Arielle Castillo of the Broward Palm Beach New Times recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Broward Palm Beach New Times: “Worship Music”, your latest album, entered the charts pretty high, at No. 12. It’s your highest chart debut in 20 years. At a time when so many people are struggling to sell records, why do you think your band and this album in particular are doing so well right now?
Ian: Well first, you’ve got to put things in perspective. We did great above and beyond expectations for 2011, at least my own expectations. With the way things are now and people stealing music and not actually buying records, it’s just the way it is. So the fact that we sold 30,000 the first week and entered at No. 12 was awesome — for 2011. If you put that in 2001, we would have sold probably 250,000 the first week and been No. 12. Or let’s say 20 years ago, if you want to put things in perspective, in 1993 “Sound of White Noise” entered the charts at No. 7, and it sold, like, 110,000 copies. So, a lot of it has to do, of course, with what other records come out the same week as you and all that. But to put it in perspective sales-wise, it just sucks that 30,000 is considered a huge success in 2011. It’s a double-edged sword because on one hand it’s like, “Woo-hoo, we did great,” but then it’s also like, “Yeah, but how many other people stole the record, and you should have sold 150,000 copies this first week?”
Broward Palm Beach New Times: Do you think a lot of your fans in fact stole the record, or —
Ian: I don’t think, I know they did. It’s the way it works these days. People can get the records for free, whether they’re an actual fan or just a casual person who just wants to check something out. It’s not a case of going out and checking out music. Now you can steal it, because the Internet makes that possible for people. People have this sense of entitlement now where they think music is free, and that’s the way it is, whether or not they even realize they’re stealing it. Before the Internet, the only way to steal music was to walk into a music store and physically walk out with something, and you were stealing, and you knew it. You knew, unless you’re a fucking maniac, that there was a consequence. If you got caught, you were going to get in trouble. On the Internet, there is no consequence for stealing. Nobody gets in trouble for stealing music, nobody gets in trouble for stealing movies. Illegal downloading has no consequence. So until there is a consequence, it’s going to happen more and more and more, and people are going to see less and less original and good content from the record industry and movie industry.
Broward Palm Beach New Times: I’ve noticed you’ve gone back and forth on Twitter with some people making a devil’s advocate argument that —
Ian: There is no argument. I’m not even going to get into that conversation. You’re stealing! It’s stealing, that’s what it is. It’s not free for us to make these records. These records are on sale in many, many places where you can pay your money to buy the product that we are selling. Anything outside of that is stealing. There is no conversation to be had. There’s no, “Well, I just wanted to check it out, and then I liked it so I bought the record.” I don’t give a fuck. It’s stealing. Everyone can say that, “I just wanted to check it out,” or “There’s no way for me to get music where I live.” That’s bullshit. It’s fucking bullshit! I’ve been doing this for way too long. I sold records in the ’80s and ’90s before there was an Internet, and no one seemed to have a problem going out and buying a shit ton of records back then. The whole record industry has collapsed because people are stealing. That’s the end of the story.
Broward Palm Beach New Times: What do you think the consequence should be for illegal downloading?
Ian: You lose your Internet. That’s it, no more Internet for you. Seriously! Like you drive drunk, you lose the privilege of driving. You download illegally, you lose the privilege of having the Internet. The punishment fits the crime. Why these service providers don’t stop the torrent sites and put a consequence on this, I have no idea. Everybody complains about the trillions of dollars being lost, but nobody does anything about it. Believe me, if I could do something about it, I would.
Read the entire interview from Broward Palm Beach New Times.