5 minutes alone with… Anthrax’s Scott Ian

(Image credit: Will Ireland)

Anthrax guitarst Scott Ian is one of the founding fathers of thrash metal. Since they formed in 1981, the New Yorkers have released 11 albums. Ian formed infamous thrash/hardcore provocateurs Stormtroopers Of Death in the mid-80s, and plays in The Damned Things alongside members of Fall Out Boy, Alkaline Trio and Every Time I Die. We pulled up an iron throne to get his thoughts on life, the universe and everything.

What’s the worst thing about being in a band?

“Alice Cooper once said, ‘They don’t pay me to play, they pay me to travel.’ To me, there is no worst thing because it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. The travelling can be a pain in the ass but I can’t complain; the time I have away from my family affords me more time with them in the long run because I’m not working a 9-5 job.”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“When the band first started, I quit college and worked in my dad’s office so I could afford equipment and demos. My mom wasn’t thrilled with my life choice but my dad said to me, ‘If this is where your passion and your heart is, you have to try it and you can always go back to school later.’”

When was the first time you felt like a rockstar?

“I think of guys like Steven Tyler and Gene Simmons as rockstars. I’ve never lived a lifestyle like those guys. However, being in Anthrax sometimes helps me get a table in a restaurant when there wasn’t a reservation, so that makes me feel like a rockstar!”

What’s been your worst experience on drugs?

“I dabbled with mushrooms once in New York City and it went really bad. For the first hour, I’d figured out every secret of the universe and I had to write it all down. Then I somehow called a limo to take me and my two friends to a rock bar and I realised my friends had died, came back as zombies and were trying to eat me, so I tried to jump out of the moving car. That devolved into me thinking they were all part of some cabal trying to kill me, so I made the driver pull over so I could get away. I ended up in a hospital at 5.30am coming down from this crazy trip realising what an asshole I am. I’ve not touched any drugs since!”

When was the last time you cried?

“Yesterday, while I was watching Avengers: Endgame. Endgame is the culmination of 10 years of Marvel movies and 49 years of my life as a comic book fan. I made a note of every time I got choked up in the movie so I could tell my wife afterwards – there were seven.”

What’s your favourite stage memory with Anthrax?

“The first festival we ever did, Monsters Of Rock, at Castle Donington in 1987, in front of 80,000 people. I’ve never seen or felt anything like the response we got from that crowd, it was 10 times bigger than any show we had ever played. We played Download festival again this year at that same site and it feels extra-special whenever we’re back.”

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen in an Anthrax crowd?

“Whenever we play in Santiago, Chile, the fans always sneak these big road flares into the venues and they start giant circle pits with huge flares. It’s fucking nuts. The fans tell us they’re very careful about it but come on, some people are definitely getting their hair burned. Apparently it’s normal for a metal show there and that’s why they’re the craziest audience in the world.”

Published in Metal Hammer #326

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