Interview: Scott Ian

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As founding member of Anthrax, one of the Big 4 of Thrash Metal, Scott Ian, would have many stories to tell. He has been around the world more than a few times over, played to millions of fans and has crossed genres with ease. Besides a guitar player and songwriter, he is also a TV Presenter, Author and has also dabbled his hand in Speaking Tours for almost a decade. In conjunction with his Comicon appearances in Brisbane and Sydney this September, Scott is also doing his speaking shows dubbed “One Man Riot”. We caught up with Scott to chat all this and more.

H2Z: Hi Scott, Thanks for your time today, of course you are headed our way soon for some speaking shows, rather than ask the cliché question of what fans should expect (Scott laughs), I’d like to start by asking how long it takes you to work out the loose format of your set
SI: That, Is a really good question. I have known about coming down for maybe two months. Of course the minute that all got locked in, that this was happening, immediately I start thinking in the back of my mind, “ OK (laughs), Now you have committed to this, what the hell are you gonna do?” I haven’t done talking shows in a bit. Its been, by the time these shows kick off in September, its been over 2 years, even closer to 3 years since I have done any. For me, its not like an automatic, where I can just show up and walk on stage, and be like “Hello, how are you”, and talk for 2 ½ hours. I need to prepare. Its not like with Anthrax, where I have a couple of months off, and I know that I can pretty much walk out on stage and Im going to know my gig. With these talking shows, I don’t have a set list. Its not like I get on stage every night and go, story ‘A, then story B, then Story C and then we do a Q & A, and Story D and thank you and good night’. It doesn’t work that way on these shows. I kind of take a temperature of what the room is like. It really is different for me all the time and to give you an example, a drunken crowd, in say, Dublin, Ireland, is much different than say a crowd in Stockholm, Sweden. They are much more reserved, and while it’s a great show, but much quieter and just sitting back and listening, and not thinking they are part of the show and starting a mosh pit at a talking show (laughs). Sometimes the audiences are very different. I will have a good idea going in of a whole bunch of stories and things I want to talk about. Then its just a case of putting it together on a nightly basis of what is going to work. I don’t know that there will be a difference between Melbourne and Sydney, and Sydney and Brisbane. I know there are differences there for when we play with the band. I can safely say the craziest crowds we have played to in Australia would be the Melbourne crowds, based on the shows we have played, while we always have good crowds in Australia, Melbourne is probably the craziest. I don’t know if that means they will be the most boisterous crowd when I come to do my talking show. I really don’t know if it is going to be similar, or completely different. I really don’t know, so ill have a very good idea once I am onstage, and I’m like half way through my first story and ill be like ‘alright I know where to go next”.

H2Z: You first did a spoken word show about 8 years ago with Chris Jericho. Did that plant the seed to do more talking shows and do you wish you had a light up jacket like him?
SI: (laughs) yeah, that jacket! He got all of his balls busted about that jacket for a real long time. Although, I gotta say, he totally pulls it off. Nobody could wear that jacket like Jericho. It didn’t really plant the seed per se, but it did make me want to do more. With the upcoming Australian tour, I got offered to come down for the Brisbane and Sydney Comicon’s in September, and I thought that sounded like a really cool idea, and I had the break in my touring schedule to come do that. Since those Comicons are on weekends I was like ‘Well what am I going to do all week in between’. That’s when I reached out to my agent and suggested to get some talking shows booked in that week and we can tie it all in. I was somehow miraculously able to pull that off. Schedules worked and venues were available, promoters were interested and it all worked, and here I am doing a shit tonne of press for it (laughs). People seem to be interested in the fact I am coming, and I couldn’t be more thrilled as I get to come back to Australia. Just me (laughs). Its super exciting.

H2Z: With the sudden passing of your good friend Vinnie Paul recently, do you think we might be treated to some interesting Pantera or Vinnie stories?
SI: You know, people ask, and there is a Q & A portion of the show. And I have said it before, I will answer any question to the best of my ability. I tend to get a lot of questions along those lines. People have asked me many times over the years about Jeff Hanneman (Slayer), so I would imagine Vinnie’s name will come up, if not as part of a story that I may or may not include in the show. I would certainly expect people would be curious to know my thoughts and feelings and talk about Vinnie.

H2Z: With your latest book “Access All Areas”, which came out last year, how long did you take to collate the stories for it?
SI: Well I knew what I was doing when I went into it. After the first book, which was an autobiography, and its just a very linear tale of my life obviously. It starts with me being born in Queens, New York and it ends with the Big 4 Show in Yankee Stadium, and a lot of the stuff that happened in between. Its just a linear story. But there is so much. You are talking about a lot of years, trying to keep the stories together, not going off on any tangents. That’s kind of where the second book was born. I had stories which didn’t fit into the narrative of “I’m The Man”, my first book, because I felt like they were pulling me from the tale. That linear tale of the Autobiography. It would then be too tangential, and then I would have to try and get it back to flowing, and it wasn’t working. So I had a couple of stories, I believe I even mention one in the photo section of “I’m The Man”, there is a photo of me with Madonna and I say “Well you will have to read the next book to find out about that”, and then in the new book I tell the Madonna story. It kinda came from that, me having four or five of these stories that didn’t fit, and then I talked to my editor and suggested I do a short story book. Just come up with a whole heap of individual short stories. I wont have to worry about tying it all together. It wont have to make sense chronologically. Just 23 individual stories, and they thought it was a good idea. From that point it didn’t take long, because all this crap is in my brain. So I was able to, when I had time, which was mainly on tour, during the down time during the day when you are just sitting around in some middle of nowhere city, with nothing to do. So instead of looking at another shopping mall, or driving myself crazy trying to find the one thing I haven’t watched on Netflix yet, I would work on my book.

