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Interview: Scott Ian Talks ‘Speaking Words,’ Memoir, Beatles and Otis Redding

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Brian Ives
Brian Ives
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October has been Metal Month at Radio.com. We’ve had artist interviews, mini-documentaries about metal, metal fans and the birthplace of metal. And book reports: reading is fundamental, even for headbangers, and we’ll have reviews of some of the best recent metal biographies and retrospectives. We thought it was fitting to end the month with an interview with the man who embodies metal as much as anyone: Scott Ian of Anthrax. Horns up!

There’s nothing really like talking with Scott Ian. Whether the topic is KISS (one of his early favorite bands), Public Enemy (who he feels deserves their spot in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame), food or sports, he’s one of the most fascinating subjects to interview. And he may doing a lot of talking in the future, from the stage. Having done a “Speaking Words” tour of England he’s considering bringing it to the United States. Being the personable guy that he is, he passes the mic into the audience at the end of the show for a brief Q&A session. He told Radio.com what the fans really want to know, when they get their chance to ask him anything.

“Most of the questions about about, did I sleep with Kelly Bundy?” he laughs, referencing Anthrax’s guest appearance on Married With Children in the ’90s. “I try to explain, Kelly Bundy’s a fictional character. Or did I sleep with Christina Applegate? “Or what’s it like to have Meat Loaf as a father-in-law?” He is married to Meat Loaf’s daughter, Pearl, with whom he sometimes performs.

He says that it’s not a solo acoustic gig, but he might bring a guitar to make light of some of his lyrics, particularly those he wrote for his other band, S.O.D. He cites “Kill Yourself” as a likely suspect to get the solo treatment.

Also in the works is his memoir, which he has been working on with Jon Weiderhorn, author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History Of Metal (Ian wrote the intro for that book; read our review here). When will that be out? “Probably next year,” he says, noting that the book is going to be  presented “In a very different way, that nobody else has done. It’s gonna be different than any other rock book.”

Another book he’s contributed to is The Merciless Book Of Metal Lists; he gave them his list of “Top 11 Things People Say To Start A Conversation With Me” (read our review of that book here). That list includes “Do you still play music?,” “I used to listen to you” and “Can I touch your beard?”

Of course, any conversation with Scott has to include metal. So we asked about his favorite metal album cover (Iron Maiden’s KIllers), the most underrated metal band (Exodus), the influence of Black Sabbath (“There would be no Anthrax if there was no Black Sabbath”) and about the song “Judas Priest” from Anthrax’s last album, the universally loved Worship Music.

He explains how the tribute came to be: “We had a piece of music that didn’t have a title for, for some reason the working title was ‘Judas Priest.'” Then when Priest made the announcement that they were going on their final world tour, they decided to use the song to pay their respects. As it turned out, Judas Priest aren’t actually retiring at all, as Rob Halford recently told us.

As is well known, Ian doesn’t only listen to metal: he turned on a generation of metal fans to hip-hop via Anthrax’s collaboration with Public Enemy in 1991, and played guitar on trip-hop artist Tricky’s 1998 album Angels With Dirty Faces. In recent years, he’s become a huge Beatles fan (“If you’re not listening to the Beatles, you’re not listening to music”) and also enthuses about Otis Redding (“There’s an aggression and an energy in his music that I’ve never heard anywhere else”). Less surprisingly, he’s a big AC/DC fan, although he points out that they aren’t a metal band.

According to Ian’s blog, Anthrax are now working on the follow-up to Worship Music, so that’s something for metalheads to look forward to in 2014. There’s no news yet of an Ian “Speaking Words” tour coming to the U.S.

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

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