Scott Ian of Anthrax Talks "Mayhem", "Worship Music" and More
Mon, 16 Jul 2012 08:23:45
Right now, Anthrax are doling out a veritable fistful of metal and so much more on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.
The legendary thrashers currently headline the festival's second stage, and they're ripping through one of their tightest and toughest sets in their legendary history. It's made up of one deadly and decisive blow after another from classics like "Indians" and "I Am the Law" to new bruisers from Worship Music such as "Fight 'Em Til You Can't". Throughout an impressive festival comprised of standouts, it's always a moment to remember.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, guitarist Scott Ian talks Mayhem, Worship Music, and a whole lot more…
How did you construct the setlist for Rockstar Mayhem Festival?
We'd just gotten back from Europe. We were over there playing festivals. For some of the festivals, we had a 40-minute set time. We actually had three chances to fuck with the best 40-minute set we could put together. When we played the Download Festival, we felt that show went over so well that's the setlist we decided to go with for Mayhem. Honestly, we're trying to pack in as much music as we can into 40 minutes. People aren't coming to see us say, "Hey, how are you doing?" In a 40 minute set, we don't really need much time to take a break or have a drink because it's only 40 minutes. Our attitude is, "Let's just get up there and be in people's faces for that whole time".
The second stage lends itself to that.
Yeah, we've played these kinds of sheds many times. This is our first time ever being out on a second stage. We have had the position of opening shows at 6:30pm or 7pm in a shed to a lot of empty seats. There's no vibe. Even if there are a lot of people out there, you're still just looking out at empty seats. Maybe there are some people on the lawn going nuts, but there's no connection. If you're in Slayer or Slipknot and you're going on much later, the place is full. It's still a different vibe obviously than the second stage. It's great for just as many other reasons. When we were offered this tour, they gave us the choice to open the main stage or close the second. There was no decision for us. This is what we want to do. The crowds are going to be fucking nuts every show. It's the obvious choice.
Do you feel like this bill is a balanced mix of old school and new school bands?
Sure! It's funny because on our stage you've got a bunch of young bands and then us closing it. Our combined age is probably more than all of the other bands who were on before us combined [Laughs]. We set the tone in a sense because then there's Motörhead, Slayer, and Slipknot. It's like a half-and-half day between new and old.
"Fight 'Em Til You Can't" definitely fits well with the classics.
Thank you! We try our best.
Did you write any of the new material with the show in mind?
When we write, we don't really think that way. Once a song is written—or there's even a bare bones arrangement—there have been many times where we'll say, "I can't wait to play this one live. This is going to be crazy". That's already after something is together though. I can't say we start with an idea that's going to be crazy live because I don't know how we would do that. If you're trying to do that, I don't know how you'd accomplish it.
It seems like you guys are always ready for war when you hit the stage.
I kind of look at it that way! We're not doing battle with anybody else. It's us and the audience going to war together. If war was fun, that is [Laughs]. We want to get on stage and do the best we could possibly do for the people who pay their hard-earned money to see us and want to have a good time. From the time we get on stage, it's our responsibility to show those people how good of a time they can have at an Anthrax show. That's really the most important thing to me. All I care about is the show and making sure we're the best band we can be for those 40 minutes.
Have you begun writing for the next record?
I can't say we've officially started writing. There are a couple of ideas from the Worship Music sessions that didn't get finished which are close. They still need some work. That's why they're not on the album. I'd think maybe at some point we'll start working on those and take it from there, but our attitude is even though we've been on tour since September when the album came out, it's still so early. We feel like we have a lot of work to do and a long way to do until the end of the cycle for this album. There's no reason to rush anything.
Is there anything you haven't played off Worship Music that you're itching to play?
On the headline tour, we've been doing five songs off the album. Once or twice, we may have done six. We haven't played "Revolution Screams" yet live. We haven't played "Crawl", "Giant", or "Judas Priest" yet. I think we've played the rest of it. We've fucked around with the other songs at soundcheck and stuff like that. We start headlining again in September. It's the third leg of the Anthrax, Testament, Death Angel tour and maybe on that run, we'll be able to bust out one or two different songs we haven't done yet.
What's up with The Damned Things?
The idea of making a record someday certainly seems possible and like something I'd love to revisit. I don't know how we'd ever tour it because none of us have that kind of time. Maybe we make a record ourselves and put it out.
Check out Scott Ian's favorite books here!
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