antiMusic/Thrashpit's Billy Gamble caught up with Slayer as they roared through Rhode Island earlier this month, fresh off their Grammy win. He spoke with Kerry King about their outing with Unearth, the current state of metal, their Grammy win, Dave Lombardo and why Slayer never followed metal trends. Here is part one of the special interview.
antiMusic: How was the decision made to tour with Unearth and how has the tour been so far?
Kerry King: Any time we go on a tour, unless there is somebody I have to have with me, our booking agent gets with a promoter and he asks who’d would you like to play with Slayer. So the names come up and Unearth was the best choice for a number of reasons. We haven’t ever played with them before and I like to keep our tours fresh. I mean I do have friends in the biz, so maybe next time we come through I’ll probably demand a couple of bands, but this is only a one band bill so I’d seen Unearth a couple times and thought it’d be cool to go with them. Its awesome, I had a blast today, tonight was a great show.
antiMusic: Tell me about your thoughts on the first ever Grammy Slayer won last Sunday.
Kerry King: I thought it was cool for my dad because yah know he’s proud, but for me the fucking Grammy's I think the vote process it’s not tainted but it’s not correct because it’s not by somebody by somebody who knows about every kind of music they’re voting for. I think there is probably 25, 40% of people who actually have an idea of what metal is and I think they’re 60, 75 percent of people who pass the category and say, “Metal, Slayer, heard of them, cool.” I’m glad they did it, yah know hey, it gives me something cool to say “Yeah I won one of those.” Not a lot of people in the world can say that, from that aspect it's cool, but I’d rather have awards that educated metal fans voted for.
antiMusic: How do you feel about the current state of metal and all the subgenres sprouting from it?
Kerry King: When we started, thrash wasn’t even invented yet. We were doing it, but nobody called us that, they called it Black Metal. And then Black Metal became something completely different and over the years people would say “what do you think you are?” and I’d say “I think the best description for us is thrash” and ever since it just stuck. I think they’re a lot of cool new bands coming out that infuse new people getting turned onto metal and sometimes it takes bands like that to get the younger crowd involved with us. Like Chimaira are working on a new record right now, I think Children of Bodom are working on a new record too; they’re all kinds of new bands.
antiMusic: Do you guys ever feel pressured to change your sound to fit in with modern music?
Kerry King: Not at all [laughs] I just won a Grammy I don’t got to do shit [laughs]. This is what we like to do. We were very fortunate when we decided what we were going to do 20 some years ago, we found something we dug and we didn’t have to change what we do to be popular.
antiMusic: What is it like having Dave Lombardo back in the band and how was that decision made?
Kerry King: Well we needed a drummer, back in 2001 right after ‘God Hates Us All’ came out and it never even crossed my mind. Jeff suggested it. Not that I didn’t want him back or anything it’s just like one of those things where it’d been a long time, we didn’t even know if we’d wanted to open that door again. We thought about it and if there was anybody who’d deserved to try out, he was in the band originally. So he came in, tried out, filled in for a couple tours. It was never at that point said Dave was going to do a record. At that point I think we all wanted Dave to do a record, but it’s whatever Dave wants to do. He’s got all kinds bands he's playing for, and we can’t just jump in and say we rule Dave now; Dave has got to play for us. But I think he’s signed until at least 2009.
Check back next week for Part II in this exclusive interview!