SLAYER's KERRY KING On Early Influences, Jamming And DIMEBAG

May 20, 2007 recently conducted an interview with SLAYER guitarist Kerry King. A few excerpts from the chat follow: A recent U.K. report declared that SLAYER were one of the music choices of child prodigies. That is in stark contrast to an Esquire article back in 1992 that claimed one out of five kids who kill love SLAYER?

Well, we do cover a broad spectrum! (laughs) I think that it is all because we've stuck around so long that we are now a household name, which I think is how we won the Grammy. When we got that and when we were up for that second one, I thought to myself, "Who goes about voting for this?" So I tried putting myself in the situation of a voter where, if I was voting and it came around to rap or hip-hop, I wouldn't know who the hell to pick. I'd pick somebody who I had heard of. I figure 65% of our votes probably came from that sort of situation where people had never heard of us, never heard of our music but had heard of our name. I don't care for stuff like winning a Grammy any way. The only stuff that means something to me is the fans because they're the ones into it and they're the ones living it. What do you think has contributed to the SLAYER's longevity in the music industry known for its fickleness?

All the way back to our very first record, and though you can look back on it today and it is a little bit corny, you have to realize we were 19 year old kids trying to find out what the hell we were doing. But central to that point is that it has always been real for us. SLAYER has always been really street wise. We've never tried to be anything we weren't. Like for example, I don't believe in God or the Devil but I do put religion on trial because that is who I am and so that translates into the music. If people get that and they like us they will cling onto us. A SLAYER record or a SLAYER show to me is almost like a guarantee, you know that if you like SLAYER, then you're going to dig it all. And we've always come through and done it. 90% of what I write, I like to throw it out there in a way that you might have ten kids who read the lyrics while another ten kids will walk away with something different from it. Going back to the band's early days, how do you now look back on your debut "Show No Mercy"?

We still play songs off that album, like tonight we're playing two songs off that album. We don't play anything from the 1990s because Dave wasn't part of the band. I mean that is not the full reason but now that Dave is back, and because this is the first time Australia has seen us with Dave, we're totally focused on that. We do play stuff off "God Hates Us All" but nothing from the 1990s. I mean except for "Seasons" but that is not really the 1990s, we don't do anything off "Divine" or "Diabolus" or "Undisputed" for that matter. "Show No Mercy" and "Hell Awaits", proudly displayed a lot of the band's influences?

Absolutely, when we were making those records we were really into MERCYFUL FATE, which is why the "Hell Awaits" songs are so long. We were really into them and that is why there are ten thousand riffs and all those songs. But that album was the last time you could totally see an influence on us. I think that was the last time when were impressionable. Now we know what we do and we know what the formula for a SLAYER song is. I mean, I know the difference between liking someone and being influenced by them. But I think a lot of musicians don't. VENOM were another heavy influence on the sound and musical direction of SLAYER?

Yeah. Recently Cronos came around to one of our shows in Birmingham in England and I went 'that is fuckin' Cronos there man!' I never paid attention to the band once Cronos had left. He was the only reason why I was into the band. I dug his VENOM personality. A funny thing happened recently too. I was doing autographs in Germany for one of their music shows and Mantas was there too whom I had never met before so I didn't recognize him! (laughs) He doesn't look anything like he used to. Anyway he's telling me all these stories and I'm like "Yeah, I was on that tour," and he's like, "Well, I'm Mantas!" And I go "Fuck off, no you're not!" (laughs) I still listen to them all time on my I-Pod. When it comes to writing guitar parts, do you do it before going in to the studio or do you tend to do a lot of it during the recording sessions?

The leads are usually the last thing we address because it's just me and Jeff's personal thing. The song has to be a song first. The lyrics have to be part of it before you can move on and that is not to say that they're an afterthought. But our leads are very rarely made up before we have any lyrics done. Once we have got Tom pointing in the right direction singing wise, me and Jeff will then kick back in the hotel and make up our leads. The only thing that comes before anything else like the lyrics, are the riff. I think I've written lyrics only once before I had any music. I just wrote some stuff down, not like a poem or anything but I knew I had these lyrics but also had no music. But I wrote them down and knew that I would use them some day. When you guys get together in the rehearsal studio, do you jam with each other?

We never jam! I'm not a "jammer." I mean I get offered to jam by so many people, like an all-star jam kind of thing. But I can't jam dude. I wouldn't know where to start. You know, for me it has been very methodical. This is what it is and there is no room for a jam session to come out of it like a lead in "South of Heaven" or something. I can't do that to a lot of music. It is not DEEP PURPLE music you know. I make up all my own riffs. When we rehearse, we rehearse. We don't just come in and fuck around. We're all grown men now who have very separate lives at home. But in the old days, it'll be like I'd be playing guitar and Jeff would jump on the drums and vice versa and we would both make up riffs from that. You have contributed guitar solos in the past to PANTERA, ICE-T and HATEBREED songs. Can we see Kerry King doing something similar again soon?

It really depends. I did the PANTERA thing just because Dime was my friend. I was so blown away when he said, "I want you to do a lead in this song," and I was like "Why? Why the fuck do you need me for?" (laughs) But it comes to a point where everybody asks and you pretty much have got to shut the door because if you turn somebody down and in six months you turn up on somebody else's record. Then that's wrong. I don't want to be that guy. It would take the right opportunity to do another one. I've always talked about doing something with Zakk and I'm sure we'll do something some day. Before Dime passed away, me, Dime and Zakk were going to do something. And Dime was the glue because I was better friends with Dime than Zakk. Now, Zakk and I have become better friends because Dime is not around anymore. Me and Dime, when he was doing press for the DAMAGEPLAN record, I called him up one day and said, "Dude you and I have got to do this song. I don't know what we're going to do with it, but it is you and me." And he was like, "What is it, King?" I said "We got to do 'Snortin' Whiskey, Drinkin' Cocaine'." He was like, "I'm in. What's it for?" "I don't care. I just think we need to do it." So we were going to do it but they got all busy with press and I said to Dime, "there is no reason to rush as we have all the time in the world to do." And then I never saw him again…

Read the entire interview at

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