ANTHRAX Guitarist: We End Up Exceeding Fans’ Expectations Most Of The Time

Damon Martin of recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. So you started writing the new music in 2007. What’s the construction process been for building this new album [“Worship Music”]?

Scott Ian: When it first started, it was just Charlie [Benante, drums] and I actually together, there really wasn’t a band at that point. Not that we had broken up, but we had finished the reunion tour in, like, October ’06 and we took a break for the rest of the year. We hadn’t stopped in five years, so we took, like, two months off and then I went to Chicago to meet with Charlie in 2007 with songs with really no plan. We didn’t have a record deal staked, we didn’t really know anything. We just knew we had some ideas and let’s see how this starts to turn out. We wrote this record from that point and even once the band was back together and even through having Dan Nelson in as the singer for five minutes, and him being gone and now Joey [Belladonna] being back, the record was written pretty much the same way every ANTHRAX record in our history was written. One major difference recording this record was once Joey was back in we basically gave Joey the keys to the kingdom and said, “Look, dude, we want you on this record, we want your voice, we want your choices, we want your ideas.” He did all the vocals, just him and the producer Jay Ruston. The two of them in the studio without us hanging over their shoulders telling him what to do, and I think you really hear it in Joey‘s performance. ANTHRAX is one of very few bands that have remained relevant and still popular in so many different eras of music. You guys are now celebrating your 30th anniversary as a band, what do you believe has been the biggest factor in fans still following you from your first record to new fans following you today?

Scott Ian: Other than the obvious of because we rule, I just think there’s an honesty and there’s a responsibility to our audience, and there’s a loyalty that goes back and forth between us and the people. Not just ANTHRAX fans, but I just think metal fans in general. I think that’s what’s been able to maintain us for 30 years now. I think people really know, they have an expectation with us and we not only fill those expectations most of the time, but we end up exceeding the expectations. Like when you go to the store and you buy this thing you like to eat, when you open that package, it’s going to taste the way you expect it to taste. You’d be really upset if you opened that package one day and it tasted like shit. That’s pretty much where the responsibility comes in. We love what we do, we love playing this kind of music, we’re fans of this kind of music and I think we as ANTHRAX have a responsibility to metal in general. ANTHRAX has always been a band that’s had a certain chemistry with their fans, and from the early days ’till now where you really seem to relate with them through the Internet, you’ve grown that relationship over the years. Can you talk to us about that?

Scott Ian: It’s always been of the utmost importance to have that relationship. One of the good things about the Internet, and how a band can use the Internet, is to even make that relationship closer by really getting rid of the middle man. Obviously, there’s a lot of problems with the Internet and music, but being able to interact directly with your fans, for me, has been an amazing thing over the last 10 years. I’m on Twitter all the time, I’m on there answering people’s questions all the time. When I was a kid growing up and being a fan of the bands I was a fan of, there was no way in a million years you could like somehow send a question to Gene Simmons and you were going to get an answer to it immediately. Someone can ask me a question on Twitter and I can respond to that. That must feel amazing as a fan of somebody to go, “Wow, that guy just took the time out of his day to answer my question,” and I think that’s super-important to stay on top of that. To ignore that tool would be a disservice to your fans.