Heart of Steel: Interviews


Interview By Lord of the Wastelend 

"SLAYER, SLAYER, SLAYER…". Any metalhead worthy of his or her bullet belt and spiked armband has chanted these very words. Over 20 years, Slayer has given us such gems as HELL AWAITS, SOUTH OF HEAVEN and the immortal REIGN IN BLOOD album. Though the satanic imagery and media backlash has diminished in recent years, Slayer shows no sign of going away or slowing down. We won't see them performing an "unplugged" set, or teaming with an orchestra. Slayer INVENTED fast and their new box set, SOUNDTRACK TO THE APOCALYPSE, covers their career from the earliest known Slayer recording from March 1983 through to live tracks from July 2003. The band has also recently released the WAR AT THE WARFIELD DVD featuring one of the last shows with former drummer Paul Bostaph, who left the band soon after, paving the way for original drummer Dave Lombardo to return to the fold. Then there are the headlining dates on the Jagermeister tour with Arch Enemy, Hatebreed and Otep. I managed a short interview with singer/bassist Tom Araya before their stop in San Diego, CA to get his thoughts on the box set, the new DVD and progress of the new album.

You're on tour right now with Arch Enemy, Hatebreed and Otep on what is called The Jagermeister Tour. How is that going?

It's going really great! We've been giving away basses, guitars and drums at different shows, which has been really neat.



Any good "road stories" (laughs)?

(Laughs) Uh…no…nothing really out of the ordinary. I'm not really the one you want to ask that question to. You want to ask Kerry or Jeff that one (laughs)! They, uh…they tend to have fun (laughs).



(Laughs) You've been playing the entire REIGN IN BLOOD album as an encore on this tour. I bet the response has been incredible!

Yeah, it's been pretty crazy! It's kind of been a surprise for everybody. By the end of the show, they realize what we've just done and they don't really realize it until it's BEEN DONE, you know? It's pretty cool.



Whose idea was it to do the whole thing?

It was something that somebody suggested a while ago. When we were in Europe recently, we did 2 shows at The Astoria in London and we thought, "Why don't we do this?". We had purposely rehearsed the album for that show at The Astoria and when we did it, everybody really, really liked it. That just blew them away so we thought we'd save that for the encore when we do the Jager tour in the States.



Are there any songs on the album that you'd never played live before?

One song. One song on the entire album that we've never played live before. "Piece By Piece". I think it was "Piece By Piece"?



The band just released a great new DVD, too--WAR AT THE WARFIELD. It's a great concert but I really got a kick out of the "Fans Rule" documentary that was done for it.

Cool. That was done with some friends of ours, Mark Patzky and Eric Braverman. They had that with other stuff and they said they really wanted to do it with us. We said "SURE!", you know? The fans are a big part of us so we thought it was really neat to have the "Fans Rule".



There are some real characters on there (laughs)!

(Laughs) Believe it or not, that's what you're going to come across in any country you find Slayer fans. You're going to find…characters (laughs).

Slayer does have some VERY dedicated fans!

(Laughs) Oh yeah. In Canada, too! We're lucky.


I guess the other big thing you've got on the go right now is the SOUNDTRACK TO THE APOCALYPSE box set?

Yeah. I think that's actually out already?

Not yet. It's out next Tuesday (November 25th) in North America, anyway.

Oh, okay. That's pretty exciting.



I've only seen the press release but the whole package sounds really cool! There is a 4-disc set featuring a few songs from each album beginning with REIGN IN BLOOD, some rare & unreleased stuff, a 60-page book and a DVD. The 5-disc limited-edition set with the bonus live CD in a "blood pack", banner, backstage passes and other stuff in the ammo box is pretty original, too.

It's pretty neat. I just hope that everybody likes what's in it.



I can't wait to hear some of the rare stuff. The early versions of "South of Heaven" and "Raining Blood" and the rehearsals from '83 in your garage?!?! Who COULDN'T be happy with this?

Yeah…you'll like it. The one rarity that really stands out is song we wrote a long time ago called "Ice Titan". You'll hear riffs in that song that are similar to riffs found in other songs. It's one of the many early songs that got cannibalized (laughs). It became part of "Altar of Sacrifice".



Coming out just in time for Christmas, it should make a great stocking stuffer for all the metalheads out there!

And it's actually affordable, too! It's very affordable.


I saw that! Even the collector's set, which usually price gouges people, is only listed at $100 US. The regular version is $60 US, I think?

I thought they were going to go for a certain price and we all agreed on it and then I found out that they actually lowered the price even more! When I heard the prices, I was like, "COOL!" (laughs).



That's great. It makes it affordable for everybody.

Hell, yeah! I'm hoping everybody will be really happy with it.



What was the cause of the delays that we kept hearing would push back the release date?

Well, we've been talking about a box set for a while now. When we came up with the album title for GOD HATES US ALL, SOUNDTRACK TO THE APOCALYPSE was one of the other titles. In fact, it was the ONLY title! Then I suggested to everybody that SOUNDTRACK TO THE APOCALYPSE would be better for a box set whenever we decide to do one. That's what started the talk about a box set. What's taken so long is that you have to negotiate with your record company as far as certain things that you want to do that are not in your contract. We approached the record company and said that we want to do this box set and they were all "uhhh…uhhh…uhhh" and the talks went on for about a year. Then about a month and half or two months ago, we got the OK to do the box. They wanted it immediately (laughs)! We initially started talking about it but we figured once they said we could do it, they would give us a little more time but they told us to go ahead and do it but they wanted a release date for the holidays!



You say that the band felt rushed in putting the box set together. Is there anything that you had hoped to include but didn't have the time to do?

No, not really. I like what they've got. I think it's going to work out well because there is a lot of other stuff that we would really like to do and hopefully we'll have time to go through other material that we didn't at the time and put some other stuff out now. There are other things that we want to compile and the box set is kind of the beginning of it. We're going to seriously start digging through some stuff but that still has to be talked about.



Do you have any new songs written for the next studio album yet?

Kerry and Dave have been working on about 6 or 7 songs and Jeff's got about 5 songs, so we're pretty much set for material. All we need to do is rehearse it and then go in and record it.



Do you think there will be something out in 2004 or will it be longer?

We're trying to, we really are. We're trying to be a "real" band and put things out in a timely fashion (laughs).



Now that Dave Lombardo is back in the band again, does it feel like he never left or are there some "growing pains" that are getting ironed out?

It's kind of right back where we started. He's an amazing performer. We took off right where we left off, you know? It's like he was never gone. He's working with Kerry on his tunes. He's helped out a lot actually!



Thanks a lot for talking to us, Tom. Good luck with the box set. I hope Santa's good to me this year (laughs).

(Laughs) There you go. Thanks man!