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  • Interview: Anthrax

    Tue, 17 Mar 2009 13:01:45

    Interview: Anthrax - Anthrax axeman Scott Ian talks new music and his special home game on UltimateBet.com...

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    Anthrax's Scott Ian knows when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. That's why he's shacked up with UltimateBet for Scott Ian's Home Game. Gathering some notable buddies—Pantera's Vinnie Paul, Alice In Chains' Jerry Cantrell, Metallica's Kirk Hammett and Slash—Scott has opened up his UltimateBet table to 20 lucky fans who will have the chance to play online against these rock stars for big stakes of $10,000. The legendary metal guitarist has been known to be outspoken, and he gave us the lowdown about the game, new Anthrax and much more in this exclusive interview.

    What was the inspiration for Scott Ian's Home Game on UltimateBet.com?

    The initial inspiration was these other guys—Slash, Vinnie Paul, Jerry Cantrell and Kirk Hammett—are all guys that I've gotten to play poker with. I had this idea. I wished there was a way that we could get together on a regular basis and play cards. Our schedules being what they are, it would be next to impossible to get the five of us into the same room at the same time. It was just never going to happen. Every time I'm with Slash or Jerry, I say, "We should play cards." Then it never happens. I was already working with UltimateBet because they signed me about a year and a half ago as one of their online pros, so I went to them with this idea for our own private table on the web site. If I'm in Australia, Sash is in New York and Jerry's in L.A., we can still all play together. UltimateBet told me it was something they could do. Then they asked if we'd be interested in playing and adding some of the pros in. We opened that up to the public. We give away seats as a promotion for people to play with us. I was looking for anything to get this idea moving. I went and asked all the other guys if they were into it. Everyone was totally pumped about it. It came out of the simple idea of all of us loving to play Hold'Em [Laughs].

    Had you guys played on the road together? Was Texas Hold 'Em a backstage tradition with Pantera?

    When Anthrax and Pantera toured, we never actually played Hold 'Em. There was quite a bit of dice being thrown back then, but not Hold 'Em back then. The guy I've played the most with is Jerry. He's had a proper home game going on at his house consistently. If he's in town, he's got a Wednesday night game. That's the first place that I started playing outside of playing online. He's been playing forever. Jerry's come out to tournaments with me. Slash and I have played together once. Vinnie and I have played together a couple times, and I've played at Kirk's house over the years. It's always been a real casual thing. It's never anything serious.

    It still must strengthen the bond that you guys have.

    Sure, but it's also about us trying to take each others money [Laughs]. That's basically what card-playing comes down to. If you're playing with your friends, you're not playing free, but you're not playing high stakes. We don't sit down and play some crazy, high stakes game. At Jerry's home game, there are other musicians that show up to that. There's a regular crew of guys. Everyone throws in 100 bucks, and it's just about having fun.

    Is Jerry usually the big winner?

    Of the times I've been there, I don't know if anyone has ever won two weeks in a row. Neither I nor Jerry are regular winners.

    Did you ever see an online poker game happening back when you were sharing stages with Alice in Chains and Pantera in the '90s?

    I find that nothing trips me out anymore [Laughs]. I stopped getting tripped out by shit like that a long time ago. When weird stuff is happening often enough, you just accept it as your life and move on. That's been my life for the last twenty plus years. Just the fact that I was able to play in a band for my whole life is probably the trippiest scenario that I could ever come up with. I find myself in these situations. I won a VH1 celebrity poker tournament a few years ago, and then one of the biggest online poker sites in the world asked me if I wanted to sign with them as a pro. I'll admit, I did say, "Wow, this is kind of crazy." At the same time, I thought it was cool, and I said, "I'm in. Let's go!" Things always seem to work out this way. I'll have some stupid idea in my head, and if it's really stupid enough, I'll keep pushing it until I make it happen.

    How is the new Anthrax record coming along?

    Good, man! I don't know how to put a percentage on it, but we just finished with vocals, and all of the tracks are being edited in cleaned right now. We start lead guitars next week. Once the leads are done, we'll start mixing. We're getting close. There's a light at the end of the tunnel for sure. I've been getting the edited tracks once a day, and I fucking love what I'm hearing. I can't wait. It's been six years, and I'm really antsy to get this record done and out. At the same time, since it's been six years, the last thing we want to do at this point is rush anything just to get a record out. We want to make sure when we're done with this album, it's exactly what we want it to be and not have any questions after the fact. We're really taking our time.

    Would you say it picks up where We've Come for You All left off?

    I don't know. One thing I've realized after nine albums, I don't know how to answer that question. The best thing I can tell you is: it's an Anthrax album [Laughs]. We've been around long enough at this point where people know what that means. If I tell people there's a new Anthrax album coming, I think they'll have a good idea in their heads of what it's going to sound like. That's the best description I can give. It's a fucking great Anthrax record. We're really stoked about what we're doing. The only reason we're still doing it is because we love doing it. It's fun for us. We love being in this band. The music we wrote for this record enabled us to stay together as a band and make our ninth studio album because we loved it so much. That's the best answer I could give you.

    You've maintained the same ferocity throughout the years, but it evolves.

    That's something for me, as a guy in the band, that's hard to see. I've never been able to look at it that way. Of course I understand Fistful of Metal and We've Come for You All sound completely different, but at the same time, it's all Anthrax to me. It all makes sense. In a weird way, it's all the same to me even though things sound completely different, whether it's because we've got a different singer, or we've evolved as songwriters. At the same time, it's all one big catalog of work. Sometimes, it's hard for me to sit back and look at it from an outside point of view.

    What does Dan bring to the band?

    He brings Dan! [Laughs] It's a new voice and a new sound. It's a new personality, a new attitude. He brings himself to the mix. People will obviously make up their own minds as far as what they think of Dan. As far as what we think of Dan, obviously he wouldn't be in the band if we didn't like him [Laughs]. We're going to play with Iron Maiden in South America, we leave on Friday. What better way to introduce Dan. It was just a great thing for us. He handled it like he'd been doing it for 20 years, and he'd never played shows on that level.

    We love it. We're fans of this music. We're fans of the lifestyle. It's been in our blood since we were kids. It never dilutes.

    How does it feel to still be relevant?

    That's definitely the thing I'm the most proud of. If I had to pick one thing that I've accomplished in my life, it would be my career—the fact that we were able to make this a career and do this as long as we wanted to. That was basically the goal with it. For us, it's always been about being a working band—a band that writes records, records those records, goes out and tours those albums and works. That's always been the attitude behind Anthrax. We've always been able to do that. We love it. We're fans of this music. We're fans of the lifestyle. It's been in our blood since we were kids. It never dilutes. People get older and they get out of it. I can't tell you how many times I hear, "I used to listen to you guys in high school" or "I used to listen to you guys in my twenties." People grow up and they have kids and they're working. Maybe they still love it, but they only get to go to one concert per year. Maybe they buy one album per year. I don't understand that mentality. How do you just get out of something that meant so much to you? I understand lives change, but how does that stop you from listening to music? It doesn't make sense. How do you stop listening to music because you grew up. I never did. If anyone should stop, it's me because it's all I do. You'd think I'd be sick of it by now. It's the opposite. I'm in my '40s and I listen to metal more now than I did when I was 16. It only gets stronger as the years go on.

    —Rick Florino

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