Thrash metal icon (Anthrax). Rap/rock innovator (“Bring the Noise” with Chuck D). TV/reality staple (VH1 host; Supergroup). The (usually) red-bearded aggro-metal wunderkind known as Scott Ian is not going gently into middle age, despite the fact that his current incarnation, “speaking words,” is merely Ian onstage in a club, doing just that: one man with a microphone, telling tales out of school. Or more aptly, from the road.
“I’m a frustrated lead singer,” the Queens-born musician explains. “In the context of Anthrax, I get my two, maybe three times a show where I get to get on the mic and say something. I look forward to that every night.” Now, he gets, two, maybe three HOURS with the spotlight just on him during his “one-man storytelling experience.” The impetus came a few years ago via Anthrax’s European agent, who asked Ian if he’d do a solo show the night before Anthrax’s gig with Motorhead. Ian thought that meant him with an acoustic guitar, so he refused. “But it turns out he wanted to do more of a ‘rock stars say the funniest things’ sort of thing.”
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Ian agreed, and had five months to prepare. “I was going to write my show, and be super-professional, just like Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn and my writer friends. Cut to the night before the show in London and I have not done a thing,” he remembers. “As I was ready to cancel, Pearl, my wife, said to me: ‘You are these stories, you’re just going to be in a bar, talking to your friends, basically,’ and that talked me off the ledge and gave me enough confidence to wing it.”
Wing it he did: Two hours and 40 minutes later, he was asking his agent, “How do I do more of this?” A tour of the UK and dates in Germany and Australia ensued, and fans were treated to an inside view of the “ridiculousness and humor in traveling the world in a metal band for this long.” Ian doesn’t tell ALL–“I have a lot of stories, for one reason or another, that I choose not to tell publicly at this point. I’ve been around the world 1,000 times, hung out with a lot of people in a lot of bands, and that, to me, is what this show is about. I’m sure people would love a gossip fest. There’s a certain amount of that,” he acknowledges, “But done in a humorous way. I’m not up there throwing anyone under the bus.”
More Ian words are coming, some on paper, some on DVD. his autobiography, I’m the Man, written with Jon Wiederhorn, hits in October, while his Speaking Words in Glasgow DVD is in the works thanks to a Pledge Music Campaign. Ian’s new to crowd-funding, and emphasizes: “it’s not sending me money to buy beer! I’m giving goods and services back for the money that they’re pledging. If someone spends $100, they get me reading and talking shit about their name in the credits….Or if they spend whatever, I’ll fly in and do a private show.” Or, you
can spend $15-odd dollars and heckle him in person on his current tour.
Scott Ian performs March 5, 8 pm. at B.B. Kings.