A Conversation with Scott Ian of Anthrax
The heavy metal guitarist shares his story of extreme purpose.
Posted Aug 18, 2020
“Try and stop me” —From “Gridlock” by Anthrax
We were absolutely thrilled to interview guitarist and Anthrax founding member Scott Ian for the Hardcore Humanism Podcast. To understand Ian and Anthrax in the proper cultural context, one must go back to 1981 when the band was formed. Heavy metal music had only just recently emerged as a more extreme genre of music whereby bands such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin took a faster, heavier, and darker take on traditional blues-driven rock and roll music. But that was not enough for Ian. So, bands such as Anthrax took heavy metal to the next level by infusing it with the amped-up speed and aggression of hardcore punk. And, thus, the birth of thrash metal. Overall, one might say Anthrax helped take heavy metal music to eleven.
Ian was born and raised in Queens, New York, and Anthrax emerged from the burgeoning New York City music scene, where punk, metal and Hip Hop all were thriving subcultures starting to become aware of one another. Not only is Anthrax’s sound reflective of a blending of New York hardcore punk and heavy metal cultures, but Anthrax’s 1991 collaboration with Public Enemy on a new version of Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” was a groundbreaking experiment in the fusion of thrash metal and Hip Hop.
Anthrax has gone on to become one of the greatest heavy metal bands in history and one of the “Big Four”—the immortal pioneers and giants of thrash metal that include the distinguished company of Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth. And they have not slowed down, having released their 11th studio album For All Kings in 2016 with Loudwire saying that, “…the wave of momentum the band has been riding shows no sign of ebbing.” Their enduring power is most recently captured with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of their 1990 album Persistence of Time and the release of a special audio CD and vinyl version of the album.
So, in talking with Ian for The Hardcore Humanism Podcast, we not only sought to celebrate his creative achievements but also to understand how he was able to achieve such great things in his career. Ian discussed three core qualities that we feel are universal in people leading successful lives and careers. First, Ian described how he was able to reject conventional norms and resist family and societal pressures regarding who he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to do with his life. Second, Ian demonstrated a strong sense of purpose and commitment to his art in becoming a professional heavy metal musician. And finally—and particularly notable in Ian—he exhibited undeniable tenacity and hard work in order to achieve his goals.
We hope you enjoy and learn from our conversation with the great Scott Ian!
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