Anthrax’s Scott Ian: “I don’t think guitar-based bands are ever gonna go out of business”

The thrash metal guitarist is hopeful for the future of heavy music.

Scott Ian of Anthrax

Image: Mauricio Santana / Getty

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian has spoken about his hopes for the future of hard rock, heavy metal and guitar-based bands in general – expressing his optimism for the survival of all three.

During an appearance on The Fred Minnick Show, Ian was asked about how he views the rock and metal landscape, to which he said: “I think it’s super healthy – as healthy as it’s ever been. You can’t judge things by album sales anymore, ’cause people buying CDs, vinyl, it isn’t what it used to be. And the streaming numbers for hard rock and heavy metal don’t come anywhere close to the streaming numbers for pop or rap. But as far as ticket sales go, and going out on tour and all that, and just in general…”

He went on to clarify that Anthrax’s continued success over four decades is evidence enough for him. 2021 Will be the band’s 40th year playing, and Ian added: “I can still do this now and make a living at it, all these decades later, at a higher level than we did even in the ‘80s. I can only judge it by the health of my band, where my band is at professionally, and things are really good.

“So that, to me, is a good barometer for what’s going on with hard rock and heavy metal in general. So many new bands in metal have come through in the last 10 years, and then, of course, you’ve got the grandpas like us and – I was gonna say Slayer, but they retired – us and Megadeth and Metallica. And even bands that I consider to be new bands, like System Of A Down or Lamb Of God, these guys who have now been around going on 20,30 years. I think it’s really healthy.”

He went on to say how they business of being an alternative to the mainstream is an evergreen one: “There’s always gonna be a new generation of kids that are gonna look for an alternative to what’s on the radio or what’s on the television, and that’s hard rock and heavy metal.

“It’s kind of like the death business – funeral homes are never gonna go out of business. I don’t think guitar-based bands are ever gonna go out of business.”

Whether or not his comments go against recent comments made by KISS bassist and singer Gene Simmons is down to your definition of “rock.” Simmons’ comments, in which he doubled down on his previous declaration of the death of rock, seemed to pertain mainly to the mainstream. He mainly cited The Beatles as an example as to when the genre was at its peak of popularity, and compared them to K-Pop group BTS: “Tell me who the new Beatles is,” he said. “You can’t. There are popular bands. BTS is very popular. All kinds of bands are very popular. That doesn’t mean iconic and legacy and for all-time. It’s different.”

He explained that he thought the reason for the enduring success of The Beatles was that they were a band that “ wrote their own songs, arranged it themselves, produced it themselves, mostly played all their own instruments. No backing tracks. No digital enhancement. No vocal correctness.”

“Yeah, not gonna happen again,” he added.

The disparity between Ian’s citing the continued success of thrash metal across 40 years, and Simmons’ citing a lack of “real instruments” in music seem to disagree on whether it’s a good thing that rock and metal are the alternative to the mainstream, rather than the mainstream itself.

See Ian’s appearance on The Fred Minnick Show below.

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