Joe Matera of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: The big news for fans is the return of Joey Belladonna to the group. How does it feel to have Joey back?
Scott Ian: It feels great to have Joey back. It was something we started talking about initially when we heard about the possibility of these "Big Four" shows [tour with METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER, and ANTHRAX] that was the catalyst for the whole thing. It is just really nice that for the first time in awhile in the world of ANTHRAX, something that we really wanted to happen, actually worked out positively for us.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Is it true that the turmoil the group has been through in the past couple of years with the departure of Dan Nelson, amongst other things, brought the group close to breaking up?
Scott Ian: Well, probably yes, it was. If it wasn't for the fact that last summer John [Bush] did step in after Dan had quit, and the fact that John came back and did the Sonisphere shows with us, and did Japan and Australia with us, too, he kind of stepped into a situation where we were really stuck. But for him it wasn't a case of something that he was going to continue with, as it is not where he is in his life at the moment. During that time as well, that was when the "Big Four" thing went from being a rumor to a reality and that was when the first discussions between the band were like, "Maybe we should do this with Joey," because he was the guy that just seemed to make more sense you know.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What is the status with "Worship Music", the album you recorded with former vocalist Dan Nelson? Are you planning to re-record it with Joey on vocals?
Scott Ian: It is going to be a combination of things. The one thing I can say and the only positive about having this record basically shelved, was being able to live with it for over a year now. We have got the luxury of hindsight whereas the normal situation would be we'd just finish the record and put it out and go on tour for a year. But now that we've lived with the record and played the songs, we're able to say, "Maybe this could have been different," or "This could have been better." So we've been living with this record for a year and it hasn't come out and we've been able to look back on it and say, "Here's the shit we really love" and "Here's the stuff that could be better." So there are five or six songs that I think Joey will sing on and, of course, his voice is different and his approach is going to be different too so that is going to change things or enable us to change things. And then there are a couple songs that we think need to be rearranged and reworked a little bit. We like parts of them but not the whole song and then there are also ideas for three or four new things on top of all that. So it is a combination of all of those things. It is going to be a lot of work but at the end of the day, this record is only going to be better at the end of it.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You mentioned the changes you plan to do, so having the luxury to make the changes, does affect the songwriting process overall?
Scott Ian: Well the songwriting has always been the same process no matter who has been there. Though I can say that with John in the band, he was certainly more… he wrote more of the lyrics, he contributed a lot to the songwriting process which was kind of different to Joey, where I was writing all the lyrics. But this time we'll see what happens. I would never close the door on any possibilities with anything. I want Joey to come in with a thousand ideas, so we would never close the door on any contribution or ideas that Joey may have, and I'm hoping he comes in with lots of ideas for the new stuff and even for stuff that is already been done because if you can make something better, then why not?
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Still on the topic of songwriting, how does process work within the frame work of the group?
Scott Ian: A lot of the times, Charlie [Benante] will be the instigator, he'll have the catalyst riff for a song and then everything will build off that. And then sometimes it just comes from Charlie playing a drum beat. He is always playing around with beats and stuff and I may hear something that will inspire a rhythm or an idea for a riff. It is a combination of everything, but mostly it's just from us being in a room together, is how it mainly works.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Out of all your years spent in this tough music industry, what's the most important lesson you've learned?
Scott Ian: To just do things your own way. The business is a necessary evil, obviously, but you just got to have your own vision as an artist. And you have to know what you want and you have to know who you are, because if you don't, somebody is going to mold you into something you're not and then you are going to suck. We've only ever done things our own way and that is the only way I know how to do it and whether it is right or wrong. That's the best lesson I've ever learned. So you better show up with a good sense of who you are as an artist otherwise, you're going to get fucked.
Read the entire interview from Ultimate-Guitar.com.