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A Discussion With Anthrax's Scott Ian By Zack Segur
The band Anthrax has been at the forefront of the heavy metal movement for almost two decades. They are currently on tour promoting the May 6 release of their latest album, "We've Come for You All."
Slushfactory.com spoke to guitarist, songwriter, and comic book fan Scott Ian about the new CD, kicking off MTV's newly-established Headbanger's Ball, comics, superhero powers, and a painter they worked with named Alex Ross.
Zack: Your new CD ďWeíve Come For You AllĒ is absolutely great. What kind of potential do you think that this album has compared to your previous releases?
Scott: Well, I think that the time overall now is more right for this type of music than it has been for our last two records, which came out in í98 and í95. So now in 2003, thereís just so much more of a possibility to actually have success with this kind of type of music. Things have really turned around and so much more is happening with hard rock and heavy metal these days. With the fact that MTV is bringing back Headbangerís Ball and that they called us to be a part of the big kick off thing. Even that alone shows you just how different that things are compared to back in í98 or í95, because back then, MTV wouldnít even touch this music. They didnít have shows like Uranium on Much Music and Extreme Rock on MTV2 and radio even playing this type of stuff, so when you use the wordÖ
Scott: Thatís a really good word because the potential is there. Itís just a case of, once again hopefully, a label realizing what the potential is and making it happen.
Zack: Concerning the writing on the album, I know that Charlie usually has done most of the music, while John did most of the lyrics. I heard that you did more of the lyric writing on this one. What songs did you work on?
Scott: Well, I wrote all of the lyrics except for one song. Thatís pretty much how itís always been done. Where did it say that IÖ.
Zack: I had just read from other articles in the past that John had done quite a bit of writing onÖ
Scott: Well, yeah, but still, itís kinda my domain.
Zack: What was the song that John wrote on this album?
Scott: ďAny Place But Here.Ē You know, donít get me wrong, John contributes to everything, but itís still pretty much my area.
Zack: For the ďSafe HomeĒ single, what convinced you guys to pick that song as the albumís first single?
Scott: It just connects so strongly I think, and I think that itís an obvious choice. It sounds like Anthrax, but doesnít sound like anything that weíve done before. I think that people are surprised when they hear it and they donít know who it is. Then they find out that itís us and there is a happy/surprised look that they get. People seem to really connect with it. Anyone that hears it for the first time, I think they can really feel the power and emotion of the music in the lyrics to that song. ďSafe HomeĒ can be a metaphor for so many different things. Specifically, with the world being in the state that itís in, in 2003, I think that itís an idea that many people can really connect with.
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Zack: I watched the E-card for ďSafe HomeĒ many times on anthrax.com. Who came up with the idea to make the card?
Scott: Sanctuary came up with the idea, but I have no idea who did the actual work.
Zack: The cover work on your album is awesome. How did you get Alex Ross to do the art?
Scott: We just contacted him. It was actually our webmaster who had the idea to try to contact him. Surprisingly enough, Alex came back and said, ďYeah, I would love to work with them. He started doing sketches and then we saw the sketch of what was to become the album cover. We were all blown away and we were like, thatís it. Itís pretty amazing for me because Iím a big comic book fan and Iíve been a fan of Alexís forever so it was unbelievable to me to have him do our album cover. Now I get to be depicted as a superhero.
Zack: Are you still really into comic books? Do you still read them?
Scott: Yes sir, anything by Frank Miller or like Alan Moore. Only certain writers Iíll actually still read. Thatís it.
Zack: When you talked about Headbangerís Ball earlier, are you guys hosting it and how did this all come about?
Scott: Weíre actually not sure what weíre doing. We know weíre playing a show with us and Godsmack. Weíll probably be hosting some D.J. stuff, but outside of that, Iím really not sure. We havenít gotten that many details about it.
Zack: Now, as for the tour, how did you get hooked up to play with Motorhead?
Scott: We had already done a run with them in Europe last October for a month and it really went so well, that we figured that since we had a record coming out May 6th, Motorhead ended up contacting us to do something together in the states. It just seemed like the logical thing to do except to make it a co-headlining act instead of us opening for them like we did in Europe.
