When we called to catch up with Scott Ian—best known as the legendary guitarist and co-founder of thrash metal pioneers Anthrax—he was backstage after playing a set on Slayer’s farewell tour, which is a testament to his unbelievably busy schedule. In addition to his phenomenal contributions as a musician, Scott has authored two books, written for DC Comics, hosted horror FX show Bloodworks, and appeared on Metalocalypse and The Walking Dead. Now, Australian fans get to experience Scott in a wildly different setting: behind a mic, when he brings his speaking tour Down Under this month.
TEO: What inspired you to start doing speaking tours?
Scott: It’s something that came out of nowhere for me about five years ago. I got an offer to do a show in London the night before Anthrax was starting a tour there. I was curious to see if it was something I would enjoy. I ended up having such a great time and felt like the crowd enjoyed it so much that I basically booked a UK tour right after that because I couldn’t wait to do it again!
What can punters in Australia expect from your show?
The question I get asked most often in all the interviews I’ve ever done is always, “what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen? Who’s the craziest person?” Everyone always wants to know about the craziest, and that’s what my show is. It’s an answer to that question. It’s all the craziest stories of my last 30 years of travelling around this planet. I don’t guarantee many things, but I guarantee people will laugh at these stories because they’re just so inherently ridiculous.
You’ve been playing shows with Slayer recently as a part of their farewell tour. Have you had any particular highlights from the tour?
We’re still out on it; Slayer’s onstage as we speak right now—we’re in Seattle. It’s been great. Massive crowds, just crazy shows. And being on tour with all our friends, Slayer, Lamb of God, Testament—we had Behemoth out on the first leg and now Napalm Death out on this leg. It’s been an amazing summer, I’m really having so much fun!
Speaking of Slayer, they’re the first of the Big 4 to retire. With this in mind, what’s on the horizon for Anthrax?
We’ll definitely be the last of the Big 4 to retire [laughs]. It’s officially our goal now—we’ll outlive ’em all! What’s on the horizon? Right now, the plan for the new year is to get together and start working on some new material. Unless of course, Slayer calls again and asks us to come back out on tour for a year.
How do you stay motivated to pursue all your hobbies?
If I’m going to be working at something, it has to fulfil me. When I was doing Bloodworks, I was getting to be a part of that world of movies and horror and SFX, and that’s something I’ve loved since I was a little kid. Anytime someone makes me an offer to write something, I’m generally gonna say yes because I love that experience. When I’m doing a side project musically, it’s generally with my friends so I know I’m gonna have a good time. There’s no reason for me to go do something that I’m not gonna have fun doing.
What advice would you give to creatives about pursuing their craft?
You’ve just gotta do what you love and not listen to anyone else. That’s the only advice I can give because I only ever wanted to play this type of music, and nobody gave a shit when we—a bunch of kids—started a band. We didn’t care, because this is what we wanted to do and eventually the world caught up to us. My advice would always be: just to follow your heart and love what you’re doing. Life’s too short to be stuck in something you don’t wanna do.
I bet it’s a nice feeling to look back at all the naysayers from the ’80s and be like, “ha, we’re part of the Big 4 now.”
[Laughs] It’s not something I’ve often done, but I have to admit that when we played Yankee Stadium with the Big 4 back in 2011, the head of the Bronx—whatever he was, I don’t know his exact title—declared it Anthrax Day. He was at the show and we got these official plaques from the city of the Bronx and New York City. And I was literally like, yes, suck on that everybody thinking I couldn’t do this! It was such an amazing moment.
Monday, 24 September – ADELAIDE, The Dunstan Playhouse
Wednesday, 26 September – MELBOURNE, Goldfields Theatre (MCEC)
Saturday, 29 September – SYDNEY, Metro Theatre
Monday, 1 October – BRISBANE, The Tivoli