Anthrax’s Scott Ian was the final guest on Jackie’s full metal weekend radio show. Before the live stream event for the band’s 40th anniversary with deep cuts in the entire catalog, the guitarist reflected on over four decades of history and the fun he had to relive such a historic career.
The ‘Anthrax 40’ video series was broken down into 11 separate episodes, which were broadcast weekly in advance of the livestream event on July 16, showing band members from the past and present taking fans on a journey through the detailed history of one of the biggest acts Took thrashes.
In the interview, Ian discussed which songs and albums from the discography he thought were somewhat overlooked or lost, while also expressing the excitement of revisiting his music as he doesn’t often hear his own albums.
He also looked to the future for Anthrax, who plan to release a new album in 2022. The pandemic halted the group’s writing process, but Ian confidently said last year’s events will have a positive impact on the creativity of all musicians.
Read the full interview below and learn more about the 40th anniversary livestream that will feature an unnamed special guest.
Anthrax is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. What emotions were you unprepared for while remembering so much history?
I can’t really say that there was anything unexpected. It was a really nice trip back in time to shoot the episodes of this documentary series that we’ve been running every week for weeks now. We were already on Volume 8 recording [at the time this interview was conducted].
If anything, it was just a lot of fun telling the making of records and stories and giving the story the credit it deserved.
It’s easy to just say 40 years, but how do you put that into any context? The weight of it is just amazing. Perhaps the unexpected was the fun of reliving so much of the band’s history and talking about so much that it strangely eased the burden of 40 years because it really can be looked back on.
The Anthrax ’40’ series really embodies the band above and beyond the music. How are the different personalities and their interplay ultimately inherent in the music?
It’s all – that’s the anthrax sound. It is who we are and who we are. Everything about us personally has flowed into our music since day one. We have always been very open about who we are as people and what our influences are.
We have never been afraid of showing a face to the public, for better or for worse. We were never afraid to smile in photos. We were never afraid to explore other genres of music outside of Thrash Metal. We are Anthrax and I know that sounds very “duh, of course”, but it really is – more so than many other bands.
So much of our personality comes out. I’m obviously a fan of many bands in many styles of music and I don’t know what to really say here other than that we have our hearts on our sleeves. It is very obvious when you listen to us.
‘Anthrax 40’ episode 1
It is clear that there is still a lot of really good music to come from this band. What is different about your zeal for making music as a seasoned musician compared to a beginner learning the craft?
I feel like we’re looking at songwriting the same way we were 40 years ago. We’re just trying to do our best in the moment and when we need to make a record.
Every record is a photo – or if I want to be more “artistic and farther” – a painting that is very representative of this time in our lives. It’s the same at this point in time for an album that will hopefully be out in 2022.
We actually started writing in 2019 – before COVID – and moved away from things when COVID happened. We were all separated and separated and we would revisit some of the demos, but we didn’t actively work on them. That has actually started all over again in the last few months, reopening the books on the new material and thinking about it and working on it.
When we reach the other side of the writing process and decide that we are ready to absorb it, I have to assume that it will surely represent this time in our lives. After going through a pandemic, I can imagine that in some way, shape or form this will come out through this next album. I can’t tell you how yet, but I have to imagine that it will work.
What overlooked music should someone discovering or rediscovering anthrax be looking for and why?
There are a couple of our records that I wouldn’t say have been lost over the years, but those that will always come up first – Among the living, Sound of white noise, maybe the last two records, Worship music and For all kings, probably because they’re great records, but they’re also the latest.
Listening to everything anew is not something I do regularly. I don’t go back and listen to our catalog unless I have to relearn a song if we want to play it live.
Constancy of time… I can’t say it was overlooked because when it came out it went great. It immediately went gold and sold a ton of records around the world. There are obviously some great anthrax songs on this record, but I feel like there are a lot of deeper cuts on this record that people have forgotten about. I forgot her.
“Keep it in the family” is a pretty big deal. We play this a lot live, but for me it may be one of the best songs we’ve ever written. I just think it’s a masterpiece.
Part of the John Bush era – after Sound of white noise things went a little wrong with us and the record companies. Some of these records have been lost, especially the Volume 8 Record we released in the summer of ’98 and the label we were on went out of business quickly and you literally couldn’t get it in stores. There were no more CDs and none were made. It’s a lost album.
Now you can put it online and stream it, but to get a physical copy? I don’t know if they’re out there at all. Volume 8 has some amazing songs on it too – “Inside Out” has a video that is like a recording of one Twilight zone Episode. Dimebag Darrell plays the lead role and he sings on this song. There are also some great tracks on this album like “Killing Box” that I think people are missing out on.
Anthrax, “Inside Out” music video
The world is navigating back towards a pre-COVID routine. What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic, both as a musician and as a person, that you will continue to do?
The main thing I’ve just learned as a person and as a person on this planet is that you really can’t take anything for granted. Something like that comes along and brings the whole planet to a standstill. I don’t think a lot of people ever thought that would happen. Well, maybe scientists and people who have been warning about this stuff for ages …
But me as a guy in a metal band [never] thought that a pandemic was going to happen and that everything you do is going to stop and live music is going to stop completely. All of the people involved – fans, crews, people working on venues – just the trickle down factor of live music disappears, I can’t imagine how many billions of dollars were lost.
I’m not even talking about the actual number of people – the people who were terribly sick, people who died, people who lost people. When I think about what has happened and is still happening in many places on the planet, Brazil is now worse than ever here in the United States and that was a year and a half ago.
You really can’t take anything for granted and you really have to appreciate everything you’re doing right now. You could wake up tomorrow and the world will shake its finger and say, ‘No, not yet.’
It really brings things like they said in This is Spinal Tap, in a little too much perspective.
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Not to belittle a terrible situation, but I’m lucky. I stayed at home with my wife and son for 15 months and I would have preferred nowhere else. I have to pause on a very different side of this thing.
I think for bands in general it’s going to be an amazing thing to be creative because basically every band is getting almost two years off the grind. Most bands can never say, ‘We’re taking two years off.’ The fact that each band had to step back for a minute to clear their heads will do wonders for creativity.
Thanks to Scott Ian for the interview. Follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify and grab tickets for Anthrax’s cross-career livestream show (scheduled for July 16).