Anthrax’s Scott Ian Discusses Expectations For New Album, Playing Metal Masters + More
The metal world is abuzz about Anthrax creating their 11th studio album. Never looking to repeat themselves, Anthrax are currently coming together to write something fresh, and with new guitarist Jonathan Donais (Shadows Fall) on board, Scott Ian is pumped for fans to hear what the thrash legends will come up with next.
In our exclusive interview with Scott Ian, the guitarist gave us an inside look on how Anthrax’s new album is coming along, his excitement for jamming at Metal Masters 5, not letting his infant son watch the new ‘Evil Dead’ remake quite yet + more! Check it out below!
Charlie [Benante, drums] recently told us how important it was for him that Anthrax doesn’t recycle what has been done in the past. How would you describe this album so far and would you ever compare it to a past release?
No. I really try not to compare our records because what does that mean? If we were writing a record that sounded exactly like ‘Among The Living,’ you wouldn’t need me to tell you that. People would hear it and go, “Oh, sounds exactly like ‘Among The Living.’” I think if anyone knows anything about our band, you can’t really listen to any two albums that sound alike. Every record is very much of the time that it was written in. It’s not like when we made ‘Worship Music,’ we had decided we wanted to recreate our past. We’re always moving forward. That’s just the way we’ve always looked at it.
We’re our own toughest critics when it comes to writing riffs. The last thing we want to do is repeat ourselves because it would be boring for us. We feel if it’s boring for us, it’s going to be boring for the audience. I can’t compare it to anything else, it is what it is. It’s the Anthrax we’ve been writing in 2013 and to me it doesn’t sound like anything else we’ve ever done. It’s certainly still a metal record, it definitely has a lot of thrash elements in it, because it’s fun for us to play that way. So, it’s not like we’ve taken a complete departure and we’re making a prog record. It’s definitely a metal record.
Has Jon been a part of the writing process?
No, not as of yet anyway. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen. He’s certainly writing his own leads, I’ve already sent him new music. So he’s working on the lead licks at this point. As far as the actual writing of the songs, no, that’s been me, Charlie and Franky so far.
Can we expect a big contribution from Jon at any point?
I would think, probably more so on this record than anything, he’s gonna play the lead licks. We certainly don’t want to have to tell him what to play, because what would be the point of having a guy in your band if he couldn’t write his own parts? We have a lot of confidence that he’ll be able to listen to what we’re playing and come up with ideas. Who knows what else? He might come in and say he has an idea for a part and we’re open to anything. It’s not like we told him, “Don’t bring in ideas!” It’s very much a case of, “Hey, if you’ve got an idea, throw it out. Let’s hear it, don’t be shy.”
Are there any themes or sonic nuances you haven’t tackled on other albums that you’re exploring for this one?
The songs are harder to play. [Laughs] There’s a lot of songs that are just much harder to play than stuff from the past, let’s just put it that way. A lot of difficult riffs that sometimes I wonder why we do this to ourselves. [Laughs] We write stuff that we really need to bear down and say, “God damn, that’ll be a bitch to play live.” But that’s always part of the challenge — challenging yourself as a writer and coming up with riffs that sound interesting and fresh. I don’t ever want to slow down as a guitar player or feel like I can only do so much. I guess if I’m not challenging myself, I’m doing something wrong.
Let’s talk about Metal Masters 5. Is there anything in particular that you’re looking forward to and what is your favorite memory of Metal Masters 4?
Good question. I had a lot of fun in my “clinic” section of it. I basically brought people up from the audience to jam and play stuff. It just worked really well and the audience seemed to dig that. There were some really good players who came up, that was fun. I’m not sure I’m going to do that again this time, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my 20-25 minutes.
As far as what I’m looking forward to? Any time I get to jam with all these dudes, it’s always a lot of fun. We’re all friends, so the fact that we all get to hang out for a couple of days through rehearsal and the actual show, it’s a lot of fun to get to hang out with that crew. It’s pretty much a laugh fest from beginning to end. Just getting to hang out with all the guys is definitely what I look forward to doing the most.
I’d love to hear your take on the ‘Evil Dead’ remake.
I haven’t seen it. You would think, especially with me having my blood and guts TV show, I would have. As a parent of a two-and-a-half year-old, watching movies or going to the movies pretty much becomes nonexistent. It’s on my list and I’ll certainly see it at some point next year when we’re back out on tour and I have time on a tour bus to watch something. At this point in my life pretty much the only movies I see are made by Pixar. But there’s nothing wrong with that, they’re all awesome! [Laughs]
I guess you wouldn’t want your kid to see someone split their tongue in half with a box cutter.
Not yet, maybe when he’s 7.
Anthrax were recently nominated for a 2014 Best Metal Performance Grammy Award for their cover of AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T.’ Ian is also scheduled to embark on a North American leg of his ‘Speaking Words‘ tour in 2014.