Kerry King of Slayer Talks Mayhem Festival, New Music, and Looks Back on "Divine Intervention"
Wed, 18 Jul 2012 10:10:26
Slayer is the only metal band that's transcended generations with the same brutality they began with.
In fact, as evinced by 2009's epic World Painted Blood, thrash's toughest titans hit harder than ever, remaining staunchly unwavering. At this year's installment of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, the quartet unveils its most expansive and explosive production ever. There are upside down crosses spewing fire, amps ablaze, and a giant Slayer eagle. Most importantly, the group sounds incendiary, incisive, and immortally infectious. You haven't lived until you've seen Slayer…
Anchoring the assault is one of the greatest guitarists to ever walk the face of the earth Kerry King. His riffing inspired countless to pick up the instrument, and he's still slashing throats with every lead. There's also no one more unequivocally and undeniably metal.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Slayer's Kerry King talks Mayhem, the band's forthcoming new music, looking back on Divine Intervention, and so much more.
How did you construct the set list for Mayhem?
When you've only got an hour to play, there's not enough time for all of the songs you want to play. There are ten more things I'd like to play. We just can't get them in there. We haven't played "Altar of Sacrifice" and "Jesus Saves" outside of the Reign in Blood set for probably 20 years. To pull that off is like the hidden gem of the set to me. You don't expect us to play those in such a short set.
Do you personally sequence the songs?
I've done it since the dawn of time [Laughs].
What's the art to making a great set list?
Coming out guns blazing and then making it a roller coaster ride from there…I think it's still a work in progress.
It almost flowed like an album.
I like it! As long as I've got a chance to change it, you never know when I might.
Had you done this exact stage setup before?
This includes the most types of fire we've done. We've had the crosses before, but they didn't spew fire [Laughs]. The cross sections were supposed to light up too, but I think we ran out of time to pull that off. There are a lot of things going on. We did the same kind of fire near Dave before when we had triple stacks. We lit the tops on fire during the last Mayhem. This time, we've got the low six amps on fire, the crosses spew fire, and there's a big fire cannon at the base of the cross. There's all kinds of shit happening.
How is the new material coming along?
I haven't worked on it as much as I'd like to. I don't really write on the road. When we're in Europe, I don't go out that often. There are still a number of currencies over there, and you get dicked every time you change money [Laughs]. If I don't have any local money, I'll probably sit in my room. I wrote some lyrics over there. I cleaned up a couple of song ideas we had. We have two finished. They just need to be mixed. I was under the impression we wanted those done so people had access to them for Mayhem and then we could play something live, but they're not even mixed yet. By the time they're mixed and mastered, Mayhem will be over. I just assume save them for the record so we don't have to make up more for the record. We've got two others that just don't have leads and vocals. I've got two or three more that are ready to at least be demos. I'd like to get them done in August and September so that means I'd better start finishing my lyrics [Laughs].
What topics do "Chasing Death" and "Implode" tackle?
For "Chasing Death", as you get older, you're friends start dropping. You're having that new sensation. My guitar tech Armand "Butts" Crump III died earlier this year, and he was 35-years-old. Those are the tough ones. Nobody expects a healthy person to just kick off at 35. It's the idea of dealing with this because that didn't happen when we were all 20. It's talking about stuff like that. "Chasing Death" is not directly related to any of my friends dying. It's like people who drink too much. They don't help themselves out so they're chasing death.
Your lyrics and guitars always entwine interestingly.
The beginning of "Implode" definitely does that. It starts off with a super heavy riff. The first verse is in that riff, and the song takes off.
Where does that song come from lyrically?
It's not directly connected to the Mayan Calendar, but everybody always talks about the world ending. Whether it's with war or disease, that's where I went with it.
You've done "Americon" live, but will "Not of This God" ever enter the set list?
I write seven-string songs, but we haven't played any of them live in years. I don't know why. There are so many good things on World Painted Blood I wanted to play. Getting to that one takes a while. We did "Beauty Through Order" for a while. We did "Snuff" forever.
What are you listening to right now?
Not much, I rarely listen to anything new when I'm making up new stuff because it's very easy to get influenced and borrow from it inadvertently.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Divine Intervention?
I think that's a hidden gem. It was never looked as highly upon as the other ones. I think that's because of the production. I keep threatening to bring back "Mind Control" like every tour [Laughs]. We do "Dittohead" from time to time. We've played it off and on over the years. There's definitely good shit on there. At the beginning of a tour cycle, I'll go back and listen to things to see if I'm forgetting anything that's cool because we hadn't played it in a long time. I always find stuff on that record, but there's always material that I think is more important in the set. It's tough.
What's next for you?
I'm finishing Mayhem. I've got Metal Masters 4 in New York this September. Amongst that, I've got to fit in football season and finishing the Slayer record [Laughs].
What's your favorite Slayer song?
See our live review of Slayer at Mayhem here!
Photos: Corey Soria