SLAYER – 2 exclusive interviews for hellfest.fr: Kerry King and Paul Bostaph
“So, Hellfest is really cool!“ – Kerry King – 10/26/2015
INTERVIEW #1: KERRY KING
Slayer and Hellfest is a long time love story. From 2007 to next year, it will be your fifth times at Hellfest in ten years. What do you think about it?
Woow!!! Five times (laughs)! So, Hellfest is really cool! I think we headlined the last time, right?
Yes, you did. It was in 2014 and you headlined MainStage 02.
Ok, you know, when you get out on a festival ground, it is very hard to remember where you are on the bill from day to day. But, yeah, last time I remember we headlined and we played a great show too! Actually I look forward to next year to see who is on the bill with us. Because you just told me we are on it, I don’t even know for sure! But now, I am very looking forward to know who will be on it with us!
Sorry Kerry, I don’t have any poster with the bill because the lineup has not been announced yet! But it will be this Friday!
Do you personally have a special feeling or memory at Hellfest you would like to share with fans?
Yeah! It’s a funny thing, the last time we played was 2014, there was this fan who came with a Kerry King mask! We had fun with this mask and I still have it in my house!
Ok, thank you Kerry for that! So, I have to say you will play with Megadeth and Anthrax at Hellfest 2016.
Oh really? 3 forces of the Big 4!
Yeah! And Black Sabbath will headline Hellfest on the day you play.
Oh fuck yeah!!!
So what do you think about it?
I am more happy about playing with Black Sabbath (laughter)! I mean we are going to play with Anthrax on Winter here, that’s gonna be super fun cause we are very good friends. Today is the first show but we will hang out together as we are all old friends! Megadeth guys? They don’t hang out! And now they got a new guitar player I never met, and a drummer I never met… We played in Japan a couple of days ago with Megadeth, we played the first night and they played the second. So, they had sound check a couple of hours after we played, I was still there hanging out for minutes but… Never mind… It sounds like a great bill!
So now let’s talk about “Repentless”. When you look at sale figures, they seem to be very successful. Did you expect that?
Not, not by any means, you know. This is a really weird record for us because it has never been predominantly just me you know…There were times of the past when I wrote most of the stuff, not almost all of it. So you know it was weird for us, of course you know… Making a record, I thought it was great, I am still a fan and I still get weak in the knees when I see Tony Iommi you know, it’s just like people put us in the same type of live, with a long career. We are surely not Black Sabbath but we have been around for many years and some kids look at us like that. And it’s awkward… But you know when we put the material together, I was super proud because… It sounds great! Am I too close to it? Or I just don’t know it sucks? No, I think it’s really great, and I think … Maybe the fans were so… I don’t know… Maybe they thought we moved on… After Jeff passing they wanted to get it behind us… But we thought it was the best twelve songs we had at that time. You know, it turned out in a world war number 2, that’s massive! Massive! I never in a million years would have expected that! Number 1 in Germany! And the German really came out to support it! And the Dutch of course because we are number 2 in Holland and a very good position in the charts in the U.K either. To me, metal fans wanna have a hard copy. They want to have it in case they have an opportunity to get it signed by us or stuff like that. Metal is not like any kind of music in the world, and Nuclear Blast know it! They produced a very nice album, CDs, with 2 or level of CDs or DVD, and cassettes for collectors. And the Big Box set is fully amazing! They did a great job. So thanks the fans for coming out support us!
Songs “You Against You” & “Take Control” are my 2 favorite songs on the album and they make me think to your punk influences. Do you agree?
“You Against You” for sure! That one, if I did not have any punk influences, that one would not have been written for sure. But about “Take Control”, it is probably what I call my favorite fast one, and my favorite heavier one is probably “Vices”. But about “Take Control”, I never got punk vibe for that one.
As a song writer, what are your main musical influence sources today?
Probably the same as they were thirty years ago. You know, I am still a fan, as told the guy before you, so you know, Sabbath, Maiden, Priest… Deep Purple, Rainbow, stuff like that. Pantera for something more, Machine Head first record, I really like it and also the last one, for sure also “The Blackening”. I don’t remember all song or album titles, but I just look at the cover and when I see Machine Head on it: Go! (laughs). So I am definitely a metal kid, you know we just did Mayhem Tour in the States as you probably knew, and we were with King Diamond, and he came to me and said: “You know, we would like you to play a song with us live”. And the old teenage Kerry King never believed King Diamond would come and ask him to play with on stage! I said: “Fuck You, No Way!” (laughter). So it was awesome, I played “Evil”, we played it on last date shows, we played it four shows, I started to play lead and it was great and so excited for me! So just to prove you my point that I am still a fan.
