- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Scott Ian has been rocking out for over three decades, but he and his Anthrax bandmates have no plans to slow it down. In fact, when asked what he would say to people who tell him rock is strictly for the young, Mr. Ian, 52, says he has a simple yet eloquent response at the ready:

“I would tell them they’re an idiot, and to stop talking to me.”

The guitarist and lead singer famous for his trademark Technicolor beard and his band will play the District’s Fillmore Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland, Sunday evening at 7 p.m. as part of their 35th anniversary tour and to support their anthemic new album, “For All Kings,” due out Feb. 26. The new disc features thrashers like “You Gotta Believe,” which instantly transports you back to the mid-‘80s, the burning metal of “Monster at the End” and the all-out attitude of “Suzerain.”

In his rather typically understated way, Mr. Ian said that “For All Kings” was not part of some grand plan, but rather “we wrote a bunch of songs we really liked, we recorded them, mixed them, packaged them and gave them to the label, and they set a release date.”

Such self-confident swagger — mixed in with a healthy dose of devil-may-care attitude — has been a staple of the Anthrax posture since they first burst onto the scene in the early ‘80s alongside other shred-heavy bands Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth, known collectively as “The Big Four.”

Anthrax’s oeuvre is a travelogue of angst-ridden, good-time woe, with such hits as “I Am the Law,” “Madhouse,” “Be All End All,” “Belly of the Beast” and “Armed and Dangerous” causing more conservative parents years of trepidation when hearing them coming from their children’s bedrooms.

“We had our time in the past where we used to destroy hotel rooms,” Mr. Ian said candidly of his younger days. He called to mind an incident on the 1991 Clash of the Titans Tour where the members of Anthrax and Slayer were both staying at the same Hilton — and the young rockers decided to shoot paintballs at the large outdoor signage.

“We’ve got nothing better to do, and we spent about 45 minutes shooting the sign until you couldn’t even see the color anymore,” Mr. Ian relates. “That cost us about $10,000 the next day … it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.”

During those same days of destruction, Mr. Ian and the band were invited to cameo as themselves on an episode of “Married…With Children,” the crass sitcom about the bumbling Bundy clan and their unique twist on family values.

“We had so much fun, it was so out of our element at the time,” Mr. Ian said of appearing on the long-running sitcom starring Ed O’Neill as sourpuss patriarch Al Bundy and Christina Applegate as his airheaded daughter, Kelly. In the episode in question, with the parents gone, Kelly and Bud (David Faustino) entertain the band — who are none too happy to be there — at the family’s Chicago home.

“We were all fans of the show, and getting thrown into that world, we had a blast, man,” Mr. Ian said.

Anthrax has even crossed genres when they teamed up with Public Enemy in 1991 for a heavier version of the rap group’s anthem “Bring the Noise.” Despite that collaboration, however, Mr. Ian says his favorite song from the politically active rap group is in fact “Night of the Living Baseheads.”

“I was just with Chuck [D from Public Enemy] a few weeks ago when we were on tour in Sheffield, England,” Mr. Ian said of his collaborator and friend. “We were doing a photo shoot together.”

Mr. Ian cites KISS, Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, The Ramones, Black Sabbath, The Who, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motorhead among his many influences, saying you’d be hard-pressed to find anything from after the turn of the millennium on his iPod.

“I’m so kind of in a bubble of my own band and being so busy with everything worth doing … I really don’t have a chance to listen to too much new stuff,” he said.

Mr. Ian is married to his second wife, Pearl Aday, the daughter of Meat Loaf, and has children with her. Away from the stage, he enjoys cards and even saw rather great returns on a “World Series of Poker Event.”

He stopped dying his lengthy beard a few years ago, allowing it to flow freely and grayly. Despite its loss of coloring, he says people nonetheless still inquire if they might yank on his whiskers.

“I tell them [ZZ Top frontman] Billy Gibbons really likes that, [so] go pull on his,” Mr. Ian usually answers in response.

Mr. Ian says he still loves playing but traveling constantly on tour “sucks,” however, playing to an appreciative crowd is “awesome.” He also realizes that his life on the road is what made his name.

“Obviously playing Yankees Stadium on the big floor in 2011 was one of those [rock star] moments,” he said. The band has also played such famous venues as Madison Square Garden in Mr. Ian’s hometown of New York.

Mr. Ian has met and played with most of his heroes save for AC/DC, however, with the legendary Australians on tour in 2016 as well, Mr. Ian hopes to finally check that meet-and-greet off his list.

Meantime, Mr. Ian says he will continue to thrash the world’s stages on his own terms.

“I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve been doing this at this level so long,” he said, adding he hopes Anthrax “keeps doing this on our own terms as long as we want to.”

“In a lot of ways, we get to call our own shots, and that’s a nice way to get to live your life. Having that kind of freedom to be able to make your own decisions and to be doing something you love, that’s really all I want to be able to do.”

Anthrax will play along with Lamb of God, Deafheaven and Power Trip Sunday at The Fillmore Silver Spring Sunday, with doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at LiveNation.com

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