Heart of Steel: Interviews

Anthrax Summer Scandinavian Invasion 2003

ANTHRAX Interview
With Scott Ian

Interview by:
Luxi Lahtinen & Marko Syrjälä

Live pics by:
Luxi Lahtinen & Marko Syrjälä

Transcription and Intro by:
Luxi Lahtinen

One of the longest running metal bands, Anthrax, the New York based band, have released WE'VE COME FOR YOU ALL. This is the their 9th album in their long-lasting career. The album has been received amazingly well by their fans all over the world.

The band stopped by here in Helsinki as a part of their "Taking the Music Back" tour 2003 and your loyal Finnish staff of Metal-Rules.com sat down comfortably around a small round table with none other than Scott īNOTī Ian and he talked.

He talked what?! Read to interview and find out yourself...

You just came back from the Sweden Rock festival and had the biggest crowd on the day you performed onstage...?

Cool... that was great. I have to say that was a nice show so far.



This is your first gig in Finland for 8 years...?

I guess itīs about 7 years ago when we visited here last time, right? I think we were here in 1996 last time.


Do you have any sort of memories left any of your previous gigs when you have been in Finland with Anthrax?

I donīt remember the last time at all, not at all. I remember being here with Iron Maiden. Then I remember playing in Oulu at Kuusrock festival back in 1987 as well as again with Suicidal Tendencies in 1989 (at "Giants of Rock" festival) I think, maybe? Because I remember being here in Helsinki at the same hotel with Suicidal Tendencies - guys getting really drunk. And Rocky George (the guitarist of Suicidal Tendencies) was really excited about being here at that time īcoz Esa Tikkanen, the famous Finnish hockey player, was in the bar in the hotel with us and as he was kind of famous hockey player at that time, Rocky was naturally very excited about that.



And do you even remember that lilī ugly accident during the Suicidalīs set when some brainless motherfucker from the audience hit a bottle straight to Rockyīs head?

Yes, I do remember that clearly. And Mike Muir and a security guy from Suicidal actually found the guy and beat the shit out of him. It was pretty damn crazy...



Also a Finnish TV-channel showed a short clip about the whole thing what really happened there after they found the guy who threw that bottle...

Really... wow!!



Why did it take so long time to record this album? Itīs been 5 years since you put out your previous album, "VOLUME 8 - THE THREAT IS REAL"?

Actually it was not so much time īcoz we started writing like in May or June 2001 and then we were in the studio by November 2001. Then we did a tour with Judas Priest in January/February 2002, so we had to leave the studio because of the tour. We came back to the studio in March and worked the next few months with our new album and finished it. So the whole thing took like, writing and recording the album, a year, I guess. Something like that.



What was the most challenging thing for the band to get this album done from your own point of view? To find the right time to do the songs or...? You also changed a record company a while ago; did it have any affect on writing of your new album at all?

To be honest with you, I donīt care about that at all. That has nothing to do making a record. Yīknow, business is business and the creative side is the creative side. Creatively, there was no big challenge; we just wanted nothing other than to try to make the best record we can make which is the same every time. So in that sense, that was the same. We just wanted to make the songs as well as we could make them. And then make them transferred from our heads onto a record the way we were hoping it would be and hoping itīs gonna sound....kind of translated the songs onto a record because sometimes your ideas can get lost in translation. I guess if anything thatīs always the challenge with every record. You have an idea what you want the record to sound like. This is so much more into songs we have done and recorded and mixed the record. And you have an idea how you want the sounds; sometimes you just donīt get it, yīknow. Itīs just the mix happens and it always seems like the rough mix sounded better than the final mix. But that didnīt happen this time. It didnīt happen last time either. VOLUME 8 and this one I could say the way both of the albums were done, mixed and finished, I was totally happy with them both.



Did you have any leftover material out of the recording sessions for this new album? Any plans to release some of those songs sometimes?

Everything that is on the record plus one other song called "Ghost" which is coming out on a B-side for the next single, "Taking the Music Back single, it'll be on there.




Have you any plans to put out any DVD-stuff in the near future?

