Scott Ian, rhythm guitarist and de facto leader of legendary thrash-metal band Anthrax, has a new side project. The Damned Things is a hard-rocking quintet featuring Ian; vocalist Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die; Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy on guitar and drums, respectively; and Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano, who plays bass on the band's debut album, Ironiclast. (The album is set to be released December 14 via Island/Def Jam.) In advance of the band's Pop's performance, Ian talked to B-Sides about his new project.
B-Sides: Whose idea was the Damned Things? How did the group come together?
Scott Ian: Well, Joe Trohman and I started hanging out together and became friends, and one day in LA, he had a night off and asked if I wanted to come over to his hotel and maybe bring a guitar and jam. I was like, Yeah, sure, why not? We'll have a couple of beers and just have some fun. That's really where it started, like four years ago. Just the two of us kind of noodling around and coming up with some ideas that were actually pretty cool. We kinda kept at it over time, and eventually it started becoming real. We asked Andy to play drums, and Keith was our No. 1 choice as a dream singer, and Joe was like, "Hey, I've got his number, I'm gonna text him right now, and we'll send him some music," and it really just came together like that. A bunch of dudes who were friends and decided we wanted to play music together.
The two songs I've heard ("Ironiclast" and "We've Got a Situation Here," streaming on the band's MySpace page) sound more like late-period Anthrax than Every Time I Die or Fall Out Boy. How did the songwriting break down?
Joe pretty much wrote all the music; I would say 85 percent, close to 90 percent, of the stuff that made the record is Joe's. Some of the stuff that I was writing, earlier in the process, ended up not even making the record, 'cause it wasn't as good. Keith wrote pretty much all the lyrics. I was involved in a lot of the arranging and stuff like that. I don't know that I really hear it sounding that much like Anthrax, but that's not for me to decide, really. To me, it doesn't sound like anything I've ever done before.
How much music is on the album, and were the sessions quick? Who produced it?
It's ten songs, and it took a bit of time because of schedules — we recorded drums, and then bass and guitar were another session after that, and then vocals were over a couple of different sessions when Keith was in between Every Time I Die tours. It was produced by Rob Caggiano, the other lead guitar player, and coproduced by Joe and mixed by Nick Raskulinecz, and I think it just sounds amazing. I love it.
You're in three bands, plus writing comics for DC and playing online poker at UltimateBet .com — when do you sleep?
Yeah, that's a good question. Actually, somehow I find a lot of time to sleep. I just really pack my waking hours with as much excitement as possible, I guess. I don't know how I ended up with all this on my plate, 'cause I say no all the time. It's not like I have a problem saying no. It's just I really like being in Anthrax and the Damned Things and playing in Pearl and writing comics and playing poker, so somehow I'm able to make time for all of it. Obviously things get prioritized, and when you're doing one thing you kinda gotta pull back on doing the other stuff, but I try and make time for as much as I can. I'm on tour, and most of the time during the day, there's not much going on, so that enables me to play poker online and/or write lyrics or write comic books or whatever, so most of the days are pretty wide open.