Scott Ian tillhör numera de gamla rockrävar som sysslar med spoken word-föreställningar, förutom att vara “rockstjärna”. Rocksverige ringde upp en relativt pratglad Scott då han färdades från Oslo till Göteborg och det tog inte många sekunder in i samtalet innan han hojtade till och sedan sa; “We almost hit somebody!”. Lugnet la sig dock och samtalet kunde fortsätta. Självklart pratade vi om just spoken word, men även lite om kommande plattan med Anthrax, pengar och det där med streamad musik:
I definitely prefer the way when we used to make records and people would buy them. I definitely prefer that way rather than people stealing them or just listening for free on a fucking streaming service! To me that´s no way to get your fucking music!
When you had decided on what to talk about in your show, did you rehearse it in front of friends or your wife?
Scott: No, the first show I ever did, which was in London in November of 2012, was the first time I ever did it. I just got on stage and did it. I didn´t do any practice shows.
Do you see this as something you will continue doing?
Scott: Oh yeah, I don´t see why not. As long as it´s fun for me to do, I´ll continue doing it. That´s really the reason for me to go do this. It´s really entertaining for me and I´m just really learning a whole new trade. I´m learning something new at this age and it´s pretty cool.
When you decided to do this, did you check out guys like Henry Rollins or Jello Biafra?
Scott: No. I saw Henry Rollins do a talking show in 1992 or something, but my show is nothing like what he does.
While doing the shows, are you constantly coming up with new stuff that you wanna add to the show?
Scott: Not really. It´s not like I´m always thinking about that. Sometimes, if I have an idea, I write it down or if I think about a story or something, I´ll make a note. I don´t know! I don´t have any organization to this and I don´t have a plan the way I do things. I´m just doing it. maybe at some point, I´ll have more of a schedule in my brain on how this stuff works, but even going into this tour, I knew I wanted to do some new stuff but I didn´t practice it and I wouldn´t even know how to practice it? I just did it when I got on stage. I just did new ideas and new things for this show on this tour. Maybe I prefer to do it that way? It´s a lot more fee form that way for me. Like I said, it´s really fun, it´s really entertaining, it´s really challenging for me to be able to just think; “Alright, I´m just gonna do this and if it goes over great, that´s awesome and if it doesn´t go over great, I don´t care either.” It´s just fun for me.
Driving around in a rental car from country to country, a bit more low budget that usual, is it a bit like the early days when you started touring with Anthrax?
Scott: No, this is much easier, as far as travel goes. When you´re travelling with a band, you´ve got five guys and maybe a couple of roadies and all the gear in a van, and it sucks. (laughs) This is me and one or maybe two people in a nice cars, staying in a hotel every night. It´s much easier and even easier than travelling with Anthrax now, because I´m in a hotel every night and the drives aren´t that long and I get work done in the car on the way. I try and work on Anthrax music and lyrics when I´m in the car, because what else do I have to do, except look out the window. It´s a good time for me to focus on things. The travelling bit of this, is much easier then when you´re travelling with a band.
These days, everybody´s got a book out, you´re out telling stories from your life, Anthrax posts studio reports on the new album. It´s kinda like there are no secrets anymore. It´s so different from let´s say the 80´s when you read Kerrang. How do you feel about that?
Scott: Yeah, I know! Like everything in life there´s good and bad to it. I think the good part of the internet, the good tool, is that there´s no middle man, so we don´t have to rely on the media or the press or the radio like you used to in a sense. In the 80´s there were a lot of magazines that promoted this type of music, but they came out once a month or every two weeks. Now we can go on facebook or whatever and tell people what´s happening. You get instant response and you´re able to respond back. That´s something I find really cool. The idea that someone can write me something on Twitter and I can respond directly back to them and start a conversation, which we couldn´t do before. I think of that from a fan´s point of view, because I´m a music fan too. I think about when I was a kid, if I could´ve sent a message to Steve Harris and maybe he would´ve written me back, even if just to say “Cheers! Thank you!”, that would´ve been the coolest thing in the world! I´m still like that when I get an e-mail from Gene Simmons or somebody. I´ll be e-mailing them about something and they write me back, I save all those because I think it´s so cool that I have an e-mail from Gene Simmons. Things like that with the internet, I really appreciate and I feel that we can use them to our advantage. On the other hand, I will agree with you, if there´s a way and it´s not reality obviously, but if a genie came out of the bottle and gave me the option of abolishing the internet and it would disappear like it never existed and nobody even remembered we ever had it and things went back to the way they were, I would prefer the old way for sure. It´s just proven, people used to buy records and now they don´t. That makes a big difference in any musician who´s making albums and it obviously makes a big difference in our lives as guys in bands. I definitely prefer the way when we used to make records and people would buy them. I definitely prefer that way rather than people stealing them or just listening for free on a fucking streaming service! To me that´s no way to get your fucking music! I prefer having an album or a CD in my hands and dealing with it that way and having a bit more mystique about the end. Case in point, KISS never could´ve done what they did in the 70´s and kept their identities hidden now. I mean, look at Ghost! How long did it take before there were pictures of those guys all over the internet? It wasn´t very long. There just isn´t that mystique thing about bands anymore. Only certain bands can really control it, like AC/DC. You don´t ever see or hear anything about AC/DC until they decide that they´re gonna say something. Even now, AC/DC is all on Twitter and all over the place because they´ve got tour dates coming and it´s kinda weird and it´s almost like it´s too much. I preferred it when you didn´t hear anything and then maybe once in a while you would hear something, but that´s only one man´s opinion.
