Paul Bostaff (drums) – Sunday 18 June 2017
« I remember those times when I didn’t sleep for 11 days… After 11 days, you’re just a zombie! » – Paul Bostaff
How the hell are you?
I’m good. We arrived in the morning to our hotel by bus and then we stayed there most of the day. We really just got here now, I guess.
So your plan for today is to play, get back to the hotel and then travel to the next gig?
Well, we’re not going to get back to the hotel: we’ll just get in the bus and then go to Zürich.
You won’t be fully leaving the Hellfest experience then. Isn’t it a bit frustrating sometimes to go to some place and not have time to feel its vibe, etc.?
Yeah… It is sometimes but most of the time, we stick around, we get a chance to see what the festival’s like. Today, we got here this late because we’re going at around midnight and we’re going on tomorrow basically. We got here late so as not to be sitting all day.
Slayer tours constantly. But are you still excited by the perspective of playing gigs? Can it still be a sensational experience? How to you keep the motivation going?
Well, I mean it’s always exciting to play a show, you know? I think that the motivation is to become a better musician. I started out wanting to be… I love music, you know, and there were musicians that I heard and who were excellent. So I wanted to play like those guys. It’s been 30 years plus that I’m playing drums and I’m still not tired of it because there’s always something new musically to explore. Sometimes you can play the same songs over and over and over again so that a song can get a little tiring because you’re playing it like for 20 years. But that’s also the mark of a good song! But to go on stage, it never really get tiring. No matter how tired you are, even if you feel sick… When you get up on stage, when I get up on the riser with a band in front of a crowd who cares to see us play, it changes. The energy level charges and charges me. S I’m never bored with it. You know, if I was bored with it, I wouldn’t do it anymore. I would do something else.
What would you do, then? Music has been all your life!
If I was to do something else? I love automobile. I like to work on them as a hobby. Maybe I would do that as a serious thing but I’m still here doing this so…
Can’t remember where I read that but some artist say that artists who were touring a lot were in a way lacking respect to themselves by not being rare enough. And that their work was then losing value… Your point of view?
I understand that… I know that this band is very conscious of that. There’s some cities where we go back over and over and over again but there are places where we won’t come back for an entire year. It’s been two years for some places for instance. I think the band and management have to be conscious of those kinds of changes: when enough is too much. Oversaturation, you know? In a city when you got there too much, you oversaturate, your value goes down: I agree with that. I think it’s important to have your mind set on coming somewhere not all the time.
Festivals are more and more popular in Europe nowadays. Do they represent a threat for club touring? As some artists only do festivals and some fans keeps their cash for festival tickets only…
I don’t think that festivals are a risk to seeing a headlining band playing for instance. The reason why I say that is… With a festival, you buy a ticket and your value is very good because you can see a bunch of great bands but you don’t get to see every band play for one hour and a half. You can get one hour or half an hour of music and for some people, that’s enough. But real fans will come to you, like our fans, and make it to see us play songs that we don’t play at a festival. Songs that are a little bit more rare to be heard, songs that you wouldn’t hear in a festival situation. Also, at a festival, a band will go on under in a day time so they can’t bring the full production with them. I don’t think there’s any damage to touring. I just think it goes back to being smart with how you do it, where you play and how you put a tour together around this schedule. Touring during festival season, sometimes you wind up not getting a lot of sleep because you have the logistics of being at one show to another. It’s almost impossible sometimes. So you get there, without any sleep and you’re tired, you go on stage and for me that’s also part of the fun of it. I remember those times when I didn’t sleep for 11 days… After 11 days, you’re just a zombie! Basically, it’s the fans’ choice and that’s the good thing about it.
Your latest album, Repentless was critically acclaimed. Were you happy or relieved about that? I mean happy about the response or relieved that you were still able to deliver a great studio album without Jeff?
It was not a relief. I think that we all put 100% in this record. At the end of the day, it was a Slayer album. I think I was very happy about the response from it. And that comes back to every record I recorded on. When a record’s done I’m never sure about it. There’s always something I think I could do better. It’s always like that. You have to know how to let go, let go of it like “OK, it’s done”. Otherwise, I could sit down and work on it forever. With Repentless, I’m more happy about it, there was no sense of relief. It wasn’t tough to work on the record but I knew that the expectations were super high because we lost Jeff, because of the line-up change, you know. I knew that Slayer fans would like the record but how much they liked it was very surprising. And I’m happy about that.
Somehow you don’t play many songs from Repentless on the current tour. Is it because you have to deliver some kind of a greatest hits setlist during the festival season?
Yes, on a festival, you’re not gonna see us play as many songs from Repentless. When we’re playing one hour and half festival set and we’re playing in the dark, we’re playing “When The Stillness Comes”, like 5 songs of the new record, a healthy dose of the new record. Tonight I think that we’re gonna play just one as we’re playing a shorter set.
I know that you do VIP Meet & Greet packages from time to time. Have they become necessary evil nowadays? European fans don’t seem to be very fond of the idea of having to pay to meet a band…
No, no! I don’t think it’s necessary evil at all! I respect the fans if they don’t want to do it. Because honestly, we’ve done it in the States and the people who do it get to see us at the soundcheck so we’ll just be warming, jamming, like anything from Led Zeppelin to Jimi Hendrix to Van Halen, things we grew up on, just for fun… Then we do the regular soundcheck. So these peoplewho buy the VIP package get to come and see us do that, what we do at the soundcheck. And then they get to meet us. It’s not necessary evil. If you have the choice to do it, I think it’s cool to do it. I think that some bands do it because it helps pay for production costs, for them to be on the road. Touring is expensive, you know?
I have very last question about one song from Diabolus In Musica. The song is called “Scrum”. I know that Kerry was very interested in rugby when he wrote the song. Is rugby still a sport he likes?
I don’t know if Kerry follows rugby anymore… It’s funny where that inspiration came from back then. After band practice, we would go to TGI Fridays, all of us – Kerry, myself, Tom and Jeff – and we would have some food, some drinks. Friends of us worked there also and also had friends who played in the second division team in the United States, where we lived so we got to know them. And then we went over to Australia – I actually hanged out with the Australian rugby team on their bus, which was one of the most incredible experiences in my life. We really got into that sport. There was even a point where Kerry and I started talking about playing! We checked out games where we lived but when we heard the bodies hurt the ground and how big the guys were, we thought it wasn’t a good idea for us to do that! (laughter) These guys are big! American football is another thing and these guys are playing without pads and they get hurt!
Interview : Wombat.