Interview: Scott Ian of Anthrax

Thrash Metal inventor, metal/rap cross over initiator, non fiction & comic book author, horror movie expert, TV star, son-in-law to Meat Loaf… shall we go on? One of the metal worlds most recognisable, praised and iconic figures, Scott Ian, will be in Australia for a series of spoken word events this September! The co-founding rhythm guitarist of 'Big 4' legends Anthrax practically invented Thrash Metal and in a career spanning nearly four decades remains as vital as ever. Scott's rapid fire riffs, unmistakable crunchy tone and incisive lyrics continue to spawn generations of new bands who wear Anthrax’s influence on their tattooed sleeves. Now, fans can hear and see Scott on stage in an entirely different way, behind a mike, telling wildly entertaining road stories about the people he has met, crazy experiences he has had and all the mischief, shenanigans and back stage antics he and his peers have gotten into over the past 38 years of touring the world! We got to speak to the man himself, as he talks about his one man show, his love for comics, new Anthrax material and much more.

Hey Scott, great to talk to you. We're all very excited to have you back in Australia soon, are you looking forward to doing something different and performing in a speaking capacity rather than playing guitar as a member of Anthrax?

Yeah, it's like a dream, for real, until I'm actually on my seat on the plane and reality sets in. It's actually really hard for me to believe that I get to do this. Like, I really enjoy doing this spoken word shows and I don't really get to do them that often because of my schedule, so the fact that I'm able to come down there and do this, um actually, initially I was offered to come do this at the Brisbane and Sydney Comic-Cons, and I said yeah I'll do that, it sounds like a blast, and then I had this whole week in between, and I was like well maybe I can fit some talking shows in. And it all just worked out amazingly.

That's awesome! When did you sort of get the idea to do these one man shows?

It wasn't my idea. It fell on my lap about 5 years ago or whenever it was. We were going to start a U.K tour and about 4 months before we started the tour my agent called me up and asked if I wanted to do this show in London the night before tour was going to start. He said it would be a one man show and I sort of didn't really understand what he meant, I said well what do you mean? I can't just stand up there on stage with an acoustic guitar like Bruce Springsteen and sing songs, I can't do that. Then he said, no stupid. They want you to go up there and tell stories, and then I was like Oh! Yeah that makes sense, I think I can do that (laughs). It was really just out of my sheer curiosity of could I do it? Could I do that? So of course I said yes. Then a couple of months later I was actually in London and I did a show, I had such a great time, I had so much fun doing it that I immediately wanted to do more. So over the last 5 years of however long it's been, any chance I've had where I've had a window to do it I've taken advantage of it.

Very good. It being an author something you've wanted to do for a long time? Or did that just come up later in your career after you've captured all these moments and memories that had to be told?

No, it wasn't something really something I always wanted to do to be honest. I said no to doing a book for years and years because honestly I just thought it was going to be too much work. Even doing the book, it really was too much work (laughs). But it wasn't until I was doing the talking shows and then a lot of the stuff and a lot of the material for those shows I would write it out because that would help me really get all the details in my brain and at one point I realised that I had about one third of a book written down it seemed like and that's when I realised, I got a lot of the work done without even noticing. So yeah, that's how the books came to be.

Very cool indeed. A lot of people prefer spoken content these days because people enjoy hearing stories and finding out what's happening the behind the scenes, do you think that podcasts and one man shows have created a new and interesting format and pathway for artists such as yourself?

I don't know man (laughs) yeah I guess so. People seem to really like them, I like podcasts, so yeah. People want to hear stories, and why not? Everybody likes to hear a good story regardless of what it's about, a good story is a good story, so yeah, it's not something I ever really thought about but I do agree with what you're saying, sure.

Does the audience get to ask you questions at your one man show?

Oh yeah for sure, not throughout the night, but there's a very specific time during the show where I will tell them "Now you can ask me questions."

Have you come across any hecklers yet and if so, how do you deal with them?

