Anthrax’s Scott Ian: How I Learned to Play Guitar
Anthrax's Scott Ian is one of the more recognizable guitarists of the metal era, but he actually started his musical education in a period before there was a defined "metal" presence. Still, heavy music spoke to him and during a recent chat with The Music Experience's Squiggy for Gear Factor powered by Sweetwater, Ian credits AC/DC for his instrumental start.
"I'm pre-metal, so I was listening to music before anything was called 'metal.' I was playing guitar through most of the '70s. I think I started around '73," says Ian, crediting acts like KISS, Ramones, Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent and yes, AC/DC, for his initial spark to play guitar, with the late '70s arrival of Judas Priest being the first "metal" act to garner his attention.
"It was the Ramones, Ted Nugent and especially AC/DC. That's where I learned to play guitar," says Ian. "I learned how to play guitar by listening to AC/DC records -- Powerage, Highway to Hell -- those two albums just constantly on the turntable and I'd just sit in my room and learn every song. I'd learn the chords to every song and just copy how Malcolm [Young] played. That's what I wanted to play like. I wanted to play like AC/DC."
During the chat, Ian also weighs in on his love of Jackson guitars and being part of the Fender family. The Anthrax guitarist reveals he has a long relationship with Jackson that includes a period where he was initially turned away by the company. But a few years later, they were able to come to an agreement and it's one that's been fruitful ever since.
"It's the ultimate 'kid in a candy store' thing. I mean I love guitars and I have a deal with Jackson, and also sometimes being able to reap the benefits of being under the Fender umbrella," says Ian, who brings it back full circle revealing how his Jackson and Fender association helped him score a special Malcolm Young tribute guitar.
"I was lucky enough to get one of those Malcolm Young salutes," says Ian. "I've known about that guitar for years and when they first started talking about doing a Malcolm guitar the right way and doing it for real and it took years to get it made, I was just kind of on the periphery hearing about the meetings with Malcolm and all this stuff and on and on and on. There was a point where it didn't look like it was going to happen even though they made the prototypes. Obviously, it ended up happening and I was lucky enough to be one of the guys on the list that they were building one for. I didn't get that for free. There were no freebies on that one, but I didn't care. If there's one guitar I have to own in my life, it's that guitar and I was just lucky enough I got on the list."
Ian and his Anthrax bandmates will be back on the road in March, heading to Australia and New Zealand. Keep up with the band's touring here. And for all your gear needs, be sure to visit Sweetwater.com.
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