Ask Scott Ian about the Clash of the Titans tour, and he immediately agrees that the package -- which, in addition to his own band, Anthrax, also includes Slayer and Megadeth -- is "about as metal as it gets."
Ask him if that means Anthrax is a heavy metal band, however, and he has to chew the question over before answering.
"I can't even answer that," he says, finally. Speaking over the phone from a tour stop in Buffalo, he says, "I get asked that all the time -- people want to know what kind of band we are, and I don't know what to say. Really, there is no answer. You can't use the term heavy metal, because what your average person thinks as heavy metal is going to give them all these images, and we're not one of those things.
"So then they even say, 'Are you guys like heavy metal?' I say, 'Kind of.' They'll say, 'What do you mean?' I just usually say, 'We're nothing like anything you've ever seen or heard on MTV or the radio, put it that way.' "
Besides, he says, "The three bands on this bill are all really different anyway. A lot of people would think it's just one band comes on, another band comes on, and you can't tell the difference between bands. But you don't have to be a fan of this music to understand that there's a lot of differences. Even if you'd never heard any of this before and you came to this show, you'd be able to tell the difference between the three bands.
"But the problem is some people won't even give it a chance Once they hear the term 'heavy metal' or whatever you want to call it, they immediately get scared away. Or they already have these preconceived images of what it's going to be."
A few close listens to Anthrax, though, ought to destroy most preconceptions about the group. Even though a fair amount of the Anthrax songbook is played at the intense volume and breakneck pace of speed metal, this is hardly just another thrash act. In fact, the band's current single is a remake of the Public Enemy classic, "Bring the Noise," complete with a cameo by rappers Chuck D. and Flavor Flav.
This isn't the group's first flirtation with rap; Anthrax played on the U.T.F.O. single "Lethal" a few years back, and had its own rap-style number, "I'm the Man." Even so, the collaboration still surprises some people.
"People have said to us, 'Don't you think you're going to alienate your metal audience?' " Ian admits. "But this 'Bring the Noise' track is heavier than anything we've ever done. People may look at it as, 'Anthrax does a rap song,' but to me it's just another Anthrax song.
"I think this is the heaviest song we've ever played," he adds. "I don't see how we could alienate anybody, because, if anything, our hard-core fans are going to like this more than they even like our other stuff. All they've got to do is listen to it. Bottom line is you listen to the track and you hear how heavy it is."
When:Sunday, June 30, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Baltimore Arena
Call: 347-2010 for information, 481-6000 for tickets