SLAYER's Tom Araya Talks About Recovery, Band Future In New Interview - "I'm Still Gonna Rock Out, I Just Won't Be Able To Metal Out"

May 17, 2010, 13 years ago

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Peter Atkinson from spoke with SLAYER frontman Tom Araya about a number of topics including his spine injury which sees a titanium plate now holding three of the cervical discs in his neck in place, the result of an operation earlier this year to realign his spine and relieve pressure on a nerve that had become a source of agony he could no longer endure.

Here are a few excerpts from the chat: Well the obligatory "how are you" actually means something this time, given your surgery. So how are you?

Araya: "I'm doing good. I'm recovering good. I'm just getting ready for this tour that's coming up, getting ready for the rigors of the road. We're going to be doing Seasons in its entirety, so we're rehearsing that album. We've got a lot of touring to do and we're doing a lot of double dates in some cities so we have a lot of songs to learn so we don't play the same set (laughs). We've just got a lot of prepping to do, we haven't really jammed together in over five months, we've been doing that for the last week." What kind of restrictions are you going to have when you play live? I'd imagine the headbanging and the helicopter twirling are big no-nos.

Araya: "Yeah, I just can't do that. With a plate in your neck it's not a good idea to do that. The only disclaimer I can have for people is there's nothing wrong with headbanging, just do it in moderation. And understand at some point it could damage you. People are gonna do what they wanna do, and as long as they are aware that 'this could happen to you' then they have a choice. I'm still gonna rock out, I just won't be able to metal out (laughs)." This is two albums in a row that you've had medical emergencies, is this becoming a Slayer curse?

Araya: "No, you know. I think it has everything to do with the shit in life. I'm at the age where these things are supposed to happen. Some people are fortunate and it never happens to them. Some people just don't have a clue, they just drop dead. Everyone goes like 'Well, what happened? There was nothing wrong with him.' All of a sudden, boom! But hey, life happens. After so many years of abusing my body, my gall bladder was telling me it had had enough (laughs) so I went in, they took it out, and I was supposed to recover for eight weeks, and six weeks later I was playing a show. I wish I would have taken the time to heal. People ask if I have any regrets, at this point in my life that's the one. I should have taken the eight weeks, but if I had taken the eight weeks, the tour would have been canceled, and we had already delayed it two weeks." During the layoff, did you or any of the other guys start putting together any new material?

Araya: "Not that I really know of. I don't think anyone's really done anything for the last five or six months, although Dave's been playing some with that band he has, PHILM. At least nothing that's really fleshed out. I write lyrically, I'm always writing. I'll hear something where I like a phrase, I like a word, something that was said and I'll sit there and jot it down and then who knows? Sometimes stuff flows and sometimes it doesn't. And I'm sure Jeff and Kerry do the same thing with their guitars, they'll pick up and record riffs or solos that come to them then to go back and listen to it and see if they can start writing something out of it." Last thing here, and I'm sure everyone has been asking you this, since everyone always seems to ask "how long will you guys keep going?" But with the surgery and what you were saying about being at the age where stuff like that is supposed to happen, has it made you think any more seriously about how long you guys will actually keep going?

Araya: "It's hard to answer that, you know what I mean? That's a tough question to answer at the moment because of how I feel. At the moment I feel great. Six months ago, it was a different story. But like you said, or actually I said (laughs), I'm in that age frame where shit starts happening. Whatever synchronicity clock is going on in my body, I'm at its mercy. I feel great, but who knows, maybe you'll talk to me in six months again and I'll feel like shit. Shit, I could feel like that tomorrow, and say 'fuck this crap.' But I'm not like that, I'm not that kind of person. Like we were talking about earlier, life happens and sometimes it makes you make decisions, sometimes you know you have to make decisions. And that's about the best I can say. Fortunately it hasn't come to that yet. But we'll know. We'll all know. We'll look at each and know 'this can't go on any longer.' Right now, I can think 'well, when am I gonna look like an old man onstage?' But I think we're a long way from that."

Read the entire interview here.

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