Exclusive: Tom Araya of Slayer and Joe Duplantier of Gojira Talk Tour, Families, And More
Mon, 11 Nov 2013 09:38:27
As far as metal is concerned, the show to see this fall is Slayer and Gojira's current jaunt.
You've got thrash's fiercest band in history headlining, and the most exciting metal outfit in the past decade playing direct support. The two Los Angeles show were purely powerful and potently perfect as Slayer demolished the Palladium yet again, and Gojira opened up the gateway into their heavy and hypnotic domain. All of the other gigs have been indisputably the same as the bands continue to crisscross the country delivering the ultimate sonic catharsis…
In the second installment of ARTISTdirect.com editor-in-chief Rick Florino's exclusive interview between Tom Araya of Slayer and Joe Duplantier of Gojira, these two gentlemen discuss the tour, their families, their favorite Slayer albums, and so much more.
Was the last tour you two embarked on a catalyst for this one?
Tom Araya: Yeah! I'll show up an hour-and-a-half before show time, if I can. Then, I leave soon afterwards. The last time we toured, we didn't hear any complaints from anybody about anything. It was a great tour. Everything ran smoothly. I heard nothing but positive things about you guys. You were great to tour with.
Joe Duplantier: You have an amazing crew. I just want to say that. That's probably one big reason why everything went smoothly. When you have the proper crew, they respect the support bands, and they make everything easier. If we have the smallest problem, we just talk to one of them, and it's fixed right away. Everyone is helping one another. You know it of course, but you have a great crew. It helps.
Tom Araya: It does. It helps a lot. Everything went smoothly. When our manager said, "Hey, we're going to put this tour together and we want Gojira to support, do you have any problems with that?" I was like, "Nope, they're great to tour with! There was nothing negative in the least. It was awesome". You're a really good band!"
Joe Duplantier: It might not sound exciting to hear, but when there are no complaints or problems on a tour, it's pretty exceptional already [Laughs]. You might think, "Okay, that's it?" I think it's a big deal though, and I'm really happy to hear it.
Tom Araya: Oh yeah, it's a really big deal. Why would you want to tour with a band that fucking causes drama? [Laughs] You know what I mean? Who needs that shit? When two bands can gel and work well together, that makes for a very relaxing time. It's un-needed stress when you have constant agitation going on. Life is on the road is pretty fucking stressful as it is. When everyone gets along, it makes for a smooth tour, and everybody is in that zen-ful place.
Joe Duplantier: That's so true.
Tom Araya: Back to what I was saying earlier, it's thirty-fucking-three years later. We had the fortune of having a big fan in Rick Rubin. That was our biggest and greatest fortune. He took us under his wing, and that's where we stayed. A lot of our success and longevity, I hold Rick responsible for entirely.
Joe Duplantier: You're very humble! It's incredible.
Tom Araya: I'm being serious, man. If Rick Rubin hadn't come along, I really don't know where we'd be. The band owe a lot to him. We wouldn't be ten albums down the line without him. I think things would've been a little different.
Which Slayer record means the most to both of you?
Tom Araya: Wow! I can tell you which ones mean a lot to me…The initial three we did with Rick Rubin—Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, and Seasons in the Abyss—and World Painted Blood. Those albums mean a lot because I participated in the creative aspect of those four quite a bit actually. I put a lot into Divine Intervention too. The other albums, not so much, because of personal issues going on in the band…we just did a lot of collaborating. We wrote a lot of songs together. When Jeff had a lot of material and music in a record, those were the records I had a big part in. When he didn't, it was only his songs I got involved in. I guess Seasons would be at the top of the list. That was a crowning moment for my writing as far as putting energy into all of the songs on that album and being allowed to do what I did on it. Seasons is the most meaningful out of all of them. Reign In Blood is a great record for what we did—especially for being our first record with Rick Rubin. Seasons was the one for me.