Eventually yeah, we just have to film it first, he-he!! We filmed two shows on the US-tour we just did and we filmed both nights from the Chicago gigs. So we have all that. But we didnīt record the audio actually; we wanted to record, but we didnīt do like a real recording. We might film the show at the Full Force festival here and then just keep filming stuff over the next 6 months and see if we can put together something. Maybe not necessarily one just whole concert, but maybe different songs from different places. I donīt know, we havenīt really thought about it yet, but sometime next year Iīm sure weīll do something.



You didnīt shoot any live footage from Sweden Rock festival then...?

No, I wish we did. Believe me, if we would have known how good itīs gonna be, we surely had filmed it.



A guy named Alex Ross made the album cover for your new album. How did you decide tom use his artistic skills for the cover of WEīVE COME FOR YOU ALL?

Alex is our webmaster, the contact. I was once asked: "What do I think of Alex Ross"? I was like...: "Heīs my favorite artist in comics; heīs the best." And he just took on his own to contact him and get touch with him and ask him if he would be interested in doing one and he was. That was killer.



How many sketches did he actually do for the cover? Seems like you have picked up one of the best alternative for the cover anyway...?

Yeah, Iīm very satisfied with it all in all. The concept for it came together really quick. Actually if you look at it, and if you have a limited edition that Nuclear Blast did of the record, the actual box with all the photos on the fold-out, if you look behind it, you can actually see some other sketches for it; raw catches for it. They are in there. You can look at it and you can see stuff. But anyway, the concept for it came together really quick, I think. And then he (Alex) did the painting and it was basically... done.




You also shot a video for your song off this new album called "Safe Home" some time ago, featuring no one less than the Matrix film star Keanu Reeves? Whose idea was it to use him in that video, kind of īas a special guestī? Would you say heīs a die-hard Anthrax -fan?

He is now...!! (*laughs*) He saw us in Los Angeles... and I mean, I have been a friend of his for a long time, but he actually has never seen us playing. He finally got a chance to see us finally in Los Angeles a week and a half or two weeks ago or something and he was... very happy, he-he!! He loved the show and... he went crazy!!



So you guys basically went to him and asked from him directly: "Would you like to take a part of our next video...?" And he was like: "Why not... ?!".

Yeah, he actually did the video before he saw us playing in Los Angeles. He did the video just based on..., yīknow, being friends with me and him just being: "Yeah, ok... Iīd love to do it!!". I just had no idea what he thought of our band; whatīs it like or was gonna be like. I mean he obviously knew we were a Heavy Metal band and he loved the song "Safe Home". But after he saw the show, he said: "I cannot believe this was the first time Iīve ever seen you. I feel like such an asshole!! I could have come to your shows like 20 years ago already and, yīknow, I cannot wait to see you guys again...".



Sorry for asking this, but Iīm curious to know whatīs your relationship with S.O.D. and Billy Milano nowadays? I have read what Billy has said and I have read from Blabbermouth īthingsī between two of you. Whatīs your point what really happened between you and Billy and is everything...?!

Thereīs NOTHING to say!!! S.O.D. is S.O.D.; the way I see S.O.D. is different from the way Billy sees S.O.D. For me S.O.D. is something that was never supposed to īa real bandī, making records every two years and going on tour every year. S.O.D. is what it is; you have seen the history of S.O.D. We have made one record in 1985, then a live album in ī92 and then another record in ī99. You just donīt work the same way like other bands do. And thatīs the way it has always been for me and... thatīs it! Itīs just as simple as that.



Is your next album with S.O.D. coming out in 2010...?

No... no. I donīt know... I donīt know. Maybe never... maybe there will be. Thereīs, yīknow, thereīs no schedule, thereīs no time-table. S.O.D., no matter what anyone says, Billy can go do whatever he wants, he can say whatever he wants, but, yīknow, I think the fans understand S.O.D.



Also, this is your first time to play in Scandinavia after 7 or 8 years - and you are going to play in Russia for the very first time in your life as well?

Yeah, and I think some Russian band is going to support us there, but I still donīt know who...



Are there any countries you still would like to play with Anthrax at least once in your life?

