Interview: Kerry King of Slayer
Tue, 07 Aug 2007 15:27:06
For any metalhead who lost track of the maniacs in Slayer, last year's Christ Illusion provided a powerful reason to reunite. Rather than settle into a routine as a nostalgia act, the thrash icons sounded as furious and technically impressive as ever, buoyed by the return of original drummer Dave Lombardo (and, thus, the original lineup).
Having landed on a new label, Slayer have re-released Christ Illusion with a previously unreleased track ("The Final Six"), and a DVD featuring, among other things, a live performance of their 1988 classic "South of Heaven." The fresh product arrives just as Slayer has set out on a national co-headlining tour with Marilyn Manson.
Guitarist and band co-founder Kerry King took some time out of his tour schedule to chat with ARTISTdirect about God, Satan and all the things that keep Slayer ticking after a quarter-century of metal and mayhem.
You've never shied away from attacking organized religion in your songs—directly and unapologetically—and Christ Illusion cranks up the heat. But then we often arrive at a "Hail Satan" conclusion, which seems a little strange. Are you talking about the Christian devil?
Actually on "Cult" ["Beware the cult of purity / Infectious imbecility / I've made my choice / 666"] the line "666" was going to be "Atheist," to get that point across about how I really feel. But it doesn't make for a good song. Kids love screaming "666." [laughs]
Slayer has traveled the world and met fans from across the globe. What makes America so uniquely susceptible to organized religion?
Power. No free thinking; everywhere else in the world, people make their own opinions. There's religion everywhere, but you go anywhere else in the world and people say "You Americans are really fucking tweaked on your religion." Hey, not me! [laughs] I'm trying to clean that out.
And America is so vast that it's easy to be in one pocket and lose sight of how extremely different other pockets may be. Los Angeles, for instance, is probably a more atheistic city than Topeka.
Yeah, but as soon as you get 60-75 miles out of L.A., like where I live, it's like a mini-Bible Belt. Everybody's got their Not of This World stickers and Jesus Freak stickers. Where do these people come from? That's kind of where "Cult" came from, just observing all of that. When you get down to the bottom line, say I'm a Satanist and I'm going to paint 666 on my window or Satan Freak on my window, a bunch of Christians are going to key your car and rip your stickers off. That's how infatuated they are. That's what bothers me. But I can't go rip their stickers off because of the brotherhood—they'll fucking turn my ass in.
It does seem that the debate is opening up a little bit. There are some more prominent atheists in the public eye, even though politicians still have to bend over backwards to profess their faith.
And they're the ones who get busted stroking a hooker in the alley.
You guys keep putting out albums and we'll see some headway, maybe.
I think it's going to be the people who come after us. [laughs] The people who come carrying the torch in 50-60 years, maybe.
Bands like Green Day and Dixie Chicks have made big waves with relatively tame political statements. It must be harder for a band like Slayer to make waves, since waves are expected.
We're not a political band, either.
Right, but there are controversial elements to Christ Illusion.
But there wasn't a lot of outcry—except in Southern California they made you take down those bus benches displaying the cover art.
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