Still thrashing in the violent way, right?
Paul: Exactly! There’s no other way!
Even if there are some “modern” elements in your new record, you avoid falling into the commercial traps, changing your sound into more mainstream one.
Paul: I don’t know if something like that would help us sell more, because Slayer have connected their name with thrash, so the crowd expects exactly that!
So, it would it be a commercial risk to release something with more core elements – even if you’d like that – just to be more commercially successful.
Paul: I think that Slayer manifested such thoughts in “Undisputed Attitude”.
In “Diabolus in Musica” there are some minor changes in your sound.
Paul: I would say it’s more modern, comparing it to the previous releases.
The term “modern” could be misunderstood. Don’t you think?
Paul: Yeah, there’s surely some frustration. I was away for quite a long time, so I don’t really know what the crowd respond to me would be.
I’m not referring to you only. I mean Slayer in total.
Paul: I don’t think so. We’re confident enough for our band and we’ve always had a huge fanbase. This time, everything’s ok and I’ll try to do better than before (en. Still talking about himself!)
Why? What was the problem that led you into leaving?
Paul: Look, my problem wasn’t with the band or the music we played. I just wanted to try something new, because right after Forbidden, I joined Slayer and kept playing the same stuff (??!!??!!), so I thought I should try something different with The Truth About Seafood (en. funky bullshit), where I tested all my potential. For me, music means freedom and I felt I should leave and test myself and reboot my creative spirit. On the other hand, by leaving Slayer I realized how much I missed playing Heavy Metal, so I formed a band with some friends from Bay Area with more heavy elements. Then I asked Slayer’s manager for some help and he proposed to rejoin Slayer since they ended up with no drummer and of course, I said yes (en. ok? Now draw your conclusions).
I don’t know if you noticed it, but Slayer were more productive in the past. Why such delay this time?
Paul: I guess there was a problem with their drummers, who came and left and for label reasons and such stuff…
Why is there such confusion about the titles? From “Violent By Design” to “Diabolus in Musica”?
Paul: Kerry thought the title was ordinary and was searching for something special. Then somebody faxed us the title “Diabolus in Musica” and we all thought it was amazing.
What’s its message, though?
Paul: “Diabolus in Musica” is a term that explains a triangular musical scale which during the Middle Ages, it was forbidden to use it, according to the church, because it created a quite dark atmosphere and connected it to the devil.
That’s how religious people perceive Slayer’s music today, so the story continues.
Have you ever been threatened by those fanatic Christian groups that exist today in the U.S.?
Paul: From my personal experience, not really. The other guys might know something more specific (en. where are the guys though?)
Lyrically, you’re still extreme I suppose…
Paul: Always. Kerry writes about Satan (en. ???) and morbid stories, while Jeff writes about war issues. This time I wrote some lyrics, as well. Together with Tom, I wrote “Wicked” (en. dude! You are awesome! What would Slayer do without you?) and I wrote “Unguarded instincts” solely by myself (en. oh!). With regard to “Wicked” it has to do with the subjection of man to the new world order under a totally paranoid vision. “Unguarded instincts” on the other hand (en. Don’t search for it, it’s probably in a Japanese edition), was created when one day my car broke down in the middle of nowhere and I had to spend my time listening to the radio in fm, whose playlist was a crappy one, so I turned it into am, which constantly broadcasts talk shows and there I stumbled upon in a Christian broadcast which was dealing with the unattended side of man and the evil flowing from there. The song is a reference to this issue, from my own point of view though.
You had some references to serial killers, too.
Paul: I don’t think this will happen now.
Most of the stories are true. Have you ever faced any problems with the victims’ families?
Paul: I don’t think so. I don’t know, you’ll have to ask Tom (en. where is he, though?). I don’t think that this could actually happen, since books are written on the matter and the news have broadcasted so many of these stories…
Yes, but composing songs about such stories, the Slayer, violent way, may seem provocative for some people, comparing it to the books and the news broadcasts.
Paul: Right… Maybe, I don’t know.
Slayer in general, speak their minds and some people are not comfortable with that. For instance, the Hebrew community was annoyed by “Angel of Death” in the past.
Paul: Why? I don’t see a reason…
Because it refers to the holocaust, Joseph Mengele and his experiments in Auswitch.
Paul: There are people who think we adore such stuff, but I believe that’s not the case.
Can you picture Slayer playing in Israel and Jeff with the Nazi Eagle and the Cross of Iron?
Paul: With what?
With some WW2 souvenirs that Jeff obsessively collects…
Paul: Ha, ha, from what I know now, he only collects hockey cards. I guess he ran out of money! But, I don’t know why we haven’t performed in Israel yet. Maybe this time we will. Well the time has passed… One more question, if you please.
Are you serious?
Paul: Look, I’d really like to be interviewed the entire day, but I have so many other things to do and I would really appreciate it if you just asked me one more question.
Are you sure?
Paul: I’m really sorry, but…
And that’s the point where I hung up. I’m not willing to beg for a rock n’ roll ass… to continue with the interview, especially when he has nothing to do with Slayer. Besides, do not forget how he fled from the band and created a band exploiting Slayer’s glory. Of course he didn’t succeed and so he returned. Of course, if he knew the Greek crowd the way the other three do (in Drapetsona John Dette performed) he might have behaved differently, but anyway the man seems to have no clue about the story of the band in which he plays. These things happen when you talk with opportunist self-seekers. I would like to apologize to the readers and Slatanic Wehrmacht Troopers about the content and the unexpected end of this interview and because Slayer is much more than just a big band, the magazine offers on the opposite page a second interview with the real members of Slayer…
Just because Metal Invader fulfills its promises, our partner in the U.S., Andreas Katsambas, met the rest of Slayer (Kerry, Tom, Jeff) in their rehearsal studio in California and finally got some essential information about the new record. Enjoy!
