Anthrax’s Scott Ian Talks ‘For All Kings’ Album + Future Plans
Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show. The rocker discussed the creation of the band’s newly released ‘For All Kings’ album and also shared a bit of their future plans. Check out the interview below.
Talking about this brand new album that came out, Scott, creatively what is the biggest advantage of being able to make For All Kings with the momentum of Worship Music?
The band was in a great mindset. We were in the midst of touring for Worship Music when we started writing for what would become For All Kings. It was just a real strong sense of positivity and energy around us, because Worship Music came out and we had no expectations for that record really and it really just reintroduced us in a big way to people all over the planet. People really connected with that record, it just gave us the ability to be a band again and not really worry so much about a thousands other things. We could just be Anthrax. So, when we started writing in Los Angeles up in the woods, [laughs] at the jam room at my house, the environment, the vibe, everything was just really full of energy and strong. That really carried into the writing sessions and the creativity never stopped for almost two years.
You’re a writer who works in several different formats — songs, comic books, now your autobiography. How does the way you approach writing for one format overlap so you try it differently for another format?
They’re all so different. Lyrics for me, I’ve been doing it a long time, but it’s still the oddest thing — the oddest type of writing for me. Writing stories about my life, even writing comics and dialogue as alien as that seems to me, once I got the hang of it, it seemed natural. Lyrics, though, are so weird because taking all these feelings, thoughts and emotions and ideas and then trying to fit them into the context of a verse, with rhyming, making it work in the context of a song, that to me is still so odd because I’m not a fan of musicals. I don’t go to Broadway shows like that, really and I don’t like going to see a movie where people just break out into song, unless it’s like Nightmare Before Christmas or something. But for me, writing lyrics, I love it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still such a challenge for me. I just find the mechanics of it so odd and challenging, and I think that’s something that I love so much about it.
Scott, lyrically what got you to start thinking about what you wanted to write about for this album?
I’m always thinking. I’m always making notes, it’s one of the good things about technology, with my iPhone I can always just — any idea I have I just write it in my phone. Then when it comes time to actually start writing lyrics, that usually for me doesn’t come until we’ve got pretty solid song arrangement and I can sit and listen to the instrumental versions of the songs and that really is what gets my brain into gear as far as what a song is going to be about. The feeling of the riffs, whether if I feel a riff is angry or the riffs will tell me, OK this is going to be this kind of song. I need lyrics like this, or sometimes I’ll just start singing words to a part that are complete nonsense and then from those nonsense words start figuring out what I’m going to write about.
I know it sounds weird and spacey but it really is the music that tells me. A song knows what it’s going to be about and it lets me in on the secret and then I’m like, oh that’s who you are. Then I’ll go through my notes and see if there’s anything in there that makes that song happy. Like alright, these lyrics fit with these riffs really well. They should get married. I literally think about all that kind of crap when I’m writing. But really, it’s just a case of coming up with ideas that I feel passionate about. Most of the time it’s stuff that makes me angry about the world. Hate and love, both very strong emotions. I just tend to write more hateful songs about things on the planet than I do love songs.
I can’t remember the last Anthrax love song.
“Safe Home” I wrote for Pearl [Aday] and “For All Kings” is very much the silver lining kind of song on the record. Some of the lyrics on that song are specifically the second verse is specifically about my wife Pearl. So there’s two, [laughs].
What is the most unique aspect of Jon Donais’ playing in terms of how it affects the end result of these new songs?
Man, he really has such a great sense of what these songs were when we would send him arrangements and he really just … he just understood. The same way, I guess, I listen to songs and I start to understand what I need to write about. He would listen to songs and understand what the solos needed to be and where he needed to be playing and where he didn’t need to be playing. He really just nailed it. Charlie [Benante] did a lot of work with him on this record. Charlie would always mention how if you think back to KISS and classic KISS songs, Ace Frehley’s solos tell a story. It’s like they’re own little song within a song because you can pretty much sing any Ace Frehley solo, like, that’s kind of what we were looking for and Jon really got that. He’s got a great sense of melody. The first time in the history of this band we actually extended lead break sections in the songs because we wanted more of what he was doing.
Scott, what never changes about the way you feel when you can see and hear the finished result of making an album?
There are so many different facets of being and that I love, whether it’s writing / recording or playing live. I would say sitting down and listening to your finished sequenced mastered album is write up there with live shows. When you’ve spent so much time working on something, generally when you start writing a record until your time you’re done with it, it could be a couple of years of your life gone and you put so much of yourself into something so to get to have the finished product, a physical finished product in your hand, it feels great because you created something from nothing. For me, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.
Scott, what are your plans for the rest of 2016?
Touring and touring. We pretty much know where we’re going to be from now until the end of the summer. We go to Mexico, Central and South America with Maiden for the whole month of March. April and May we’re playing some of these big U.S. Festivals like Carolina Rebellion and Welcome to Rockville and then end of May right to Europe and over there all summer. Then the idea is to come back later in the year and do a headline run in the States.
Sounds like you’re going to be very busy. I definitely wish you the best of luck.
Thanks to Anthrax’s Scott Ian for the interview. The ‘For All Kings’ album is out now and available via Amazon and iTunes. Look for Anthrax on tour at these stops. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at FullMetalJackieradio.com.
Anthrax Talk For All Kings Album
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