The cartoon like drawings you use in your show, who did those?
Scott: It´s my friend Steven Thompson. He´s done a bunch of work for Anthrax and all kinds of other bands. He´s just a great artist. He´s done a ton of stuff for us and then he started working for our merchandise company and he does shirts for all kinds of bands now. He´s just an amazing artist!
It must´ve been quite the assignment drawing the picture that shows you shitting your pants?
Scott: Yeah, for sure! I sent him the story and said; “Here´s the story! Can you break it down into a comic book? I need a panel of this and I need this and this!” I think he was very entertained by the whole thing.
The forthcoming Anthrax album then? What is it that producer Jay Ruston brings to the Anthrax sound?
Scott: He´s just got a great ear! He´s got a great feeling for this music and I think he really understands this band and I don´t even mean just musically, all of us individually, personally and psychologically and really brings out the best in each one of us, as far as people and musicians. He´s a very easy person to be around and it´s just a pleasure to work with him. On top of all that, he´s an amazing engineer and an amazing mixer. I think “Worship music” hands down, is the best produced, best sounding record we´ve ever made and this one´s only gonna be better, because Jay started with us since the demos stages. He´s been with us through the whole thing, whereas on “Worship music”, he came in and did some guitars, did all the vocals and then mixed it. This time he´s been with us literally since the first demo and he´s just as involved in the music as we are and so far everything just sounds fucking amazing. The rough tracks already sound better than any album we´ve ever made!
I remember talking to Charlie Benante in 2012 and he talked about how “Worship music” could´ve been a double album because you had so much stuff. Is there anything left over from that album being used on the new one?
Scott: No, nothing! It would´ve been a very short double album. (laughs) We didn´t have that much stuff. I think in total there were 12 or 13 and some of those ideas weren´t even finished ideas. We did have one song over that we actually tried to finish about a year after, but we just weren´t happy with it and it basically got thrown in the garbage. There´s nothing from those sessions that we used on the new record.
Are you looking at a 2015 release?
Scott: I´m not looking at anything. When it´s done it´s done. We don´t work with a deadline, especially after the last record. When we´re happy, when we´ve made the record we need to make, that´s when we´ll tell the label it´s ready. When we´re happy, we´ll put it out, as same as the last record.
This other band of yours, Motor Sister, what´s the plan with that? Do you think you´ll be touring with it?
Scott: I don´t know. Because of all our schedules, it´s not like we can just book a tour and go on tour. I should know more in the next month or so. I can´t really plan until I get the Anthrax schedule. Once I see what Anthrax is doing over the summer, then maybe we´ll be able to go do some Motor Sister dates, but our intention is to play as many shows as we can. We all really love doing it and we love playing those songs! The only reason we did it is because it was fun for us to do it. Going to play shows would just be even more fun. We´re hoping to go play as many shows as we can. I can´t tell you when, but that´s what we would like to do.
Being in the business for so long as you´ve been, what kind of advice would you give your younger self if you got the chance? Things you know today that you didn´t know back in ´81?
Scott: I suppose I´d say none, because if I changed anything I did, then maybe things wouldn´t have happened. I´m a firm believer in not fucking with the past.
Speaking of the past and the music industry, do you remember what you did with your first royalty check?
Scott: We never got royalty checks because everything was advances. Once we signed to Island in ´84 and “Spreading the disease” came out in ´85, we would get advances. You would get an advance for your record, for your t-shirts, publishing advance and you had to split up that money. Obviously you had to save money to pay for the album, but whatever was left, you split up. You split up the merch advance and so on and so on. We would live off of our advances. We really weren´t selling enough records to pay back even the advances. I don´t think any of those records on island, at the time, even when we were selling gold records on “State of euphoria” and “I´m the man” and “Persistence of time” and “Attack of the killer B´s”… some of them went gold and some went platinum, but we weren´t even paying back the advances we were getting. Record royalties was something that was really kind of nonexistent, but you would be able to get another publishing advance. You were constantly getting advances.
Do you remember when you started making decent money?
Scott: I didn´t move out of my mother´s apartment until sometime in 1986. I started the band in 1981, “Fistful of metal” came out in January of ´84 and “Spreading the disease” in early ´86 and we started touring heavily. Even then, it was not like I was making a lot of money. I made enough money to pay a really cheap rent in a shitty apartment in Queens, but that was a big deal for me, to be able to move out of my mother´s apartment when I was 22 years old. And my only job was being in a band, it´s not like I worked another job. As far as making good money, for me it wasn´t really until 1991. I remember we did the “Clash of the titans” tour in the States with Slayer and Megadeth and that was the first time we even made money on tour. That´s the way it was. I remember I came home from the tour and there was a check and I was confused. I went; “What is this for?” and they said; “It´s the profit from the tour.” And I was like; “There was a profit? Really? We didn´t spend every dime?” Sure, we were selling records, but back then in the 80´s, you would sign these major label deals, but you weren´t hardly making any money off of those albums. You would get a big check in advance and then that would be it, unless you were an arena band, but we weren´t that. In the world of metal, it´s not like it´s the most financially fruitful genre of music. On the list of genres, it would be way, way down at the bottom, of as far as which type of music am I gonna pick to try and make a living at. Other than some bands, to try and make it as a metal band, it´s fucking insane!
Text av: Niclas Müller-Hansen
Foto: Emil Agrell