Published on November 5th, 2013 | by The Editor0
Interview: Slayer’s Paul Bostaph
Interview and Article by Francois Biber
After the recent death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman, thrash icons Slayer are still moving forward, though for them, this means reaching backwards in their catalogue to bring something different to fans for their latest North American tour. The shows will include a different flavour of Slayer, featuring songs the band hasn’t played in close to 20 years.
“It’s pummeling, ruthless, it’s a lot of thrash and a lot of heavy stuff and it’s what Slayer fans want,” says Slayer’s drummer Paul Bostaph. “I’m a Slayer fan and this is definitely a set list I want to see.”
Dubbed ‘Old School Slayer Night,’ the set list came together just a couple of weeks ago. Slayer was penciled in for a doubleheader at the Hollywood Palladium. Bostaph said the band had prepared an alternate set filled with classic Slayer tracks.
“The alternative set came out so good that Kerry [King] and Tom [Araya] felt we should play this set, because this set in its entirety it hasn’t been played by this band, so it’s something special for the fans and for us. It’s definitely the first time in Slayer history, for sure.”
For the tour, Slayer is digging back, playing classic tracks from ‘Show No Mercy,’ ‘Hell Awaits,’ ‘Reign in Blood,’ and ‘South of Heaven,’ plus the 1990 Gold Disc ‘Seasons in the Abyss.’ Rejoining the band after a decade, Bostaph told The Feedback Society he’s happy to be back hammering the skins with metal’s best. “Being away from the band for as long as I have been made me miss playing this music and being with the guys again … It’s like coming home.”
But he’s coming home to a different family. After guitarist, songwriter, and founding member Jeff Hanneman passed away May 2nd from liver failure, Bostaph says he was shocked, adding he was looking to reconnect with his long lost brother after being offered to rejoin Slayer just a couple of weeks before Jeff’s death.
“Jeff was a brother and his personality and his energy are missed, there’s no doubt about that. It’s different with him not being around, for sure, but Gary [Holt] is doing a great job and it’s still Slayer, the way Jeff wanted it,” Bostaph says. Holt has been filling in with Slayer on guitar, and has reportedly continued writing material for the band Exodus.
But what lies ahead for Slayer? Bostaph says King has expressed his interest in keeping the 49-year-old a part of Slayer after the North American Tour, adding that the band is working on demos right now. It has been reported Slayer still has a collected of unreleased music from Hanneman, but whether or not that will be featured on an upcoming Slayer record is yet to be decided.
“Kerry and I haven’t worked up of any of Jeff’s songs yet and I don’t know how that’s going to work yet. The idea is to look at the songs Jeff has, I don’t know what’s going to happen with them yet. It’s a matter of sitting down and working with them,” Bostaph says. “Bottom line is, Jeff was such a strong songwriter, if we can’t finish something he’s written, if we can’t finish it, well, it might be something that has to wait.”
When asked about the band’s unwavering brutality on the thrash-metal scene, Bostaph says that’s simply a reflection of the band’s personal beliefs. As heavy metal fans, they never want to be disappointed or let down by the direction taken by one of their favourite bands. So, they’re aren’t going to let any Slayer fans feel that way, hence, the brutality continues after 30 years and 15 albums.
“When you’re a fan of music and metal and you fall in love with a band that has purity to it. Then if they compromise that purity or stain it somehow, it’s not a very good feeling as a fan, and this band is very in touch with that because we’re fans of heavy metal as well,” Bostaph says. “Slayer never compromises. They do what they love to do and it’s a really hard thing for any band to maintain for an entire career and it’s one of the reasons why they’re so respected and loved by their fans.”