SLAYER drummer Paul Bostaph says that no band has ever managed to have the kind of career where every one of their albums was universally praises by critics and fans alike, explaining that most “good” songwriters compose music for themselves first.
Commenting on the criticism that is constantly leveled at SLAYER for the band’s tendency to release albums that don’t stray far from the tried-and-true formula that has made them a worldwide success while any attempt at experimentation is regularly dismissed by SLAYER‘s longtime fans, Bostaph told AndrewHaug.com, Australia’s first-ever dedicated 24/7 rock and metal online radio station launched by Andrew Haug, the former host of Triple J Australia’s “The Racket” radio show (originally “Full Metal Racket”; 2001-2011): “An artist doesn’t want to paint the same picture every time. I mean, if you, as somebody who painted, painted a picture of an apple and it was everybody’s favorite picture. They [all tell you], ‘Man, that picture of that apple is my favorite picture.’ So then the artist goes, ‘Aha! I’m just gonna paint that picture of the apple every time.’ Well, I mean, then there you go. You’re looking at the same thing every time.
“The bottom line is, as an artist, you have to please yourself.
“I believe SLAYER never wrote records… I believe a lot of bands don’t write records to please who they think their listening audience is. I think that the good bands, the good songwriters write songs for themselves. And sometimes you’re gonna hit a home run, sometimes you’re gonna have that pinnacle record like ‘Reign In Blood’ or ‘Seasons In The Abyss’, ‘South Of Heaven’… records like that. There are records they did with me that I really love.
“The bottom line is…. You look at, say, PINK FLOYD. I’ll use this as an example, and I think it’s classic. PINK FLOYD writes ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’, right? After ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’, every record they came out with was just trashed by the critics and trashed by the fans. Why? Because ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’ was such a landmark record, and you still hear those songs today, that everything else paled by comparison to the music they wrote on that record. And, you know, what was it? After how many years later… ten years or more… I don’t remember how many years… I forget; I used to know. And they came out with ‘The Wall’. All of a sudden, [people went], ‘Oh my God! PINK FLOYD‘s back.’ Well, they never went away. If you listen to the album ‘Animals’, it’s a great record.
“A lot of people may not be PINK FLOYD fans and they may not know what I’m talking about. But I guess what I’m talking about is… [SLAYER‘s 1998 album] ‘Diabolus in Musica’, for example, people think that’s a ‘nu metal’ record. There are some attempts to try something different on that record. I still think it’s good myself. Not ’cause I played on it, but ’cause I do. But ‘Bitter Peace’ is a great song. I heard people say, ‘Oh, that record…’ Well, ‘Bitter Peace’ is one of my favorite songs Jeff [Hanneman, late SLAYER guitarist] ever wrote.
“So it’s just kind of one of those things where you’re never gonna… I mean, God, if you write a great record every time and people love you every time, you have an unprecedented career. And it’s one of those things where… If it’s true that you have to crawl before you walk, walk before you can run, and then, when you start running, every once in a while, you’re gonna stumble and figure out how to gain your balance. Well, when a band stumbles, everyone wants to go, ‘Okay, those guys are done.’ Everybody wants that. You know what I mean? Some people don’t; I can’t say ‘everybody.’ But some people out there, they just wanna see it. You know what I mean?! But the bottom line is, those are the same people that, when they’re on their cell phone or texting me, have tripped over a crack in a sidewalk when nobody was looking, and [they go], ‘Good. Nobody was looking.’ Unfortuantely, for us, people in bands, we do it when everybody’s looking.
“Basically, what you’ve gotta do is you’ve gotta write music for yourself and enjoy what you do. Because, look, I mean… I’m lucky enough to be playing music and going on tour with, in my opinion, a legendary heavy metal band. And I, actually, was lucky enough to do it with a couple [of others as well]: EXODUS and TESTAMENT. So I consider myself lucky.
“I love what I do and I love playing drums, so it’s just kind of one of those things where I don’t think I’ve ever done a record I hate. And I’m lucky to say that.”