What do you think about bands which play “New School Thrash” (Vektor, Angelus Apatrida, Violator for instance)? Do you think they continue the job you started? Or do you think they bring something new?
I don’t know… I hope they come out with some good stuff, because you know we are not gonna be here forever… And once we are gone, I am sure everybody else would be gone too because we are all the same age! (laughter) No, I would like to check those out now cause I don’t know them.
Talking about new bands, what is the biggest lesson you have learned that you would advise other bands about?
I don’t know if it’s a lesson but something that makes sense to me is: don’t make up music to make money. Make up music because you like it! And if you don’t like it, fans are going into it and fans are going to see right through the shred.
So now Kerry, let’s talk about touring: when you are on tour, do you have time enough to write music?
You know I did it on the last record, cause we had such a window and so much for me to accomplish, especially lyrically, we had days off some time, in a city here or a city there, and I like to start on my first day off, it gives me a chance to actually finish it, so when we have two or three days off, it’s cool for me to me finish what I have started few days ago. It reminds me how the song “Cast The First Stone” has been written. We had three days off in Athens because our Turkish show get cancelled, so I hanged out in Athens and spend three days cool to walk the streets, get some ideas, get some vibes, and “Cast The First Stone” came to me there, in Greece. So we can call it the Greek song! (laughs!).
Do you have one last word for Hellfest crowds?
Ok Hellfest, be ready for next Summer cause we are going to play a lot of new stuff, I think last Summer we probably played more old school stuff, but this time we will play a lot of stuff from Repentless, of course the Classics will be there, and obviously one surprise or two for sure!
Le Zenith, Paris – 10/26/2015
Many thanks to Valérie (Nuclear Blast)
“We’re just loud. We’re not trying to be loud.” – Paul Bostaph – 02/03/2016
INTERVIEW #2: PAUL BOSTAPH
So, how the hell are you?
I’ve been alright. Running around trying to get stuff together.
So I just got through listening to Repentless again and I was wondering… going forward with the solidified lineup what do you think your role in the band will be?
Well my role in the band is obviously to play drums and contribute what I can creatively. I think that’s always kind of what it’s been nothing more than that. I’m just trying to be a good band member.
Do you ever feel like you’re in the shadow of previous lineups?
I used to. I don’t anymore. In the beginning it was definitely that and you can’t erase the past and the past records are awesome – I’m a fan of those records. I feel like I’m a part of that now.
In regards to the records you were I noticed that you said you favorite Slayer record that you played on was Diabolus In Musica… which is an interesting choice. Can you tell me more about that?
It’s kind of funny that you bring that up because I like each record for different reasons and I don’t know why I said that. That album is one of my favorites for sure because the songwriting was killer and it was the only album we worked on with Rick Rubin from top to bottom. I actually had the chance for him to sit in on my drum tracks the whole way through which was really cool.
How was the experience of Repentless relative to the other records you did with Slayer?
It’s weird because on those other records I had never taken as much time away from the band. Now it’s been 13 years or something since I last left. There’s a lot of personal perspective and reflections that come from gaining knowledge and working with other individuals. I think this album is a lot more personal. I’m not trying to be the best drummer in the world I’m just trying to do my best on these songs.
I’m assuming there’s going to be more Slayer right?
I hope so.
Do you want to expand your role in the future?
That will be the future and I can’t tell you what the future is. You never want to write the same record twice I can tell you that. Once we get into the writing sessions we will be in a different place and we will have this under our belts. Obviously I like playing and I would like to have a bigger role on certain tracks and improve production values but that will be the future – I’m not there yet.
I noticed that is you’re super into Clive Burr and Tommy Aldridge… how do they impact their playing?
Those two drummers are very heavy influences on my playing. Tommy Aldridge has always sounded amazing. He has some great bass fills and the stuff he did with Ozzy was amazing. Clive Burr was a single bass drummer but he had an almost punk style and I relate to those drummers a lot.
You’ve talked a lot about your ying-yang philosophy, how much does that carry on to your day to day?
I don’t think it only applies to drumming. Drumming is an extension of who I am it’s not who I am.
If drumming isn’t who you are – who are you?
Playing the drums is an entirely different thing for me. It’s a space I get in not just physically or mentally. People call it the ‘zone’. I get into a zone with it. I really only get that from drumming. It’s something that when you’re doing it you’re so occupied with doing it you’re not thinking about it. You drift away from the mechanical part of it and you’re just in a total flow. If I could have that in my everyday it would be amazing.
Is it a spiritual thing?
Almost. You kind of connect to it through other means than your brain. When I’m thinking I’m not playing well – when I don’t think I’m playing well.
