As one of the bands who were key to popularizing the name and concept of the mosh pit, Anthrax have arguably contributed to their fair share of blood and guts over the years. It is perhaps only natural, then, that Scott Ian – a longtime friend of Nerdist – would deliver the same to the Nerdist Channel with Fangoria. Coming this summer, the rhythm guitarist will move to a new beat, as he looks at horror movie makeup in Fangoria’s Blood & Guts with Scott Ian. Combined with his near-nonstop music duties, that makes him a busy man, but we managed to get some time with him for a closer look.
Nerdist: You’ve been friends with Chris Hardwick for a while. How did you guys meet and become buds?
Scott Ian: Either late ’90s or early 2000, I started going to comedy shows at Largo, when it used to be on Fairfax, and I was friends with Brian Posehn and some of the Mr. Show people. Through Brian, basically, that’s how I started meeting Patton Oswalt, Chris Hardwick, all these other people who I ended up becoming friends with.
N: And now you’re doing a show for the Nerdist Channel with Fangoria. How did that come about?
SI: Just out of the blue last week, Chris hit me up and asked me if it was something I’d be interested in. He felt my personality was right for this. I guess the backstory on it would be that when they first came up with the idea for Talking Dead, I got a call about shooting the pilot, and my job was field reporter. What they did for my segment was send me out to the set of one of the webisodes, and then Greg Nicotero and his team made me up as a zombie and I got to be a walker. I had closeups and everything in the webisode. When it got picked up, they didn’t keep me as field reporter – that position, I guess, wasn’t something they were gonna move forward with – but Chris just kept it in the back of his mind. I can only assume that when Nerdist and Fangoria had the idea to do this show, Chris said I’d be the right guy to be going out and hosting these things because of the bit I did on Talking Dead.
N: What was your reaction when he called?
SI: I was stoked, because I am a big horror fan and I love all this kind of stuff like special makeup effects. It’s a good fit for me.
N: So what’s the focus of the show – more set-reporter stuff?
SI: No, I think the focus of the show is more on the actual makeup effects: how do you do this, how do you get it done, and then either I’ll be the guinea pig or someone else will. I would actually prefer me to be the test subject, like if they’re showing a gaping head-wound, or going, “How do you blow someone’s head off with a shotgun?” like Christina Hendricks in Drive. The name of the show is Fangoria’s Blood & Guts with Scott Ian, which sounds good to me.
N: Is it hard to get the glue and latex out of your beard when you’re done?
SI: Yeah, but you know, it’s so worth it. When I had the zombie makeup on, the only reason I ended up taking it off was because about 18 hours later, it really did start to pull on my skin, so it started to become uncomfortable. Whatever pain in the ass it is to get that stuff off, it’s worth it just to have had it on.
N: On that topic, how long are you planning on getting your beard, eventually?
SI: I saw [Z.Z. Top’s] Billy Gibbons the other night at Revolver’s Golden Gods Awards, and he pointed at my beard and went, “Ahh, it’s looking good!” and I’m like, “Dude, I’m never catching up – I’m just a novice compared to you,” and he’s like, “Oh, no, come on! You can do it!” But I don’t know if I ever really want…that. You know? I actually do keep it the same length; it’s been at the same length forever. I have a ten-month-old as well, who pretty much hangs off it with all of his 24 pounds, so as he gets bigger, that’s only gonna get worse.
N: So what’s the latest news with Anthrax right now?
SI: We’re actually starting a Mexican and South American tour, and I’ll be gone the next two weeks. Then home from that, then we’re in Europe playing festivals, then we’re on that Rock Star Mayhem tour in the States this summer with Slayer and Slipknot, so we’re basically on tour all the rest of the year into 2013. And what’s great about the Nerdist show is they straight-up said, “We’ll work around your schedule.” I’ve been offered to do lots of weird stuff over the years, and more than 9.9 times out of ten, I can’t do things because of my touring schedule, because when am I ever available for, “Oh we’re gonna need you for three months,” and I’m never available for three months. So I’m really happy that they’re able top work around my schedule and I’m able to do that.
N: What are some of your favorite horror make-up moments of all time?
SI: The first thing to pop into my mind is when Tom Savini gets torn apart in Dawn of the Dead. That scared me as a kid and I guess you could kinda say it stayed with me in a good way. The scene in Scanners when his head blows up, that’s a classic. Anything in Evil Dead or Evil Dead 2. I know I mentioned this, but I just watched Drive last week and that scene where she gets her head blown off is straight out of an ’80s horror movie. The movie’s not necessarily slow, but very Michael Mann, ’80s kinda pacing, very moody and all that – and then all of a sudden that hotel-room scene happens and you’re just, like, “Holy crap!” and then from there it’s just 100 miles an hour. I was blown away with that movie.
N: As a guinea pig, if you could be made up as any kind of creature, past or present, what would it be?
SI: Well, my dream already came true doing Walking Dead, so that would’ve been my number one, as they told me, I was getting “the full hero makeup.” That one being checked off, I’ve always kinda dug the Wolfman, like old-school Lon Chaney, because when I grow my full beard on my face, it pretty much goes all the way up to my eyes. So it wouldn’t take much; just hit me with that crazy Wolfman wig. I’ve got a natural underbite as it is, so a couple of fangs and I’m ready to go.
N: Do you see a lot of commonalities between the Anthrax and Nerdist fanbases, or are they very different?
SI: I saw it firsthand when I did the podcast with Chris. Just on my Twitter feed, I got a huge amount of feedback from people who either were already fans, went over and checked it out, and then are, like, “Thanks for turning me on to Nerdist, I check it out all the time now,” or people who listen to it and then hit me up on Twitter, like, “Wow, we didn’t know you were into all this kind of stuff,” so there’s definitely a huge amount of crossover…and definitely crossover potential.
N: In terms of your interests, both nerd and metal, what kind of influence do you hope to have as a parent on your kid?
SI: I look at it this way: growing up as a kid, I never had anything shoved down my throat. My mom was a big horror fan; she grew up in the ’50s and loved horror movies, Mad magazine and things like that, so from a really young age I got exposed to horror watching these things called creature features on Saturday mornings. Instead of watching cartoons, I was watching horror movies when I was four and five. And it’s not like it was shoved down my throat, because obviously I liked it. Everything else, whether it was music, comics, books…that’s all stuff I found on my own. My son’s certainly going to be surrounded by stuff growing up, because we have a house full of guitars and books and comics and art and things like that, but whether or not he takes to any of it, I wanna leave up to him, because I feel like if I try to push it on him then maybe he’ll push away from it, thinking dad’s shoving this down my throat, this is cheesy. The last thing I want him to think is that all this cool stuff that I love is not cool.