The MusicNerd Q&A With Anthrax’s Scott Ian

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Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian is rarely at a loss for words. A prolific blogger and active social media participant, Scott is taking his love of words on the road. The musician is getting set to undertake his first spoken word tour of North America, including three late February dates in Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa. The closest he will be coming to Atlantic Canada is the tour ending show on March 8 in Portland, Maine.

A complete listing of Scott Ian’s Speaking Words tour dates can be found here.

Scott spoke with The MusicNerd Chronicles last week about which artist inspired him to undertake a spoken word tour as well as Anthrax’s recent Grammy Award loss:

When I heard about you taking a spoken-word show on the road, my first thought was “What took so long?” Was this something you had been contemplating for a while?

It was something that I have had in the back of my mind since seeing Henry Rollins do it back in the ‘90s. I was already a fan of his, having read his books. I was just so impressed with him going on stage and holding the audience’s attention for 2.5 hours.

So who or what finally got the ball rolling?

I got a call from an agent in the U.K. asking if I wanted to do a solo show as a part of Rock Stars Say The Funniest Things. It was a good four to five months before it was happening so I said yes based on the fact I felt as though I had enough time to prepare a professional show. I had all these grand plans that I would write everything out and put on a show for my friends to try everything out. All of those plans disappeared over the course of five months. I was in my hotel room in London the night before the show swearing at myself because I had no idea of what I was going to do.  The first five minutes of the show, I was shaking but as soon as I got my first laugh where I expected people to laugh, I calmed down. Two and a half hours later, I was in my dressing room asking how I could do more of those shows.

How was the initial run of spoken word shows that you did in Europe?

People were digging it for sure. I mean, if the shows weren’t working, I wouldn’t have finished the tour [laughs].

Was bringing your spoken word tour to Europe first a deliberate thing so that any potential kinks could be worked out before bringing the show to North America?

I hadn’t planned on trying the spoken word thing outside of the United States first. It is just the way that things worked out. If anything, bringing the show to the United Kingdom was more intimidating. I am a huge fan of British comedy and their dry sense of humour. I am so grateful that the people of the U.K. took a risk on coming to see the show.

I am sure there is some material that carries over from night to night but otherwise, I am assuming that you are not delivering the exact same show every night.

I need to keep myself and my brain engaged. If I was saying the same shit in the same order night after night, I would be sick of hearing myself. If I were to stick with the same routine every show, shit would get really boring really quickly.

Anthrax always felt that way about our set lists too, that if we ever got bored of playing a specific song, we take it out of the set list. I think it would otherwise be obvious to the audience that we aren’t into it. We have never just wanted to go through the motions. It is something that we have always remained very aware of.

What kind of stories are you sharing on stage?

A lot of the people that appear in my stories are people that Anthrax fans would be familiar with. I’m not talking shit about people though. If anything, most of the stories end up with me with shit in my pants. A lot of the show is self-deprecating.

For the most part though, the show consists of stories of being in a band for the past 33 years of my life, the people I’ve met and the things we have done.

Could I get your thoughts on Anthrax walking away from the Grammy Awards empty-handed? I’m assuming that seeing Black Sabbath win the award helped soften the blow.

The fact we were nominated in the same category as Black Sabbath was a win for us. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have win but as a dude that grew up listening to Black Sabbath, just to be mentioned in the same breath as them is amazing. It’s all good as far as I am concerned; I am seriously happy for them.

What is on tap for Anthrax this year? Can we expect to hear some new music?

Yeah, we have been writing since October. I don’t want to jinx anything but lately things have been moving faster for the band than they have in recent memory. Musically, we are in a really good place. The new songs are definitely coming along well. Unless something really big were to come along to take us away from making the album, our focus is going to be on getting the record out later this year.

An edited version of this interview is featured in the February 6, 2014 edition of Here Magazine

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