SLAYER’s Kerry King Recalls The Day Jeff Hanneman Died

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SLAYER axeman Kerry King was recently interviewed on “Spotify Metal Talks”, a podcast-style playlist with exclusive material recorded at Spotify, where some of the biggest artists in metal tell stories from their careers and play favorite tracks. You can listen entire interview here. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by

On the death of co-founding SLAYER guitarist Jeff Hanneman in May 2013:

“The day Jeff passed away was strange and extremely surreal. I knew Jeff was in the hospital, I knew Jeff was in bad shape, but no one expected Jeff to go that quick. And that day, I went to rehearsal. So I get to the studio and answered my phone, and my tour manager called me, and I knew immediately. ‘Cause he said, ‘Jeff‘s gone.’ And it wasn’t a question; I knew exactly what he meant. And I was stunned, I was surprised — horribly surprised. But at the end of the day, I knew it was coming; I just didn’t know it was coming that soon. So I got off the phone and I went inside. It was me and Paul Bostaph [drums] rehearsing that day. And I said, ‘Hey, man. I’ve gotta tell you something.’ I said, ‘Jeff‘s not with us.’ And the way I said it, Paul was, like, ‘What do you mean?’ I’m, like, ‘Jeff‘s gone.’ That’s how it went. And we rehearsed, because we’re diligent about that; we had stuff to rehearse for.”

“That night, I actually had to go to the [Revolver] Golden Gods Awards in Hollywood; I was scheduled to present an award with Zakk Wylde. And I had a hard time just thinking about, ‘Do I do this? Do I not do this? I don’t know how to act. I don’t know what to do.’ And I said, ‘I can’t stand up Zakk Wylde. Jeff would want me to be at the show. And just do it.’ So I went out. I got up there with Zakk Wylde. I know there’s some YouTube thing about me doing a ‘moment of noise.’ I thought of that on my drive from my house to Hollywood, which is like an hour. I’m, like, ‘What am I gonna say?’ I don’t wanna bring the thing down, because it’s already gonna be down, because this happened. I wanted to express, at the end of the day, what I thought Jeff would be stoked about. I’m, like, ‘Jeff wouldn’t want a moment of silence, by no means — he wouldn’t be about that at all.’ And I’m, like… ‘Jeff would be…’ And I made it up. I’m, like, ‘Jeff would be stoked about a moment of noise.’ And that’s why I went in there and I did that. Some people loved it, some people hated it. At the end of the day, I think it was the best thing I could have done. To this day, I have no regrets about doing it. And, you know, just raising my drink up, whether you drank or whatever. I don’t remember what I said. I said, ‘Raise your fist and cheer our fallen brother.’ It didn’t make it a good day, but it made it a little better.”

On the musical relationship between the current members of SLAYER:

“I think the relationship in SLAYER right now is as good as it’s ever been. Musically, it’s fantastic. Vocally, it’s fantastic. Tom [Araya, bass/vocals], since he had his neck problem, he’s really focused on doing his gig better, as far as playing bass and singing, absolutely. Gary Holt‘s [guitar] not even in my monitors, because I don’t worry about him. I know he can be over there on a desert island, and he’s playing exactly what I’m playing; I don’t even care. Paul Bostaph, he’s in my monitors, ’cause I have to keep time. Other than that, if there was some way I could keep time without listening to him, I wouldn’t worry about him either. They’re machines. It’s, like, you’ve got a guitar machine and a drum machine, and there they are, and they’re playing onstage with me. I hear Tom‘s vocals come through the P.A. throughout the house, because it echoes everywhere, but I don’t want it in my face, because it’s distracting. For me, it’s a really good time to be in SLAYER. It’s always been a good time to be in SLAYER, but musically, right now, it’s extremely tight, it’s extremely good. My body feels good, which, at my age, you might question. But I still feel good, I still feel like we put on an intense, awesome show, and that’s why I still do it.”

On SLAYER‘s future:

“It’s funny when you talk about the future of SLAYER… I mean, I could go back to when I was 25, and if you asked me, ‘When do you think you’re gonna be done with this?’ I’d say, ‘Forty.’ You know, whatever. ‘Cause at that point in my life, forty was an old age to me. And now I’m 50, and I’m, like, ‘Man, I’m still a f*cking kid.’ I still feel like a kid — you know, except for a couple of aches and pains. But it’s really weird how you mature and how your concept of age and time becomes different. Now, for me, I would love to do this for ten more years, ’cause I think I’ve got ten more years in me, at least. I hope, and I think that would be awesome to do that.”

SLAYER‘s eleventh studio album, Repentless, was released on September 11, 2015, and is the first SLAYER album to feature guitarist Gary Holt of EXODUS and the first to feature drummer Paul Bostaph since 2001’s God Hates Us All. Repentless is also band’s first album following the death of Jeff Hanneman in 2013, and the band’s first album to be released on Nuclear Blast.