Joe Duplantier: Of course, the first records I heard were Reign In Blood and South of Heaven. I remember I was going to high school. That was a big change for my life. Someone gave me a cassette of Reign In Blood and one of South of Heaven. I had just discovered Metallica at the time, and that was the fastest and most evil music I was listening to [Laughs]. I heard Slayer, and I was like, "Holy shit! What is this?" I remember looking through the window of the bus and seeing all of the buildings, houses, and people in the street, and all of a sudden, I was completely disconnected from reality. It's a very precise feeling that I still have today when I think about it. The sound, the darkness of the music, and the vibe—there's something warm in the production, the intention, and the power behind the music. I felt all of that very strongly. For me, it was a big shock to discover Slayer at the time. That was my first contact with Slayer. For me, Diabolus in Musica was another shock. At the time when it came out, the production, guitar sounds, and everything were so raw that I thought it was a very clever album. There was a craziness going on in the music business at the moment and all the bands were moving towards a certain vibe. This album went completely to the other side. I was like, "Yeah! This is what we need to do! We need to stay raw as fuck!" [Laughs] Those three albums are the ones that mean the most to me.
Is conjuring imagery an important part of writing lyrics for you both?
Tom Araya: Yeah, you're painting mental images with words. Whatever image the person thinks of or comes up with is an individual thing. To me, you're singing, but you're literally painting the imagery. You want to use phrasing and imagery that will give the person the exact image you want to convey. You color it with certain adjectives. I really try to use words to not only paint, but to give a feeling. The best way I can describe it is by using "Dead Skin Mask" as an example. The word "Pacify" not only tells you about a feeling, but it also describes infancy—like a "pacifier". Rubin wanted me to use "appease". I had to, because that's what he wanted. When I played the song live, I used the word "pacify", because I was trying to paint an image of mental infancy that Ed Gein was about. He was a little boy in a grown man's body. The relationship he had with his mother made him that way. That's how I like to use words. It's a little deep for some people.
Joe Duplantier: I think everybody gets it. The images you conjure strike people in their subconscious. You're right it's very exciting to put words together and create a picture, instead of explaining something or writing a statement or text to explain that idea. You just paint a picture that's very well-described. It' s closer to poetry than literature. When people ask me, "What is this song about?", I'll say, "Well, it's supposed to be this way. Sometimes, it's impossible to explain it though". Like you said, you just talk about an emotion or something you see. It could be a little blurry in the way you see it, but you want to keep it that way. You want to throw words together that will provoke emotions and push buttons inside of people. I love it! It's very exciting.
Tom Araya: That's exactly it.
Joe Duplantier: I just want to say thank you. I'm really honored to have this discussion right now. I get to hear some things that you say. I know you've done a lot of interviews, and I really appreciate this moment. Hearing you speak about how you see things, how you started, and how calm and humble you are, I just want to say thank you for all the music you have created.
Tom Araya: Thank you! I think I surprise people sometimes because I'm blatantly honest about things. If you're not truthful, it will come out.
It feels like Slayer is bigger than ever…It's a special moment for both bands.
Tom Araya: I have to agree [Laughs]. This is definitely a moment in time because life changed after May. It changed for me at least. It's a whole different perspective on things and a whole different attitude. Joe, you were asking if I'm happy where I'm at now, I am happy. After May, my attitude about certain things changed greatly. Like I said, I lost a really good friend and someone who allowed me to do what I enjoy. Now, that's changed. I have a different perspective on things. It's time to sit down and really think about my future because I have a family. I've had a family for twenty years. I've been married for 19 years. I've never really been home. I'm always away. I'm sure you understand the distance it puts you from family, Joe. No one really gets that sacrifice. It's not necessarily just being away from your wife and kids, but family. I'm sure you have a mother, father, brothers, and sisters that at one point were a big part of your life and now they're not. They're an aspect of your life.
Joe Duplantier: Yeah, I have a daughter now. I was on tour when she walked for the first time and when she said her first words.
Tom Araya: Those are the sacrifices people don't understand and will never know about. My son is 14-years-old, and my daughter is 17-years-old. I was lucky enough to be around my son for the first two months of his life. My daughter, I had the misfortune of having to leave the day after she was born and not see her for two or three months later.
Joe Duplantier: Wow…
Tom Araya: Then, of course, it's just living. Some people may never understand. People have a different perspective of life on the road. The young years of a band's life, it's great. That gets old quick [Laughs]. After May, a lot changed. It's time to put things in perspective. You understand the sacrifice now that you have a daughter.
Joe Duplantier: Absolutely. It's intense.
What's your favorite Slayer song? What's your favorite Gojira song?
See part 1 of the interview here!
See what Slash, Pantera, Slipknot, and more have to say about Slayer in this exclusive feature here!