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SLAYER : KERRY KING HABLA CON JEDBANGERS

 

We have all heard some loudmouth boast how they are so bad that hell refuses them entry for fear that they would take over but after listening to an advance copy of SLAYER's latest disc, "GOD HATES US ALL," one has to wonder if Hades' dark lord shouldn't be checking up on his retirement plan.

Nowhere will you find a record with a more perfect understanding of all that is truly evil than "GOD HATES US ALL."  I mean it isn't as though after twelve discs the men of SLAYER are not well informed on all that is dark, sadistic or depraved.  When Tom Araya screams, "I reject all of the biblical views of the truth" in "New Faith" he does so with an obviously educated authority on the subject that is as exhilarating as it is chilling.  This is SLAYER primed and pissed to a degree that has not previously been captured on disc and as guitarist Kerry King will explain, the tour in support of "GOD HATES US ALL" will be no less intense.

Kerry King is the Nietzsche-ian superman of Metal guitar playing having evolved that one step further needed to set him above all others in the genre.  Each note King plays on "GOD HATES US ALL" is a lightening bolt from Olympus that will send the reverent to their knees, cowards running in fear and leave all others to head bang away in the gleeful knowledge that as long a SLAYER exists true Metal can never die.

King took a phone call at home and a half hour of his day to discuss the upcoming album release, the tour to support the album and the run of Summer warm-up dates with PANTERA that most see as the only truly worthwhile Metal festival to be attended this year.


-  SLAYER took their usual time honing this new record but it is finally here and I bet that you guys are ready to tear it up again?

Kerry King: Actually this one is coming a year quicker than the last one.  I mean, I don't count "UNDISPUTED" so if you take that out of the mix the last one took four years and this one only took three.  Maybe next time it will only take two!(laughs)

-  This is a pretty full album, no doubt about that, are you going through a spurt of inspiration at this point in your career?

KK  I don't know but I did kind of have a hot hand on this record.  It is never really like, "I have this many songs, you have this many songs" it is always, "Lets see who has got the best."  Usually we only make up enough for a record so it is just whoever has the hot hand and who everyone else is digging their stuff.  Toward the end there, I got hot.

-  This disc, like all of your others, is kind of a timeless disc in that it really doesn't matter what is happening at the time, a SLAYER record will always sound like a SLAYER record so I am really digging that given that the alternatives out there really aren't all that interesting, to me anyway.

KK  Yeah, well, it is always important to be pertinent to now.  It is always easy to be SLAYER but the trick is to be SLAYER in the now and make it all relevant.

-  Well, you never did do a Rap record or a Grunge record, and I thank you for that by the way!(laughs)

KK  No!

-  Though you are not totally without sin here, you did play on that BEASTIE BOYS thing way back when and you did do some work with ICE T.(laughs)

KK  Yeah, I guess.  Yeah, the funny thing about the ICE T thing is that it sounds like a SLAYER song!(laughs)  It is the only song on that whole album that does and I think that is what makes it stand out, that is what makes it cool.  The BEASTIE BOYS thing, that was such a whim thing to do.  We were in the studio at the same time and I didn't even know any of them.  They were on Def Jam and they needed a lead and I went, "OK!" and went down there and did it and that was it.  I did get to be in their video, which was cool because we (SLAYER) didn't have any videos at the time.

-  Was that kind of like the Eddie Van Halen thing where he played on a Michael Jackson record for free never thinking it would be a hit?

KK  I think that I got like two hundred bucks or something.  I had no idea who they were or if they would be popular but it freaked me out because here in Southern California K-Rock still plays that album like every fuckin' day!  It is like, "Don't you know that this is like fourteen years old?"  I mean, it is always on, it is amazing.

-  They sent you a platinum record for your contribution to it, didn't they?

KK  Nope!  I got air!(laughs)


-  There is something, you have stuck right in there with Rick Rubin and Def Jam/Def American/American whatever it is now, while most everyone else has jumped ship, do you and Rick understand each other better than all the others or something?

KK  I don't understand anything about Rick Rubin!(laughs)  Yep, it is just that we signed up with him, he puts our records out for us and Sony distributes them so, we just got a good deal going for us.

-  Nothing more dynamic than that then?

KK  No, it is pretty straight up.

