Why Doesn’t Anthrax’s Scott Ian Play Lead Guitar?
Anthrax's Scott Ian is one of metal's most influential rhythm guitarists — a true commander of the almighty riff — and during a joint appearance with Corey Taylor on The Eddie Trunk Podcast, he revealed why lead guitar was never very appealing to him.
Scott Ian on Playing Lead Guitar
Trunk talks about Taylor's latest CMF2 single "Post Traumatic Blues" and how much he enjoys the dueling guitar solos. He then turns to Ian and asks if he ever has a desire to trade off lead guitar parts with his Anthrax bandmate Jonathan Donais.
"Yeah, but it would have to be more in the context of the hard rock world. I can handle Ace Frehley level licks," he says (transcribed by Loudwire), adding, "Once you get into the metal or shredding type of [stuff], it's just not my forte."
"If I put my mind to it, I could play lead guitar in a hard rock [band]," Ian reiterates, and Taylor interjects, "The stuff we've done on the side as well, you've handled a lot if that shit. It's really good."
Even so, lead guitar is not an area of focus as he approaches his 60th birthday at the end of the year.
"It would also mean I'd have to put in a lot of work and who's got the time? I'm not going to, at 60, decide, 'I'm the lead guitar player now!' 'What's your goal at 60?' 'I'm going to be the next Nuno [Bettencourt],'" he sarcastically jokes.
Scott Ian, Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Rex Brown, Charlie Benante + More Cover KISS, "Love Gun" at 2019 Dimebash
Scott Ian on Why He Became a Rhythm Guitarist
Trunk presses Ian about where the inspiration to be a rhythm guitarist came from, bringing up Ian's known guitar hero, AC/DC's Malcolm Young.
The Anthrax axeman confirms that Malcolm and Tony Iommi are the two that made him want to focus on rhythm, as well as the limitations of technology at the time as he was leaning songs in his room.
"Even though Tony was the only guy in Black Sabbath playing guitar — he was doing both [lead and rhythm guitar]... Just for me, the riffs and his left hand... just the way he picked and the way he played riffs. As a kid, sitting in my room learning how to play guitar and learning songs with a turntable slowed down to 16 [RPM] to learn how to play parts, it was just easier to learn a whole album's worth of chords," he elaborates.
"To try to learn a solo would take days where as I could have all these chords done and go, 'Look, I can play all these songs. For me, it was a case of I'd rather learn the songs and learn the chords than spend all that time woodshedding and learning how to play the lead breaks. Some of my friends were doing that too. I was like, 'You play the leads, I'll play the chords.'"
Anthrax, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" (Black Sabbath cover)
Did Scott Ian Take Guitar Lessons?
"I had lessons for the first few months, just long enough so my guitar teacher can tell my parents, 'He's taking it seriously. You can get him an electric guitar. It's not going to sit in the corner and collect dust.' I had some crappy acoustic [guitar]. As soon as I got a Telecaster Deluxe and as soon as I got that I said, 'I don't want to take lessons anymore. I want to learn on my own, I don't need this guy.' And that was it."
Scott Ian Plays His Favorite Riffs
Listen to the full interview below.