2001 notes: Instant highlight! Very memorable interview was a pain in the ass to set up, but the results are incredible. The interview took place at Metro June 8 of 1998. Slayer did a promotional tour and the only 'DiabolusÉ' music out at the time was the "Stain Of Mind" single. Regardless of what I think of the album having them both in the issue and on the cover was an honor.
What can you say about Slayer? I mean they've been one of the most consistent bands in the history of extreme music and they show no signs of going away. Their latest album is testimonial that the band does not know what the word 'sell out' means and that's reason enough to celebrate. The new record is 'Diabolus In Musica' and like the other ten or so Slayer releases, rules! Here's Tom Araya to answer my questions and this was one of my personal highlights during Midwest Metal's tenure.
My first question to you is, go back a little to the release of (1996's) 'Undisputed Attitude'. Did it do what you wanted it to do? Did it do what you expected it to do?
Tom Araya: It did what I expected it to do, which was not a lot (laughs)! We kept a very low profile, we did a very short tour in which we played smaller clubs. It was low key. I mean it was a cover album, we thought if we put it out and the kids are into it, they're into it. Even the shows that we did we did way more Slayer stuff, not at all many covers, maybe four or five. I knew it wouldn't do very well, people want to hear Slayer! The real die-hards picked up on it and that was expected. Kerry (King-G) really wanted to do the record and it actually started out as classic Metal songs, stuff like Deep Purple, Priest, UFO the bands that influenced us. We were even gonna try a Doors because they're such an influence of mine.
Really? Which song?
Maybe "When the music's over", "Five to One", something like that.
I always would've liked to hear your take on a song like "Riders On The Storm". Especially with the rain in the beginning, like the intro to "Raining Blood".
We tried a few different songs, but truthfully they just didn't sound right. Then we just started playing the songs that ended up on the album.
I guess the same category, expectations, the home video 'Live Intrusion'. My only complaint was that the fans waited so long for a pro shot video, and some off stage footageÉ that the off stage footage really wasn't that great.
Actually the majority of the work was done by NFL Films. They, as you know shot the footage and they also did the personal footage. We sent them tapes, personal tapes of stuff we've filmed over the years and they worked it into the tape. I did a little piece, a fifteen minute piece where I would do a lot of flashing and then focus on one scene, then flash again. They tried to do that stuff themselves and it just didn't work out. If the next project were to include personal footage, I'd make sure we were the ones who put all that stuff together. But the overall goal, the live show was great! 13 camera shoot, the pit cam, it was a great thing.
More to the present, what went on during all the time between these projects and the recording of 'DiabolusÉ'?
There really wasn't a lot of time off. We got done with 'Undisputed...', we did the two OzzFest shows and then, not two months later Jeff (Hanneman-G) and Kerry started on the new material. We got together for six months, recorded the album in two months, it sat for seven months! We were done in September (1997).
Was it during the whole record company switch?
It sat so long, we found out late last year that he (Rick Rubin-Ed.) was doing this whole record company thing. And then at the beginning of the year we found out that Columbia was interested in picking up the record for the US. So they started working the record then, even though nothing was finalized, they started working immediately. Which was very cool! Then in April it was official, so the release date was supposed to be the first week of May. Then after a few small delays, we agreed on the day.
During the period of not knowing much about the situation, were you at all worried?
We weren't concerned. I mean all the business stuff that was going on had nothing to do with us. But once it was settled, then we had a say in what we wanted to do. But everything worked out very cool, the company is fucking awesome, they're very supportive. They're determined and it's nice. The Columbia/Sony people, I mean all these shows and in-stores we're doing, they come to every show, they even meet us at the airport! When we went to Europe it was the same thing. They're doing so much for Slayer and they have big plans and I really like that.
Let's talk about 'Diabolus In Musica', what do you think of it?
I like it (laughs)!
What I meant is, are you 100% happy? So many bands come out of the studio and are instantly wishing they could go back and change things.
I like it a lot. I really like what we did with the vocals, to me it's different, but it's still Slayer. I like what I did vocally and it's a big difference, I feel I'm singing with more passion.
Anything new influence you these past few years?
Well, the only thing that influence Jeff and Kerry was the dismal Metal scene that's been going on. Jeff especially likes to listen to newer stuff and almost consciously makes something better. But he's said that everything he's heard recently has sucked! So he didn't have anything to use as a meter, same with Kerry. So they started writing new shit. The last two songs "Stain Of Mind" and "Death's Head" were recorded in February because we were sitting around, doing nothing! So we went back in and recorded them.
Those were also the only two new songs you played tonight.
To me "Death's Head" has a very "punk-y" feel to, yet it's still Slayer. And "StainÉ" has a good groove and melody.
Was it a conscious effort to release "StainÉ" as the song on all the pre release samplers?
No. Actually Columbia chose it. They listened to the album and picked it out. In Europe they're going with "Bitter Peace". Sony is taking cassettes to Metal shows and giving away these tapes with a new Slayer song on it. They've been doing that for two months!
I got mine while putting magazines at Guitar Center.
Yeah, they're willing to spend money on something that's free and to me that's fucking amazing!
The cover of the album is different for Slayer, there's no painting. This is a first, why?
Rick Rubin wanted to hire a photographer by the name of Exum, and she came up with a bunch of photographs that were fucking awesome! The ones that we felt were the best are going into the booklet and the cover is a picture of a guy in a priest robe and that's something she came up with. We hadn't thought of the title yet, but we felt that picture was very strong.
You're heading to Europe to do the OzzFest show @ Milton Keynes, are you doing any other European dates?
No. We're jus doing the one show and that's it!
What other touring plans do you have?
We'll be back in late August I think, and then off to Europe, followed by South America followed maybe by an Australian tour and a Japanese tour. They're also talking about some places we've never played, one of which is Russia, we've never played there and that would be incredible!
What's the biggest expectation of 1998?
Someone asked me the other day, and I have no expectations. I'm a day by day person, minute by minute, really (laughs)! Because you never know. I can honestly say, with Columbia behind us, I'm hoping for a lot, I'd rather say hope than expect. They've been on the money so fat, when they say they're gonna do it, they do it. That's why we do the in-store things, I mean it's an all for one type of thing. They do their part and we do ours.
Anything you'd like to say to close this out, a little something to people of Chicago?
We'll be here in August and we're gonna rip you a new asshole (laughs)! And buy the new record, because you're gonna fucking like it (laughs)! Thanks man, see you in August