-  The harder-core Metal fans are really excited that there will be an alternative to the ever limpening Ozz-Fest thing this year and you will be a part of that with PANTERA and STATIC X along with a few others?

KK  You know what is funny is that Ozz-Fest really sucked up all the talent this year, period.  I mean they got everybody. Anybody who is new and popular got sucked up because they didn't want Tattoo the Earth getting it, they didn't want any competition.

-  And as it turns out that tour (Tattoo the Earth) was postponed until after the Ozz-Fest run anyway so I guess their evil plan worked?

KK  Oh yeah, definitely.  They couldn't compete, there was no talent.

-  When you last played on the Ozz-Fest in '99, that was a strange situation with all of the acts there, many of whom I wouldn't classify as Metal at all. . .

KK  Definitely.

-  But it did seem to have little effect on people running over the hill to see you on the big stage?

KK  Well, it was cool because there are tons of new bands now and SLAYER has always been taboo, since day one.  To some people we are only a legend, "Oh SLAYER, I am never going to go and see them.  They are the Devil himself!"  You know what I mean?  But when you get in our presence and you have a bunch of younger people coming in to check it out they are like, "Hey, I dig this!" so you have to keep putting yourself in a
position to succeed.

-  But you never want to be too cool, that kills it dead there.(laughs)

KK  Nah!

-  SLAYER records have always been very intense but this one is just absolutely seething in anger, or am I misinterpreting here?

KK  Oh, it is pretty pissed.  I come from a perspective where I don't like writing about happy stuff.  Happy stuff is boring to me so I tried to latch onto some things that people could relate to that are on the darker side of life.  Everybody wants payback, everybody hates somebody, everybody feels that God hates them at one point in their life or another so I think that everybody is going to be able to get something out of these songs, it can be personalized to them.

-  Did you each work on your individual songs and then bring them together or did you start from a jam on this record?

KK  Naw, we are always writing individual anymore because we don't live as close as we used to.  It is pretty much show up with ideas and work it out yourself.  Jeff usually has entire musical songs with drums and everything because he sits around and plays with his drum machine and everything but I am too lazy to do all that shit!(laughs)  I just say, "Paul, here is the song, take off!"

-  Yeah, Paul has obviously worked out, I mean, you did go through a couple of drummers there?  What is this his second, no, it is his third record, right?

KK  Yeah, third but fourth if you count "UNDISPUTED."

-  So he is like an actual member of the band at this point eh?(laughs)

KK  None of us ever wanted him to leave in the first place.  That was just something that he wanted to do on his own and if you have got somebody who wants to do that you have got to let him do it because if they don't they are always going to be second guessing themselves. Obviously he second guessed himself and came back.

-  He released that the catering a SLAYER show was better?(laughs)

KK  (Laughing)  Yeah, we get better booze!

-  There are twelve tracks on the disc with the first being more of an intro to the second song. . .

KK  Yeah, that will probably be the intro for the live show too, either as it stands or maybe re-mixed a bit.  It takes everybody from the live show to the album so there is that connection.

-  Will you play it or is this a taped piece that you will enter the stage to?

KK  No, no, a taped intro.

-  Which of these songs contains the most personal statement to come from you?

KK  I don't know.  My favorite one right now is "Disciple" but it is certainly not personal.  Personal?  I have got like four of them on their, "Threshold," "Exile," "Payback," those are all personal kinds of things.

-  As a full record do you feel you have a disc that is the epitome of what SLAYER is all about?

KK  Today.(laughs)  But I guess that is what you are striving for, right?

-  I suppose but no matter how I ask the question everyone always says, "This is the best record that we have ever done" and I am hopping to be surprised, one day at least.

KK  Well, to me, I think that when you put one out you are obviously going to think that this is the best one, at least at that time.  Looking back you might say, "Ooh, that one was a mistake."(laughs)  But when they come out you are always thinking that they were chipped from gold, you know.

-  Has there been something that you wished you hadn't done?

KK  The only thing that I wished that I would have done is paid more attention on "DIVINE INTERVENTION" because I think that the mix is just atrocious, it is horrible.  I didn't even realize it until recently when I was working on this record and I went back and played that one.  I just went, "Damn, this mix is horrible!"

-  Was that one of the records that you guys pretty much did everything yourselves?

