Anthrax’s Scott Ian Talks Autobiography, Motorboat, Slipknot’s Return, Big 4 + More
Anthrax's Scott Ian is a man of several titles these days, including heavy metal legend, author and spoken word artist, among others. Thirty years into his career, the guitarist is as vital and as busy as he's ever been.
Loudwire recently had the chance to speak with Ian about his multitude of projects, including the band's upcoming gig on Motorhead's Motorboat Cruise, his autobiography, 'I'm the Man' (due in October) and his thoughts on the possibility of more Big 4 shows. The axeman also offered his take on the new Slipknot song 'The Negative One,' as Anthrax will be part of this year's Knotfest gathering in San Bernardino, Calif. Check out our conversation with Scott Ian below:
I caught your 'Speaking Words' show at BB King's in New York City and you told an awesome story about you and Lemmy. What are you looking forward to the most about hanging out with Lemmy on Motorhead's Motorboat Cruise?
In a perfect world . . . I can hang out with Lemmy and we have some drinks and gamble. That’d be my perfect scenario, to hang out with Lemmy and gamble, as I know he is a fan of that, as am I.
What’s the band's approach to playing on a boat for the first time?
I don’t know what to expect at all. I show up and do my thing no matter what stage I’m on. So, no matter how strange or weird it may be, it’s a completely new experience. It’s not going to change how I do my gig once I’m there and walking onstage. It really doesn’t matter to me where I am, whether I’m on a boat or on the f--king moon, it’s not going to change my show.
Another gig you’ve got in the fall is Knotfest with Slipknot, Danzig, Black Label Society and more. Have you heard the new Slipknot song 'The Negative One'? What do you think of them returning after some time away from the recording studio?
I have heard it. It definitely feels a lot like the first two records for me. My first thought when I heard it, it sounds like a tighter more controlled version of the first record or 'Iowa' and by more control, I mean that in a positive way. I think Joe Barresi's mix tightens up their energy to a real focal point -- to the point where I’d love to hear Joe go back and re-mix those older records. I just love Joe Barresi as an engineer. I love the way it sounded. It’s like a breath of fresh air, even though it’s kind of revisiting where they came from. I’ve said it before, and even to Corey, I don’t want Slipknot to sound like Stone Sour. I want Slipknot to sound like Slipknot. Hearing that first track definitely makes me feel like that’s the direction this record is going in. It’s like six minutes of brutality. Was happy to hear it.
You also have your autobiography, 'I’m the Man,' coming out in October. What was it like for you putting your life story down on paper? Did it feel like you were reliving some of those moments as you were writing about them?
I’m not someone that looks back, ever. It’s fun to tell stories once in a while but I’m always moving forward in every avenue of my life -- especially the band. It’s been almost two years from the time I started writing down stories until it became a reality of it being a book. [Co-author] Jon Wiederhorn came to my house and spent a week basically drunk every night with me talking for seven hours straight and we put it together into some type of, not necessarily, chronological order to tell a story. It was a lot of hard work.
It’s one thing to have a whole bunch of random stories, which works in the context of my talking shows because I’m up there and there’s ways to make that all work and segue it into a self-deprecating and humorous way. I’m up onstage, in the room the energy is different. But to sit down and write a book, it needed -- I didn’t just want it to be a whole bunch of stories. I wanted it to be one story that all made sense. That was hard to do.
I don’t gloss over stuff, it’s all the negative in there, as well as the positive. Some people who’ve read it are actually surprised how honest it is and how, in a sense, revealing it is that some of the stuff I talk about people wouldn’t have expected me to talk about. Whether it was about marriages or stuff that happened in the '90s with the band.
Going through Joey [Belladonna] being out of the band the first time around, really really searching my soul, I think that was the hardest thing for me to write about. Harder than writing about the failed marriage. In a sense, the first time around with Joey was a failed marriage. In a much bigger and public way, even more than either one of my divorces. I really had to do a lot of soul searching and really sat and thought about that quite a bit and revised and revised because I was just not happy the way my feelings about it were coming across. The people probably have an idea of how it really went down or just because there’s things they’ve read over the years. Just really coming back to that and thinking about who I was as a person in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Really going back and thinking about that person, Scott Ian, of that time and what I was going through in my life and really being able to see why I had felt I needed to make that decision.
It was all me, it had nothing to do with Joey, which is the crazy part I think I came to a realization on. It was all on me, it was the fact that I couldn’t get on a mic and sing a word I was writing became a frustration that it seems like I took it out on him. Looking back now all these years later, I don’t have a time machine. I can’t change things but I think I’ve come to a better understanding of what happened in Anthrax in 1991 and 1992.
