Interview: Scott Ian
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In his 30-year career, co-founder and guitarist in thrash metal group, Anthrax, Scott Ian has seen and heard a lot. Now he is sharing it with a live audience on his Speaking Words tour around the UK and Scott talks to The National Student about talking all night, hosting the Relentless Kerrang! Awards and his thoughts on "pimpin'" modern day hip-hop. How is the 'Speaking Words' tour going? It’s a lot quieter! Obviously it is a lot different than travelling around with a band but at the same time, I’ve been so busy every day I just really haven’t paid that much attention. I’ve done this tour with six nights in a row so far I haven’t even had time to think about it. The difference is; with Anthrax after the show is done I get on the bus, have a beer and then I wake up in the next city. With this, the difference is in the travelling, there’s a lot of driving everyday. When we are driving places, I try not to talk. I found that doing these shows night after night it’s a lot of work on my actual voice. I’ve never done this before. I’ve just got to shut up until showtime. In a weird way, this is a lot more work for me but I accept it because I’m out here solo and all the responsibility is on me. I’m embracing that. Are you looking forward to hosting the Relentless Kerrang! Awards this year? I’ve hosted it for the past seven or eight years so it’s obviously something I enjoy doing by saying "yes" and they must enjoy me as they keep inviting me back. We’re mutual friends with each other and it’s great fun for me to do. They write a script on a prompter for us and stuff but the guys who produce it are really cool and they let me talk shit and be an idiot and I’m really good at that! Which nominees do you rate the most and would like to see win an award? I’m personally friends with the guys from Fall Out Boy so I hope they win everything they are nominated for. If I insult anyone else, I apologise but I have to support my friends! What importance has Kerrang! magazine had for metal music over time for you? Somewhere in my storage at home, I’ve got probably the first 200-300 issues of Kerrang. I started buying it way back in 1981 I went back and found all the back issues. It was like the bible for us back then. In the states, we didn’t have magazines talking about bands like Iron Maiden and we did have some rock magazines like Circus, Creem and of course, Rolling Stone. But none of them were really reporting on the wave of British heavy metal. They didn’t know anything about it. The only way to find out about these bands was to get Kerrang! so it’s been a huge part of my life for years and years. Getting to be on the cover numerous times over the course of Anthrax’s career was a big deal. And when they asked me to start hosting the awards show, I instantly said yes because it was a huge part in my life. Taking a step back to the late 80s, you were and still are known for your wide taste in music, especially in hip-hop. Do you think the backlash in the collaboration you did with Public Enemy helped to form any of the nu metal music today? Can it still be seen in the industry? You know, people ask us, do we think we created certain genres of music that the press named after we did what we did with Public Enemy. I never thought we invented it. It certainly opened a door, even just a window for people to jump out of. I truly believe that Rage Against the Machine were the band that drove a train through that door; they took the influences in their individuals and came together to make a band out of it. Whereas with us and Public Enemy, it’s not like Anthrax became a rap group and it’s not like Public Enemy became a metal group, we just collaborated together and did something great. We didn’t then become one unit and continue to make music like that. Whereas, Rage Against were that unit and this is the music that they were creating from their souls which blew up massively on a worldwide level. So I think if anything, whether or not they’d want the credit for it, it’s definitely Rage Against the Machine for me that created rap metal, nu metal, whatever you want to call it. Everything that came after them showed that a direct line had to go back to Rage. The only thing I can personally take credit for is, there have been guys in bands that have come up to me and personally told me the influence that we bring to them specifically some of the dudes from Linkin Park told me years and years ago that the first concert they ever saw was Anthrax and Public Enemy in Los Angeles. And they left that show saying that’s the kind of band we want me to make. I know the guys in Rage Against the Machine and I know Tom (Morello, guitar) and he was a fan of ours and Public Enemy's and what we did. I’m not saying 'Bring the Noise' was a direct responsibility for Rage but I know that it’s something they are certainly fans of. Do you think there are any collaboration between acts that you’d like to see currently? It’s not something I really think about. The collaboration with Public Enemy came from 1986-89, they were my favourite band so it was a case of me wanting to work with me favourite band. I always felt like Chuck’s (D) voice and my guitar tone would work really well together. It was trying to figure out a way to make that happen. Ever since then, no I have never even thought about working with Public Enemy again, but certainly if that opportunity came up I would certainly explore it. But at the same time, there’s no pressing need to go do anything with anyone else at this point in time.
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