Los Angeles thrash-metal juggernaut Slayer has been kicking ass so ferociously for so long that the word “fucking” has practically been appended to the front of the band's name. Raising the metal bar for brutality and blasphemy over the course of nearly three decades, Slayer stands as one of the most influential heavy outfits this side of Black Sabbath. Fans had a scare earlier this year when bassist/singer Tom Araya was forced to undergo back surgery to address headbanging-induced spinal issues, but the group has since brought its fearsome live show back on the road.
All Shook Down spoke with founding guitarist and songwriter Kerry King about the summer's European “Big Four” shows with fellow thrash pioneers Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax, playing with the Beastie Boys, and performing the band's classic album Seasons in the Abyss in its entirety on the current American Carnage tour. The tour, featuring Slayer, Megadeth and Testament, comes to the Cow Palace tomorrow (Tuesday, August 31) at 7 p.m.
After the initial break for Tom Araya's surgery and recovery, the band has had a pretty hefty touring schedule. Has the change in how he can physically perform altered how the band functions onstage?
Kerry King: Not at all. We don't really interact [onstage]. We've never really interacted. We're a four-man show, but we're four individuals. Me and Jeff [Hanneman] don't go standing in front of each other and play guitar to each other. I always thought that was kind of goofy. We're just the individual entities we've always been.
And your music is pretty squirrely, so there's not a lot of room for theatrics while you're performing…
Well, yeah, when you take into consideration the stuff we're attempting to play that's just rhythms, there's no acrobatics [laughs].
No guitars behind the head?
Nah. I'll leave that to Alex [Skolnick, Testament's guitar player]. He does it pretty good.