so why not route it that way and start in Chicago and then head east and move on. That was something that I actually really proactive about making happen.
LRI: You have a Pledgemusic campaign to make your DVD from the footage shot from the “Speaking Words” gig in Glasgow, Scotland. More and more artists are using Pledgemusic to release product independently so maybe the stigmas around funding are starting to fall but did you think there was a right or wrong way to go this route?
Scott: I just wanted to wanted to give fans a reason to wanna be a part of it. Maybe there’s some people that still don’t really understand that if you pledge ten dollars then you get a DVD the same way as if you went to the store and paid ten dollars for a DVD. They give you something for your money. I think there’s some people out there that see these crowdfunding things and they wonder “Well, why is HE doing that why doesn’t he just use his money and blah, blah, blah”, not realizing that I’m not just taking people’s money and going out and buying six packs of beer with it, it’s being used for the production of this DVD instead of me going the normal route and going to a record company and basically letting them then own my content with me getting the smallest piece of the pie instead of my owning it and getting the biggest piece of the pie. So if people pledge money to the campaign they are directly pledging money towards the making of the DVD and for the money they pledge they are obviously getting something. I am doing something for that money whether they pledge ten dollars and I’m sending them a DVD or they pledge 10,000 dollars and I’m showing up and giving you a private show at your house or a local bar… or whether it’s any of the other price points in between, I just wanted each thing to be something special for the fan to only be able to only get now and only through myself and Pledgemusic.
LRI: You have been on countless cable documentaries on metal and rock and done countless interviews like this over the years. Do you think all that experience talking and often times, storytelling has prepared you confidence wise to do these speaking gigs?
Scott: I’m sure that’s a part of it, having had all those experiences, yeah but even before doing all that stuff I never had a problem talking in front of people so….
LRI: So you’ve been cool with talking going all the way back to high school speech class?
Scott: Yeah, no problem whatsoever, not at all (laughs).
LRI: You’ve definitely had an interesting life. You have had action figures made in your likeness just like your heroes KISS, you’ve toured the world as a young musician and again as a husband and father and now you’ve done gigs both with your band as well as standing alone onstage. Are some of the moments surreal or strange to you?
Scott: It may sound funny but none of it feels surreal or strange to me (laughs), it’s all reality and it’s my life, it’s what I do.
LRI: There’s no “holy cow” moment in terms of the reality of seeing a finished action figure of yourself or any of those types of things?
Scott: Yes and no. I guess I don’t give it as much thought as maybe people not in my bubble or… (laughs) in my world do. I get approached, I get asked to do things and I either say yes or no. I had some friends who were in that business with action figures and what not and they approached me and asked “Hey, we wanna do a figure, are you into it?” and I was like “Yeah, of course I’m into it” and it was literally as simple as that. It’s not like people think, I don’t spend months and months planning these things, it’s more like a couple of phone calls. Everything happens that way, generally, you get a phone call or an email and answer a question yes or no , it’s really as simple as that (laughs). Of course I am excited about it but really there’s not that much thought that goes into it (laughs).
LRI: Anthrax was always known for pushing the envelope of what metal bands could talk about, even including legitimate social commentary in songs like “Who Cares Wins” or “Indians” or “In The Family”. Do you still feel inspiration to write about such a wide variety of subject matter all these years later?
Scott: I’ll tell ya when I’m done with this next record (laughs). I don’t know, I really don’t know. Once again, I don’t think about it too much and I don’t analyze it. I’m about four or five songs in, lyrically on this album and if you asked me what I was writing about at this moment I couldn’t even tell you because I finish things and then I move on. Once everything is written and we’re actually in the studio starting to work on stuff is when I start to dig a little deeper into things. Right now I am so in the middle of it that I couldn’t even tell you what I’m writing about, I’m trying to think of some of the songs I’m finishing and I can’t even tell you a song title which is pretty crazy but just how it is when I’m actively in the middle of this process. It was the same when I did “Persistence of Time”, I didn’t know what the hell I was writing about when I was in the stages of writing that record. Only after the fact did I go back and look at it and go “Ok, this is where my head was at”. It’s a case of having a lot of ideas and then somehow breaking those ideas into the form of lyrics. That’s always been a challenge but it’s one of the things I really love about being in a band.
