Music preview: Guitarist Kerry King talks 35 years of Slayer
September 15, 2016 12:00 AM
Slayer -- Tom Araya, left, Gary Holt, Paul Bostaph and Kerry King -- will play Stage AE tonight with Anthrax.
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Slayer and Anthrax may have their differences, as guitarist Slayer guitarist Kerry King points out in a new interview, but they go way back together as members of The Big Four thrash bands (along with Metallica and Megadeth), and they are currently on tour together for their 35th anniversaries.
Slayer has done it with some turmoil the past few years, suffering the death of founding guitarist and lyricist Jeff Hanneman and the awkward release of on-again-off-again drummer Dave Lombardo. They replaced them with Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, respectively, and moved on, releasing its 12th studio album, “Repentless,” last year. Regardless of who’s in, who’s out, frontman Tom Araya, guitarist Kerry King and the band’s burly fans make sure that Slayer shows are loud and brutal.
You formed in 1981. What steered you in the musical direction you went?
Guessing, probably hair metal more than anything. Poison wasn’t out yet, but Motley Crue, Ratt, bands like that, I can’t take anything away from them; it’s great music and it sold a lot of records, but it wasn’t for me and I wanted to be the anti of that. We knew what we didn’t want to be, and we went on from there.
Where: Stage AE, North Shore.
When: Tonight, doors open 6:30.
Tickets: $39.50-$42; ticketmaster.com.
How did you react to the LA hardcore scene at the time?
Jeff got into that, and I didn’t understand it. Then it grew on me. At the very beginning, no. I was all about and still am a big fan of Priest, anything Ronnie James Dio did, the big strong metal singers. Punk, it was not difficult for one thing, but once you get it, yeah. I remember punk fans coming to our shows and metalheads, of course, and back then, they didn’t get along, and there were fights at all the shows. It took them a while to realize that metal and punk, we liked the same thing, and that was the birth of thrash if you ask me.
You were OK with the label?
Yeah. I might be upset if I were in a band and someone started calling me screamo. It worked for me.
What is your history with Anthrax?
We played with them a lot in the last 10 years, and before that we didn’t, aside from Clash of the Titans [1990-91]. I don’t even know why. Maybe because there were more bands to play with then, and there doesn’t seem to be an infusion of new bands that are relevant enough to have an opening slot for Slayer. What Anthrax has done the last couple records, it seems to me it has revitalized them.
How did you feel about Anthrax’s collaboration with Public Enemy on “Bring the Noise”?
Oh, I hated it. And they know it. It’s not a secret, or I wouldn’t tell you. They don’t play it a lot when we play together. Maybe it’s cycled out of their set. We did something with Ice T back in the ’90s, but it wasn’t a crossover song. It was still a thrash song because Ice T loves thrash. When that was brought up initially for us to do, I was like, “Nah, man, I don’t want to be part of some rap song.” Nothing against rap, I like rap. I just didn’t want Slayer to do that. And then the idea of Ice T came up, I said, ‘Yeah, we can do that.’
You mentioned there being a shortage of younger bands that are right for Slayer …
Seems to me, there aren’t a lot of guitar heroes. Yeah, Alexi from Children of Bodom can play his ass off, but there’s not that larger-than-life guitar hero that there was when I was a kid. You can point at Ted Nugent. Yeah, he’s [expletive] nuts, but he’s a guitar hero. And we had Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Ritchie Blackmore. They were everywhere. Once you get past the time of the Big Four, you have Dimebag, you have Zakk Wylde, Slash, but it’s not as abundant. When I grew up there were 20 of those guys.
“Repentless” was your highest charting album. Were you surprised by the reaction?
Completely unexpected. We just did this for us and weren’t looking to break any new ground with it, but the fans came out and embraced the [expletive] out of it. When we were first playing it, it was amazing how many fans were shouting back the chorus of “Repentless” to us. It always fires me up when they’re shouting the lyrics back at you louder than you can play it, and I play pretty [expletive] loud.
Is there a new album in the works?
In that [“Repentless”] session, there’s probably seven or eight songs completely recorded: drums, guitar and bass. If the vocals don’t change the arrangement, we don’t have to change that. They’re done. There’s over half a record sitting there waiting to be finished, and that’s incredibly rare for Slayer. We’ve been pretty busy this year, but we’re way far ahead of the game.
Scott Mervis: email@example.com; 412-263-2576; Twitter: @scottmervis_pg.
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