Interview: Anthrax’s Scott Ian on forthcoming live DVD, touring, and comic book movies

Just rocking up at ANTHRAX‘s recent London show to talk about comic book movies and assorted off-topic horseshit, we didn’t expect to have a video camera following us downstairs, backstage, our every move as we squeezed our wheasing, bloated selves onto a sofa to catch 20 minutes with the band’s commanding officer, Scott Ian. But hey, let that be a lesson that you gotta prepare for anything in this game. Fuck, even if there’s no time to drag a Burger King napkin across a sweaty foreheard let alone get into make-up, you’ve got to be pro. Anyway, that sort of thing can be edited out.
Anthrax are presently exporting U.S. mosh to Asia right now, touring in support of their (not quite Easter strength) comeback, Worship Music, and after hauling ass to South America before the usual complement of European festivals, they’ll be back touring the US at the end of June. All dates can be found HERE. Anyways, here’s was going down with this forthcoming live DVD (rest assured it was comprehensively crushing), with all the other off-message, camera-panicked interview tape. Rob Caggiano was showering the whole time this was going on, but that’s neither here nor there.

What made you decide to film tonight’s show?
It was a total last-minute thing. We’d been working with the company that does the 360 stuff for a while so to shoot this just made sense.

What about the set? You were playing some Persistence of Time riffs during line-check; are we going to hear a more Persistence… material?

We rehearsed “Belly of the Beast” yesterday, so that, “Got the Time” and maybe one more. We’ve rehearsed “Keep It in the Family” and we’ve rehearsed “In My World”. It’s just a case of we came up with a set for the first leg of this tour, and we’d been out on tour in the States for two months already and the set was working so well with the balance of new material and old material; it was acutally this guy Warren, who is one of the guitar techs for Jeff Hanneman and Gary Holt, and is out with Lamb of God right now, on one of those legs he was like, “You guys gotta play ‘In My World’, you gotta!” So we played it at soundcheck for him one day. But the song is so long that we just couldn’t figure out where to put it in the set, and at that time it came down to the fact we were only playing an hour on that tour with Slayer and Megadeth so there was no way to fit in a six-and-a-half minute song into the set. The only way would be by taking something else out. Now, we’re on the headline shows it gives us a little bit more leeway to play longer, so we’re just trying to figure out a way to get more Persistence… in because I feel that that album was kind of lacking as far as being represented live and there are a lot of great songs on it.

Start-to-finish, it’s a great album.
Yeah, I’m excited to be playing “Belly of the Beast” tonight. We haven’t played that one in a long time.

Has it got easier putting together an Anthrax live show nowadays?
Easier? You would think it would get easier but it doesn’t! We still deal with the same shit whether we’re playing here or Sonisphere, or playing Yankee Stadium with the Big Four. It doesn’t matter; the bigger the show or the smaller the show, I swear to god it is the same crap on a daily basis. We’ve had a few lucky streaks but when you’re doing one-off shows it just sucks because you can’t ever get into a groove. But, y’know, we’ve just been out in the States for a month-and-a-half, headlining, and it was a week into the tour before things started working smoothly. It takes a week for everything to run smoothly, to get all the bugs out, and then it runs like clockwork. That’s the way I should have answered it; it’s always the first week, the first week of any tour sucks. So we’re only doing three shows here, then one show in Moscow, then we go back home and then go to Asia, so by the time we get to the Russian show things will probably be running smooth then we’ll go home, have a week off and then go to Asia and start off again. It takes a week of shows before everything runs smoothly, so you just walk in there and everything’s just right and you’re crew is just running around like mad trying to fix crap.

With that in mind, what’s more exciting: a summer spent looking for cables and fuses backstage at European festivals or a summer where there’s Batman, Avengers and Spider-Man films all coming out at the cinema?
Hahaha! I’m only excited, out of those three, I’m only excited about The Dark Knight Rises—I won’t even see Spider-Man, I don’t care. And the Avengers? Ahhh… I’ll probably see it when it makes it to iTunes or something.

