“I had never heard a band that tight”: Anthrax’s Scott Ian recalls first impression of Dave Mustaine-era Metallica

“They set up differently than any band I had ever seen in a rehearsal room.”

Anthrax's Scott Ian and Metallica's James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine

Image: Scott Dudelson / Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

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Anthrax’s Scott Ian has admitted to being impressed after watching Metallica jam for the first time during their Dave Mustaine era.

The guitarist revealed at a recent Q&A session at Steel City Con that he’d met the thrash metal band early on in their careers when they shared a rehearsal building, noting in particular how Cliff Burton — Metallica’s late bassist — had wowed him with his playing.

“They had a room upstairs, and I remember the second night they had gotten there,” Ian recalls [via Killer Guitar Rig]. “They set up in their rehearsal room, and they set up differently than any band I had ever seen in a rehearsal room.”

“Like the way we set up or any other band I saw, you’d set up a backline, like you were playing a show, so if you were on the stage, it would all be on the wall — here’s the kit and the amps, and everything is facing you guys.”

“But in their rehearsal room, they set up with everything in a circle facing in, and they stood inside the circle playing. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s weird. I’ve never seen anything like that,’” he says. “And I’m sitting in the room in this little circle — me and Dan Lilker [ex-Anthrax bassist], we’re sitting there, and I think Charlie [Benante, Anthrax drummer] might have been there that night — and they start jamming.”

“This is when Mustaine was still in the band, and they started playing the songs that were going to be on ‘Kill ‘Em All’. The energy was just insane, I had never heard songs like that and a band that tight.”

“And there’s Cliff [Burton] banging his head like he’s playing for 10,000 people in an arena, and it’s just them and three of us sitting on the floor drinking beer. And he was going for it like it was the last show he was ever going to play or something.”

Ian continues: “I was like, ‘God, this guy is a fucking maniac. It’s just a rehearsal, dude’, but he couldn’t help himself, it’s just who he was. He felt it that strong and that deep, and the music moved him that way that it didn’t matter. If he’s playing his bass, that’s what was going to happen. And I just thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen.”

Watch the full interview below.


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