"There was a hotel on the Clash of the Titans tour in '91, which will remain nameless, that us and Slayer were all staying in on a day off," he says. "We all had paintball guns at the time out on tour with us, and we ended up getting out on the roof of the hotel and shot the giant massive sign for the hotel — a major hotel brand — for about 15 to 20 minutes. There were about eight of us, and we basically repainted the sign, having a grand old time. Until the next morning when we received a $10,000 bill for cleaning. So us and Slayer split the cost, and that was pretty much the end of paintball guns on tour."
Paintball guns on hand or not, Anthrax has been firing on all cylinders following the return of lead singer Joey Belladonna in 2010. The band's most recent albums, Worship Music and For All Kings, have been praised by critics and fans alike for sounding refreshingly vital for a band that has been touring and recording steadily since 1984.
Ian, the band's founding guitarist, chalks this up to still being able to do what they love.
"We love being in a band, and that's really where all the inspiration comes from, getting to do this, being given the opportunity to have time in your life to write a record and make a record and then go out and play shows on the back of that," he says. "We were having the discussion the other day and it was jokingly said, but there's a half truth to it ... 'You know what the key is? To stay poor and drunk!' You have to write as much as you can while you're still poor and drunk and never get out of that frame of mind [and] you'll keep finding good material."
"We've been doing this 60-minute set already in Europe on festivals all summer, so we've got what we feel is a very strong set that leaves people very satisfied, and yet at the same time they'll wanna come back and see another 60 minutes when you headline," he says. "We know we've got that good 60 minutes and yet there's another 10 songs we could easily play. Even on festival shows where we're certainly not a headliner it feels like we're headlining judging by the crowd reaction!"
Half the battle is finding room in a show for songs that sometimes get ignored, while taking out those the band feel are growing stale from repetition.
"There's a lot of catalog stuff that we haven't played in a while," he says. "Even a song like 'I Am the Law,' which arguably comes from our most popular record and is a big, big song, we haven't played that song in close to two years."We pulled it out of the set on purpose because we were getting bored playing it. And if I’m feeling bored playing something, I feel that’s going to translate. And there’s definitely some songs off Persistence of Time that we haven’t done in a while, songs like 'Belly of the Beast,' 'Keep It in the Family,' songs like that which have kind of been out of the set for a long time, which when we start headlining next year I think there’s a good chance some of that older material will make its way back into the set.”
One thing that might surprise longtime fans is that Ian is not a fan of the concept of "rehearsing" for live performances, even when it comes time to take new songs from the studio to the stage.
"We never rehearse!" he laughs. "The extent of our rehearsal would be in the dressing room with practice amps and a drum pad that Charlie bangs on. Then we take it to the stage, because to me that's where we're going to really learn how the song is meant to be played live. In rehearsal there's no audience there, so I don't have that energy feeding back to me, in which case I'm probably not gonna be jumping around and banging my head the same way I would be. You can't fake that in rehearsal. It's impossible. We bust 'em out live and they keep getting better and better as time goes on."