Published on January 16th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Anthrax’s Scott Ian On “Access All Areas” & And How To Approach Him In Public
It has been over 35 years since Scott Ian co-founded the band Anthrax, and the guitarist is as busy as ever these days. Not only is Anthrax still playing large venues around the world — its latest studio album was 2016’s For All Knights — but Ian has also been part of other signed bands like the Stormtroopers Of Death, The Damned Things, Pearl, and Motor Sister. Ian has also performed sold-out one-man shows, authored two memoirs, and hosted a variety of television and radio programs.
Ian’s latest book is Access All Areas: Stories From A Hard Rock Life. While Ian’s first book, I’m The Man, reflected on his full life story — including the true story behind how Anthrax and Public Enemy came together as collaborators, thus birthing the usage of heavy guitars in hip-hop — Access All Areas focuses on select tales from Ian’s decades of touring. Among those who make cameos within the pages of the book are Madonna, David Lee Roth, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Ministry, Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, Steven Spielberg, and various cast members of The Walking Dead. Ian also opens up about his years as a professional poker player.
Scott Ian and I chatted by phone about Access All Areas, and below are the highlights for The Hype Magazine. More info can be found at www.scott-ian.com.
When you were writing the first book I’m The Man, did you know that there was going to be a sequel or second book?
Scott Ian: I was hoping, certainly, because I felt like I still have a lot to say. I had a lot more stories to tell… I would think about some of these stories and then think about them fitting into the kind of the flow of the autobiography. It would just, as good as the stories are, they would take you too far away from the true line of the autobiography… It is like going to see a movie and then you are in the middle of the plot and you are really into it. Then there is like some tangent and for 10 minutes you are like, “What the? Wait, huh? What is happening here?”
Especially something like the poker story, like I tell all about my four, five years as a professional poker player. It is a great story and really insane and weird and an important part of my life, but it is like 60, 70 pages of story. In the context of the autobiography it was just like, “That is too much of a tangent”… So I was kind of hoping obviously at the time that I would get a chance to tell all these other stories.
The book opens up about people approaching you all the wrong way, but it never quite says how you would like to be approached. Any insight you can give into that?
Scott Ian: Never, just don’t approach me. (laughs) I am kidding. I mean, obviously my attitude towards the whole thing I think is pretty clear in the story. But I would never walk up to somebody unless I knew who they were and I knew who I was about to address… We were out at a bar the other night, my wife and I and Micky Dolenz from The Monkees came in and she went over and talked him and said hi and was able to do that. But I just, I don’t know, I just don’t like to bother anyone or talk to the artiste. I feel like I don’t want to be a pain in the ass, whatever it may be.
But I would never walk up to Micky Dolenz and say, “Hi Davy Jones”… People do it all the time and I just don’t know how you can approach somebody and not know who they are or call them the wrong name or ask them who they are. That has got to be the worst of the scenarios. You walk up to somebody and go, “Who are you? I know you are famous. Who are you?” It is like, Really? I need to take four seconds out of my day to answer that question?” I don’t know how anyone has the balls to do that.
Anthrax has been famous for 30ish years now, but you are obviously very famous outside of the band. When did you first notice that you were a personality that was recognized outside of the band?
Scott Ian: I don’t know, I really don’t know actually. It is not something I ever paid attention to, so yeah, I really don’t even know how to answer that.
So I’d assume that there are plenty more stories in you and another book is a goal of yours…
Scott Ian: Yeah, although not the same thing because now I’ve already done the autobiography and now I’ve got this book of stories. So whatever was to come next, I would certainly want it to be something different.
That makes a lot of sense. Are you still doing one-man show performances?
Scott Ian: I’m hoping to, yeah. The hard thing with that is just scheduling, because of my schedule with Anthrax… Just being able to find the time to do more one-man shows is the issue, but I absolutely want to do more of them, that is for sure. I love doing that.
Something that’s especially amazing to me about your career is that you know no matter how successful Anthrax was, you always seem to have a second band going on on the side. Do you have time for a second band now? Or is the focus on Anthrax and the book?
Scott Ian: There’s no time for anything else right now, I am swamped.
One of the amazing things about the book, to me, is all these people that you’ve met and have gotten to know. Is there anybody that you’re still really hoping to meet that you haven’t gotten the chance to yet?