You know, I probably have, I don't even really remember. The weirdest crowd I'd ever played to was a really drunken Irish crowd in Belfast. Because the gig was literally like, in a pub, and it was this little room in a pub near the bar and about 150 people standing there and I was on this little stage. People were really, really drunk. So they weren't necessarily heckling me per se, it was just more that they couldn't really control themselves. Actually now that I'm thinking of it, I do remember in Dublin, there was a woman there who kept finishing my sentences. She had been to another show and she already knew some of the material and she knew some of the stories, and she was like yelling things out either before I was going to say anything or like along with me. I kept having to tell her, "You know I'm all good, I've got this, I don't need your help." She wouldn't stop, she was very drunk and she was with her husband who was a bit embarrassed. Not only was I getting annoyed but the whole crowd was getting annoyed also, so I literally just looked at her and I told her, "You're going to have to just shut the f*ck up." And she did (laughs). After the show at the meet and greet, her husband was there with her and the guy was just mortified, he just kept apologising to me, and she was fine afterwards, but she just couldn't shut her mouth during the show for some reason. But when I said "Shut the f*ck up", the crowd reaction was worth it for all of that annoyance (laughs).

What's the overall format going to be like for the show? Will there be visuals and music accompanying you on stage during you performance?

Oh yes, there's both. Well there's visuals at every show, but yes I do have a musical bit but it doesn't necessarily mean I do it every night, because I kind of go from thing to thing on stage based on how an audience is reacting to whatever it is that I'm saying. So when I'm in the middle of a story, I'll already be thinking "Oh you know what's going to work really good next, I should do this next," that sort of thing. So I kind of go from thing to thing when I'm doing it. If you see me in Adelaide, I might not be doing the same stuff in Melbourne, it really just depends on the crowd.

There might be details that I miss one night, then I tell a story with those details the next night. The energy of the audience just changes the dynamic of everything, so for me, it's different every night because there's new faces out there and I really do feed off of that.

What's it been like being a part of the farewell tour for Slayer in the States right now?

We're just out here playing shows, it's been a lot of fun. When Slayer is gone after a few years, then it'll be a bummer, but right now we're out here having fun. There's no melancholy, there's no bitter sweet, we're just out here raging and playing amazing gigs.

You've written a couple of comics for DC, do you have a favourite character from the DC Universe? Also, what made you want to team up with them to do these comics?

Favourite character? Well Batman, for sure. But they gave me the option originally, and they asked me if I could write for a character, any character, in the DC Universe, who would it be? I said really? You're going to let me write a Batman story? Having never written a comic in my life? They said yeah sure, we think you have a great point of view and then they handed me all the rules that you have to abide by writing an A-list character like Batman. Unless your name is Grant Morrison, or Alan Moore, or other big comic names. They're bound to take a character like Batman, and do something their own way. They weren't going to let me do that, so I would have had very strict guidelines. So I said to them, who's a character where you'll just let me do whatever I want? They said, what do you think about Lobo? I said I f*cking love Lobo! So that's how that whole thing came about.

Very cool. I think we're all also wondering, do you guys have any plans to write a new Anthrax album in the near future?

Yeah, for sure. I think for now the plan is, we're out on the Slayer tour now, then I go to Australia, then we go out with Slayer again in November and December in Europe, then we have a break for Christmas and New Year. Then we plan to get together in January and start arranging some new material, so I'm sure we'll be working on that a lot next year in between shows and whatnot we will definitely be working on a new record.

Awesome! Hopefully that leads to an Anthrax tour of Australia, that would be amazing.

Yeah we'll be there, we haven't even done a tour for out last album For All Kings yet, so that has to happen before our new record comes out (laughs) so you might see us sooner than you think.

Written by Steve Jenkins

Come and listen to Scott tell his legendary tales (for several hours) at one of the venues below:

Monday, September 24: Dunstan Play House, Adelaide

Wednesday, September 26: Goldfields Theatre - MCEC, Melbourne

Saturday, September 29: Metro Theatre, Sydney

Monday, October 1: The Tivoli, Brisbane

Tickets on sale Thursday, July 5

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