KK  I don't know.  I don't think that we really did any of them ourselves, we just threw our name on there.  "Co-Produced" just means that we were there.  Rick Rubin as a producer means that he sticks his head in once in a while.(laughs)  Matt Hyde, on this new record he was there 24-7, he was a fucking god.  He is truly awesome.

-  How did you come to hire him for this record?

KK  I had the conscious idea that I wanted somebody that was into new Metal, not necessarily us but what is popular today, who could come in with some fresh ideas that not even me or Rick Rubin or whomever could ever think of.  Somebody that was totally enthusiastic and totally into the band and into making a great record.

-  Was there another record that you heard him on and said, "This is our
guy?"

KK  I didn't even know what he had done really.  I had heard that he had done MONSTER MAGNET but I don't listen to MONSTER MAGNET that much.  What happened was that he came in and did "Bloodline" for the "DRACULA" soundtrack and before we were done with that song I told the guys in management that I would like to do a whole record with this guy so we got it going.

-  It is way early to think about but would you use him again?

KK  I would, definitely.

-  SLAYER has appeared on a whole lot of outside projects, soundtracks and tributes, how much time does that take out of your schedule or are those tracks kind of like cast offs from your regular recording sessions?

KK  Naw, stuff like that is kind of what makes us take so long in between records because when you are working on new shit and you get something like that thrown in your lap you have to pretty much stop what you are doing and go gung-ho into that, it is a "now" kind of thing.  "We need this yesterday!"  It is that kind of thing and the new songs definitely get put on the backburner and you are just working on that for a given
time.  During the recording of this new album we probably had like three or four sections of working on it for three or four months between Ozz-Fest, the WCW song, Tattoo the Earth, the SABBATH song, the "DRACULA" song, any time that something came up the record got put on hold because we had to rehearse different shit.

-  Did you spend much time rehearsing this record or was most of the hammering together of it done in the studio?

KK  Oh tons!  I mean, this is the first time that we even did pre-production.  Matt came down with some of his Pro-tools shit and we had a whole lot of stuff sung just so we would know what it would sound like and where it was going so we were probably more prepared for this one than we have been.

-  Is there a box that you throw stuff into that at one point or another you realize isn't right for SLAYER?

KK  What, like music?

-  Yeah.

KK  Naw, that gets weeded out on the way.

-  For the most part, you guys don't venture out of the confines of SLAYER too often, why is that?

KK  Pretty much but Tom sang on SOULFLY's last record, I did a lead on PANTERA's last record and I did a whole song on ROB ZOMBIE's next record so maybe it is a little more now that we get out.

-  The thing is, you do have a sound that is all your own and if somebody wants it they have to get you so I would imagine you get plenty of requests to do side projects?

KK  It seems like that, yeah.  I heard weeks ago that I was going to be on the new FU MANCHU record and nobody ever even asked me!  Then when it came down to it I said, "Well, I just played on the ZOMBIE record so I don't think that I should do another one right now."

-  Between SABBATH, SLAYER and IRON MAIDEN you three must account for about half of all the tribute record that are coming out these days, have you heard anything that has impressed you as far as a tribute to SLAYER's music?

KK  I have heard like one or two and then I pretty much got tired of making my ears bleed so I decided not to listen to them any more.(laughs)  I don't know what compilation it was but there was one that had a band called GROPE and they did "Spill the Blood" and I thought that one was pretty good.

-  You were one of the first bands to combine Punk and Metal in a way that seemed natural and nowadays you are as likely to see a Punk kid wearing a SLAYER T-shirt, well maybe not wearing a T-shirt. . .

KK  Oh, they will wear 'em!(laughs)

-  I remember the days when you could get beat up by other Punks for
wearing a Metal shirt or if you had a shaved head the longhairs would
kick the shit out of you but that is all done now for the most part.

KK  I remember those days too!  Metal and Punk Rock did not mix but we were like the unification of all that.

-  Of those two factions you kind of lived mostly in the Metal world but on the covers record you did it was all classic Punk stuff which was so cool to hear.  I never thought that I would hear a Metal band cover DI's "Richard Hung Himself!"

KK  Oh hell yeah!  We still talk about bringing that into the live set but it is kind of a boring song to play live.

