Scott Ian’s Busy Balancing Act

Scott Ian performing live with Anthrax
in the Netherlands in 2009.
(Photo credit: Tukka.)

Guitarist Scott Ian always seems to be busy with something: music, television, comics, poker tournaments. They say there’s no rest for the wicked, and the metal icon certainly seems to thrive on his busy juggling act, which these days includes playing with Anthrax and The Damned Things. Although when A.D.D. recently asked him if he gets re-energized by taking on multiple projects, he replied with a laugh, “No, if anything it makes me more tired.”

In all seriousness, Ian only works on things that he loves to do and is passionate about. “But all of it is a lot of work,” he acknowledged. “The commitment to anything, whether it’s Anthrax or The Damned Things or writing a comic book, always means a shit load of work. Obviously it’s something I’m not afraid of, and if I feel that something is worth my time and energy then I will always commit to it and give it everything I have. But it’s what I’ve always done.”

Drive is something that Ian has always possessed in abundance. “Just the energy and perseverance it took to get Anthrax done from the early days to the first record to Among The Living to the Big Four [tour] — people probably just think it’s all fucking fancy wine and sleeping late, and it’s not. It’s a lot of hard work. As fun as it is to play shows, touring is the hardest thing physically and mentally. But I would never give it up because it’s too much fun, and I love doing it too much. It’s not a case of where I get re-energized from all these things, I just enjoy doing all of it.”

Ian will have a busy few months ahead of him. His debut album with The Damned Things, Ironiclast, was released last week and a January/February tour is fast approaching, while the classic Anthrax line-up has been recording their first new studio album in 20 years. Plus he has writing projects in the works with DC Comics (starting with The Demon) following his successful run last year with Lobo. “It’s pretty easy between Anthrax and The Damned Things,” Ian explained. “Anthrax is my priority, and just because of where we’re at right now in recording, it’s given me the opportunity to go out and do some Damned Things touring. The Anthrax record is pretty much done musically. It’s just down to Joey [Belladonna] singing the whole record now, which will start right after the holidays. Obviously I don’t need to be there on a daily basis while Joey is singing. Of course, I’ll pop in every once in a while, but it gives me time to go out [and perform]. If we were in the thick of it with Anthrax right now, I couldn’t do a Damned Things tour.”

The guitarist is raring to go and take The Damned Things on the road and show people what they’ve got. He believes that their individual and collective pedigree does not mean anything as they are a new band starting from the ground up. At the end of the day, he says, it comes down to making a good album and delivering the goods live. Ian believes they have done both. “We’ve played a bunch of shows, and we know that we can deliver. I’m really looking forward to getting out there, playing to people and showing them what this band’s all about.”

“Just the energy and perseverance it took to get Anthrax done from the early days to the first record to ‘Among The Living’ to the Big Four [tour] — people probably just think it’s all fucking fancy wine and sleeping late, and it’s not. It’s a lot of hard work.”

Given that The Damned Things includes members of Anthrax, Fallout Boy and Every Time I Die, one might assume that they have some work ahead of them, perhaps in terms of converting fans of one band to the others or to this group as a whole. “I don’t see it that way because there are no individuals,” countered Ian. “It’s a band. People need to judge by the music. It’s not about who’s in the band. What does it matter who’s in the band? Either the music’s good or the music’s bad. That’s what matters to me. I think most people are willing to judge something based on the quality of the songs rather than just who happens to be playing guitar or who’s singing.”

The Damned Things: Contemplating life without Judas Priest?

The day prior to our interview, Judas Priest announced that they would embark on their farewell tour in 2011, which seems to be a surreal notion for long-time followers who grew up listening to them, and in the case of Ian, united metal audiences back in the Eighties. Priest and Anthrax also toured together in 2002. “It’s a trip,” mused Ian. “I like to think, why wouldn’t they just continue touring? Why end it? Why not go away for a while but maybe three years later get back together and do some dates? Maybe play all of Stained Class live or something? It seems a little weird to me to say, ‘That’s it, we’re done,’ but a lot of bands have said that over the last 20 years, and they’re still going. I remember an Ozzy tour called ‘No More Tours,’ and how long ago was that?” (Eighteen years, but who’s counting?) “Then you’ve got the KISS reunion that started in ’96, and that’s been going on for 14 years. “There is something to be said for bowing out gracefully and while you’re still popular. “Believe me, I get it. I absolutely get it. Just from a fans’ point of view, to never see Priest again is a bummer.”

It does not sound like Ian will be hanging up his guitar anytime soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.