Let’s start with the album’s title. Originally it was advertised as “Violent by Design”. Why did you decide to change it to “Diabolus in Musica”;
Tom: Basically, it was the only title we all agreed with (laughs)! I received a quite strange fax in which this sentence was underlined and underneath it wrote “How do you feel about this title?”. Actually I found it genius! “Diabolus in Musica” was the name of a musical scale and a long time ago somebody said that we use it oftenly in our music! It seemed like a quite clever title!
Once again, you use the symbol of the “cross” on your cover artwork. What does this symbol mean for you?
Tom: It really is a symbol associated with Slayer. I don’t care if it’s straight or reversed. It is a symbol connected with religion and can be considered both “good” or “bad” depending on the context.
I noticed a change in your logo…
Kerry: We just loved this kind of writing…
Jeff: We always liked this archaic writing style. We had seen on a T-shirt and we liked it. All tied up very nicely. Title, cover and logo. Perfect!
Kerry: Of course, we will continue using the classic Slayer logo, as well.
All of us now know what to expect from Slayer because you’ve created and established your own sound. How do you think has Slayer’s music evolved until today? For example “Stain of Mind” sounds quite groovier for Slayer…
Kerry: There are indeed some things done differently. We never had a special groove in our music. We were heavy, we were fast. This time we acquired more groove! We tried it and sounded very good. Tom also tried some new things on vocals. There’s more character…
Jeff: We should have done it five years ago…
Why did you release “Stain of mind” as the first single?
Kerry: All of us thought that if there was a song on the album that would become a commercial success, that would be “Stain of mind”. The label agreed, so…
I would also like to ask something about the song “In The Name of God”. It could be two different songs, right? That strange break in the middle made me think that.
Kerry: It’s the only track on the album that I have written and I wanted to be different. Once it reaches the peak, it evolves into something slower.
Tom: I never thought that it could be two separate songs…
Kerry: When I wrote “In The Name of God”, it was something of a return to the roots. I haven’t written an obscure / perverted piece since “Black magic” and “Antichrist” and with “In The Name of God” I think I reached my dangerous limits. In the future I will surpass them!
I noticed that more or less, you all have contributed to the lyrics…
Tom: I think I helped in two or three pieces. I don’t remember! “Screaming From the Sky” is one of them. It’s a bit militaristic, like “Overt enemy”, in which the main theme is about assassins, as always…
Jeff: “Screaming From the Sky” is odd because while it is a war song, each of us has written different parts. My own part refers to urban bombings.
Tom: While my own, as I said earlier, refers to snipers…
Most of the new album’s music is written by Jeff. How did you decide who will do what?
Kerry: Nobody decides anything! It just happens for somebody to have more ideas, more structured ones.
The first official release date of the album was in October 1997. What happened?
Kerry: Our label, American Records, was purchased by others and so they put us on the shelf…
Jeff: And the album was ready by then!
Tom: September! We finished it on September!
Kerry: We wanted it to be released before Christmas but we couldn’t do anything.
Tom: As usual there were situations over which we had no control. All cleared up in April.
So, now you’re in Sony?
Tom: Yes! Sony world-wide…
What is your opinion on the state of metal today? Many argue that it is dead…
Kerry: Certainly metal is not as strong as it was in the 80s. There are neither TV nor radio stations to support it! I have the impression, however, that the last two years it has started gaining ground. Lately there have been some great releases, like the new Slayer’s album (laughs) and the new Max’s Soulfly!
Do you keep up with the metal scene?
Jeff: What scene?
Are you interested in the underground?
Kerry: We’re underground!
Yes, but there are currently several groups, which you have to dig thoroughly to discover. But therein lays the beauty of the subject: the satisfaction that you discover a great band…
Tom: The roots of metal are found in the underground. For this reason metal will always exist. It will never die because is doesn’t rely on the media. Everything is disseminated by the word of mouth. This is our advantage. Once the news about Slayer are released, they are immediately disseminated to the fans.
Jeff: That’s what makes metal special and personal!
Slayer have been active for almost 16 years. You are at the point where your music will nurture a new generation. Do you notice any difference in the audience that comes to your shows compared to the earlier days?
Jeff: We oftenly see parents with their kids…
Tom: When we did some in-store tours in America! Typically, they happened during lunchtime just before school and some children came with their parents. When we were approached by the kids, we asked them “Did your parents bring you here? Are they crazy?”
So several young fans come to your show!
Kerry: We are not that ancient!
Tom: When did we play for the last time?
Kerry: At Ozzfest…
Jeff: Oh yeah! And in Alaska! Ice! There was a blizzard in summer time! Right after that, we played in San Bernandino, where the cold was immense, as well!
Is it possible to use keys?
Tom: It depends on the tone you want to get! I thought trumpets would sound terrible in “Love to Hate” but nobody else agreed with me!
How do you manage to communicate and work when you’re living far away from each other?
Tom: When we started working on the new album and completed the first five tracks, they sent me a tape. That’s how it’s always done. They work the material and send me a tape. I study the tape for two – three weeks and then we meet for rehearsals.
When you’re not occupied with the group, what do you do? Do you have any hobbies?
Kerry: We hit the bars!
Jeff: We love hockey!
Tom: They mean that they’re watching! They don’t participate; just watch… Hahaha…