Oh, there are a lot of places weīd like to play. Like Iīd like to go to..., well, I donīt know if we are ever going to get a chance for that because all the roads there are so fucked-up, yīknow, some places may be not that safe to go any more and it sucks. I mean, we were supposed to go to Indonesia; you cannot go any more like Jakarta and places like that. They donīt take bands īcoz they cannot guarantee your safety if you go there. Itīs so lame!! Thereīs fans from all over the world that love this type of music and they never get to see shows now because bands cannot go; because religions and politics. I think that sucks. Iīd like to go play in Israel, Iīd like to go play in Egypt, Iīd like to go play anywhere where kids want to see Heavy Metal. A lot of these places probably we will never get a chance to go any more because even just today fuckinī another bus is getting blown up because of... whatever! People just cannot get along because their God is more important than the other God. Whatever their reasons are... I just wanna go play music; and we canīt, heh!!



So, can you tell us what are some of your favorite songs out of this new album to play live?

Well, eventually weīll play the whole album; not in one show, but the idea with this record is definitely to get to play everything. Right now all the ones we have played, are "What Doesnīt Die", "Black Dahlia", "Superhero", "Nobody Knows Anything" and "Safe Home". We have played those 5 songs so far and definitely will add songs as "Cadillac Rock Box" soon, I think. Actually I think that "Cadillac Rock Box" might get into the set relatively soon on this tour. I think weīll probably play everything on the record.



How much do your change songs from your set; I mean take some songs off your set and add some new songs into the set that you havenīt played for a while?

Sets will be changing... constantly since we started at the beginning of March in Europe. Especially some of the places weīll be playing, next week in Germany and then weīll go back to England at the end of the month, we have already played in March, so we have to do, yīknow, almost a whole different show possible. So we may actually bring back a lot of different old songs to like "Be All, End All" from our STATE OF EUPHORIA album. I even donīt remember when was the last time when we played that song.



After the successful Sweden Rock festival, did you change some of your songs from the set that you didnīt play in Sweden at all, but are gonna play here in Helsinki tonight instead?

Eh, did we do "Iīm the Man" in Sweden...?!

No, you didnīt play that song there...

Weīll play that song here in Helsinki today; we also did that song in Oslo a couple of days ago. So we took that soon into our set, so thatīs a īnew songī obviously in our set, but you meant īdifferentī songs, right?!


Hmm... we did that one and we might have done another different song... sorry, I donīt remember any more. It was kind of cool actually because in Sweden Rock we actually played more songs than we thought we are gonna because we truthfully thought it was gonna be terrible, heh! Because we didnīt understand what all these bands were playing, whatīs the crowd gonna be like and obviously you saw we were really, really happy. And just like in Oslo the other night, it was a small place like this, but the crowd was just so great. We just kept playing and adding more songs into our set. We had a setlist and we just kept going, he-he!!



You have been playing with many big bands lately like Iron Maiden and Metallica. Did you manage to see any other bands in Sweden Rock festival?

I didnīt get to see anybody because as soon as our show was done, I went back to the hotel to shower. The whole hotel was probably 45 miles away where we were staying in, so I went back to shower and came back and by the time I got back it was like Twisted Sister was like: "Good night...", so... he-he!! And Iīd have liked to see them, tho.



Iīm curious to know - have you possibly heard the new Metallica album already...?

I havenīt heard the album... yet. I have heard their single obviously and saw the video and I watched them on DVD; three songs after that, so I really cannot comment on them īcoz Iīve not listened to the record yet.



I guess you may gonna be kind of īsurprisedī when you get an opportunity to hear the album from start to finish.

Iīm looking forward to hear that. I probably wonīt listen to it before I get back home so I can hear it on my stereo at home. I even donīt have it. Kirk gave me one when we saw in Germany last weekend and said could you just hold it in your bag and I forgot to take it from there. He said he sent me another one to my house, so I have one waiting for me at my home, so I probably wanna hear it when Iīll go home.



You have been touring in Europe many times during the last year. How is it in the States with this new album? I mean, you released it about a month ago over there and it has been selling much better than a couple of your previously released albums. What has happened?

