Scott Ian of Anthrax Talks "Anthems"
Thu, 02 May 2013 11:27:58
"We don't think about it at all," laughs Scott Ian. "The only thing we ever do with covers is not fuck with them. Why cover it in the first place if you're going to change the arrangement. Our philosophy has always been, 'We're jamming on these songs for a reason. Why change anything?' The only difference in these songs is you're hearing more modern production and different guitar and drum tones than would've been recorded in the seventies."
Anthrax dole out another dose of deadly metal inside their rousing and raw covers collection Anthems. They take classics from the likes of Rush and preserve the original integrity while injecting their very own punishing panache. As a result, it's another awesome release from New York's finest metal outfit.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Scott Ian of Anthrax talks Anthems and so much more.
Was the process behind Anthems fun and quick?
We only play cover songs basically to get away from our day jobs. They're songs we play at sound check to stave off the boredom of having to do our own songs two hours prior to playing them. That's generally where most cover songs come from in the context of what we do with them. It was recorded over a period of three years, but the actual time spent wasn't very long. Solos were literally done in dressing rooms and on tour buses. Bass was done in hotel rooms. It was recorded all over the place throughout a long time period. If you quantize all of that time together though, I think we could've done the record in about a week. All of the songs were equally fun in my brain.
How did you go about curating Anthems?
We only recorded these six songs. It's all material we've been fucking around with over the past three years. For our own pleasure, we decided to record them. We didn't really know what we were going to do with them. At some point, we thought they would come out on a bonus edition of Worship Music, but we weren't finished. That idea got thrown out. Eventually, we finished them. We handed them over to the label and said, "We love these. What do you want to do with them?" There wasn't much more thought than that.
Did you play any of these back in the day?
No, we never did. We began messing around with them over the past three years.
Had all of the Among the Living songs been played live at some point or another prior to this tour?
Back in 1987, we were probably playing four or five songs on it. I think maybe one time—and I can't tell you where and when—on the 2005 reunion we might've played all of it. We didn't play "Imitation of Life" again after that because it was a bit of a clusterfuck. We'd only play the intro, and then go into something else. This tour is really the first time we've been playing the whole record. We thought it would be fun to do Among the Living now.
Have you already begun writing the next record?
There are just ideas floating around. We need to get into a room and start working on it. That will happen in September when all of the touring is done. We finish in August. We'll take a couple of weeks off. Then, we'll get together and start writing. Everybody has got ideas. I know that for sure because we talk about it, and we've already started making a plan of when we want that to happen. I'm looking forward to it. I'm hoping all of this work we've done over the past two years will allow us to get in and some stuff will come together pretty quickly. I think we're all pretty hungry to get back in and do it again. I'm really happy with the connection people have made to Worship Music overall all around the planet. They say it's "a comeback" or whatever. They can call it whatever they want. All I know is that for some reason on this record fans have connected, and it means a lot to them. It's always awesome for us when that happens.
What does "Crawl" mean to you?
It was about me taking bad bets playing poker [Laughs]. Nobody really knows that. That's where the initial impetus for the lyrics of "Crawl" came from. "So addicted to the pain and it's the pain that makes you crazy" comes back to me playing professional poker for four years and not understanding why I would continue going back to it after getting completely brutalized in a hand. You keep going. It's weird because I've never had any type of addiction problem in my life with a kind of substance. I'm not that type of person. I don't have a gambling addiction either because, as soon as online poker got shut down in the States, I basically played four times in the last two years. It was a case where I was getting paid to play poker for a web site, and there's no better job than getting to gamble with someone else's money. It all stemmed from that. Getting heavy into the poker world for a few years was a very weird anomaly in my life. That's where the lyrics came from.
What have you been listening to?
Yo Gabba Gabba! and Elmo…I listen to whatever my son listens to. He loves Kiss and AC/DC so I get to hear a lot of that as well.
Have you tried those lullaby versions of Metallica?
No, I think that's bullshit! Why listen to the fake version? Just listen to the real music. My son has been listening to metal since before he was born. He's surrounded by music. I never understood why you'd dumb it down and play kiddie versions.
Has he seen you play live yet?
He definitely enjoys it. I don't know what he really understands yet, but he's got his own drum kit and he loves banging on that. He'll walk around the room and play air guitar. He's definitely feeling something from rock music. It moves him in some way, and it makes him happy. That's for sure.
What's your favorite Anthrax song?