Slayer’s Kerry King: ‘If Things Go Well I’d Like to Record Next Year’ [Interview]
Slayer have spent the summer ripping it up on tour with Lamb of God and Behemoth as they continue to support 2015's Repentless. Guitarist Kerry King joined Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program, speaking right after sound check. He discussed other bands who have opened for Slayer, his admiration for Gary Holt's guitar playing, when he hopes to record new music, what he likes about touring the U.S. and more. Check out the chat below.
How are you?
Oh man, just got done with sound check.
Slayer, of course, out on the road right now with Lamb Of God and Behemoth. Any band will tell you opening for Slayer, especially a Slayer audience, is never easy. Kerry what is your best advice opening for Slayer?
Don’t give them a chance to yell at you. Especially if you are a new band. If you’re a new band, don’t take any breaks, just go. I mean Lamb of God is established, Behemoth is established. They're fine.
I know there's been some craziness over the years sometimes with bands opening for you. It's not always easy.
No, no and there has certainly been bands that shouldn’t have opened for us that did open for us. Just booking agents having these hair-brained ideas that sometimes work and sometimes do not work. So that’s when you run into issues.
Slayer fans are very vocal and they'll tell you what they like and what they don't like.
Absolutely for us and I think they should. If I was in the crowd, I would do the same thing.
Rolling Stone recently asked you to rank your top ten metal albums. It was a great list, by the way. What's the common thread between your picks in terms of what appeals to you?
I have to tell you, if you ask me today, that list would probably be different. When you get put on the spot to pick out 10 records that you’ve heard in your lifetime, I mean that’s a pretty impossible task. I think it will always be Stained Class with [Judas] Priest, but any given day I may pick a different AC/DC record, you know, I might pick a different [Iron] Maiden album. But you know, it’s legit music you can tell by the list I made up. And there’s bands that aren’t on there that any day could be on there, but it’s tough when you only get to pick 10. I think the common thread is, aside from AC/DC, which to me is a rock 'n' roll band, not a metal band, I mean those are some of the best metal records of all time.
Gary Holt has been playing with you for the last seven years. In what ways does he compliment your playing and push you musically?
Well he’s a phenomenal guitar player and we’re lucky that he was willing to take on this job. We do sound checks everyday for VIPs and stuff. And he’s out there a long time before I am. I call it Holt-a-palooza and he goes out there and rocks out for about half an hour on songs I don’t know or don’t care to play, but I think the fans like it, but I don’t know. Songs I’m not interested in playing and then I come out and drive out the Slayer sound check for the guys. But he can play anything. You can probably pick a song off of the top of your head right now and I bet you Gary Holt knows it.
Kerry, you've said that there's a good half dozen songs complete that could be the basis for an album. How does being that prepared affect conversations about what Slayer will do next?
I just go off and write songs. I mean yeah we do have six or eight songs for sure. A couple of them are lyrically done, a couple of them got leads; they were all recorded at the Repentless sessions. So, unless the lyrics change or the arrangement, they don’t need to be recorded again. So all I really got to do is write, I don’t know four, five more songs and get a whole bunch of lyrics together and half the work is done for the next record. So in my book that’s exciting, to where Repentless was an incredibly daunting effort, this one should be a lot more laid back.
Do you have any plans or timeline on when you'd like to see another record happen?
It depends on touring. Getting time to rehearse, getting time to make up new stuff. We haven’t even done Australia on this run yet at all. We’re hitting Japan finally later this year. But if things go well, I’d like to record next year. But timelines change all the time.
It's good you guys don't have ... you’re not told you have to have an album out by this specific date, so you do it -
Then I would say just go f--k yourself.
I bet. Slayer are such an institution it's hard to imagine the metal community and culture without it. What would your life be like without Slayer?
I'd probably have some sh--ty job that I hate, thinking about killing myself every day because I hate my life. Fortunately I don't have to do that. My life is rad; I have the best job in the world. Luckily I never had to think about what I would do without it. Hopefully I never have to because I like doing this. I like what we're playing. We've got a great relationship with the fan base and it's fun. I love doing this.
You still enjoy touring. I know its endless touring. Do you still enjoy it?
Once we get into the States and we have a bus and we pretty much drive everywhere, I like it a hell of a lot better than having to fly. It sounds like, "Oh, flying isn't good enough for you - first class. Oh, you want better than that." No, I don't want to sit around in an airport. You've got to check in your bags, wait for the plane, you've got to fly, hopefully you’re on time. Then you have to wait for your bags again. I'd just rather drive overnight and sleep to the next city. It's a lot easier for us in the States.
In South America we fly everywhere and that's just how it is. You don't take buses anywhere in South America because you play so far away. European summer festival / headline runs - sometimes they book you in such a manner that they don't even think about how you’re going to get to the next show. We've had charter planes just to make the next show and again, I don’t mean to belittle charter planes. Charter planes are badass and it's an awesome experience, but when am I supposed to sleep [laughs]?
Of course. I don't think people have a sense unless you see what a travel schedule looks like for traveling to festivals overseas. It's exhausting.
I've been to Europe a million times and I'll look at the routing and say, "All right, who threw darts at this one?"
Kerry, when people look at metal and its artistic significance, what is Slayer's biggest contribution to the genre?
I don’t know. I like to think we're very street, very real. I mean sure, we have songs about nonsensical things that don't exist but it makes up for good music and good reading sometimes. I like to think of 95 percent of our songs as screenplays, and that actually got to take place on Repentless when BJ directed our trilogy of videos. Once those came out I was so — well even when the first one came out I was so thrilled — I said, "This was the video we should have made 20 years ago."
Those videos were amazing. I'm glad you guys were happy with the way they came out. I feel like the days of the good videos or videos that have some sort of connection, it's been awhile since bands put that kind of money, time and effort into it. I think that was really cool. You guys have the comic book as well?
When that first video got done, I didn't know there was an idea for two others. I especially didn't know that one was going to be a prequel and one was going to be a sequel. So, it's really funny how directors envision things and when it's all done and you watch them all together, I think it's the coolest thing I've ever seen. I never say how awesome Slayer is, and I'm trying not to say how awesome Slayer is now, but that director kicked ass in his vision for those three videos.
I would have to agree.
Thanks to Kerry King for the interview. Slayer's tour with Lamb of God and Behemoth will finish up on Aug. 20 and the remaining dates and everything else the band is up to can be found on their Facebook page. Pick up your copy of 'Repentless' at Amazon or iTunes and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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