Scott Ian Interview: ‘Just put the record on and experience it. I guarantee you will love it.’
An Anthrax album always comes with a lot of media attention and as always the band is out there doing a lot of promotion. I had the chance to talk with Scott but he didn’t really talk that much about the album. So we chatted about the upcoming tour with Iron Maiden on which Anthrax are privileged to be on Maiden’s 747 and Scott’s public life.
Marc: Your new album ‘For All Kings’ is going to be released on 26 February. What can you tell our readers about the new album?
Scott: I’m not gonna tell them anything. They gotta hear it for themselves because music needs to be experienced. It needs to be heard. It needs to be felt. My words, truly, what do my words mean? What I’m gonna say? I’m just a guy in the band. I’m in love with the record I made. You need to experience it for yourself. That’s truly what I believe. The best thing I can say is, do yourself a favor and listen to the album. However you love to listen to your music, whether it’s in your car or with headphones, wherever, however. Just put the record on and experience it. I guarantee you will love it.
Marc: It seems that you all are extremely excited about the album. What’s the difference this time around?
Scott: There’s no difference. It’s the same every album. I wasn’t depressed about the last record nor any Anthrax record. Every time we make a record I feel the same way. I respect years of our lives creating something and then you put it out there. You do the best you can every time. There’s no difference for me. It’s exactly the same. My words don’t mean anything. I could talk about the album all day long because I think it’s the best record we ever made. I stand by that. At the same time, if you’re a fan, what do you think someone from the band is gonna say. For me, I prefer, as Joe Perry said, let the music do the talking because this album absolutely speaks for itself. This album doesn’t need me to hype it. It will do all that on its own.
Maybe some people think we sit down and have meetings and discuss what kind of record we wanna make. It’s not like that. It’s us in the room making music.
Marc: One song seems to stand out and seems to be very special for you and that is the track ‘Breathing Lightning’. What makes this song so special for you?
Scott: I just think it’s a great song. I don’t analyse music. I don’t analyse what we do. I don’t think about what we do. I just do it. That’s the big difference. I’m the guy in the band. All I do is getting in the room with the other guys in my band and work on music that makes me wanna bang my head. And that’s as much as I think about it. Some songs sound like ‘Breathing Lightning’, some songs sound like ‘Zero Tolerance’, some songs sound like ‘Evil Twin’. It’s not something I think about. There is no formula, there is no secret. It’s just the dudes in the band that work really well together and love what we do. That’s the secret.
Marc: Has the way you write and record song actually changed over the years?
Scott: No. Like I said. We get into a room and arrange music that makes us wanna bang our heads. It’s music that we don’t hear anywhere else. We’ve been doing the same thing since ‘Fistful Of Metal’. That’s how we operate. Maybe some people think we sit down and have meetings and discuss what kind of record we wanna make. It’s not like that. It’s us in the room making music. Charlie comes in with a copious amount of ideas, riff-wise. Generally those would be the catalysts. Then Charlie, Frankie and I work with that stuff. At the end of the day we have arrangements, skeletal arrangements of Anthrax songs. That’s really how it works. I’m still amazed by it. You know, we get in the room at 1 o’clock and by 7 o’clock we have music that didn’t exist before. It still blows my mind. It’s like magic, truthfully. That’s why I can’t analyse it. And I don’t ever want it to go away.
We’ll be flying on Maiden’s 747 next month throughout South America. It’s just crazy.
Marc: The next phase for you is going to be touring of course. You’re going on tour with Iron Maiden travelling on their plane. How did you get on this plane?
Scott: They asked us (laughs). It’s one of those calls that you dream about. We’ve been lucky enough doing shows with Iron Maiden since 1988, the first time we ever toured together through Europe. We’re all fans. We all met Iron Maiden as kids before Anthrax was anything. That’s how long we’ve known those guys. So still to this day the fact that we’re gonna be out with them I can’t help myself and become a nervous 16-year old. Even though I’m friends with them. I can’t help that because it means so much to me. On top of that we have the same agent. So the fact that the agent tells management: ‘By the way, if the band wants to travel on the plane with Maiden, there’s room for them.’ That is just a call you can’t… I still don’t even understand it. It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around it. We’ll be flying on Maiden’s 747 next month throughout South America. (laughs) It’s just crazy. Besides the fact, I’m gonna be completely spoiled after that. How do I ever tour again? (laughs)
Marc: After the tour with Iron Maiden you’re gonna do the summer festivals. You haven’t announced anything for after the summer festivals. What are your plans?
Scott: There are plans but nothing’s confirmed yet. It’s just stuff that’s in the works right now.
Marc: Is there any chance that a trip to Australia is among those plans?
Scott: Of course, at some point. I can safely say that this will happen.
Marc: You are a very experienced musician. You personally have been very active in the media world doing other things than music. Was there a key moment where you decided ‘That’s cool. I wanna do that’ or is it as you said before just about doing things?
Scott: It’s just something that kind of developed over the years. Normally, in the context of a band, the rhythm guitar player wouldn’t be the focal point like I am. I don’t know why but at some point in the 80s that role developed. I guess I had a lot to say. I don’t know why things work out the way they work out. It’s not that unusual. A lot of the times there can be a spokesperson for a band who is not the singer. Things started to happen. We’re in a band that started having a lot of success in the late 80s and that opened doors for the band itself, like when we got to be on ‘Married With Children’ back in 1992. It’s just strange phone calls coming in to your management asking if you’d be interested in doing whatever. Sometimes you are interested and sometimes you’re not. I’ve only ever done stuff that seemed interesting or I was curious about or sounds fun doing. That’s my main motivation for anything I do. Is it gonna be fun? Do I enjoy that? Because I don’t really wanna work more than I have to but if I’m doing something that’s fun then it’s not work for me. For example like being a zombie on ‘The Walking Dead’. That’s not work for me. That’s absolutely a dream and fun to do.
Marc: What do you do on that particular day when one of your albums comes out? Do you have a routine?
Scott: One thing I actually do is I actually buy a physical copy of the album. That’s something I’ve always done. These days, what I do for a lot of my friends, I go on iTunes and I gift them the album as a thank you. That’s pretty much the only routine I have when an album comes out.