5 Questions With Scott Ian of Anthrax: Beer, Cruises, Drinking With Dimebag + More

Even though Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian has admitted to being a bit of an introvert when on music cruises, we had a chance to catch up with him during this year’s 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise. Ian revealed that he has been hard at work on his second book and that he usually locks himself away on these cruises to work. He also talked about Anthrax’s upcoming tour with Killswitch Engage, the 30th anniversary of Among the Living and the new Anthrax beer “Wardance,” in addition to sharing a booze-filled story about his drinking days with Dimebag Darrell.

Along with 70,000 Tons of Metal, Anthrax have also been on Motorhead’s Motorboat Cruises. How would you describe this experience for anyone who hasn’t experienced this?

You’re probably asking the wrong guy because I don’t really partake in any of the cruise stuff. I think people come on this boat for two reasons, to get drunk and to see bands. They go nuts because it’s like being on a floating hotel for four or five days out at sea and people tend to lose the little inhibitions they may have. I use the time on these boats to work.

You probably won’t see me often outside of my cabin because I get five days of solitary confinement. If I’m home, I’m going to be with my wife and playing with my son. So while on this 70,000 cruise, I’m finishing my second book. Even since the first Motorboat we did, I’ve looked at these cruises as a really great time for me to get my s–t together and catch up on a lot of stuff. On that first Motorboat, I might have been writing lyrics for All Kings at the time.

Everyone seems to be having fun, I have to say I am aware that there’s a giant party going on outside. On the other boats, our tour manager found all of these secret ways to get to places, crew decks and stuff. I was able to travel around the ship without anyone ever even seeing me, it was like being a ghost on the ship. Even if I wasn’t working, maybe if it was the mid ’90s I would be up at the bar for four days but it’s not something I can handle anymore personally. {Laughs}

You guys are gearing up to tour with Killswitch Engage. How would you describe your relationship or connection with those guys?

We’ve always kind of been friends from a distance. We know each other, we’ve done shows together and we actually did a run in Japan together in maybe 2004? But it’s not like we’ve ever really hung out really, so I’m really excited that we get to spend six weeks together and do that. They’re a band that I’m a fan of and I really like all the guys, I’ve just never gotten to spend much time with them so I’m looking forward to that for sure.

How were you guys able to get on the same page when crafting the “War Dance” beer?

It wasn’t that difficult, I had originally spoken to Chuck [Williamson], who’s the owner of Butternuts, because I’m a fan of his and his beers and have been for a long time. A mutual friend of mine said, “Butternuts might be into doing the beer with you guys,” because we had put it out to a few other companies, much bigger companies, and nobody wanted anything to do with it and they didn’t even understand. We would tell people, “You know how many beers Iron Maiden has sold?” Look, I know we’re not Iron Maiden but just to show them that there is a market for this. We had a track record because we did two runs of whiskey that both sold out and that was a much higher end thing but the most important thing for me was that I am a beer drinker. If the band’s name is going to be on something it has to be something I actually want to drink.

When I heard Chuck was into it, we talked and he took it from there. Then he showed up when we did those Saint Vitus shows [in Brooklyn]. Chuck came down and brought us samples for the first time. Joey [Belladonna] doesn’t drink so the four of us sat in the bus and did tastings and we said what we thought about it and we were all on the same page. We had decided we wanted to do an American Pale Ale. I didn’t want to do something super big and super heavy. We could put out something really drinkable first and then maybe bring out other ones later or specialty ones.

Chuck did a second run and sent us a six pack of it over the holidays, he sent me a case and a half of the stuff and he goes, “See what you think,” and I made my way through the case and a half and I was very happy with it, we all were. It’s certainly a beer I would drink even if it didn’t say Anthrax on it.

Can you share a story, that you actually remember, that involves you and alcohol from back in the day?

I remember most of them. It was mid ’90s with Pantera, as most of my good booze stories are. They had just played Roseland Ballroom [in New York City], I can’t remember which album they were touring on but they were having some party on Avenue A at some bar. I remember walking into this bar, I got there pretty early, it wasn’t packed yet and [“Dimebag”] Darrell  had gotten there before everybody and lined up a hundred Black Tooths on the bar. I’m not saying a hundred to exaggerate. He literally lined up 100 Black Tooths and it was just me and him and a couple of other people there. So we just started doing shots…there was a hundred shots lined up on the bar.  We were doing our best to finish those hundred so Darrell would have to buy another hundred.

The next thing I knew [laughs], I was being carried out by Rex [Brown] and I don’t even know who else was carrying me out. I passed out face first on the ground after God knows how many shots. I was already drunk when I got there. Yeah, I passed out face first, luckily I didn’t break anything and they carried me out on the street and sat me down. I’m just sitting there trying to get my wits back; people were coming into the bar and knew who I was and they’re like, “What the f— happen to you?” I tried to rally and finish the hundred but I left, if I remember correctly I got in a cab and took off. So that’s just one of many drunken stories.

It’s been 30 years since Among the Living was released. What was the most memorable thing about recording or creating that record for you?

There’s a lot, we knew we had something good. We knew the songs were better than our previous songs, we just knew. We were already playing “I Am the Law” and “Indians” we just knew that this s–t was our best stuff so far and people are going to f—ing freak out when they hear it. I remember just feeling good about the whole thing. It’s a good feeling knowing that you got something great and it wasn’t just the stupidity of a bunch of 22-year-olds, we could not wait to, to use a cliché, to unleash it on the world. I didn’t always have that feeling on every record we made, there was just something special about that because we just wrote the right songs at the right time and they really connected. It’s 30 years later and we can still play any song off that record live and people are going to react. 30 years has proven us right! [laughs] We knew we had something good!

It was our third album already, too, that’s the really crazy thing is that I was 23 when we were writing it and it came out. Frankie [Bello] was even younger, he was like 20 or 19? I was 23 and that was out third album, that’ f—ing nuts when I think about that. Everything was happening so fast and we were working so hard. Every day, if we weren’t touring then we were writing, every single day working, anything to get the band known and it paid off.

Our thanks to Scott Ian of Anthrax for the interview. Check out Anthrax and Killswitch Engage on the Killthrax tour. Click here for dates. And pick up the new Anthrax ‘For All Kings’ 7-inch Box Set here.

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