Scott Ian of Anthrax Talks "The Big Four", New Album, and More
Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:23:09
"They always say timing is everything in this business," laughs Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian.
That tried and true adage proved true on two levels for the Anthrax axeman and his band mates. He goes on, "The fact that 'The Big Four' became a reality at the same time that we were talking to Joey [Belladonna, vocals] about being back in the band all made perfect sense. Things are only getting better."
Locked and loaded with all kinds of classic tunes, Anthrax are primed to set Indio, CA off when they roll through as part of "The Big Four" with Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth next Saturday April 23. The New York thrash titans remain one of metal's most fierce and fiery outfits. Ian's legendary riffing propelled them to the top of the genre and carved out their place there forever.
Working on a new album with Belladonna and preparing for "The Big Four", Scott Ian spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview about "The Big Four", new Anthrax, and so much more.
So is "The Big Four" the heavy metal event of the year?
Yeah, I would agree with that for sure [Laughs].
What is the significance of "The Big Four" to you personally?
For me, it's the culmination of many years of work. It feels really great to know that people all over this planet still care so much about what these four bands do after all these years. In all modesty, the four of us are at the top of our game. We're better than we've ever been as bands. Many great heavy metal bands have come along over the years. It seems like every generation gets its own crop of bands. Since Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax started thrash metal back in the '80s, nothing really ever came along to—for lack of a better word—usurp what we did. Other than maybe the grunge movement and some of the nu metal in the '90s, I still think there's never been anything that's better as far as the music we make goes. Sure there are a ton of great bands out there that you could put under the same umbrella as us, but there will never be Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax again in the scene we started and created. With grunge, you could obviously look at Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam. They were four giant bands, and they're all great in their own way. What we did was really special back then and it stands up and holds true today. There's a whole new generation of kids who are coming with their older brothers, their dads, or by themselves. Whatever it is we did really connects with people in a big way.
Does playing with the other bands on the bill bring back a lot of memories for you?
Not necessarily, all of us are very much of the same mindset. This isn't about looking back. "The Big Four" is about moving forward. All of our bands individually have only done everything to move forward in our careers. Sure, it's fun to get together and talk about the old days and laugh about stuff, but it's more about doing this now and what it means for the future. That's the way I look at it.
This is the first show in America too. Does that heighten anticipation since you're all from the U.S.?
In a way, this definitely has the vibe of being even more special than the first show we did in Poland. That was obviously the first gig we were doing as "The Big Four," so there was a crazy energy ramping up into that show. With the Indio date, it's definitely even more so. Even though we played seven shows last year, this is the first show in America. The fact that we're doing it in Southern California makes sense because, outside of Anthrax, the other three bands got their start in Southern California. I couldn't be more excited about getting to do this at home. It's an incredible feeling.
Indio has never had a big metal show. Coachella usually has one token hard rock act, but that venue has never seen anything like this.
[Laughs] It's funny when I speak to people I'll ask, "Hey, are you coming out to the show in Coachella?" They'll respond, "Oh, you're playing Coachella?" I have to explain that we're not playing Coachella; we're playing at the same site. Then I started thinking. Imagine if this "Big Four" show was one of the nights of the actual Coachella Festival. It would be really interesting to have 50,000 of the people coming to see "The Big Four" show up at the Coachella site when that festival was going on. I think a lot of people would be really bummed, and there'd be a lot of crying [Laughs].
It would be quite the cultural clash.
Yeah! I've heard about the Coachella Festival. I've never personally gone out to it myself. I think it's pretty cool that they have that festival. A week later is "The Big Four." Then a week after is a massive country thing that they do every year. It's cool that this site is turning into something with a European vibe. We go out and do these festivals in Europe every year and we say, "How come we don't have anything like this at home?" It feels good to see that in America.
Where are you at on the new Anthrax album?
The record is almost done. Joey's been singing. He's got about seven or eight songs pretty much finished at this point. We've got some other tracking to do—some guitars and lead breaks. Overall, I would think the record will be finished and mixed before the summer and we're looking at a fall release.
Will you be attending "The Big Four"?
Check out our most recent interview with Slayer guitarist Kerry King about the tour here!