by Amy Harris
Anthrax has shaped the heavy metal movement in America. The band recently released its 10th studio album, Worship Music,
which brings back the band’s early sound with the re-emergence of lead
vocalist Joey Belladonna. I love heavy metal guitars, so it was a
privilege to speak to one of the all time metal guitar greats, Scott
Ian, to preview their performance at Mayhem Fest Tuesday at Riverbend
CityBeat caught up with Ian to discuss the
highlights of Mayhem so far and how being a father has changed his
perspective on life and music.
CityBeat: What has been the highlight of Mayhem Fest so far for you?
Scott Ian: For me personally it is just the overall vibe.
This is the first time we have done a U.S. festival traveling tour in
the summer. We kind of knew what to expect since we are friends with
Slayer, Slipknot and Motorhead, but it has been so much fun to hang with
our friends. The crew and everyone who works with Mayhem have been
great and it really is a big family vibe out here. It is a really great
place to show up for work.
CB: What has it been like having Joey back the past few tours with the band?
SI: It’s been like two and a half years already. Hopefully
that answers the question. It is obviously been going great. We
couldn’t be happier with the record we made. We couldn’t be happier with
the way shows have been going. I think this is by far the best version
of Anthrax that we have ever had.
CB: You became a father last year for the first time. Has this changed your perspective on writing music or life in general?
SI: I haven’t really written yet since he was born because
we have been in touring mode. One way that my perspective overall has
changed is now having this person in my life that I love beyond anything
I can comprehend. It makes me hate the human race even more because of
all the pressure that comes with raising a child and wanting to protect
him. People ask what do you have to be angry about and there is plenty
to be pissed off about now. Look at what happened in Colorado last night
with the guy shooting people in a movie theater. It sickens me to the
pit of my stomach for a million reasons. What if that was my child in
the movie theater?
CB: It is terrible and it is beyond my comprehension how that can happen.
SI: Up until he was born, I had my wife and close family
but they are adults and are responsible for themselves. Now we have this
person that is 100 percent helpless and relies on us to take care of
him, so there is this protective instinct that showed up as soon as he
was born. I think that will have a big impact on my writing in the
future when the time comes.
CB: Do they come visit you on the road?
SI: Yes they are here right now and have been with me for 10 days.
CB: What is the longest you have gone without playing guitar?
SI: Probably way back in 1977 when I broke my wrist at a
skateboard park and I couldn’t play guitar for two months because I had a
cast on. I was so bummed that I couldn’t play guitar that I pretty much
gave up any type of fancy skateboarding on ramps or pools. The guitar
was definitely more of a priority.
CB: What is the biggest difference for you touring versus in the 1980s?
SI: Sometimes we sit around and talk about how did we ever
get anything done before we had cell phones and laptops? In the ’80s no
one even knew what a cell phone was. I remember the first time a tour
manager had that big briefcase thing with a phone in it and it was
something like $18 a minute to use it. The idea that we were able to do
stuff back then and everything got done is amazing. I try to think about
how it got done and I have no idea how we made it through one day let
alone a whole tour without the technology.
CB: What habit would you like to break?
SI: I don’t know. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink
excessively. My wife is saying talking with my mouth full so I guess I
will go with that as a born and bred New Yorker.
CB: What adjectives do you hope describe you at 75?
SI: I hope when I am 75 no one has anything to say about
me. I hope the only thing they say is “What ever happened to that guy?”
because I am so far off the grid by that point.
CB: I doubt that will happen.
SI: No, we will probably still be playing music and people will say “I can’t believe he is still banging his head.”
CB: What has been your craziest fan story over the past few years?
SI: The craziest audiences in the world are in South
America in Chile with the craziest fans overall. We do a signing every
day at the Rockstar Energy Drink tent and we get to meet a lot of fans
every day on this tour. Anyone who would get anything Anthrax related
tattooed on their body is amazing to me. I can’t really call it too
crazy because I have Gene Simmons and Angus from AC/DC tattooed on me. I
understand that point of view of being such a fan that you would be
willing to make that commitment but being the guy in Anthrax and seeing
an Anthrax-related tattoo makes you feel great because I know the
commitment and I know how much Anthrax must mean to them.
CB: What is the best guitar solo of all time?
SI: Eddie Van Halen “Eruption.”Anthrax performs July 24 at Mayhem Fest at Riverbend Music Center. More information: rockstarmayhemfest.com.