Given all of his personal accomplishments (and that of the band’s), Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian knows a thing or two about the thrash metal genre. During a recent conversation with Revolver, Ian was asked about the dawning of the thrash genre and its popularity. He goes into some history regarding the music scene at the time, as well as a moment in music history he feels helped the genre become popular.
Scott Ian is initially asked why he thinks people connected so much with thrash back in the ’80s; this is what he had to say:
“I can only speak about the States really, but it happened here and it happened in Europe, certainly in similar ways. You had a very strong and thriving punk rock and hardcore scene here in the early ’80s, especially in New York, Boston, DC, LA, San Francisco, Chicago – but there wasn’t a metal scene. But when the Bay Area bands like Metallica and Exodus started making noise in the underground, then Slayer started making noise in the underground in LA, we started making noise in the underground in New York and playing shows, and then Johnny Z started Megaforce and the record store, and Brian [Slagel] started Metal Blade [Records], and records started coming out – by ’85, there was a very strong and thriving underground metal scene.”
Ian then goes on to share the moment he feels thrash metal entered the mainstream:
“I’ll always point to this moment as the thing that really kicked the doors down – [that moment being] in 1986, when Metallica opened for Ozzy in the States. Ozzy was cool enough to take that risk – not just taking [a] run of the mill big haired LA band out as an opener, he took Metallica. And he decided he would share his stage with Metallica, all across America in arenas. So [this is the] first time any of this underground metal is gonna be out in front of massive crowds every night. I would say, 70-80% of the people going to those Ozzy shows had no idea who Metallica were going in; but when they left the building that night, all of those people went out and bought all three records: Kill ‘Em All, Ride, and Master.”
It’s tough to imagine a world where Metallica or Anthrax aren’t widely known, but Scott has a great point there. When it comes to heavy music, punk and hardcore really dominated the music world back in the day; but with Metallica having the chance to play alongside Ozzy Osbourne though, the landscape of popular heavy music would forever be changed.