Obviously Tom Araya has been pretty open about his faith – do you have any religious leanings?
I believe in God. After that… I’m not religious. I don’t go to church at all really. That’s as far as it goes really. People can believe what they believe. I think sometimes people only look at things inside the box from which they live and don’t accept that there is more than one way of thinking out there. I try and accept that.
On the song Disciple – that was the first Slayer song I ever heard and that song changed my life… It kind of put me into a phase of being ‘The Slayer kid’ in high school. What do you think it is about Slayer that you think cultivates this extremely focused die hard fanaticism that goes beyond what you see in other metal bands?
I think it goes down to the fact that there’s no compromise in this sound. No one compromises their sound or what they are writing about. This band has been true to its convictions since the beginning. I think that’s what it is. They are loyal to themselves. From a fan standpoint I get that and that makes me stay loyal to them.
IS that what drew you towards Slayer back in the day?
Their first record I heard was Reign In Blood and that knocked me on my ass and then of course South Of Haven and Seasons In The Abyss were amazing it showed they were relentless and there was no compromises in the sound. When I got a record I knew what band I would be hearing. It wouldn’t be invalid and it would never be commercial. That’s what I loved about it.
A lot of people in recent years have made the argument that Slayer has compromised… I think that certain people believe that Slayer are a corporate entity now…
They haven’t been around for thirty years! If you’re around for thirty years existing in an industry your band becomes a brand. After thirty years of being in the business if your band hasn’t becomes a business then you wouldn’t be in that industry you would be doing something else for a living. You can’t ignore this side of being in the music business. You need a business sense, that’s how you keep afloat. You need to do a lot of things and wear a lot of hats. If you think we compromised we haven’t. If you think the compromise is being in the industry well that just doesn’t work – you can be in a band and in the business as well. If people listen to your records they shouldn’t have to deal with that stuff. Band guys usually just want to play music and not worry about anything else, but unfortunately it’s also a business and you can’t ignore that.
Do you ever long for the garage days?
No. Not at all. The skill level and the songs were so far behind us now. In those days I was trying to get out of the garage. I don’t want to spend any more time getting back into it. In the garage days you would get the cops called on you for playing too loud.
And now you’re trying to be the loudest…
We’re just loud. We’re not trying to be loud!
Why is there a desire to be so loud?
There actually isn’t. I try to play deliberately and that’s the way I get the best sound. That’s the only reason why – I like it.
Going through your biography and looking at everything you’ve done is obviously really impressive but I’ve noticed you’ve had to take breaks due to injuries and stuff… Do you ever worry about the future of your career due to this history of injuries?
I don’t worry about that. My health is in a good place.
The other thing I was trying to figure was… when you weren’t in bands what were you doing?
I was still doing music. I was just doing it on a non-national level. I was largely giving drum lessons.
One of the things I wanted to ask about – the first time I saw Slayer was Hellfest 2014, and I work for them – I wanted to ask do you have any memories of Hellfest?
I remember playing it but I have no specific memories of it. I’ve done it a lot of times and all of the festivals are special in their own way.
You’ve gotten to play in all of these awesome bands like Slayer, Exodus, Testament and Forbidden, which is your favorite?
At the end of the day probably forbidden since it was the first band I was in and it was the first time I went on tour. It was something special. It was totally my band. We shared the experience of having nobody know who we were and passing out fliers and trying to make our music better
I imagine it has to be a weird thing mentally to go from playing to dozens of people with Forbidden to playing literally hundreds of thousands with Slayer… how does that feel?
It’s pretty unbelievable at times. In Forbidden that’s what we were striving to do – we wanted to have some longevity to play these bigger stages but actually getting to do it with Slayer was pretty great. With Forbidden it was small steps and then with Slayer I wasn’t climbing a ladder – instantly I was on the big stage. It was pretty unbelievable. The first time I did it was in front of 50-60,000 people. I didn’t have much time to soak it in to be honest with you I was so focused on remembering the parts! I couldn’t let myself live in the moment at the time.
I wanted to ask – what do you love so much about music.
I love to listen back to something and realizing how it captures a feeling. I like working with other musicians and creating something with other people. I really enjoy how you can get together with a group of people and make some sounds that when you look back at them you get excited about it. It’s like “Wow that sound was inside of me” and then I find myself in the music and that’s what I like best.
Any final words of wisdom for me?
Brush your teeth! (laughter) If you’re in a band don’t push your bandmates buttons. Respect each other and the guys you play with and if you don’t find a different group.
Interview: Matt Bacon.
Phoner – 02/03/2016
Many thanks to Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald (Herfitz)