Scott Ian on the New Album; Touring and Jazz Extravaganzas...

"Music should be an experience. You need to hear it. You need to feel it. You need to immerse yourself in it."

Anthrax have long been a part of the soundtrack to my existence so it’s a great pleasure to speak to guitarist Scott Ian on behalf of Metal As Fuck about the band’s 11th album For All Kings and all manner of other stuff. Sadly the telephone connection has other plans…

Scott is in Houston, Texas, preparing for the band’s four week tour of the states before they nick off to support Iron Maiden in South America. So how is For All Kings working for you in the live arena? Scott is well pleased. “We’ve been doing two songs - we’ve been doing Evil Twin and Breathing Lightning – and they’ve been going over great.” I ask about the process of picking which tunes get released as ‘tasters’ before an album drops and he’s honest. “I don’t know – you just feel it! Evil Twin was just something we felt that people would be excited about because we were excited about it, and then Breathing Lightning was the official ‘single’ that the label were going to go to radio with here in the States. That’s how that one was chosen because the label felt that would be a good to song to take to radio.” I mention that album opener You Gotta Believe probably wouldn’t get much airplay due to its sprawling heaviness. He laughs, adding “Well, it depends on what radio; they’d play it on satellite radio no problem but the kind of radio we get played on isn’t massively mainstream radio anyway. We’re more on what they call here in America ‘active rock stations’ but even on those kind of stations that do play Anthrax, they probably wouldn’t play You Gotta Believe.”

I can’t believe it’s been five years since Worship Music (2011) and he cracks up. “Yeah! Time is elastic! It’s the same for us; we’ve practically been on tour the whole time – we’ve had breaks here and there – but we’ve never stopped working since 2010, even a year before that record came out. For us, to be constantly, constantly moving and always on the move and doing stuff, it really does feel like it just came out.”

Getting back to For All Kings, I ask if the band will be gradually introducing more and more of it into their live sets. He agrees, pointing out that they’ll pretty much be on the festival circuit till September. “Once we start the headline run later this year, we’ll hopefully do four or five in the set.” So any plans for a visit to these shores in the near future? “We’ll be back there – it’s definitely on the cards – I don’t know when but I can safely say we’ll be in Australia on this touring cycle.” And the current line-up is pretty much the old, original line-up - I ask how Jonathan Donais (lead guitar) is working out as one of the fold. Scott is pleased. “It’s been seamless. It’s been four years already and it’s been amazing. John’s great; he’s an amazing player, he’s an amazing dude. His lead work on the record is incredible, and it couldn’t be better.”

Suddenly Scott's voice is replaced with an intermittent beeping. I redial. There's no connection. I redial again. FUCKING HELL! Finally, I get reconnected....

I heard that you’re not really big on describing albums that you’ve released; is that still the case? “There’s a famous Frank Zappa quote where he says ‘Talking about music is like dancing to architecture’ and I agree with that. For me, other than saying ‘Yeah! It’s fuckin’ metal!’ that’s all I need to do. Music should be an experience. You need to hear it. You need to feel it. You need to immerse yourself in it. Maybe if I was some incredible poet I would be able to come up with a paragraph of words to truly describe how music can make a person feel but why not just put the fuckin’ headphones on and have a listen for yourself!”

I bring up his 2014 Speaking Words tour; is there much of a difference with a spoken word tour and actually performing music? “It’s a ‘proper’ show and when I get up on stage I know that I’ve easily got three hours of things to talk about but the difference is that I have the freedom to do whatever I want because I can decide ‘Oh, I don’t wanna do this thing right now; I’m gonna do this story instead’ or ‘I’m not gonna do any of this and I’m just gonna riff with the audience’ whereas obviously I’m not in the type of band where it can just be free-form improvisation. It wouldn’t work in the context of Anthrax.” Anthrax, the jazz extravaganza? He laughs. “Yeah; exactly!” but as Scott notes “I’m still entertaining but it’s different because I’ve got all the responsibility but with that comes a lot of freedom as well. I really love doing it. I really enjoy it.”

Thanks to the pissy disconnection, my time is up but as we say our good-byes, Scott is sure to reiterate to the Australian fans. “We’ll be back!”

For All Kings. Out this month...