Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian is as workmanlike as they come. He’s been touring relentlessly with Anthrax for 30-plus years, always has multiple projects going, and has generally been one of heavy metal’s great ambassadors. However, with the concert industry at a standstill due to the current pandemic, the metal legend feels he truly won’t be “back to work” until 2022.
An Anthrax album was originally planned for release in late 2020, but it’s been pushed back as the band continues to work on new material in a socially distant manner. Drummer Charlie Benante previously stated that there’s “about six, seven songs — and it’s really good,” but that “the first thing” he wants to see come out is a vaccine for COVID-19.
Ian compared his current situation to when he was 17 and figuring out if he can make a full-time career out of playing metal. “We’re gonna be the last ones to go back to work,” Ian said during an interview with the podcast Hardcore Humanism with Dr. Mike. “There’s a part of me now that’s in those same shoes I was in when I was 17 years old, because it’s trying to figure out, how are we going to do this? Luckily for us, this year was kind of an off year from touring anyway, because we’re writing a record, and the plan was to have it out at the end of this year. That’s all changed. We’re hoping next summer. But it’s still a crapshoot. Nobody knows. Everyone’s saying everything’s gonna happen again in ’21 — maybe.”
He continued, “In my mind, I’m not going back to work, probably, till, I’m thinking, ’22,” Ian said. “Realistically, that’s when things will maybe start to get somewhere back to normal, for my world, as a touring musician. So now it’s become a case of, how do I keep things running for the next two years — with the luxury of being home. Because if it was up to me, I’d just hang around and jam with my son all day long. But now I have to be able to have the balance of I get to just be home and I get to go to the beach and hang out. And it becomes very easy to do nothing. And when I say nothing, I don’t mean nothing in a lazy way. I mean, not have anything to do with my band and literally be on vacation from my work. So it’s almost like a retraining.”
And while Anthrax have achieved legendary status in the metal world, it doesn’t mean they can financially withstand two years off from their craft. Ian explained that the band is taking a major economic hit, but also pointed out one nice benefit of being on lockdown.
“We never would have electively, as a band, said, ‘Let’s take two years off.’ It’s not something we would ever have done,” Ian remarked. “Financially, it’s not something we could afford to do even. But even just on every level, that conversation — ‘Let’s take a hiatus’ — that’s not gonna happen. We’ve been forced into that situation. So if there’s one silver lining about this for me, [it’s] I get to be home with my family for longer than I’ve ever been. That’s awesome. So figuring out ways to work with everything going on on the planet and being able to stay creative and stay busy and work and make things work financially, it was kind of like starting over, in a weird way, four months ago.”
Prior to the pandemic, Ian was able to hit the road in February as a member of Mr. Bungle’s touring band. That very same lineup also got together to re-record Mr. Bungle’s Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, which is due October 30th.
One way Ian and Benante have stayed busy is through socially distant collaborations. They both joined Mike Patton on a Stormtroopers of Death song, as well as Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe on a couple of Discharge covers.
Listen to Scott Ian’s full interview below.