Richard Bienstock of Guitar World magazine (web site) recently conducted an interview with SLAYER members Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Guitar World: Rick Rubin is credited as executive producer on the [new SLAYER] record ["Christ Illusion"] — why not have him produce it?
King: "We thought he was going to. With Dave [Lombardo] back in the band now, it seemed to make sense. It would have been like the whole starting lineup again."
Hanneman: "We expected to be working with him, and it sounded like he was interested. When we first wanted to go into the studio, he was the one causing the delay, because I think he wanted to be able to go with us."
Guitar World: Now he's working with METALLICA.
King: "It was like, 'Well, that's kind of a slap in the fucking face.' But we'll see how that pans out. You can't reinvent somebody that doesn't want to be reinvented."
Guitar World: Is that what you think he's attempting to do with them?
King: "If they can't reinvent themselves, where are they gonna go? When you do the thrash thing for however long they did it and you go away from it for years, you can't just come back and pretend that you've been a thrash band all that time. Because it's fucking running right by you. And I think that's what they're finding out."
Guitar World: When it comes to recording your rhythm guitar tracks, do you split things up equally or does one guy handle the brunt of it?
Hanneman: "Actually, on this one Kerry did all the rhythms. Even though he and I have similar styles, the parts sounded tighter when only one person played them. I think he did all the rhythm tracks on 'God Hates Us All' and most of [1998's] 'Diabolus in Musica' as well."
Guitar World: So even on the songs that you wrote, Kerry played all the riffs?
Hanneman: "Unless he couldn't do it. Having only one of us play the rhythms, whether it was me or Kerry, is something I wanted to do back in the old days as well, but the other guys weren't into it."
King: "Things get done faster that way, too. Because if I go through 10, 11 songs, I'm pretty fucking happening with my right hand. I can match myself better. I do one rhythm track for me, and one for Jeff."
Guitar World: The lyrics to [the new song "Jihad"] deal with terrorism, but through the eyes of a terrorist. Why did you approach it that way?
Hanneman: "We don't preach to people about right or wrong. If I'm gonna write a song about 9/11, it's gonna be from the terrorists' point of view. That's what we do in this band."
Guitar World: It reminds me of the lyrics to "Angel of Death" [from "Reign in Blood"], in which you detailed Nazi atrocities without explicitly condemning them."
King: "I actually made that same connection. After hearing 'Jihad', I remember thinking, 'Great, now we're gonna be answering for this one!'"
Hanneman: "But as with 'Angel', we're not endorsing anything. It's just not an 'anti' song, either."
Guitar World: SLAYER has made a career out of writing pointed and controversial lyrics. Has there ever been a case where someone within the band hasn't felt comfortable with what was being said?
Hanneman: "Oh, yeah. It comes and goes. But at the end of the day, people realize it's just entertainment. I mean, we areSLAYER. It's not like we're gonna go write about what a nice day it is."
King: "I remember that Tom [Araya, vocals/bass] had a problem with the lyrics to a song I wrote, 'In the Name of God' [from 'Diabolus in Musica'] and he went to talk to Jeff about it. And it's like, 'C'mon, man, you're in SLAYER. You're the antichrist — you said it yourself on the first album!' You can't draw the line like that. Whether he agrees with it or not, he didn't write it — I wrote it. So you have to say, 'Well, it's just a part of being in this band.' Now Jeff and I, we don't give a fuck. If Jeff wrote something I had a problem with, I would never even raise a fucking finger. I'd be like, 'Fuck yeah, let's do it! Gonna piss someone off? Alright!'"
The entire interview with Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman can be found in Guitar World's September 2006 issue, available on the newsstands right now.