Are you not even excited about that after that new trailer?
I know! But—and I’m a huge Joss Whedon, I’m just not a big fan of comic book movies. There have only been about four that have been done well. The last two Christian Bale Batmans have been great. X2, the second X-Men was a great comic book movie; I thought they nailed it. I liked X-Men: First Class as well, I thought that was true to the artform, and I liked the first 45 minutes of the first Spider-Man film, where he is just discovering his powers… and then I hated the rest of it. I think I’m one of the few people who liked Watchmen.

A lot of people hated Watchmen.
Yeah, but I think they complained about it because it was too literal and they hadn’t read the book. But I loved the fact that it was pound-for-pound like the book. But that’s it: I can’t think of another comic book movie that I like.

Do you not think that The Dark Knight Rises has the potential to be incredibly disappointing?

It has huge potential! Of course it does, after the last one where he basically made the greatest comic book movie ever made. But it’s Christopher Nolan, and I haven’t been this excited about a movie since the Return of the King was coming out, which also was one where Peter Jackson could have fallen on his face and not ended that series the way it should have ended, and then the last one was the best of the three.

The Dark Knight Rises trailer. Batman > Spider-Man, according to Scott NOT Ian

How would you end this Batman trilogy, if you were writing it?
It’s too easy to kill him, so… I dunno. It would be really cool if in some way it would ends in such a way that would connect to The Dark Knight Returns, the Frank Millar story from the ’80s. If somehow you knew that his character, Batman, disappears and then this is it, he disappears, he is gone after this movie. Like if Batman disappears and is gone after this movie and is never seen again until he’s an old man or something, if there was a way to make that happen, that connection, then that would be awesome. But I don’t know. I would never deign to say that I have an idea on how to end this trilogy—that’s why Christopher Nolan makes movies and I don’t, haha!

Yeah, but it’s fun guessing.
I mean, I hear Batman gets his back broken, that Bane’s going to break his back. But that’s not going to end it, obviously, that’s going to be something that happens during the movie. But, yeah: who knows!? All I know is that I am really excited.

More exciting than European festivals?
Well not all of them; I’m excited about Download but maybe that is more exciting than some festival in the hills of Eastern Europe where you fly in and it’s a big mud bath and you just get the fuck out as soon as possible. No, festivals are great, don’t get me wrong, but unless you’re the headliner it’s a throw-and-go situation. There is no soundcheck. Your crew’s fuckin’ running around like maniacs trying to get your shit onstage, and on, and dial something in so that you’ll get something somewhat decent on the stage so you can get up there and be able to play your gig… Then it takes five songs for it to actually sound good on stage and then you’ve only got four or five songs and you’re done. It just goes like this [clicks fingers]. It’s so weird, ‘cos people love festival season. People love coming to these shows because they get to see a lot of bands, and there’s the whole experience, camping, hanging out and everything else. But from the band’s point of view, they are fucking hard to do. They’re really hard to do because there is no preparation, and you’ve got no knowledge of how it’s going to happen except that it is probably going to be a massive clusterfuck on stage, so there’s nothing left to do but just put your fuckin’ head down and get through it.

Do you think festivals have got tamer—do you think shows have become tamer in the years since you started?

No. Not from our experience. We’ve been out playing shows on this record since September and I haven’t seen anything tamed down, not in the States anyway, and we were down for a couple of shows in South America and it was as insane as usual down there.

Oh, that’s reassuring, especially seeing as Boston Police want to ban moshing.
They do? Well we never play Boston anyway—we play Worcester, which is 45 minutes away. It’s just a lack of the right sized venues; there’s just tiny clubs and arenas. In Worcester you can go play the Palladium, it’s like you can get 2,500 or 3,000 people in there and that’s the perfect size for us.

Fan-made zombie vid for “Fight ‘Em ’til You Can’t”

**So, yeah, as it turns out there was no “Got the Time” or “Keep It in the Family”… And, fuck, there was no “In My World”. But they did play “Belly of the Beast” and the resulting footage is probably in an editing suite right now, to be released in the Fall**