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Slayer Interview

A Conversation with Guitarist Kerry King

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Slayer Guitarist Kerry King

Slayer Guitarist Kerry King

Slayer
Slayer is embarking on the Jagermeister Fall Music Tour with fellow thrash titans Megadeth and Anthrax. They just released three DVDs, and coming up next month is the Vinyl Conflict collections of all the Slayer albums on vinyl. I spoke to guitarist Kerry King about those releases, the tour, their recent “Big 4” gigs in Europe with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax along with other topics.

Chad Bowar: What have you been doing during your touring break?
Kerry King: Relaxing

How has Tom's neck been holding up on tour after his surgery?
He doesn't headbang anymore, so he's pretty golden.

You've been playing the Seasons In The Abyss album in its entirety. Do you prefer that to a greatest hits type set?
I don't like being married to an entire album, because it manipulates what you can do in the set. When we're only playing an hour and ten minutes on this tour, and the album takes up 45, it basically leaves 5 or 6 songs.

Anthrax is the opening band on this tour. What do you think of Joey Belladonna's return to the group once again?
I think that's the era that more people know from Anthrax. It leans to being more credible. It's kind of like Dave Ellefson coming back to Megadeth, and they are playing Rust In Peace. I think it makes more sense than still having James LoMenzo, even though LoMenzo is an old friend of mine.

Is there anyplace left in the world that you still want to play live that you haven't been to?
I'm sure there's more than one, but the one I'd like to go to, and I really don't have a reason why, is South Africa. A number of bands have, but we never have made it.

Now that you're older, do you spend more time taking in the sights of some of the places you go to on tour?
If we have a day off I might venture out. Some places, which might be the only time I ever go, I'll look for something to get into. When we go to Greece there's always a lot of cool historical stuff to see in Athens. The one time we went to Cairo to do a video we knew we would probably never get back there, so we tried to take in what we can.

How did the idea for the Vinyl Conflict release come about?
Good question. I would imagine it's record company people trying to figure out how to make record companies mean something in a world where record companies don't mean much and are in decline all the time. It's a cool idea. I'm looking forward to having one myself.

It seems like vinyl is making a comeback the past few years.
A lot of kids didn't have the chance to go through vinyl like people from my era did. For them it's a new means of getting cool art and things like picture discs. It's a new medium for a younger generation. People are really getting into audiophile stuff, and this is geared towards them, too.

The sound quality of albums is better than a compressed MP3 file.
Yes, and I never knew that until my wife's audiophile dad pointed it out to me. I said, “there is something to this!” He played me an album and a CD and the disc sounded more compressed.

Do you own a turntable?
No, it will just be in my house for decoration. I don't really have a big stereo system set up. As much as I am from the era of 8 tracks, cassettes and albums, I have graduated to the iPod. All you need is an iPod dock and you're rocking.

What has been the response to the three live DVDs that were released recently?
I remember trying to get the Live Intrusion one put out well over five years ago. I was thinking about it one day, and how it had never been released on DVD. It took a long time for that to happen for some reason, but it's out, and I'm happy about it. I'm sure a lot of people that don't have VHS players anymore are stoked about it.

Do you have a timetable for the next Slayer studio album?
Not really, because our record has been out for a year, and we've only been touring for about three months. There is a gigantic future of touring for us on this record. I wouldn't be surprised if we were touring through next summer.

Do you write songs on the road, or do you wait until you're at home in album writing mode?
Generally the latter. But on my down time I can be working on some stuff. Not so much at home, but at gigs between the time you get there and the time you go on. We're usually at the gig by four o'clock and we don't go on until 9:45, so if I don't have any press I'm there stroking my dick for five hours.

How did the “Big 4” shows compare to your expectations?
I had a great time. I thought it was going to be a very cool thing for the fans, but when it was all done, it was really cool for me, too.

Was there a ton of extra press attention for the tour?
The first show especially, but there was press at every show. Everywhere you turned someone wanted to talk to you about it. It's a good thing. It shows that it was important.

The simulcast of one of the shows in movie theaters was a cool idea.
Yeah, my wife had to go see that, because she wasn't with me at that show. I heard right away that it was cool from friends and fans that went and saw it.

When I interviewed Joey from Anthrax, he thought there was about a 70 percent chance a U.S. “Big 4” tour will happen at some point. Do you agree?
Yeah, I have no problem with those odds. The only thing I think it would depend on is getting all the bands logistically able to do it. As far as I know everybody is totally into it, from Metallica to Megadeth to Anthrax to us. I totally want to bring it to the U.S., South America, Australia, Japan, Western Europe, anywhere it hasn't been. I think it was that important of a tour where people should be able to be a part of it rather than just see it at the cinema.

It would be cool to add some other classic thrash bands like Exodus and Testament and make it a day long event.
That would be awesome, but it would be even more people to figure out how to logistically do it.

Slayer will soon be celebrating your 30th anniversary. Could you have ever imagined you'd be still together and have this level of success?
Not at all. When you're younger, 40 sounds old. And when you're 40, 50 years old sounds old. I don't feel 50. I don't feel 20, but I certainly don't feel 50.

Will Slayer still be playing on your 40th anniversary?
I hope not. (laughs) At my age now, it doesn't sound appealing, but 10 years from now, who knows? Maybe we'll still feel like a bunch of kids.

What have been the high and low points in your 30 years in the band?
There haven't been too many low points. There have been a lot of high points. Everytime you get one, you don't think there's going to be a higher one, and then something cooler comes along. It's kind of like wait and see what's going to happen, because you never know where we're going to be in a year.

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