Itīs already a way ahead selling-wise everywhere in the world. Itīs ahead of VOLUME 8 and STOMP 442; itīs doing better than... everywhere! Moreso here in Europe because at least some VOLUME 8 in the States when it first came out, the first five-six months or so, when the label was still in business, the single INSIDE OUT was doing really well in the States and the radio was actually getting played and we were doing really good on the radio. And then the label went out of business and weīre fucked. So at least in the States that record was doing good at first and then it just stopped because they had like 120.000 of them that were shipped and thatīs all ever made. So the ones that have been sold, you cannot buy that album any more in the States unless you donīt find a Japanese import or be lucky and get it via eBay. But this one already is, especially in Europe, so far ahead. Like in Germany we were charted at number 21 which is the highest we have ever charted of any album. So Nuclear Blast did really good job for us over here. In the States itīs doing good īcoz we are selling very consistently with no video even yet. The "Safe Home" video just went to MTV rotation this week. Itīs also cool that they brought Headbangerīs Ball back in the States now. And of course thereīs also other Rock - and Metal shows on this station called Fuse which is a really big video channel now, too, back home. So, even if they donīt really play on a regular rotation, thereīs like 6 different metal shows now where we will be played at the time. Even if itīs 1 million people, which is for a TV-show a very small audience, thatīs a big audience for selling records obviously, so... Thatīs all we really care about. I mean, it would be great if they played us as much as they fuckinī played Janet Jackson or something, but I know that that wonīt happen EVEN with Keanu Reeves on the video, so... yīknow.



Is it true that when your label started to circulate promos of your new album for some radio stations, thereīs no mention anywhere on these promos about the name of the band or anything? I heard about this through some internet webmagazine...

Yeah, thatīs what Nuclear Blast did. Nuclear Blast actually sent the promo-CDs of "Safe Home" to radio stations in Germany without the bandīs name on them, yeah, but they said people were calling up and said: "This is Anthrax...". They knew who it was and they really liked the song, so it was cool.



What is going to be the next single off the album then? Do you have any ideas for that yet?

"Taking the Music Back".


Then as for my īever-burningī curiosity, what do you think of some of these Speed/Thrash Metal īlegendsī that split up sometime in the end of the ī80s, and have now done reunions? Do you assume that they are still doing it because of their never-ending love for that kind of music or are they just trying sort of īcash inī a little bit because Speed/Thrash Metal has become very popular again amongst metalheads? With this question Iīm mostly referring to such bands as Death Angel, Exodus, Agent Steel, Destruction and so forth...

Yīknow, itīs great. Some of these bands I never understood really why they went away in the first place? I mean, I understand the whole scene changes, everything changes, but I have two different ways to look at it: You can be doing something for a reason just to get back together and go out and play all your own songs. Or you can try to go forward and make new records. Iīd assume that would be the point to get back together because you feel creatively inspired and we just saw the Death Angel guys as they just opened three shows for us in America, the last three shows of our tour. And they were just fuckinī great!! Granted, they were playing all their old songs, but they seemed to be excited and happy and they were writing a new record and were pumped up about the new material, so I hope itīs great. Yīknow, Iīd love it because... why not? I think itīs a great idea. Any band that can get back together and if they are feeling......things got so shitty for Heavy Metal in the ī90s, so maybe itīs a better time now for lots of these bands to come back and a make record and be accepted again. I hope, I really hope so...



Have you been personally amazed by any new bands that you have heard lately and think they are great?

Hmm... Iīd say probably the best metal record, the best few metal records Iīve heard in the last, letīs say, 10 years, would be TOXICCITY from System of a Down (ed. note: they are not a heavy metal band ARGH!!!) and the last Dimmu Borgir record, PURITANICAL EUPHORIC MISANTHROPIA whatever the fuck that title was?! That one anyway, heh!! Those two probably by far the best metal albums that Iīve heard if you consider them īnewī any more?! But in the last 10 years because I hear those records, I think those records totally would have been amazing records in ī85 as well they are amazing records in 2000-whatever, 2003. I just think they are great bands and especially great metal bands. I mean, I love a lot of stuff; I love Queens of the Stone Age and I love all kinds of shit. I love Deftones and only old Kiss.



Have you ever gotten a chance to hear any metal bands from Finland... even by accident?

The only stuff that Iīm really familiar with is H.I.M. Of course I know Hanoi Rocks, but they are no metal band. And what else...?!



Does Children of Bodom or Nightwish sound any familiar at all...?!

Children of Bodom I know of, but I have never heard their records. They played with us at Budapest, but I missed them in that festival. I have never seen them either.



Well, our time is up, so thank you Scott for this cool chat with you. Thanks a lot...

Thank you guys!!

Anthrax website: www.anthrax.com