I met Scott Ian in Dublin years ago when Anthrax were playing there. He doesn’t mention this in his book but I supposed he’s saving that for his next book (NOT! See what I did there, Anthrax fans?). He was a very nice chap, physically small but with very good manners (I’m with Lemmy all the way on this one, I loath bad manners) and with a larger than life personality.
Scott’s autobiography is much the same. He’s a great story-teller and this is a really enjoyable book to read. You will fly through it, not because it’s short but because it’s such a good story you won’t be able to put it down. Moreover, Scott is very honest about both his own faults and mistakes Anthrax have made, and he’s very likeable as a result. This isn’t like Dave Mustaine’s miserable whine-fest of an autobiography; this is generally a fun read (and the 16 page colour comic strip detailing the messy [really messy!] results of Scott’s foolish attempts to match Lemmy in the drinks department is laugh-out-loud funny). Scott really gets a buzz out of life and writes very movingly about his love for his wife Pearl, and his idea that there is someone out there for everyone is very sweet and optimistic.
There’s some great stories, I love the one that Metallica were going to replace Lars Ulrich (with a drummer I assume!). Elsewhere Scott writes with great affection of his fallen friends, Ronnie Dio, Cliff Burton, and especially his partner-in-alcohol, Dimebag Darrell.
One thing I took from ‘I’m The Man’ is that it’s an utter miracle any band achieves any success whatsoever.
Scott is still baffled at the fall in Anthrax’s fortunes in the mid 90s (following the best and most successful Anthrax album Sound of White Noise). He goes through the possible reasons, but I think he’s been too hard on himself. The fact is the 90s became a terrible time for metal. The reasons why would fill a book in itself, but Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Slayer, and Paradise Lost, to name but a few, did not have an outstanding 90s. One problem I can identify was that by Stomp 442, Anthrax were down two long-term members. In some respects didn’t look like Anthrax, even though they had a truly great singer. Elektra Record’s lack of support hurt them badly, but I feel as the rise of vile nu-metal showed, it wasn’t a great time for metal.
Scott is also a throwback to a better time when most metal bands had one or two personalities. Metallica had Cliff Burton. Faith No More had Jim Martin. Sabbath had Ozzy. Priest had Rob Halford, and so on. You’ll sadly note that with modern bands this doesn’t happen often.
Kirk Hammett’s introduction is very good and on the strength of that I would enjoy a full-book from him.
Scott’s dogged persistence is admirable and it has to be vindicated; he always believes something better is around the corner and he’s often proved right. I’d rather live in an optimistic world anyway!
The biggest compliment of all I can pay this book is you wouldn’t need to be an Anthrax fan to read it (though, of course, that would make it all the better). Good writing and story-telling is good writing and story-telling in any genre.