Scott Ian: Yeah, I mean you know it’s weird saying, “I would love to meet Angus Young,” but what does that even mean? I mean, yeah, I would shake his hand and I would tell him I love him… That’s great for me, you know? I don’t know, I have a weird connection with that kind of stuff. Like honestly, if I was able to get him to come in and be on my radio show — I have a show on Sirius that I do once in a while — and be on that and talk to me for an hour and a half, yeah then I would want to meet him. But just to be backstage at one of his shows and you know kind of like annoyingly say hi after a show, I don’t need to do that.
For me, meeting anybody… If there’s a way to have an actual experience and really have a conversation with somebody, then that’s something I’m certainly into. But just to say hi to somebody… Another thing I would never in a million years do is ask someone to take a selfie with me. Cell phone cameras to me, I mean there’s not much worse things on the planet than a cell phone camera. I just have a weird thing about that whole thing because I never want to bother anybody. I never want to make anyone have to stop what they’re doing to feel like they need to accommodate my feelings. So it’s just that, I don’t know, I have a weird way of looking at it.
I appreciate that honesty. Something interesting about both you and Angus though is you’re not the singer of your band, yet in a way, you’re kind of like the mascot or the most recognizable person of the band. Were you at all inspired by Angus on that end?
Scott Ian: Sure, yeah. I always felt like performance-wise I looked up to him as a performer. Guys like Steve Harris, just guys that got on-stage and you could tell that they were leaving nothing out there, you know? There was nothing left at the end of the night, and I always felt in the early days, and still now. But as someone in the early days who was trying to figure out what to even do on-stage, I just figured, “Well if I give it all, all the energy I have, headbanging and moving around or whatever it may be, but just if I give it all, I know I’m doing my job.” Angus is out there doing it, then I need to do better than that, I need to give more because that’s already what he does. So yeah, absolutely, Angus was the biggest inspiration on me as a performer.
I know you are a family man and Anthrax keeps you really busy, but when you have a free second these days, what do you like to do for fun? People don’t really know that about you. They know you like comics, they know you are a music guy, but do you have any surprising hobbies you haven’t written about?
Scott Ian: I don’t know, probably not. No, nothing that will even be enough to really write or talk about. No, I don’t think so.
So you have always been a “what you see is what you get” kind of person, where who you are on-stage isn’t that much different from who you are off-stage?
Scott Ian: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I am not jumping around and yelling, generally, when I am not on-stage. But as far as a person, I have never felt like I needed to put on a costume and be someone different on-stage, but whatever I am doing on stage is just an extension of my normal personality. If I go to a Yankee game I will yell and scream and get super-excited, probably more so if they are losing than if they are winning. So yeah, all that emotion needs an outlet and a lot of it comes out on-stage.
Along the lines of the one-man show and the books and side-bands and all that, when did it become obvious to you that you shouldn’t just be a guy in a band? That you should do other projects, too?
Scott Ian: It is something that never became obvious to me. It was just being creative and having ideas and things. It wasn’t like I looked at some point and said, “I need to do this, I should expand my brand.” It was never like that. I by default became the lyric writer of Anthrax after the first album, going into Spreading The Disease, because the guy who sang on our first record he was the lyric writer and then he was gone. Someone needed to write lyrics and really nobody ever told me I couldn’t, so I figured, “How hard could it be?” Little did I know… I just took that over and started doing it and learned how to do it.
Just over the years I have had opportunities to do other things, or finally writing books after all these years of writing lyrics and considering myself a writer, and then finally getting the balls to really kind of put pen to paper and do something else besides write lyrics. Now even hopefully in the future challenge myself even more with writing, because it is something that creatively — as hard as it is for me — it is super-satisfying at the same time. I don’t think anything should ever be too easy, otherwise what is the point? Or you are not doing it right. But yeah, I never looked at it that way. I always just looked at it as if something seems fun and it is going to make me happy, then why not give it a try?
So in closing, Scott, any last words for the kids?
Scott Ian: Whatever you do in life, just make sure it is something that you love to do. Choose something that you have a passion for, because my goal was to obviously be in a band. But if I didn’t end up in a band, I would hope that whatever it was that I put my energy into, it would be something that I would love because you don’t want to be stuck at a job doing something you hate. I mean, I can’t really think of a worse way to spend your life than having to show up somewhere every day that you are miserable. So I would just say, follow your passion and really work your ass off, because nobody is going to hand you anything.Tweet