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Full Metal Jackie: Scott Ian Talks About ‘Speaking Words’ Tour

Scott Ian
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. He spoke with Jackie about his current ‘Speaking Words’ tour and also offered some insight on the progress of Anthrax’s next album. If you missed the chat, here’s Jackie’s full interview with Scott Ian.

It’s Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. On the show with us, once again, the one and only Scott Ian. What’s going on man?

I’m in the middle of house painting and walls getting cut down, it’s pretty nuts. I’m moving and kind of right in the thick of it right now. It’s insane. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to add a boatload of stress into their life.

You have so much going on, as usual. We already know your musical influences, but who inspired you when it comes to the art of spoken word?

I can’t really say anybody. I haven’t seen anyone really do what I’m doing except maybe [Henry] Rollins back in the early ’90s when I saw him do it once or twice. I know he still does it, I just haven’t seen the show in forever. But what I’m doing, it’s nothing like Henry’s show, so certainly I was inspired seeing him 20 odd years ago doing that, just because I’m a fan. I just thought it was amazing he was able to stand onstage with a microphone and entertain and have the same command over an audience he did when he was fronting a band.

I was highly entertained by it. What I’m doing, I can’t say I had anyone to look at or – it’s not like I’ve been following other people that have been doing this and now I’m doing this, I don’t know that there is anyone else. Someone told me recently that Zakk Wylde has gone out and done some storytelling nights. I’m sure that must be amazing, because he’s a funny dude and obviously has great stories. For me, I don’t really have an inspiration other than just myself wanting to do it.

That’s where the impetus came from. I just felt like it was something I wanted to try, it was a challenge I threw out there for myself because I thought I could do it, but I really didn’t know how, to make that happen and if anyone would really care. It was a big challenge for me, thinking I can go do this. I can stand on a stage for two hours and entertain people, tell stories and be good at it. I threw down that gauntlet and made it happen.

What makes the fulfillment you get from doing a spoken word show different from being o stage with Anthrax?

It’s really not different. It’s the same kind of thing. The only difference is, this is much newer to me, obviously. I haven’t been touring this since 1984. But, it’s very much the same kind of feeling. Same kind of kick in the ass that I get from playing shows. It’s the same thing, same kind of feeling. The only difference for me is the physical difference on these shows are strangely enough more tiring than playing an Anthrax show.

You’d think it’d be the opposite because it seems like I’m being more physical during an Anthrax show. But walking around pacing a stage and standing without a break for two-and-a-half hours, I couldn’t believe how physical difficult it was.

Full Metal Jackie with Scott Ian from Anthrax on the show with us. Speaking of Anthrax, what’s the progress for songs on the next album? How is Jonathan Donais fitting into the creative process?

We’re in the thick of it, writing wise. We’ve got a lot of material right now musically together. I’ve been trying to focus on lyrics now to try and catch up, we do have a lot of material written and arranged musically. I’m on my fifth song now lyrically. Overall, things are — and I hate to say it because I feel like I might jinx it — things are moving pretty fast for us in Anthrax world. It’s actually I have to say, moving pretty quickly, which is a scary thought because it’s usually never like that for us.

The vibe has been great. Charlie, Frankie and I have spent a lot of time writing together. The vibe has been really good. We’re all happy to be ramping up to get to do this again after the killer run we had on the last one.

As far as Jonathan Donais is concerned, we’ve been sending him material and he’s been working on solos. I haven’t heard anything, but I know the plan is to get into Jay Rustin’s studio, our producer, and start doing pre-production on the solos and listening to where he’s at.

Scott, the last record ‘Worship Music,’ even the one before that, are great examples of world-class songwriting. What exhilarates you the most about writing songs?

The fact that we still can. I go through the same kind of nervous process every time. Just wondering if are we going to be able to do this again? What if all our ideas are gone? What if that’s it? What if we used them all up last time? When we finished ‘Worship Music,’ we obviously felt really strongly about this piece of work. We thought we made a great record. It came out and people all over the planet really connected with what we did. Then of course, super excited about that and to have a great two years of touring, but always in the back of my mind I’m thinking, what are we going to do next?

How are we ever going to do this again? What if we just don’t have ideas? Then you just start. You get into a room and start writing, and that’s the crazy thing. I just get so pumped up over the fact of, OK here we go again. Then of course the result, as your writing new material. You’re just imagining playing it live; I get the biggest kick out of that, too. You write riffs, arrange songs, you think wow this is going to go over so big on festivals in Europe. So it just gets more exciting each step of the way.

Scott, tell us about the Pledge Music campaign for the ‘Speaking Words’ Glasgow DVD.

It was brought to my attention through [a rep] at Megaforce [Records]. She just wanted to see what I thought about it and if this would be a cool way to release this DVD. I started looking at what other people were doing on there and I thought, the sense of humor was awesome, that people were kind of willing to put themselves out there by offering these crazy experiences to obviously super fans. Its not — someone is not going to spend a whole ton of cash to go record shopping with me or have me show up and do a private speaking word show for them unless they were a super fan.

But I think this is a really cool way for a band or artist to get their stuff out there without any kind of middleman, without even needing a record company. It really takes all the middlemen out of it and you’re communicating directly with your audience. I think that’s amazing that I’m able to do that. And offer these experiences, you need a record company because they’re a bank. The story is a little convoluted here but most of the time you go to a record company and you sign a deal because they’re the bank and you need their money to go do whatever it is you’re doing. Whether it’s making a DVD, or a new record. This Pledge Music thing takes that out of the picture and enables you to own your art and be able to release it and pay for it, and give people an opportunity to have these once in a lifetime experiences they obviously wouldn’t be able to get if you were just putting this out through a record label. It’s not all crazy stuff, you can pledge $10 and get the DVD.

So, it’s not like you have to spend $1,000 on something. A lot of people get confused by that. You look at the list, it’s everything from $10 for the DVD to something insane like going to the World Series of Poker with me and hanging out with a bunch of poker pros. It’s just crazy s— you wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else.

Go to pledgemusic.com/projects/scottian and get more info scott-ian.com on the ‘Speaking Words’ tour; really appreciate you taking the time to call in. Good luck.

Thank you so much.

This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome Devin Townsend on her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.

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