Anthrax Guitarist Scott Ian Defends The ’90s Nu Metal Scene

Alfred Nitsch, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT , via Wikimedia Commons
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Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian was asked his thoughts about the ’90s heavy music scene – when nu metal was becoming popular – and he spoke to his enjoyment of bands from that era.

Via an exclusive interview with Metal Injection, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian spoke to Anthrax touring and playing alongside heavy metal bands such as Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth in the ’80s. He speaks about the thrills and the opportunities that Anthrax got to experience back in the ’80s, and how much it means to him to be part of the band and to play alongside those other incredible acts.

After speaking to this experience though, the interviewer asks Ian about the shift in popular heavy music that took place in the ’90s. Regarding the younger generation of heavy music listeners of that time, more kids and teens were being drawn to that of grunge and nu metal, more so than say heavy metal or thrash.

The Anthrax guitarist is asked his thoughts on this, but rather than talk smack about the nu metal scene or nu metal bands (like other artists have done in the past) – Ian comes at the subject from a more understanding place.

[Metal Injection]: “As someone who experienced that lull in the ’90s, do you attribute that to the change of the guard in heavy music, like the rise and fall of grunge and rise of nu metal?

[Scott Ian]: “No, because for me I was a fan of so much of that music. I loved System of a Down from that first time I saw them opening for Slayer. I love Slipknot. I remember the first time I heard that record. I couldn’t believe it. And then we played together in December ’99, a show in Boston. Anthrax and Slipknot at the Avalon, a club in Boston. I mean I stood there and watched it from the side of the stage. I was like ‘OK, yeah. I get it. Things are changing and things have changed.’

“Of course, looking back on things I think the biggest thing is that, look, every kid and every person that gets into music, whatever age it is and I’m going to try and make sense out of this. So if you’re 11, like me, and I hear Kiss for the first time and it changes my life, right? And that’s my thing. And that was my thing, my time, my bands. Changed my world. It’s the same thing for the kid that got into Slipknot in 1999. Hear that first Slipknot record for the first time, go to see them in concert. That becomes their thing and their moment, and it’s their bands and what came before, well, that stuff might be fine and cool, but it’s not their world. Their connection, their best thing ever, their greatest band ever is that band that they discovered on their own at that age. That will always be for them and be their thing.

“And you know there was a whole new generation of kids coming up. You think about the late late 90s. There’s a whole generation of kids 12, 13, 14 years old that started listening to Korn and Deftones and Slipknot and Limp Bizkit and so on. And that became their thing. And then I think what happens is five or 10 years later, a lot of those kids then discover – certainly they all knew Metallica – but a couple of years go by and their record collection starts to expand, and then oh yeah, there was Slayer and Anthrax and Megadeth and Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and all those people that were 14 and 15 and listening to Slipknot are now 25 and expanding their horizons.

“It’s a case of if you’re 13 you don’t want your dad’s bands, you don’t want your older brother’s bands. Your dad listened to Anthrax when you were 12 in 1999. You know what I mean? Because we met a lot of those guys at that point who were in their thirties who now have kids who have been into us since 1985. So you don’t want to listen to your dad’s band even if your dad’s band is Slayer, at the time. But then, of course, eventually you did get into Slayer. So you know, I really think that probably had a lot to do with it or it just wasn’t cool. It was cool to find your own shit. And that’s just that. That’s how it always is. Even with my son now. My son is 10. Oddly enough his favorite bands are System of a Down, Slipknot, Korn, Deftones. Now those are his favorite bands.”

What are your thoughts on what Scott Ian had to say about metal fans coming up through the ’90s nu metal scene?


Words by: Michael Pementel