That's fascinating. The book also contains stories about your relationships with Metallica, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag and more musicians. I know you can't give too many details away now, but do you think there’s one story that will really resonate with the readers and stand out among the others?
It’s hard to say. Everybody that reads the book is going to have their own opinions and feelings. If someone’s a bigger Metallica fan than a Pantera fan, then the Metallica story is going to resonate with them, or vice versa. So, it’s hard to say. I just think it’s whether you’re a fan of music or even if you don’t know who I am, I think it’s an overall uplifting story. There's a running theme throughout the book of this motivation and positivity and moving forward. Against all odds and circumstances and no matter what roadblocks are thrown in my way, just persevering and the tenacity of what it took to still be here now doing this at the level that we’re doing it. I think that’s all in there. For me, that’s what I take from the book.
Of course, there’s tons of great stories. I think going into the accident with Cliff [Burton] is the most I ever really talked about it and really getting into that story. It’s certainly moving and it will resonate with people. Obviously, [Dimebag] Darrell, as well. That will resonate with people, too. I just hope people take it as a whole. It really is a story of -- its almost 50 years of a life put into this book. It’s a pretty heavy thing when I think about it. OK, here’s my life in almost 400 pages. It’s pretty crazy when you boil it down to that.
Switching gears, we know that Anthrax are working on a new album, but is there anything you can tell us as far as a timeline or progress on the disc?
Nothing, other than we’re writing and we’ll write until we’re done, the same as the last record. When the chicken is done, we’ll eat it. I’d like to give you a release date but then I’d be lying. I can’t guarantee. I’d like to say yeah, we have a record coming out in May, but I can’t guarantee that at all. It just depends on when we feel like, OK we’re ready to go in. We’ve got a record that we feel is going to blow people’s minds like the last record did. I’m very happy with the material we have been sitting and re-learning some of the stuff from last year, it’s killer. It’s great stuff. But it’s not ready yet.
Assuming it came in 2015, there is a chance that metal fans can see new albums by Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth in 2015 if each of the bands stick to their reported schedules. Could that lead to some possible Big 4 shows next year?
You’re asking the wrong band [laughs] -- I’ve said it before, there's one band that steers that ship. It’s not Anthrax [laughs]. There’s nothing we’d like more than to go out and play more Big 4 shows. I think I speak for everybody, so of course we’d love that to happen.
It’d be cool if all four bands were out playing new music, too.
Sure. It makes total sense to me [laughs].
You also have your 'Swearing Words in Glasgow' DVD coming out, and you launched a PledgeMusic campaign that has been a big success. What made you decide to go that route?
It was just easier to go direct. It takes the middle man out. I could have went the normal way and taken an advance and all that kind of stuff from a label. I just figured, why not do it this way and own it? Now, I get to own my content. So, it was just a really good way to do it. People who pledge, it’s not like people are just giving me money. You pledge money, you’re just buying something in advance. It’s like pre-ordering the DVD. Just like if you went on iTunes or Amazon and pre-ordered it on the day it comes out you would get it.
Obviously, there’s all these other experiences, whether it was simple as getting a T-shirt or having me give you a phone call all the way up to those bigger items like have me do a private show, which no one pledged or bid on any of those [laughs]. I didn’t think they would -- some of those things are like going to a Yankees game with me. I kind of did some of those as a joke, thinking like, let’s see if someone is crazy enough to bid on it. It still worked great. It was just a big pre-order.
There’s talk of PledgeMusic and Kickstarter and sites of that nature being the wave of the future for music, even for new album releases. Do you think those sites will eventually replace record labels?
The bottom line for me, owning your content is the most important thing these days. We learned that in Anthrax going into the 'Worship Music' record. It worked great for us. To me, whether it’s the wave of the future? I have no idea. Who knows two to three years from now what’s even going to happen? If people are even going to buy records or make records anymore. Of course people always will, but you know what I mean. It’s a constantly changing landscape and everything constantly evolves so quickly.
Three years now from now, who the hell knows? We might be back in 1982 and record labels will be signing bands to seven-album deals and developing artists again. Who the hell knows? Vinyl came back, who thought that would happen? Maybe record companies will come back, too, and do what they used to do well. It’s hard to say. But I love the model, I think they’re great tools for whether you’re a musician, filmmaker or whatever you are. I think it’s a great tool.
Our thanks to Anthrax's Scott Ian for taking the time to chat with us. Catch Anthrax on Motorhead's Motorboat or at Slipknot's Knotfest. You can pre-order Ian's autobiography, 'I'm the Man,' at Amazon, and pre-order his 'Swearing Words in Glasgow' DVD at PledgeMusic. In addition, Anthrax's concert DVD, 'Chile on Hell,' is available here. Check out our separate interview with Scott Ian about 'Chile on Hell' here.
Watch Scott Ian Play 'Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?'