Slayer: Grave New World
Photo: Travis Shinn
GW So coming from a military family, how did you manage to stay out of the service?
HANNEMAN I escaped it! [laughs] Nah, I was just too late. Both my older brothers were drafted. I probably would have gone, too, but I was born too late.
GW Have you added any new medals to your collection?
HANNEMAN I got a real nice German Knights Cross, but I’m not collecting anymore. I was really into it in the late Eighties. I still have them set up in my music room where I write, though.
GW “World Painted Blood” has a lot of Biblical imagery, like “Angels fall wings on fire crucified” and “Gomorrah’s dream to live in sin.” Do you read the Bible to look for these kinds of descriptions?
HANNEMAN I’m just a regular atheist. The whole Bible thing is interesting, but I don’t believe it. But I do go back and read it a little bit to refresh my memory. I think Kerry does that too. And Tom, well, I think Tom’s a Catholic, so he’s actually religious. I really like that aspect: Tom has to sing all the bad shit that me and Kerry write. [laughs]
GW You guys also dip into political subject matter with “Americon.” What’s the inspiration behind that track?
KING I’m not the most political dude on the planet, so it’s odd that “Americon” came out of me. My inspiration behind that song comes from the idea that Europeans think all of America’s wars are about oil. So I wrote about it from their perspective. And I was even thinking, Well, maybe we are actually like this. But I don’t care what anyone thinks of my government. This is one of the best places to live.
GW How do you feel about President Obama and the change in leadership?
KING I think it’s a good thing, because the Republicans fucked up a lot of shit. For a long time I thought I was a Republican, but now I think there’s things in both factions for me. If I had to tell somebody what I was, I’d say Independent. Once this election started to come around, I was telling people that our next president would be either a black man or a woman. I’m not the fairest dude on the planet, but it’s good because it gives black kids an incentive to be president. I think that’s what a president should do.
GW Can you guys talk about what you think is the difference between your styles and how that makes up the balance and tension in Slayer?
HANNEMAN I just think my style is a little darker. We both write stuff that’s fast, but I think I write the darker, more evil stuff.
KING A buddy of mine has a wife who’s a big Slayer fan, and he played her “Psychopathy Red.” And she said, “That’s not Kerry’s song.” I was like, “How the fuck did she know that!” Because it really sounds like it should be my song. Like Jeff said, people tend to think my songs are more aggro and Jeff’s are moodier. But that’s not to say I won’t write a moody song and he won’t write a fast one like “Psychopathy Red.” We are individuals whose styles are very different, but we can each do what the other guy is doing, too.
GW Guitar players often say that Slayer’s solos don’t “make sense.” What governs your approach to soloing?
HANNEMAN Nothing. [laughs] Kerry took lessons; I learned from scratch. I just picked up a guitar and started to play. I don’t know anything about scales or notes or stuff like that. When it comes to solos, I just go off. I don’t know where the proper note should be, and I don’t care. [laughs] But I think it works real well with our music. It’s just so off the wall and crazy. It’s like, “What the hell are they doing!” [laughs]
KING Like I said earlier, around Seasons I went back to my original teacher and did some brush-up shit. So for Seasons, I probably had like 80 to 90 percent of my solos mapped out. Then I was talking to Dime [Dimebag Darrell] one day and I said, “Dude, I got all these leads mapped out and they sound badass!” And he’s like, [in a gravelly southern accent] “King, don’t forget to do what you do best: line them up and just make some noise!” And I’ve done that ever since. Now I make up 75 to 80 percent of them and I wing the rest of it.
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