Scott Ian Reflects on Working With the Late Joey Jordison and Paul Gray: ‘I cherish the time I had with them on this planet’

Scott Ian Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images
Published on:

In 2005, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Roadrunner Records put together an epic celebration.

Bringing together numerous artists from their roster, the label presented a jaw-dropping concert experience, Roadrunner United: The Concert.

Many of metal’s greats were present that night, working together to cover a variety of Roadrunner’s biggest hits. It was an extraordinary experience being able to hear legends from other bands cover other bands’ work – such as hearing members of Machine Head and Fear Factory cover Slipknot.

Among those artists was Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, who took part in playing several songs throughout this epic concert. In a conversation with The Pit, Ian reflects on this historic event, speaking to the songs he covered, a funny story involving Glen Benton, working alongside the late Slipknot members Joey Jordison and Paul Gray, and more.

You can check out Ian performing Slipknot’s “(sic)” with Corey Taylor, Paul Gray, Joey Jordison, Andreas Kisser, Dino Cazares, and Tommy Vext below.

Also, vinyl and CD versions of this epic concert will be released and you have a chance to win a copy. You can learn more about this contest and enter now by visiting this link here. You also pre-order your vinyl and/or CD of this concert experience by following this link here.

Without further ado, here’s our chat with Scott Ian.

The Pit: What was your initial reaction upon being invited to take part in Roadrunner United?

Scott Ian: My initial reaction was, “Why are they asking me? I’ve never been on Roadrunner.” I was a fan of many Roadrunner bands, but I just thought it was strange. And then someone reminded me that technically, or officially, I had been on Roadrunner. the S.O.D. record [Speak English or Die] had been released I believe through Roadracer in Europe originally, way back in 1985. So I actually was a part of the Roadrunner family.

The Pit: Having been in the music world for so long, you’ve made a lot of friends over the years. But is there anyone you met that night at the event for the first time who happened to have made a great impression on you?

SI: Well, I had never met Glen Benton [of Deicide] before; I can’t say that we’ve stayed in touch since, but I definitely enjoyed meeting him and talking to him that night. I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, I don’t remember, but I do remember having a good time with him.

As a matter of fact, my wife Pearl was with me there that night, and she had invited a friend of hers who couldn’t have been more outside the world of heavy metal. She’s like a marketing executive and has nothing to do with the music business, let alone heavy metal.  I mean the furthest person away from you can imagine from the world of metal, and she was backstage with us, and at some point, I looked over and I was like, “Pearl, Shawna is having a conversation with Glen Benton. She has no idea like the gravitas and the magnitude, that guy’s reputation, his band, anything – she has no idea.”

[Talking to Ian, the friend said to him] “Oh I was talking to your friend over there, he was really nice.” I just started cracking up at that, it was hilarious. I was like “Did you notice the upside-down cross burned into his forehead?” She was like “What? No, I didn’t.”

[Ian clarifies that Benton’s upside-down cross wasn’t as visually apparent at this time. He then says to the friend], “That guy is in like one of the most brutally, insanely, heavy, intense bands of all time. They’re called Deicide.”

And she just had no clue; she just said “He seemed really nice and funny and smart.” And I was like “That’s awesome. You see, you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

The Pit: You worked with a lot of artists that night, but among those artists were the late Slipknot members Joey Jordison and Paul Gray. What was it like being with and playing alongside them?

SI: It was awesome. I already knew those guys for a while at that point; we met in ‘99, so we’ve been friends for a while. I think Paul and I may have jammed together before at some point, I can’t remember when it was. I remember walking into rehearsal in LA […] and there was Joey, Paul, Dino, Andreas, and Adam, who used to be in Machine Head. I can’t remember who else was there that day.

But yeah, getting to jam with those guys, especially on a Slipknot song, “(sic),” was so much fun for me. I really pushed that song and then we learned it. Initially, there was nobody to sing it; they didn’t have a singer for that one initially and I think then I had to go bother Corey [Taylor] to actually sing that one.

He didn’t wanna have to sing his own stuff, if I remember in the haze of the time leading up to that. I remember he was like “Come on let’s do something else, I don’t want to sing my own song,” and I was like “I wanna fucking play this song it’s so goddamn heavy, come on. It sounds amazing. We have to do it, we have to do it.” And he basically did it for me because I was begging him “Please, please, please let’s do this song. If you don’t sing it we’re not going to get to do it.”

