Scott Ian (Anthrax)

Scott Ian - Anthrax (courtesy of Ish Fauxtography)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Anthrax. ‘Armed and Dangerous’, ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’, ‘A.I.R’, the manic laughter of ‘Madhouse’, and the whole of the Among The Living album – ground-breaking stuff that, as an eager young metal head, I lapped up. I always found them funny and down to earth. I liked the ‘Injun’ thing, I liked the humour, I liked that Scott was called Scott ‘Not’ Ian,  I liked that they played with passion, I liked that they weren’t afraid to experiment and, most of all, I liked that they wrote good songs.

As it happens, I gave my vinyl copy of Among the Living to an Australian kid called Will. He was my landlord’s nephew, and was a bit of a wild one. So his dad sent him to spend a bit of time in Wales to get schooled proper, like, and to help him grow up a bit. He didn’t last too long. He threatened another pupil with a knife, swore at a teacher, and got expelled. As a parting gift I gave him the Anthrax album. He couldn’t quite believe it. Metal gave us something in common, and I had good fun listening to music with him.

So, yeah, I’ve always had a soft spot for Anthrax. I have good memories of the landmark Master of Puppets/Damage Inc. tour, when they provided such capable support to Metallica, and of them joking around during Monsters of Rock appearance at Castle Donington (“Joey fucked up, Joey fucked up”!). It goes without saying that I was chuffed to bits when Scott agreed to take the Words and Music Q&A. It’s almost time for my medication now, so here goes …

Hi Scott, to get straight down to business, what does rock music mean to you?
It’s been a daily part of my life for so long it’s like eating or sleeping. Can’t live without it.

Who was the first artist to make an impression on you?
My earliest memories of listening to music come from what my parents played in the house: Neil Diamond, The Eagles, Woodstock Soundtrack, The Doobie Bros, Elvis, Bette Midler, Simon & Garfunkel. They had good taste. The first records I bought were Elton John 7″ singles.

Scott close-upAn album, song or lyric that means a lot to you?
Too many to list. Quadrophenia had a big impact as a kid.

An artist who has stayed with you over time?
Most of the stuff I mentioned already and then everything I got into on my own in the 70s. Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Ramones, Cheap Trick, AC/DC etc. etc.

My introduction to Anthrax live came when I saw you supporting Metallica on the UK leg of the Damage Inc./Master of Puppets tour.  Joel McIver says that these shows were the moment the thrash metal movement revealed its true strength in Britain. What do you remember most about that tour?
The crowds were amazing. Biggest shows we had played until that point. We felt like we’d “made it.” I also remember we didn’t have any money and we were living on really bad British pizza. That kept our heads in check.

I smuggled Lee Dorrian (Napalm Death/Cathedral) into the Cardiff, Wales gig. Lee and my mate Marv started the stage-diving! Not many people know that …
I don’t remember. I do remember the crowds back then like to spit on the bands if they liked you. That sucked.

There was a lot of damage to the venue (St. David’s Hall) that night. A local newspaper ran a piece on it next day and quoted the manager of the venue saying: “American groups tend to incite this sort of behaviour; the English bands, like Motörhead and Iron Maiden tend to be more civilised.”  That’s always amused me. Did you ever see that review?
No, never saw that. Funny though.

So, what would you say makes a rock gig special?
You can’t replace or mimic the energy that you get from a live show. It doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Scott Ian-close upYour most notable gig as an artist?
Yankee Stadium Sept 14 2011.

Your most memorable gig as a fan?
Recently… Roger Waters doing The Wall.

You played the Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington in 1987. I write about this event in my book. Is there anything you remember most about that day?
It didn’t rain on us. Mother Nature likes thrash metal. And it was the biggest crowd we’d ever seen and they were amazing for us.

I always liked the sense of fun and quirkiness around Anthrax, the comic book stuff, the dress sense. For me it set you apart, and made you seem more approachable, a ‘band of the people’. Did you think much about image at the time and the way you wanted people to see the band?
No. It’s what we wore all day long. What you see is what you get.

What did you make of some of the devilish or anti-Christian imagery that some of the other thrash and extreme metal bands adopted?
I never thought about it. I was too busy with my own band.

Soon after thrash established itself all sorts of genres, sub-genres and labels emerged – black metal, death metal, speed metal, doom metal and so on. Do you think labelling music in this way is helpful or limiting?
Same answer … I never thought about it. Too busy with my own band.

Rock music – music for all or a tribal affair?

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – jaded stereotype or the meaning of life?
Neither. It’s a choice, meaning, it chooses you and you can decide what you want out of it.

What do you say to a ‘rock star’ after you say hello?
Tell them you used to listen to them. That will really get the conversation going. Or mistake their identity.

Your best encounter with an artist as a fan?
Getting dissed by Sam Kinison. He told me to wait while he drove some girl to his house to fuck her and that he’d be back to take a picture with me after that. Awesome!

Your strangest encounter with a fan as an artist?
Getting mobbed in Italy and the crowd trying to turn the taxi we were in upside-down. Not sure what they thought that was going to accomplish.

Is there a particular piece of music, or album or performance for which you would most like to be remembered?
My career. 31 years and counting. Not many bands can say that.

What would you say to people who say that rock or the rock era is dead?
I wouldn’t respond. Why waste my time?

And finally, what are you up to at the moment?
Touring Australia on the Soundwave Festival.

Anthrax - live at the House of Blues, Las Vegas, 23 March 2013

Anthrax live at the House of Blues, Las Vegas, 23 March 2013


All photographs courtesy of April Edwards at Ish Fauxtography.

Please check out the Ish Fauxtography Facebook page:

Scott Ian brings his Spoken Word show to the UK in May. For more information on these special gigs, please visit Scott’s website.

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