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Monthly Archives: August 1998

Slayer : Interview with Necrosis Magazine
Interview by Melanie, with Paul Bostaph and Tom Araya, 1998
Taken at The Odeon, Cleveland, OH

Slayer Reigns Supreme

Well… the only band I waited longer for to talk to then Exodus.. the ten-year wait is over! Slayer has been held as the penultimate “litmus test” killer band for years and has been seen as the ultimate interviewing acheivement..  Enjoy!

MR: Your name is? How long have you been in the band now?

PB: Paul Bostaph. I’ve been in the band about five years.

MR: How has the tour gone? What’s new with you and Slayer?

PB: The tour’s gone really well. Every show’s been really packed, and it’s been really energetic… Everything’s gone good. The crowd response has been awesome. I’m overwhelmed.

MR: What have you been up to since the release?

PB: Playing a lot of music. Just touring… focusing on the tour.

MR: How has the overall response and perception of the release been?

PB: Overall, it’s been pretty cool.

MR: Over what course of time was the new material written?

PB: Probably about a year… maybe a little over a year.  It took almost two years to get it all done probably. Not really all that time (was spent recording and stuff) though, because the recording process was really quick.  It was all the in-between, waiting for the release, for the record to come out. We even mixed and recorded a couple of extra songs.

MR: What have you been listening to lately?

PB: Lately? Fu Manchu, a lot of their records, Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath I listen to a lot…

MR: Are you still connected to the underground (metal) scene?

PB: Um, I don’t know. I don’t know what the underground metal scene really “is”. To me, if you like metal, you listen to all the metal you can get, so…   I mean, I listen to demo tapes. You listen to what people are doing, and you hear something good. I never thought of metal as underground. That’s cool; that’s how it is to me.

MR: How has your label treated you? What have you done with the label that you normally would not have been able to do?

PB: The new label’s been outstanding. (Columbia/Sony) They’ve been kicking ass, and they’re committed to selling as many records as possible; to get as many people into the band as possible.

<snip>

PB: Being involved in the scene is one thing, and then being involved in the business is another. If you’re a manager, or a promoter, or a magazine (press), wether you like it or not, once you start making money from music, you’re in the business. That’s how you pay your bills. That’s the music business.

MR: Describe a few differences in your current album from previous releases.

PB: I don’t really know, I wasn’t on a lot of the previous releases. I was on two others – “Divine Intervention” and “Undisputed Attitude”. I think the difference is that we’re still “gelling” as a band. I think, overall, it’s a better album. The next record’s going to be a step above this one. I think it will progress.

MR: What kind of progression is it? I mean, are you going for a slower, more thrashy kind of feel or what… ??

PB: From what I know of the songs they (Kerry and Jeff – ed.) have written, they’re very different songs. Nobody thinks certain moods or stuff at any one time – it (the songwriting process – ed.) just flows out.

MR: What do you feel you personally add to the band?

PB: I don’t know, you’d have to listen to it.. <grins> I think of myself in terms of this band as a team effort. Not each showcased item. I’m just trying to add…

MR: Do you think the metal scene has changed drastically since you first began playing?

PB: I don’t know. I think metal’s always been good. There’s really bad metal, and then there’s really good metal, like Black Sabath, that you can always come back and say “there they are. Those are the grandfathers of metal… ” You can always return to that. I don’t think it’s ever been bad. I can listen to old songs – I’ll name one – “Burn” by Deep Purple – the drums are just rippin’ on that tune, it’s a badass tune, and it was probably recorded in 1970. The drumming style sounds like it could almost be a Slayer tune. It was done in 1970 and you know that guy’s got to have inspired somebody.

MR: It inspired you, it sounds like.

PB: Definetly.

{Jeff Hanneman walks out of the room briefly, and as he passes us by, he makes farting noises “in our general direction”, spouting off a two minute Monty Python joke-session.. we all laughed… }

MR: What are your personal influences?

PB: Gee… Well, you could go from a band, to a drummer, to a guitar player…   I have favorite guitar players, favorite drummers, favorite bass players.  Like, the guitar players in Thin Lizzy – I thought they were amazing. They played well together and played good solos. UFO, Black Sabbath…

MR: Are you satisfied with everything on the new album?

PB: Well, no, I’m never satisfied. It’s a continuing goal. I always hear my own mistakes. I’m critical. Then also, trying to be creative… once you get past the critical part… Playing live really gets me in touch with what does, and what does not, work.

{“Testicle” interjection : one of the road crew was talking about Bay Area bands, and named off a list including “Testicle”… referring to Testament, of course… “All the Bay Area bands called them that”… and me: “Dave Mustaine from Megadeth had a shirt that read ‘Testicle’ on it instead of ‘Testament’… ” we all laughed… }

MR: What was your favorite gig to play?

PB: We played a show with Testament, at The Omni (??) in the San Fransisco Bay Area, it was one of the last shows (of the tour). In 1992, Louie left (Testament – ed.)… I did that show, and it was a Sunday night… maybe it was the last night of the tour? It was just a really good, fun show. It had really good vibes.