Zack: Are you going to be playing first or being the last act?
Scott: Thereís an opening band, but we play a full headlining set. Actually, in Chicago, we close the two nights there, so weíre actually the closing band.
Zack: What are your plans for touring after youíre done here in the U.S., and do you comment on the rumors that youíre playing with Iron Maiden in the fall?
Scott: We donít know. We go right back to Europe as soon as weíre done with Motorhead until the middle of July, playing festivals and more headlining shows in Europe. I believe we then go straight to Japan and Australia to play some festivals in Japan. Thatís about as far as we got. Iím just sure what weíre doing in August. Then in September and October, weíre hoping to do the states again. Thatís kinda what weíre looking at right now.
Zack: I went to your concert with Judas Priest back in Detroit last year.
Scott: Oh really? At the Palace [of Auburn Hills]?
Zack: Yeah, at the Palace. I know you guys were supposed to end up doing a live show recording in Chicago, but that didnít end up happening, correct?
Scott: No, we couldnít just because thereís no way to do a live show as an opening band. Technically, things just couldnít happen because we didnít have a long enough set to play either so it just made no sense to us.
Zack: Would there be a live show recording this time around since youíll be a co-headlining act?
Scott: I donít know about on this tour. Put it this way, weíre not going to do a live record. To me, a live record is pointless. At some point, weíll do a lone form DVD thing, but when and where, we still donít know that yet.
Zack: On somewhat of a different note, with the events of 2001, I know that I received criticism for running a website (http://anthrax.fateback.com) dedicated to you guys. Have you felt any of the negative publicity and how do you feel about this new attention?
Scott: Well, we never had any negative publicity strangely enough. As far as Iím concerned, people left us alone. The only stuff that we were hearing was to not change our name really. The amount of traffic that was coming through the site and the stuff that people were saying was pretty overwhelmingly positive. If you really look at it, it would be kind of ridicules for someone to come after us because:
A. That would mean that they were completely clueless thinking that we just took our name last week after this shit happens. If that was the case, then yeah, we should get a lot of negative publicity. But you know, having the name since 1981, no one really got on us for that.
B. On the other side of it, people should have better things to worry about or bigger, more important things to write about than whether or not some heavy metal band is gonna change their name because of the anthrax attack. Itís kinda how we looked at it from the start. If anyone was gonna come after us, itís like, well youíre the idiot because youíre wasting your time talking to us about something thatís probably, you know. Thereís much bigger fish to fry at that time you know, letís put it that way.
Zack: Totally right on that one. Back to comic books for a moment. What have you thought of the comic book movies so far like X-Men, Spider-Man, and Daredevil, and are you looking forward to the X-Men sequel and The Hulk?
Scott: I liked X-Men a lot. I thought Spider-Man was entertaining. The only parts that I really liked about Spider-Man was the first hour when he gets bit and heís up and first discovering his powers and all that stuff. I think that it was done really well. Once he got into it with the Green Goblin and all, I really hated the Green Goblin. With the mask in that movie, it almost ruined the whole movie for me just because it was so terrible looking. It made him look like a transformer or something. Spider-Man had his mask, why couldnít they have the real Green Goblin mask? I just didnít get that. So it was entertaining, but I canít say that I was thrilled by it. Daredevil, I just didnít bother with because, truthfully, Iím not a Ben Affleck fan and Iíd already read a script of it, and I wasnít interested in the story at all. If they would have done, specifically, one of the great Frank Miller storylines or something, then I probably would have seen if fucking Fred Durst was playing Daredevil, but that wasnít the case.
Zack: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Scott: UhhÖIf thereís one superpower?
Zack: Yeah, just one superpower.
Scott: UmÖ Wow, good question. Well, I suppose thatÖ The first thing that comes to mind would be the ability to fly. I think it would be fun, and I would be able to get around in traffic so much easier. So yeah, for the simplicity of that, I guess that would be the one.
Zack: Thatís cool.
Scott: That would just be my fun power. If I could have an evil power, it would just be the ability to kill people with my mind, by just looking at them and making their hearts explode. Something like that. (laughs)
Zack: That would be cool. Alright, thanks very much.