Tom Araya—bass, vocals
Ozzfest veterans Slayer never disappoint. With a new live DVD on the way (Reign in Blood Live: Still Reigning, due 9/28/04), a current tour with Ozzfest, and the upcoming Jägermeister Music tour in the fall, Slayer is keeping themselves busy in the midst of record label limbo. I was lucky enough to get the chance to talk with guitar god Jeff Hanneman from his hotel in room in New Jersey.
Kaffeine Buzz: It is so very cool to talk to you. I’ve been a fan forever. Thank you so much. I know the tour just started, but how’s it going so far?
Jeff Hanneman: Everything’s been great. It’s a lot of fun. We’ve been doing our own shows in between ‘cause Ozzy only plays every other day, so we’ve been playing with Priest and Slipknot.
KB: So have you had a chance to check out any of the second stage bands?
JH: No, we usually get in pretty late, and so we try to go a few hours before we play. I haven’t even had a chance to check out Priest or anybody. We’ve been busy doing other stuff. We just recorded a DVD, so we’ve been listening to that. But I think that from now on, we should have enough time to go check out all the bands.
KB: How would you compare Ozzfest to the European metal festivals?
JH: The only thing that’s really different is, well the United States is so big and Europe is a little more dense, but they’re really more into music and less trendy. I mean we’ve got tons of fans coming out to see us and Priest and Sabbath and stuff like that, but in Europe, they love their metal. The United States is so big, and you’ve got so many genres of metal.
KB: Let’s talk about the new DVD. I just read a review of the show the other day, the raining blood sounds incredible! I heard you got the least of it though.
JH: Yeah, I missed my mark [Laughs]. I was having a bad show anyway, because my wireless went out. And it’s like—of all nights! I kind of let it get to me, so I was just having kind of a bad night. So I saw the show, and it turned out better, ‘cause, you know, I’m thinking the worst. We watched the show and listened to a few songs, and it all sounded great. But what happened, I was so pissed at what was going on, I missed my mark of where I was supposed to get doused [Laughs]. And the next thing I know, I forgot, and I couldn’t see it. The whole plan was the lights were going to go out, and we were supposed to get to this mark before the lights went out, and it was just going to drop a shit-load of blood, and then the lights come on and we do our thing. Everybody was supposed to go—wow, how did they get so bloody? But I missed my mark, and it was too late, so I said fuck it, and everything was going bad anyway. Forget about it.
KB: That’s hilarious, but it still sounds awesome. Can’t wait to check that out.
JH: The DVD still came out great.
KB: Do you guys have any plans of repeating that maybe for the Jäger tour?
JH: Yeah, we’re trying to look into it. The way we think about it, it was real expensive to do this one thing, but if the equipment’s already there. . .we have to pay for the blood and people to run it, and carry it around, we need trucks for that.
KB: I was surprised you guys haven’t done something like this, more theatrical, before.
JH: Actually, I think I first came up with it a few albums after Reign of Blood, because we were building some weird sets. . .we were thinking about doing these kind of things, and I came up with this blood idea, and then everybody thought it was going to be too expensive and too hard to do, so it fell at the wayside. Then we saw that movie Blade, the first one, and me and Kerry were watching it, and I go—that’s what I want to do [Laughs]! So finally, it fuckin’ turns up.
KB: So that’s awesome. How is the new disk coming? I know there’s shit going on with the labels. . .
JH: At the beginning of the year, we all thought we were going to record. Kerry and I came up with a ton of music. We always write music first, and then the lyrics come in, and then we figure out how the song’s going to be completely done and structured. We’ve got tons of music, and the next thing we know, we got problems with the record label. We’re so used to it ‘cause it always happens. The only thing good about it now, is it usually happens after the record’s done and then it just sits there [Laughs]. This way, we can go— oh okay, we’re not going to do the record then, we’re going to go on tour.
KB: Do you ever give Kerry a hard time when he brings in his jam box demos (Kerry King has been recording his guitar demos into the same boom box for almost 20 years)?
JH: Well, what he usually does is he comes up with the riffs at home, and he’ll get together with Dave and they work it out because, I don’t know, he doesn’t have the patience or something to program the drums [Laughs]. If I got an idea, I like to run with it right then and there. So I’ll go—I can get this far with it, and I’ll step away from it awhile, and come back and listen to it and go—well, that sounds really good or that sounds like shit or whatever. But if it sounds really good, I’ll try to get it as far as I can go, or I finish it, and then I bring it in and go—hey what do you guys think? And they’ll go, fucking cool.
KB: Do you guys live close to each other so you can get together as often when you need to?
JH: We try to get together as much as possible, but you know, lot of times we’re coming off of tours, so we don’t want to see each other for awhile [Laughs]. Kerry lives about 20 or 40 minutes away, and Dave lives about an hour. We meet at the rehearsal space which is convenient, and we go over ideas there.
KB: So I also notice that you don’t do many musical appearances outside of Slayer [the other members have made appearances outside the band]. Is that something you’re not totally into?
JH: I hate that stuff [Laughs]. I always give those guys shit for doing it. I don’t know, it’s what my mentality is—Slayer against the world, fuck everyone else. Like Kerry will do something, and I’m like, you fuckin’ whore, what are you doin’?
KB: Like Sum 41 or some shit. . .
JH: Oh god, that was the stupidest. . .I got phone calls for that one. I knew he was going to do it, but I forgot about it, but I got all these messages, and friends were like—what the fuck is he doing now?
KB: That’s hilarious! Well, what is there left for Slayer to accomplish? I mean, in the metal world it seems like you’ve done it all and still, every album comes out and you seem to push it a little bit farther. Is that the goal?
JH: Yeah, we basically don’t even worry about what we’re gonna do until we do it. . .but the songs Kerry and I have musically, they’re pretty fuckin’ intense. It’s kind of like, if you take the first three songs of the last record, it’s kind of in that vein. It’s pretty intense.
KB: Are you guys fucking around with more intros like the “Darkness in Christ” kind of thing, or are you more into riffs and banging shit out?
JH: Well, with us, we don’t sit at the table and plan everything out. Things come as they go, and if we come up with a great song, but we don’t really like how the beginning goes, or something like that, then we can do an intro into that. . .things come at the last minute. Like the intro for “Disciple”—that was last minute. All of us work together. The thing starts with guitar riffs, so me and Kerry usually start everything in motion, and then everybody chimes in. It’s great playing with Dave again. He’s like a runaway train when we’re playing.
Slayer takes the main stage at 6:55 p.m., as part of Ozzfest, on Saturday, July 24th at the Coors Amphitheater. Doors open at 9 a.m., first second stage band starts at 9:30 a.m.