Kerry King of Slayer Compares "The Big Four" to "The Expendables"
Fri, 08 Apr 2011 11:43:45
Slayer guitarist Kerry King is quite happy about the Southern California location of America's one and only "Big Four" show on April 23.
"I live there so it's fucking hella easy for me," laughs the legendary axeman. Annihilating one of the biggest metal crowds that the United States has ever seen will also prove "easy" for King and his cohorts.
Slayer stand at the top of their game. 2009's World Painted Blood remains a landmark in their catalog, burning with a refined thrash violence that could only be honed via 30 years of experience in the studio and on the road. "Americon" bludgeons with a deafening groove, while the warp speed pummeling on "Snuff" was meant for war. These new cuts, as well as classics from Slayer's revered discography, always make for a "Hell" of a show, and that's precisely why their "Big Four" performance right before Metallica is bound to be a timeless one.
While in the midst of destroying Europe, Kerry King sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about "The Big Four" being like The Expendables, why "Devil" was actually pretty good, what's next for Slayer, and so much more…
"The Big Four"—Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax—hits Indio on April 23.
What does "The Big Four" mean to you?
It means, "I wish there were more!" [Laughs] I would love for it to pick up and be a touring entity and not just do a week in Europe. Obviously, one show in the United States is far from enough. That's my take on it. I'd even take two weeks in a row!
What was it about Southern California that fostered this type of heavy metal in the '80s?
It's hard to say because a lot of people think that the Bay Area is where it was at. That area had a great scene as well, but Metallica definitely imported themselves there. For us and Megadeth, you have the Metallica connection there. We all liked the European stuff. To this day, I'm a huge fan of early Venom. I think they probably shaped us more than anybody—except for maybe Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. We were all into the same thing. It was a little nucleus of people with the same ideas trying to get the same info because back then we were far from Internet [Laughs]. It was about going to a mom and pop store and seeing what kind of imported magazines or imported vinyl they had.
Did you share many of the same influences?
I knew Metallica and, of course, I played the first five Megadeth shows. Metallica and Slayer never really talked much though. We weren't buddies; we were acquaintances. Since "The Big Four" shows last summer, I consider them friends now because we actually got time to hang out, have food, have drinks, just be dudes, and not be talking about each other in the press. That was really cool. That was the biggest thing that I got from Europe. It was fun for me. Up until then, we did a show with Metallica back in the day at The Woodstock in Orange County. They might've been signed already, but we weren't. We've done a random festival here or there over thirty years. We finally got to do a proper "tour" with them, and it's really cool.
You each have your own thing in terms of thrash, but it works together.
Right now, but in the beginning it was a lot closer. It's like we all started out as some sort of beast that grew four heads, and every head is individual from the other [Laughs].
You've all grown immensely too.
I've definitely dissected Megadeth's last record, Endgame, because we've been touring with them so much. In the day of iPods, you don't have the CD anymore and you're not staring at the lyrics. I don't know any of the fucking titles, but they're playing a really cool song off the new album, and it's got a great guitar riff in it.
Is it more fun now than it was back in the day?
Probably! At this level, everything's handled for you. In the old days, we were still booking our own shows [Laughs].
How different will "The Big Four" setlist be?
It's hard to say because we came through the LA area at the Long Beach show and at the Gibson Amphitheatre. I've got to take into consideration what we played and give the California people something other to check out than they might have checked out this past summer. I've got to think about that. It's shorter than a Slayer set too; I think we're only playing 65 minutes.
You're right before Metallica, and there's no doubt you're going to give the crowd a good beating…
[Laughs] It's like beating them over the head with a sledgehammer.
Indio has had Coachella with all of the hippies and hipsters, but it's never been invaded by metalheads.
It's going to be awesome! The Spanish faction of our fans is just sick and insane. Being out there in the desert close to Arizona and Mexico, it's going to be crazy. Plus, I imagine there are people flying in from all parts of the country because it's the only "Big Four" show.
When did it you realize you'd be in Slayer as your career?
When I was 25-years-old, I didn't think I'd be doing it when I was 40. As your heroes get older and you see other people do it, you're like, "Man, I don't feel old." You get a different perspective on age when you get there, at least I do. I don't feel like I did when I was 20, but I certainly don't feel 46 either. Touring and the stage time keep me in shape. If I didn't drink, I'd be a little skinny bastard, but that's self-medicating to get you through the tour.
Have you been writing new music at all?
Not really, I've got a couple riffs married together. That's just me messing around though. I've definitely got things I want to accomplish with these riffs floating around in the back of my head. I tape them on my iPhone so I don't have to carry around a recording device. It's good enough to remember a moment in time. I don't care what it sounds like; I just have to remember where it is.
If "The Big Four" were a movie, what would it be?
The Expendables! [Laughs] It's just a big dude movie. It has all of the big action stars from when we first started. There's that connection. They blow up shit throughout the entire movie, and there's going to be all kinds of carnage when all of us play so I think it's perfect.
Which of The Expendables is Slayer?
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, dude! He's just a fucking brawler!
As a movie fan, Insidious scared the living daylights of me.
Don't tell me! I'm gone too long and I can't see it [Laughs]. You know what I saw that I didn't expect to be good but I did like? Devil! I liked that one. It was really cool. I got the plugged pulled on me when we went on tour five weeks ago [Laughs].
Will you be at "The Big Four" on April 23?
Watch an exclusive video with Kerry King here!