After being in a thrash metal band for 30 years, Scott Ian of Anthrax has a lot of stories to tell.

That’s not surprising. It may even seem a little stereotypical, the rock star with wild tales to tell.

What makes Ian a little different is that he’s sharing his stories with 500-member audiences, talking for two and a half hours at a pop.

Most rock stars keep their onstage comments to “Hello Cleveland” and “How’s everyone tonight?” But Ian, 50, has found he has a gift for long-form storytelling.

“I think it’s just the way I am. I’ve always been able to talk in front of groups and I seem to have the ability to get my points across clearly,” said Ian. “Which is strange, because I’m not the most extroverted guy in the world.”

Extroverted or not, Ian brings his “Speaking Words” tour to Portland Saturday. It’s the last of about two dozen shows on this tour.


Ian says he’s getting better and feeling more comfortable every time he’s on stage, telling his stories and answering questions.

“So you guys in Portland are in for a good show,” said Ian.

Once this tour ends, Ian is picking his guitar back up and going back on the road with Anthrax. Then later this year Anthrax is going back into the studio to work on a new album.

At some point Ian says he’d like to do more speaking shows. Maybe with music too.

But for now, his shows are sort of like the ones Hollywood actors sometimes do to talk about their careers. Except that Cary Grant and Gregory Peck, who both did such shows after their film careers were over, didn’t have the stories to tell that Ian does.

Ian grew up in New York City, where his father worked in the jewelry business and his mother worked various jobs. He was still a teenager in 1981 when he formed Anthrax with Danny Lilker. The band has undergone many personnel changes, but with Ian at its core, Anthrax has put out 10 albums and sold more than 15 million records.


Besides being considered one of the standard-bearers of revved up metal music, Ian has also been long known as one of rock’s more articulate talking heads. He shows up often on cable TV shows commenting on rock or pop culture topics.

He had never thought of doing a storytelling tour until he was approached by the organizers of a London event called “Rockstars Say the Funniest Things.” It’s a live series that basically puts rockers on stage to tell their stories.

He was going to be in London with Anthrax anyway, so he decided to agree. Ian says he had five months to prepare, but did nothing. He was thinking of pulling out, but his wife convinced him to do the talk.

“My wife told me to just tell stories. So I did, and it was so much fun,” said Ian.

Ian said he doesn’t write anything or prepare for his shows. But he says the more he tells stories, the more details start to emerge from his brain.

A lot of his stories are about specific incidents, like a 36-hour odyssey after getting drunk with Motorhead bassist Lemmy Kilmister. But some stories are more about people, like the half-hour or so he spends talking about the late Darrell Abbott, known as “Dimebag Darrell,” a founding member of the rock band Pantera.


“I knew him for 19 years, so sort of condense down who he was, as a person,” said Ian. “It’s nice for me, it’s fun, and it keeps him alive in my mind.”

Ian says he usually talks for two and a half hours, but the time varies depending on how many questions people ask during the Q&A period.

“This is a whole new skill set I’m developing and I really enjoy it,” said Ian. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t step out on stage every night.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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