And yeah jamming with Joey and Paul was definitely a highlight. I’m pretty sure Paul and I were on a couple of songs together that night. Those guys are great dudes. I definitely cherish the time I had with them on this planet as people, and as friends.

The Pit: What are the performances from that Roadrunner United concert that really stick out to you? What is your favorite performance you were part of, and what is a performance you really enjoyed watching?

SI: I’m pretty sure we did “March of the SOD” that night and into Life of Agony, right? Did we do River Runs Red?

The Pit: Yes.

SI: Yeah I did “Refuse/Resist,” I did “Sic,” and I did “Roots” also. Yeah, I mean, I gotta say probably the most fun of all was “Roots” because we had so many people up on stage for that one. And that was [when we did] the “Fuck Monte Conner” chant at the end, which is pretty hilarious [Conner is an iconic A&R rep who has worked with many of the great Roadrunner bands].

And not to throw him under the bus, but that was Joey Jordison’s idea if I remember correctly. But that was completely out of love; you know, I don’t want anyone to take that the wrong way.

“Roots” was probably the most fun of all the stuff I did that night. I’m looking down the setlist, [mulling over] what I thought was the most fun to watch. I’ll tell you what […] when Corey, Mina, and Keith did “Bother,” I thought that was pretty awesome because it was a great dynamic amongst all the other brutal metal going on that night.

It was really nice to have that dynamic and bring it way down and just have the two of them singing that. I was lucky enough to be in the dressing room beforehand when they were going over harmonies just the two of them and just sitting there watching them do that, which was also pretty awesome.

The Pit: When it comes to performing another band’s song, do you get any jitters, or are you pumped and sort of fanboy out?

SI: Oh no jitters at all. For me, I already knew “Refuse/Resist” and I already knew “Roots,” I think I had already jammed those before even just with Anthrax. I knew the Life of Agony song – been friends with those guys forever. So the only song that I really had to learn was “Sic.” So for me, I can’t call them jitters, I guess the only unknown was, did I learn [the song] correctly? Walking into rehearsal, Paul just kind of tweaked some of the parts I was playing almost correctly and he showed me how they played it. And yeah, that was it.

But no, for me it’s just so much fun to get to play other stuff that is in my wheelhouse, certainly, but it’s not the stuff I get to play every day. I mean, when do I get to cover a Slipknot song? It’s not very often, [and it] was with the guys. So yeah, that was just a brilliant, incredible moment for me.

The Pit: Lastly, and no pressure at all, no need to rank anything – but what are your top five Roadrunner Records releases?

SI: Well this one definitely has to be on the list: The Law of Devil’s Land from Loudness. I love that record. Mercyful Fate’s Melissa – that’s probably going to be number one. Although, you said I don’t need an order.

The Pit: If you feel confident, then by all means go for it. But no pressure at all.

SI: Alright. Well, might as well put Kill ‘Em All on there. That’s three, but I gotta save some room for stuff that came later. Holy crap, I mean, to pick five records, I might have to go back as I go through this, you know? [For context, Ian is currently scrolling through a Wikipedia page that provides all Roadrunner-related releases].

We’ll say Mercyful Fate is definitely on there, that’s for sure. I mean that Melissa record is so big for me then, still is a huge influence. Alright, I’m up to 1984 now. I have Melissa, Kill ‘Em All, and what was the other one? Oh Loudness; Loudness may come off. I forgot Slayer‘s Show No Mercy [had a Roadrunner release], so that’s a possibility. Wow, Anthrax, Fist Full of Metal came out [on Roadrunner]. See I didn’t even know that. Look what I’m learning.

Well, you might as well put down Chaos A.D. from Sepultura.

The Pit: Sweet, so you have Melissa, Kill ‘Em All, and Chaos A.D..

SI: Yeah. And let’s put the first Slipknot record [on the list] for sure.

I’m like only on 1985 here, this will take forever. There’s Hell Awaits, but the thing [is], Hell Awaits didn’t come out on Roadrunner in the US right, only in Europe. So it’s weird to count that. Here’s Bonded by Blood; [that] came out on Roadrunner, but I know it from Torrid Records of the US release. I’m trying to think of something that’s a little obvious that I’m missing from later that would have come out on Roadrunner. Maybe Machine Head? Yeah, we’re gonna go with Burn My Eyes – so that five.