|Posted on April 8, 2015 at 9:25 PM|
Interview with Scott Ian
By Dave Smiles
Scott Ian is one of the most well know guitarists in metal. The founding member of Anthrax, who along with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer make up what is known as The Big Four of thrash metal. These bands pioneered the style back in the early eighties. With a career spanning over three decades, Anthrax have ten albums to their name, with a new one currently in the works, four live albums, and six EPs released.
Ian has recently released an album with a side project known as Motor Sister. It was interesting to hear how this all came about and what the inspiration behind this album was.
So how did the formation of Motor Sister come about?
It came about out of me being a big fan of a band Mother Superior, and being friends with their singer/guitar player Jim Wilson and me wanting to play and hear those songs again because the band had been broken up for a long time so my wife and I basically put that together for a fiftieth birthday party for me back in January of last year. That’s really all it was, it was supposed to be that just basically a bunch of people getting together and having a whole bunch of fun. That’s still what it is, but that’s initially how it came together.
Was it difficult to get all the musicians together to write and record the songs that make up this album?
No. The songs had already been written. They were all existing songs that Jim had written with Mother Superior over the years. So it’s me just, in a sense, curating a show with my twelve favourite songs of his and then putting the band together with me and Pearl and getting Joey on bass and Johnny on drums. We’re all friends already. We all hang out, we all play music together in some way, shape or form, so it’s actually kind of really easy to put together.
Cool. So these are all covers of Mother Superior songs?
Okay, cool. I’ll have to track down the originals. Can you imagine you guys writing fresh material as a band?
Oh absolutely. That will defiantly happen at some point. Because, again, we already all hang out pretty regularly so yeah, that’s something that I’m sure will happen. I mean, Jim and Pearl are writing songs together all the time, and have been for years for Pearl’s stuff. So I’m sure that will happen.
Are there plans to tour to support this album?
Yeah, as soon as our individual schedules come together a little bit more we should be able to pick a couple of windows of opportunities over the next year or so that we’ll be able to get out and play shows around the world.
The song, This Song Reminds Me Of You, sounds like there could be a lot of room for jamming and improvisation can you see there being some of this when you guys play live?
I can’t say that we do that much improvising. The whole end bit we tend to probably play longer live than we do on the record, but I can’t really say we’re like improvising.
Has anything changed in your guitar rig to perform these Motor Sister songs compared to when you’re playing with Anthrax?
Just pull the gain back a little bit. (laughs)
As simple as that?
Cleans up the tone a little bit.
Are side projects a way of keeping music fresh for you?
No, I can’t say that because I’m always busy with Anthrax anyway, always doing stuff so I’m never sitting around long enough in any way shape or form for things to get stale.
You’ve done a lot of collaboration projects. You’ve done S.O.D and worked with Public Enemy. Was there any other artist you’d like to work with?
Off the top of my head, no. It’s not like I’m looking for things, things just happen. I’m not sitting around right now thinking I want to work with this person, or that person, you know. Sometimes things just will happen. So off the top of my head, no.
Metal and hard rock has been around for four or five decades now, with many of the musicians now parents and grandparents. Fans as well for that matter, now have jobs and mortgages. How do you think the music stays relevant to fans all over the word?
You would have to ask the fans. (Laughs) That’s a really good question. I don’t know. Bands continuing to make great records and continuing to be a great live act. I guess, I really don’t know. We just do what we do. Or, I do what I do, whether it’s Anthrax or Motor Sister. I just love making music, I love playing guitar, I love being in bands and I just do the best I can with whatever it is I’m doing at the moment so that’s all I’ve ever done I’ve never really thought of it past that.
What is it like when you’re up on stage and you see your audience reacting to your music?
It’s great. Playing live is the best. That for me is like Christmas time every day. Getting to play shows is truly a privilege, that people want to come and see you play and go crazy that’s something you don’t, other than live theatre maybe,… theatre actors get that immediate response from audiences and music. That’s it. It’s an experience you can’t really have too often in life so being able to do that is something that’s just incredible.
What would be some of the significant changes you’ve witnessed in the music industry during your career?
The main thing was it changed from an industry that was run by people who cared about music to an industry run by corporations, and accountants so that for me would be the major change and certainly since the mid-eighties.
A lot of bands now aren’t releasing new music due to illegal downloading, and if bands do release something new it’s either a single track or an EP. Do you think the album format is doomed and is it still worth releasing albums from a financial point of view?
Um, I don’t care. We just do what we do. I’m not worried about the industry as a whole or what other bands are doing. It’s not doomed as far as Anthrax is concerned so I really don’t worry about it.
So how are things progressing with the new Anthrax album?
Good, lots of work but it’s getting there. There’s still a lot to be done, there’s a lot finished. We’re kind of right in the thick of it. We’re just gonna keep going till it’s finished.
If you hadn’t become a musician what do you think you would have done with your life?
I don’t know. (Laughs) I don’t know, it’s hard to speculate. I was in college around the time that Anthrax started and I dropped out, but it’s not like I had some major that I was like super in to. It’s not like there was something in my life that I cared about as much as music. I was way into skateboarding and comics at that time but who knows. It’s hard for me to say.
What else would you like to achieve with your life?
I’m very happy just doing what I’m doing, so just to be able to continue to do this, to make music. I guess would be the answer to that. I love being able to make music.
For more information about Motor Sister visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/motorsister
For more information about Anthrax visit the official website at www.anthrax.com
Motor Sister – Ride is available on Metal Blade Records.