{Paul leaves and the interview continues with Tom Araya… }

MR: When did the band form and how?

TA: How much tape do you have? <laughs> The band formed in ’81 or ’82. Well, I met Kerry, he called me. Me and Kerry knew eachother from a band two years prior to us forming Slayer. I was in a Top 40 band. <snickers> We did covers.  I learned to play bass really young, so…

MR: How old were you?

TA: I was like 9 or 10. I played bass, and my brother played guitar, so we’d play songs.  We’d go to the music store and buy a Beatle music book and learn how to play that. We jammed with his buddy that was a drummer. Some time later, when I was in high school, a buddy of mine said “look, you want to join this Top 40 band?” They brought the sheet music and I’d read that.

MR: Did you make any money in the (rock) band?

TA: Yeah, I made money. Something like $100 – $200 a weekend. I was 16 or so at the time. Me and Kerry met up in that band… it evolved into a heavier band. I liked the [heavier] music we were getting into. We were playing Bad Company style music, .38 Special, and Van Halen, because they had just come out…

MR: Man… you guys played some good stuff… Did you do anything by Golden Earring?

TA: Yeah, we did that stuff.

MR: You didn’t do any Heart, did you? <laughs>

TA: No. <laughs> Wait… Well, actually, at one point, before it started getting into the heavier band, there was a female in it and we did “Barracuda” if I remember correctly. We did heavier shit and I liked it. I got kicked out of that band. By then, I was already in college, learning a trade [EMT I believe – ed.], then [two years later – ed] I started working. That’s when Kerry called. He was like, “hey, I’ve got these two other guys, I’ve got this band together… ” He said they were playing heavy music and named off the bands they were playing. Bands like UFO, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden… and I was like “who’s Iron Maiden?” This was around ’81. I went out, bought the records and learned the songs. A week later, they showed up. Kerry walked in with his guitar and his amp, Jeff walked in with his guitar and his amp, and they all helped Dave carry in his drums. That worked. It clicked. I had never played with these guys, and here I was playing these songs…

MR: What was the material like back then?

TA: We just did covers, like of the bands I named. Venom too. I don’t know if we ever played a Venom song but… I know we were listening to a lot of Venom back then because of Kerry. I thought it was a fucking great album. Welcome To Hell and Black Metal. Those 2. Those albums are fuckin’ awesome. One day, Jeff came in with a[n original] song, then another day Kerry came in with a song.  It was like, you could see the 2 of them were inspiring eachother. That’s how it started.

MR: What are your influences?

TA: <snickers> Shit, I just named ’em. Our only intent was to be better at it.  All the way around. We wanted to be fast. Our very first flyers were done by a really good friend of ours, who kind of became our manager… He made flyers that said “Slayer, the fastest and the heaviest… ” <grins>

MR: The most evil…

TA: Yeah. We set out to be that way. I remember what we first wrote. The song that really defines to me, what we do, is “Aggressive Perfector”. It’s our very first song. We did it on a Metal Massacre album. When Brian Slagel came to us and said “listen, I want to put you guys on the next MM album”, we went out and got all the MM albums just to see what they sounded like, what was on them. We thought, “we can come up with something faster/better than this… ”  So, we wrote that song specifically for the MM album. From then on, we like changed everything. We took a lot of songs we already had and rearranged them, some we threw away. Some songs were *fixable*. Some were *terrible*. When we heard that first song, Aggressive Perfector, and heard ourselves and compared it to everything else, we just rewrote everything after that.

MR: Now you guys have tons of progressions and styles; you have the punkish elements, the fast elements, the slow elements…

TA: Now we have a new album.

MR: I had the advance and it sounded like a cross between “Divine… ” and “Undisputed… “

TA: And Slayer. Period. The vocals are something we intended to do. I wanted to do that; to try and do something to change just a little. Just progress a little. When you hear it, it’s still Slayer, but kids wonder what’s been done to the voice. Which is cool, because at least they’re able to identify the song. Or the band, the style of the band. Some kids are really hip with it, and some are a little *ugh*… that’s okay. It’s a really good [fast] album; there are some really heavy tunes on it.

<snip – interlude where we tell Tom and Slayer about Necrosis and a variety of other things>

TA: So this will be on your website?

MR: Yeah it will be! <smiles> Do you guys have a laptop for access or something?

TA: Yes. Also a digital camera. So, we’ve been taking pictures of the crowd and stuff.

MR: How’s it been, with the fans and stuff? How have they reacted to the new material?

TA: Just like they did tonight. They kind-of wound down a little. They would wind down, and then a song would start, they’d wind up again; the song would end and they’d wind back down again. Everyone’s been lively and getting into it. It’s just fun. They’ve all been cool.

MR: You sure have no trouble selling out [large] places like this. [It held 1,000 people – ed.]

TA: This is a little smaller place. Last night it was what, 2500? [Harpo’s, Detroit, MI – ed.] Someone said it squeezed in 5,000 people. They sold 5,000 tickets.

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