Interviewed by Dave Palmer
I have been an Anthrax fan for a very long time. I remember picking up the bands first album on cassette 'Fistful of Metal', and getting very excited about the intensity of what the band offered. I was new to metal at the time, so I guess you could say that these guys really influenced my listening habits from that time on. The band are currently fresh off the 'The Greater of Two Evils' album. We took the offer to interview Scott to get some insight to a few things that we have been wondering for some time now. Hope you all enjoy.
Heavy Metal Resource: Hi Scott, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I want to start off obviously talking about the latest album. I think the idea behind it was a great idea. Kind of give us an idea of why you went with the re-recorded tunes from the first two vocalist with John handling vocal duties.
Scott Ian: We were thinking of putting together a boxset for this year for the 20th anniversary of the 'Fistful of Metal' record. We started coming up with all of these different ideas of things we wanted to put in the boxset. We realized that we had so much we wanted to do and include that we probably should have started planning this boxset 5 years ago. There was just no way we were gonna get it all together and release it in 2004. It was just gonna be an impossibility. We had to put that on hold. One of the ideas for this boxset was this 'Greater of two Evils', well, it wasn't called that yet, but this idea of letting the fans vote on the songs from 'Fistful of Metal' up through 'Persistence of Time' and letting them pick the ones for us to play. We just kind of pulled that idea out from the boxset. We at least wanted to do this to commemorate the 20th anniversary.
HMR: So is the band still planning on doing that boxset then? Sounds like it would be great to me.
S.I. : Yeah, (laughs) for the 25th anniversary.
HMR: That begs a question. Do you guys have any old rarity or unreleased type stuff hanging around that may become part of that?
S.I. : I don't know actually, the fans are pretty fucking comprehensive. I don't know if there is anything that has never been heard. I mean there is some really obscure wierd shit from way back in the beginning in 1981 or 1982. Some demoes and stuff. I know some of them have gotten out there through the years. I think there may be some stuff still that maybe nobody has heard that maybe 2 or 3 people may find interesting. Besides the recording stuff there is so much video footage from the 80's that was shot on our personal cameras from traveling around the world. I think there is alot of cool stuff that we can put together from that that people would be stoked on.
HMR: So we might get that then in a combo type boxset. Some video and audio footage?
S.I. : Well, there would definitely be a dvd consisting of who knows what, but I'm sure it would be lots and lots of stuff that people have never seen like the whole Castle Donnington show from 1987. Granted the audio is not so good as it was filmed from the side of the stage, but it is something no one has ever seen. Stuff like that.
HMR: Yeah, people really dig that kind of stuff. That would definitely be great to see that stuff made available in the future. I want to get back to the album, I was pretty happy overall with the tracks selected by the fans. I was wondering though if there was anything that you were surprised at that was missing from the list that you thought would have made it?
S.I. : Not really, no. I was fine with it. Our attitude on this was that we were kind of a jukebox. Whatever the fans were to pick we were going to play. It wasn't a case of us being surprised or disappointed or anything like that. Whatever the fans decided on, that was what we would do. I was fine with whatever they did.
HMR: I think I already know the answer to my next question due to the type of album this is, but I was wondering if you had any plans to support it. It's definitely not like the fans haven't heard John sing this stuff before.
S.I. : Yeah, John's been singing them since when he joined the band. There's no plan on touring as of right now. We jsut finished up 18 months of touring for 'We've come for you all' so the attitude right now is that we would like to get together and write some new stuff for the next studio record which we will start seriously getting together in January. We'll see. I won't rule out touring, you never know what could come up or be offered. But right now there is nothing specific on the schedule.
HMR: Okay, that's what I figured you would say, but thought I would just ask. Back to the album, I thought John did a great job on the songs. After so many years you definitely get used to the way they are and I think there is a bit of a new flair due to John's presence as well as the thick sound of the guitars. What in your opinion did John bring to the project?
S.I. : Well, just the sound of his voice. John didn't write these songs obviously, it's not something he was a part of in the creative stage, but he has been singing these songs, well, some of them for around 12 years now. He definitely has an amazing feel for these songs and certainly knows how to sing them inside and out. It's just hearing his voice, the sound of his voice especially on the stuff from 'Fistful of Metal' for me, it's great and has kind of enabled me to step outside myself being in the band and just listening to it from that point of view. I never thought I would get to hear John singing these songs because these were songs I never thought we would be playing live again.
HMR: I definitely think his voice makes these songs even heavier with his vocals. It was amazing hearing him on some of my favorites such as 'Deathrider, 'Panic', and 'Gung Ho'. I always loved that fast stuff and now it's not only fast but heavier sounding. Hey, I was curious where the album title came from. Haven't been able to figure that one out yet.
S.I. : It really came out of nowhere. We had a different title for this, it was this Latin thing, 'Metallum Maximum Eternimun'. We just kind of found that people couldn't pronounce it and couldn't remember it. One day I was on the phone with our webmaster, and I happened to mention, and I don't know even in what context of something being the greater of two evils. He said you should get rid of that stupid Latin title and call the record 'The Greater of Two Evils'. It is just a better title. That was it, we made the change.
HMR: With new material, we can expect something new in 2005 then.
S.I. : Hopefully yeah. That would be the ultimate goal
HMR: I have another curiosity question. I was wondering in this day and age where the fanbase is coming from age wise to the shows.
S.I. : The fanbase has turned over now to a much younger crowd. The audience that came up with us and had been with us back in the 80's and 90's, alot of those guys I have no idea where they went. I don't understand it, well, I do understand why people stop going to the shows, but at the same time I don't understand it. I understand people growing up and getting jobs or having families. I just kind of disagree with that whole notion that now you have more responsibility so that means that you now stop listening to the music and stop going to the shows that you loved to go to your whole life. Granted, some people yeah, they physically just can't because they are working so much or they are completely broke.or whatever the case. The crowd is completely turned over. It's about 80%-90% people under the age of 25 now. Thats pretty much where the fanbase has changed.
HMR: Yeah, I've never quite understoof that either. I am one of the guys who still comes out. I don't think there is a set of rules in life to follow. You gotta keep it fun in my opinion. One quick thing I was wondering. Has there been any talk of remastering all of those older albums?
S.I. : I don't know. If they would let us go remaster them we certainly would. I don't know, maybe that is something that will happen in the future..
HMR: Well, that's about it I guess, is there anything else you might want to add that we may have missed?
S.I. : I hope people enjoy this record. It's the ultimate fan's record for sure.
HMR: Okay Scott, I appreciate it. Good luck on the album!
S.I. : Okay, Thanks.