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H2Z: I noticed that Anthrax celebrated its birthday recently. Do you remember what your initial goals were for the band, and what goals have you got left for the band?
SI: Initial goals for the band (laughs). Well I guess the first goal was to write a song. That would have been the initial goal was to stop playing Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motorhead, and to actually start writing our own material. Because when we first started, July 18th 1981, was the night that me, Danny Lilker and a couple of other guys were in a room and jammed, and we formed a band and decided to call it Anthrax. We were just playing a bunch of cover songs that night, but we had so much fun doing it, that we just decided to keep doing that and to try and write songs. Writing songs was the initial goal, and quickly from that point we realised “Alright, we like the songs we are writing, we think they are cool. We aren’t Iron Maiden, but we kind of sound like something”. Then we started doing demos of our originals, and just then figuring out how to go from making demos to making a record. Then that became the goal. We felt so strongly about what we were doing, we knew we needed to make a record. Somebodies got to feel the same way as us, so we need to make an album. Then we were able to make that happen, within 2 years and 3 months of the band forming, and then from there its not like all the floodgates opened and the clouds parted and the lights shined down from the heavens on us. We were working our asses off non  stop for 37 years. I still am. And so the goal, eventually, became that I just want to keep doing this as long as I am having fun doing it. Because, If you are not having fun, being in your band, then really wants the point in being there? It started out as nothing but fun. I got to play with a bunch of friends, and play Iron Maiden covers and that was super fun. So if I am not having that same fun playing my own music all these years later, I don’t deserve to be there, I will need to go find something else to do. So that’s been the goal, really, for a very long time, is to always have fun doing this, because someday if its not fun, I just wont do it anymore.

H2Z: Ill finish up with this one Scott. While I have heard you say, that you are not responsible for the Genres that came after “Bring The Noise” was released. Was that blend something you foresaw or was it just something you selfishly wanted to do for yourself?
SI: (Laughs), Yeah I did say that. And with Bring The Noise, we totally just did that in the moment. If you had have asked me, in 1991, if I saw this becoming a massive genre unto its own, and bands are going to sell millions and millions of records crossing over these kinds of music, I would have said you are fucking out of your mind, Nobody cares about this (laughs) in 1991. When I first heard Rage Against The Machine, at literally some basement club in Los Angeles, with about 32 people in the room, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I was like “Jesus Fucking Christ, these guys are awesome”. It was basically the sound I heard in my head since I first heard Rick Rubin sample guitars on an L.L Cool J song, back in like 1984. I always had this idea in my head that the two things went together, but I didn’t think anyone else felt that way, outside of my small circle of people that I knew like the guys that are in my band, or people like Chuck D, Rick Rubin or The Beastie Boys. Not many people were on that same band wagon in the 80s, because it didn’t really happen at all. Then we did “Bring The Noise”, when Rage Against The Machine, who, for me, look what we did, while I don’t consider it a novelty, but it certainly was a one off, as it is not like we followed it up. We didn’t keep doing rap/metal crossovers. Its not who we are. We only did that because of our love of Public Enemy. They were my favourite band, I love Chuck D. I needed to make a song, where his voice and my guitar were in the same song. That’s really the only reason it happened. There was nothing else beyond that. So when Rage Against The Machine comes out, basically crossing over the two world in their completely original and own style and they kicked down whatever door we might have slightly opened. They drove through it with a fucking bulldozer. Listen to that first Rage Against The Machine album, and the second, and the third. I love that band. And everything that came after them, I don’t love so much, basically. So that’s where that statement I made comes from because it really has nothing to do with us. Rage Against The Machine didn’t form because of us doing “Bring The Noise”. I know they were aware of the song, and they heard it and they liked it, but that not why they became a band. That’s why I say we don’t credit for anything good or bad (laughs).

H2Z: Thanks so much for your time today Scott, believe it or not its 21 years since I last interviewed you so this was a great pleasure once again. Look forward to seeing you in Brisbane
SI: Wow! 21 Years, that’s crazy, thank you and see you in a few months. Cheers!

We would like to thank Scott for his time, and hope to see you all at his One Man Riot shows with thanks to Dinner For Wolves.

 

You can catch Scott at here:

24th September: Adelaide – Dunstan Theatre (Lic. AA)
26th September: Melbourne Goldfields Theatre (MCEC) (Lic. AA)
29th September: Metro Theatre (18+ ONLY)
1st October: The Tivoli (Lic. AA)

All tickets (reserved Seating): $65.00 + BF …head to www.dinnerforwolves.com/one-man-riot for ticket links and more details!

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