Scott Ian: New The Damned Things Material Meant for Other Project
Scott Ian was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The guitarist talked about High Crimes, the new album from The Damned Things, and how the group, which features members of Fall Out Boy, Every Time I Die and Alkaline Trio, ended the nearly decade-long drought between albums.
There's a sense of camaraderie within the group as Ian went on to explain that the band's existence is almost like an excuse to get to hang out with each other and play music together.
Of course, Anthrax occupies most of the guitarist's time. The band is taking time to write new material between tours and Ian insists there's no shortage of inspiration out in the world.
Let's talk about one of your many projects tonight. We're gonna talk about The Damned Things. On paper, The Damned Things looks like a dissimilar group of musicians. What does the musical diversity of the players encourage you to do?
Well, you know, the thing is like you said. On paper it definitely looks like it should not work.
You gotta go back, 10, 11, 12 years ago, when Joe Trohman, the guitar player from Fall Out Boy, we first met in '06 or '07 through a mutual friend who thought we would get along really well because we were into a lot of the same stuff. It turned out we were, and we became friends. One day he said had some riffs that he couldn't use for Fall Out Boy, and he played me some ideas and they were great.
That was the birth of The Damned Things back in around '08-ish. We made the first album in 2010, and we did a little bit of touring and all that and then we all got busy with our day jobs and went our separate ways.
But we were all friends before The Damned Things, we were friends during The Damned Things, and we've all remained really close friends in the years post-Damned Things, for the last eight years. So, really this whole thing just comes out of us really just wanting to get to spend some time together. This enables us to do that. But I guess to answer your question, we just, we made that first album and we kinda have a sound.
We sound like The Damned Things, and that came out of our love for Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath and Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age... so many different types of things.
We just saw we had this mutual love for a lot of this music and it was the same going into this record. Joe had written a couple of songs for this other project that kinda fell apart, and then he sent them to Keith [Buckley] and I and said, "Hey, what do you guys think of these songs?" I said it sounds like The Damned Things to me and that was like two years ago. That just opened the door and here we are back out on tour with a new record out.
It's been almost 10 years since the last The Damned Things album. What immediately fell right back into place when you started writing new music?
Well, Joe pretty much wrote all the music. I think I had sent him a couple of riffs that he used in songs, but Joe really wrote most of the music, and Keith wrote all the lyrics. So, I'm very much an innocent bystander in this whole thing.
I've always said I'm the biggest fan of this band and I'm just lucky that I get to also happen to play guitar with these dudes. But it's even more so on this record because really I was so busy with Anthrax over the last two years, it was Joe and Keith that really took the torch and ran with it.
They would send me songs, and I literally would be like, "I don't have any notes. Just keep writing. You guys are killing it." So, I really feel like I'm an outsider but I'm on the inside too.
I don't know what fell back into place. We've always hung out outside of being in a band. I see Joe socially all the time. I see Keith when I can. It was kind of like we never stopped hanging out, now we just get to play shows again.
High Crimes was originally planned to be an EP. What ultimately made you decide to make a full-fledged album?
Because we have the songs. After four or five songs were written, they just need to keep getting better, so the idea of an EP kinda came and went in about a minute-and-a-half because we knew we'd be able to have an album's worth of material.
There's an absurdity on display in the video for "Cells." Overall, how much is that sense of humor a foundation of the band?
Well, it's a reality video. Keith is extremely annoying and he gets super drunk and he injures us all the time. So, we didn't even have to fake it. We had fly on the wall cameras in there. That was about an average day in the life of The Damned Things.
Looks like fun.
I'm doing much better now since that day. Everything has healed up pretty nicely.
Music for the next Anthrax album is set to be angry and more aggressive. What influences the musical character of songs when you're writing for an album?
It's the same as it's ever been. We don't have to look pretty far to find things to be angry about. We live on the planet earth. We live on a planet filled with humans and that's about all the motivation we need to be a metal band and write the music that we write and make music that makes us want to bang our heads and express ourselves in that way.
It's been like that since the '80s really. Just look outside, read the newspaper, open a window... turning on the television... There are a plethora of things to influence us and motivate us to keep doing this.
Bands go through different stages on the path of longevity. Establishing a career, reviving it, sustaining it. How would you categorize where Anthrax are right now?
That's a good question. In so many ways, everything feels new to me because Joey [Belladonna] rejoined in 2010. Worship Music and For All Kings have come out over the last nine years and we've basically been touring non-stop through that whole time period as well.
At the same time, it's very easy for me to feel the weight of our whole history and our career and four decades of doing this. But that weight doesn't feel like something that weighs me down or anything like that; it's more of something that motivates me and fills me with a feeling of accomplishment and happiness that I still get to do this at the level we're doing it. We get to do it on our own terms, still, after all these years, we just get to call all our own shots. And that's a really good place to be.
Any kind of timeline or updates on Anthrax stuff you want to share or not share?
Nope. No, we're just writing on and off this year in between touring. Anthrax will be in Europe doing festivals and more Slayer dates and then I think we're doing Slayer dates in South America in the fall when we're doing Rock in Rio. So, in between touring, we're getting together and we're working on music. Getting to go out and play all these shows with Slayer on their last go around and then you come home, and you're all pumped up from playing those shows, and then you get in a room and you write some songs. And again, that's also a very good place to be.
Thanks to Scott Ian for the interview. Get your copy of 'High Crimes' here and follow The Damned Things and Anthrax on Facebook. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
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