Next month, metal titans Anthrax will mark the 30th anniversary of seminal studio album Among the Living with a string of dates across Europe and the UK. The jaunt, which is exclusive to the content, will see the quintet perform the album from start to finish in front of thousands of fans who look set to take a trip down memory lane. We caught up with guitarist Scott Ian to discuss the tour, Donald Trump and the importance of the arts.
Hey Scott. How are you doing?
I’m doing great, thanks!
Next month you’ll be touring Europe for your first headline run in over 10 years. Why has it taken so long to come back by yourselves?
You really have to get offers to do these things to be honest, it’s not that we didn’t want it to take so long. Promoters have to think that you’re viable to be a headliner, and since 2010 things have been great so once For All Kings came out we became viable again as a headliner. We’ve been working our asses off!
You’ll be performing Among the Living integrally for its 30th anniversary. Aside from celebrating its anniversary, are there any other reasons why you’ve chosen to mark it?
Nope! If it wasn’t the 30th anniversary then we definitely wouldn’t be doing it. We did it at Knebworth a couple of years ago and it was amazing; it was the best 54 minutes that I’ve ever had onstage! It all just worked out as really wanted to do it again. People seemed to enjoy it, so why not? After that I don’t think we’ll do it again, especially as in 10 years from now we might not even be physically able to do so.
Last year you spoke of the impact that record had. In times like these, how impactful do you think it is, 30 years on?
I would think the same I guess, y’know? It’s not really for me to decide that, because I don’t really think about it. It’s a record that people will discover over the course of time. For someone who hasn’t heard of us before, they would probably first wonder what to check out first. I think that Among the Living is the go-to record! I was scrolling through Spotify the other day and noticed that they have a Top 10 list of each band’s most popular songs. I thought our top song would be something from Among the Living, but it’s Madhouse! It’s one of our hits. There’s a few songs which are bigger than that one so I was surprised that Madhouse was so popular!
Do you think that the metal scene has, nowadays, lacked this same kind of musical impact? There’s still a lot riding on the Big 4’s successes, after all.
I have no idea. I don’t think about it or pay attention to it at all to be honest; I think about what we do and the things which are in the context of what we do as a band.
I just want to focus on the album a bit more. Could you possibly pick the 3 songs from Among the Living which you think still stand out the most to you all these years later?
That’s tough! I guess if I go by what we play live, I’d go for Caught in a Mosh. I don’t think we’ve actually played a show without that song in the set since the record came out! It’s also a tough choice between Indians and I Am the Law, but Skeleton in the Closet kind of defines Anthrax in lots of ways; riffwise, attitude-wise and lyrically. People know that song, but it’s not one of the bigger ones.
You also released another record last year, For All Kings. Can you outline the inception of this record?
No, I can’t! Haha. It’s like any other record we’ve ever made – we get in a room and start jamming songs. There’s nothing more to it to be honest. We work on new shit, get in a room and go. I wish I had a more interesting story for you about For All Kings.
So how do you plan to follow it up? I take it you’ll spend a big part of the year on the road.
Well, the anniversary tour is only in Europe. We’re not doing it in the States or anywhere else so it’s pretty exclusive. We will be on tour for the whole year, though. We already have plans for the summer so now we’re just looking at the fall and what we’ll do then. I think we’re gonna stop 2 weeks before Christmas! It’s pretty safe to say that new ideas will start kicking around at some point throughout this year. Someone’s gonna walk in one day with a cool riff and then that will get the ball rolling!
What’s your opinion on Donald Trump?
I didn’t vote for him, that’s all I need to say. He’s our president now, and I can’t do anything about that. I hope for the best for our country, one in which I’m a taxpayer. There is nothing I can do. I’m an optimist by nature so I may disagree with him as a human being, but I don’t have to like him as a human. I just hope he doesn’t send our country down the shitter.
He’s planning on fully defunding and privatizing the arts. What do you make of this?
I would certainly be against that. I’ve been against it for ages. Every Republican that I can remember has always wanted to defund the arts in any way, shape or form. If you hate art and creativity and trying to help people who don’t have money then fine, defund it. I find it amazing now though, because I have a son in kindergarten and I also remember my own public school experience. We had music class, art class, mechanical class, cooking class and more. We had all the kinds of things which don’t exist in public school anymore. The parents fund these kinds of classes now, and that’s just amazing. What’s better for a child than music and art, y’know? In my opinion nothing is better for a child than creating things and listening to and playing music.
Following that up, how important do you think metal music is in this day and age?
It’s not something that I think about. I never looked at metal music in that way, only as something that I personally love as a fan and musician in my band. As far as it’s a political tool, I don’t look at it. I just love making and playing music, and I’m very lucky to have the opportunity and ability to do so.
Thanks for your time!
No problem, right on!
Anthrax will appear at the TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht on 19 February, before appearing at the Trix in Antwerp a day later. Listen to Among the Living below.