SLAYER’s KERRY KING Talks Current Tour, New Record - “There’s Tons Of Material; We Can Do Something Late Next Year, But I Think Realistically Early 2018”
September 15, 2016, a year ago
Death Angel. Anthrax. Slayer.
Yep, it may not be “the big four” but we can pretty much call it The Big Tour, a swell pile o’ thrash in your face, by three veteran bands with some of the finest catalogues in the land—including new records that can stand up to anything from past glories.
BraveWords caught up with Slayer’s Kerry King just as Death Angel was hitting the stage at the Sound Academy in Toronto—already mostly full at 7:10PM!—and so I figured it made sense to ask Kerry about these beloved San Francisco legends... “Man, they’ve been around about as long as we have—never toured together. So that’s what’s cool, for the fans and the bands. We play with Anthrax all the time. They are some of my best friends. But to give Death Angel a shot opening for a tour of this stature, I think it means a lot to them, and it’s cool for us because we never did this before.”
As for Anthrax, “Well, they’re part of the big four, which is a conundrum in itself, because we never called ourselves that. That’s what they called us. Should Testament be part of that? Should Exodus be part of that? I don’t know why not. But the original four kind of separated themselves early on. And Anthrax is... they’re really the only one from the East Coast. Everyone else is on the West Coast. So I guess that sets them apart. You know, their style is something completely different from what we do, but the music is fairly similar.”
And it’s one big happy family—or at least it’s shaping up to be. “Yes, like you said, the tour’s only two shows old. Mark (Osegueda, Death Angel vocalist) is going to hang out every night because that’s just who Mark is. But the last show, a couple the other guys came in, and you know, at the end of the gig, my room, dressing room 1, that’s where the party is. If anyone wants a drink, come to my room, because you knows that there are some in there (laughs).”
The other order of business is the recent completion of the band’s super-gory trilogy of Repentless song videos, “Pride In Prejudice” joining “Repentless” and You Against You” in a big tub of blood.
Asked if the band was involved in the complex storylines across the three slasher clips, Kerry says, “No, but we approved it. I mean, I’m the kind of guy, be it artwork for a record or a producer producing the record, I mean, let them do what they want to do. And when I see what they want to do, if it’s not up to par or something, something that I think could be better, and Tom thinks can be better, we’ll address it that way. But it would be like somebody telling me how to write songs. I’m not a director, so why don’t I let you direct? If I’ve got a great idea, I’ll let you know. If I don’t, I won’t.”
Indicating that there’s not a huge pile of parallels between the videos and the actual lyrics to the songs, King explains, “I think it’s just something digitally that would go to the music. I mean, ‘Pride In Prejudice’ more than anything. ‘You Against You’ certainly doesn’t have anything to do with that guy going through the desert killing people. ‘Repentless,’ you know, you could probably say there is a little bit of a link. But ‘Pride In Prejudice,’ I think more than anything, because ‘Pride In Prejudice’ is a racial type of title, and there are racial things going on in that video. And it’s not that we’re racist or anything, it’s how that trilogy panned out. And we wanted it to be a finale. Something bigger and more intense and crazier than the first two. And that’s hard to do (laughs).”
So who pays for these things and why?!
“I don’t have an answer for you. My guess... because I didn’t pay for them! My guess is the record company. And BJ (McDonnell, director) and the crew and the actors were doing it for far less than they’re worth. It should’ve been very expensive, and it wasn’t as expensive as you think. Because everybody... you know, BJ is a fan. He was excited to work with us, and he got the opportunity to basically do what he wanted. And a lot of people won’t let people be who they are and do what they do.”
Given that we had sat down to talk on September 12th, one day after the 15th anniversary of 9/11, I asked Kerry to take us back to the release of God Hates Us All, which happened to come out that very day back in 2001 (of note, Repentless came out on September 11, 2015).
“Right, that was weird, yeah. We were supposed to go to Europe that day, to start Tattoo the Planet or Tattoo the Earth. Right, Tattoo the Earth was here. Tattoo the Planet was over there. And Pantera was already there. And we couldn’t get there because there were no-fly zones for at least 48 hours. I can’t remember when it was, but as soon as we could go, we went. And in the meantime, Pantera came home, because they didn’t want to... I don’t know, I never really got that. It would’ve been cool. I mean, we did Pantera’s last tour in the states, but it would have been cool to do that one over there, because those guys are good friends of mine. And it was a bummer; we had to go out and basically take over that tour. Some people decided to stay on it, some people didn’t.”
“’Disciple,’ basically, is a premonition of what happened,” ventures King, asked if there were any parallels to world events from the album that gave him pause to ponder. “But, you know, that’s just me generalizing society, and it’s so general. It didn’t happen exactly, but you could definitely see nuances in ‘Disciple’ and what was going on on September 11th—and thereafter, actually.”
“God Hates Us All is the return of me,” laughs Kerry, prompted to contrast that record with 1998’s Diabolus In Musica. “And you can tell by the anger. You can tell that also on Repentless—you know, it’s 95% me. Repentless is just me pissed as hell. That is what Slayer’s good at. That is what people want Slayer to be. Diabolus, I was kind of fuckin’... I wasn’t a train wreck personally. I was a train wreck by what was popular in music, and I didn’t understand it. And I let it get to me. I shouldn’t have done that. You know, hey, I ain’t perfect. And I let it get me, and it showed in what I was making up. I mean, there were two or three good songs I wrote on Diabolus. There’s some good stuff on there, but it doesn’t have the hate that comes out of my mouth and my eyes. And God Hates Us All, I think it put the train back on the rails, and it took off from there. Because I just said fuck this, why is that getting to me? I can let it get to me, but I don’t need it to take me over, you know what I mean?”
“It definitely made me more patriotic for a few years,” reflects Kerry, asked about 9/11. “You know, but, as we get... what’s the word? It gets watered-down. And you don’t pay as much attention, and you don’t stay sharp. You get complacent. That’s the word I was looking for. It just goes by the wayside. And it was complete coincidence that Repentless came out the same day. Yeah, that wasn’t the plan. When I was told the release date, I didn’t realize Americans switched to Friday releases. I thought they were still Tuesdays. So I was like, how does that work? And no, that’s kind of cool. That was the last time Paul (Bostaph, drums) was in the band, and now he’s in the band again, so it’s kind of like, September 11th to September 11th, you know?”
When I had talked to Kerry in March, he had said that any follow-up to Repentless wouldn’t happen until 2018. Whereas the year hasn’t really changed, the way he’s talking, it sounds like we’ll see a new Slayer album quite early in 2018...
“Nuclear Blast is already bugging me for it,” chuckles King. “We do have a ton of stuff. I’ve written a handful of things since we spoke, backstage, record it on my phone, take it home and make songs out of it. So say we have seven or eight recordings; I’ve got parts of maybe three more. I mean, we had enough for two records. It’s not just garbage material; it’s just stuff we didn’t finish. I’m looking forward to playing some of it, but I mean, we did the US tour, February, March, and we had a couple of months off and then we’ve been going ever since. We have a couple weeks here, a couple weeks there. So this is the earliest in the year that I’m going to be done for a long time—I’m done just before Halloween. And then I don’t know, we go out probably February again. So a good three months off. I’ll probably take a couple, two weeks off, or maybe I won’t. Because I hate losing my calluses. It pisses me off. I didn’t play much this two-and-a-half weeks off, and I was a little concerned for those first two shows, but I got through. But yeah, there’s tons of material. Depending on how this tour goes, we can do something late next year. But I think realistically, early 2018. Just to allow enough time to focus on it.”