LRI: When you were taking those chances and talking about real world problems how often did it occur to you that you were operating out of the typical heavy metal lyrical vortex of sex, satan and power, did other bands of the day make you aware of it?
Scott: I didn’t care. It doesn’t matter to me what other people do or think, the only thing I care about is what we do. I really, really don’t care or think about what other people think about what we do and I never have since day one. I couldn’t care because; as I’ve said before, if I really cared what everyone else thought then we would have been a Van Halen cover band in 1981 and Anthrax would have never existed. I never cared and it just doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, good or bad. I mean, recognition is awesome and I’m not saying I’m against that, of course any kind of recognition for what we do is good but it doesn’t affect the way that I write or the way this band goes about things. At the end of the day it just comes down to us dudes sitting in the room together and doing what we love and what makes us happy which is all we’ve ever done from day one. That’s the one thing with Anthrax that’s never changed; there’s only one reason really why we do this and that’s just that it really makes us happy to write this kind of music and get the opportunity to play this kind of music. Anything that comes after that, good or bad, is cake. To me, the fact that we get to go play shows is still great; just that act of playing shows for me is the BEST part of being in a band, that two hours onstage is the greatest part of it all. The fact that we get to write songs and make records is just gravy on top of it all and reminds that people all over the planet love what we do so I definitely don’t take any of it for granted but at the same time it doesn’t have any effect on how we do things.
LRI: Thanks for talking with me Scott and good luck on the U.S. “Speaking Words” tour, it sounds like a great primer for the book you have coming. Last question, how is the book looking and how far along is the project?
Scott: The first draft is being sent in tomorrow actually so yeah it is moving right along. I am really happy with it and think we are right on track and am interested to see what the final product is gonna look like. I think it’s a really strong life tale. I didn’t wanna do a book like every other book in this genre. In so many of these books there seems to be the rise to fame, the excess and debauchery and then the fall from grace and subsequent redemption or whatever. My story is not like that at all, it doesn’t follow that same story arc that so many rock books do, that whole “Behind The Music” story arc. I think mine is a really strong story of being able to make things happen, it’s not a “how to make it in the music business” sort of thing but more of my personal story of who I was, where I came from and how I was able to do it and what I did to make that happen. I think if anything, maybe, hopefully it could inspire other people to do the same thing.
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SCOTT IAN “Speaking Words” U.S Tour Dates
Thu Feb 20 ’14 Chicago, IL Maynestage
Fri Feb 21 ‘14 Detroit, MI Token Lounge
Sat Feb 22 ‘14 Pittsburgh, PA REX Theatre
Mon Feb 24 ‘14 Cleveland,OH Agora Theater
Tue Feb 25 ’14 Toronto, ON El Mocambo
Wed Feb 26 ’14 Kingston, ON Mansion
Thu Feb 27 ’14 Ottawa, ON Ritual
Fri Feb 28 ’14 Lancaster, PA Chameleon Club
Sat Mar 1 ’14 Annapolis, MD Rams Head »
Sun Mar 2 ’14 Philadelphia, PA World Café
Tue Mar 4 ’14 Boston, MA Hard Rock Cafe
Wed Mar 5 ’14 New York, NY BB Kings
Thu Mar 6 ’14 Syracuse, NY Lost Horizon
Fri Mar 7 ’14 West Warwick, RI Manchester 65
Sat Mar 8 ’14 Portland, ME Port City Music Hall
Sites That Link to this Post
- Scott Ian, Anthrax, : “No me importa lo que digan de mí” | February 19, 2014
- ANTHRAX Guitarist SCOTT IAN: 'It Doesn't Matter To Me What Other People Do Or Think' • Metal4all.com | February 19, 2014