-  Being a native Californian, did you ever get to see bands like TSOL and DI back in the day?

KK  I think that Jeff did, I don't think that I ever did.

-  It would be cool to hear some of that in the set but you have a good deal of your own stuff to play and it must be a bit of a pain trying to put together a set list that has a little something for everybody?

KK  It gets harder every time.

-  This time out with PANTERA you will only have about an hour to play, right?

KK  I think we are doing fifty minutes and PANTERA is doing an hour and ten.  Our record is not even going to be out until mid-tour and then we go to Europe with it in September and then we will be on a bit more but there are so many bands on it that by that point in the show to do a long set, it really just doesn't make sense.  The people are dead and it gets boring.

-  How many numbers from the new record are you going to be able to fit in then?

KK  With PANTERA I am only planning on doing two because if you are only playing fifty minutes people want to see the shit that they expect to see.  I think that they want to hear a little bit of the new shit but there is just so much old stuff to play.

-  Are there numbers that you have all gotten together on and said, "Hey, this one is ready for retirement?"

KK  Who knows, I mean, after every tour some go away and some come back. Like, "At dawn they Sleep" always gets taken out and then it gets put back somewhere along the tour because when you do the States it is two or three times back and forth for every record and every time that we come through we try to play at least something different otherwise it is people paying to see the same show and that sucks.

-  I have seen you in every size venue from 400 to 22,000, where do you like to play most?

KK  For me, the best place to play is probably a theater.  The arenas are cool and in an arena I will play a song like, "Gemini" where if we are at a club I won't because in an arena you have got mood and in a club you have got angst and intensity so "Gemini" would just kill a club crowd but if you do it in a big venue it works real well.  A theater is the best of both worlds.

-  With this PANTERA tour bands are going to be loaded onto and off the stage pretty quick so will you be having much in the way of production?

KK  Well, I have seen PANTERA on this tour and they have this giant fire fucking thing that spews out dry ice and fire so they have their guns blazing and we are just starting so we have got the backdrop that we used on Tattoo the Earth and that was the only place that we used that so we will probably do something a little extra with that, I don't know, maybe bring in some sort of lights that are particular for us but it is not going to be a full blown SLAYER extravaganza until we come back through again.  I mean, what are we two weeks away?(laughs)  The money and the time in preparation, I mean, we spend a lot of time working on the music rather than what we are going to do on stage.  We have got some cool ideas for when we hea-ine, we want people to leave disturbed!(laughs) We have got some fucked up ideas if we can pull them off.



-  I don't suppose you would give any of them away?

KK  Nope!  If we don't end up doing them then we look stupid!(laughs)

-  Given that you played on the last PANTERA disc do you have the
inclination or is it planned for you to come out and jam a bit with them?

KK  All they got to do is ask me, they know that.  I don't assume that
they want me up there but everytime they come through town I do "Hostile"
with them so, we will see.

-  After this PANTERA summer thing I suppose you will be headlining yourselves?

KK  I would imagine but it depends on what comes up.  I have become pretty decent friends with ZOMBIE and I know he wants to go out with us so if we went out with ZOMBIE in America we would be opening for them for sure.

-  That would be an evil night of music.

KK  Oh yeah it would.  I mean, ZOMBIE isn't full blown evil but he puts on a show like he is!(laughs)

-  (Laughing)  Yeah, I know what you mean.  I think I referred to him once as "Heavy Metal-Disco" and he didn't dig that at all!

KK  Probably not!(laughs)  When they were on Ozz-Fest I was out there watching them everyday, well shit, I was playing with them everyday too!(laughs)

-  With all that you have done in the life of this band, almost twenty fucking years too, is there a particular event that you think about the most that justifies all the work involved in being in SLAYER?

KK  Probably the first time that we played Donnington.  For me, I used to buy the Kerrang's and that was like a Metal mag from overseas and I was just like, "Wow, this is so cool!" and to be able to go over there and play at Donnington and to be on top of our game, we had a great show, it jut ruled!

-  I would guess that that would be kind of like the ultimate Metal thing, wouldn't it?

KK  It was for me.  I mean, we have been on a lot of cool festivals but if you have to pick one, that is it.

DAVID LEE WILSON
(Desde USA, para Jedbangers)


 

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