Anthrax’s Scott Ian Explains What Metallica Were Like During Big 4 Tour, Recalls How They Were Invited

Anthrax rhythm guitarist and the sole original member of the band, Scott Ian, recently recalled how his band got invited to do the Big Four shows with Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth. Speaking to fans at a Q&A session at this year’s Steel City Con, Ian was asked about what was the experience like and, if these shows would potentially happen again, who would he replace Slayer with now that the band has retired. Scott Ian replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“Well, you have to ask Metallica that question because they’re the captains of that ship. So they were kind enough to let the other three bands — it’s like an ocean liner and three plastic rafts dangling along behind it. [Laughs]”

Anthrax The Big Four Sofia

The tour took place in the early 2010s and saw the four legendary thrash metal bands — led by Metallica — do shows together in Europe and the US. The Big Four show in Sofia, Bulgaria was also filmed and saw an official release as “The Big Four: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria.”

As Ian recalled further, it was the guys from Metallica who initiated the whole thing and decided to take all four bands on tour:

“They were kind enough. They made a decision when Lars, Charlie [Benante] and I went to Metallica’s Hall of Fame induction in Cleveland, I think it was ’09 or something. They invited us out for that.”

Anthrax - Live At Ullevi 2011 (Big Four Show, Full Concert) (720p HD)

“We were at the party they threw, and everyone was having some drinks and hanging with Lars, and he says, ‘We’re thinking about doing some Big Four shows.'”

But as Ian added, he felt like this wasn’t for real, just random chit-chat on Lars’ end:

“I didn’t even know what he was talking about. I was like, ‘What’s Big Four shows?’ And he said, ‘You know, us and you guys and Slayer and Megadeth’. I said, ‘Oh, oh, sure. Yeah’, thinking like, ‘Sure, whenever, let us know.’ I don’t think it’s for real. It’s just junk talk.”

However, Scott would soon find out that Lars was actually serious about it:

“So a couple of months go by, and our manager gets a call asking what our availability is for these shows that Metallica wants to do. And I was like, ‘He was serious? Wow!’ They were thinking about it all that time in advance, they already knew a year ahead that they wanted to do that.”

Anthrax 40th Anniversary Tour Live 2023 Tech Port Arena San Antonio

Reflecting on that point in time, Ian also added how this was the perfect moment for Anthrax to do such a thing, especially because they brought back vocalist Joey Belladona and were also working on new music:

“And it couldn’t have been better for us, because we had just gotten Joey [Belladonna] back in the band in 2010, and we were working on the album that was to become ‘Worship Music.’ What better way to get back out there?”

Reflecting on what Metallica were like during the whole process, Ian said:

“There was no bigger way than to Metallica say, ‘Let’s go do these shows, and play stadiums all over the place. Here’s our stage, there’s 80,000 people, the rest is up to you.’ And we did our best, we had an amazing run of shows on that, and it really did relaunch us in a huge way.”

Slayer- The Big 4- Sofia 2010

“Yeah, had nothing but fun, it was like a high school reunion for months. Anytime you’d be backstage, it’s all your friends, all dudes in bands we’ve known each other since the early 80s, and crew guys we’ve all known each other since the ’80s. And it was amazing. It was the best summer camp ever.”

Scott Ian has always been pretty open about how thankful he was to Metallica for this opportunity. Although Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth are big on their own, it’s no secret that Metallica is simply on another level commercial-wise.

In an interview with Ultimate Guitar from a few years ago, Ian reflected on the experience by saying:

“The ‘Big Four’ was amazing, what an experience! It was as incredible as you think it would be, it was a great experience!”

Metallica: Am I Evil? (Live w/ The Big 4) [The Big 4: Live in Sofia, Bulgaria]

“Metallica really – look, obviously, Metallica just does things the right way. They do things the way they want to, and they do things the right way.”

“And when they made the decision to put the ‘Big Four’ together, they just really did everything perfectly, from top to bottom. The way the shows were put together, the way that all the bands were treated equally…”

“Look, we’ve all been friends since 1982 or 1983, and everybody’s gone on to have great careers in playing heavy metal music, and obviously Metallica has gone on to become one of the biggest – not just metal bands – but one of the biggest bands in the world.”

Anthrax - Live Wacken 2019 (Full Show HD)

“And when we were out at the ‘Big Four,’ it never really felt like it was just Metallica and then the other three bands. It was very inclusive, and they made everybody feel equal.”

“And we were all a part of this same thing, and we all came from the same place, and it really did feel truly like the brotherhood that we came out in the early ’80s. And I can’t ever thank them enough for the experience.”

“I could speak on behalf of everyone in Anthrax — and I think even in Slayer and Megadeth it’s the same thing – we all had an amazing time, and I think so did Metallica.”

Anthrax live | Rockpalast | 2019

“We had an amazing time playing those shows together and spending that time together like we did on tour doing those shows.”

“It felt really good to be there with all your friends, and to be able to just take a minute to look at what we did, our legacy, and moving forward, and all of that, with the people who we’ve been with since the beginning.”

“You know, that doesn’t happen often in any kind of music, where you have four bands who have been there at the start of the genre, and thirty-something years later they’re going out and playing shows together. You know, the whole thing was really incredible.”

Anthrax Live Wacken 2013 FULL CONCERT

Photos: WanderingTrad (Anthrax Tuska 2019 (1) (Cropped)), Ralph Arvesen (Lars Ulrich 2017)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.