Slayer: Grave New World
GW Since you’re writing guitar parts without drums, were there any instances on World Painted Blood where the riffs that you brought in didn’t work with Dave’s drums?
KING Sure. For this recording cycle, I brought in a couple of riffs that didn’t work when the beats were added. The one riff on “Snuff” is like a nine count, which was interesting to work out. It wasn’t until I showed Dave that I realized we needed to have an industrial-sounding snare that he would hit nine times, following me.
GW You and Jeff also play some crazy dual-lead sections on that song.
KING Yeah, we’ve been talking about doing more of that. Double leads are always an afterthought. I don’t know why, because isn’t that the point of having two guitarists? So this time I was keeping that more in mind, and “Snuff” is one that actually blossomed into having two big double-lead sections in it.
GW When it comes to actually sitting down at home and writing riffs, do you have certain rituals you follow?
HANNEMAN A lot of times I’ll be playing while I’m drinking beer and watching hockey or football with friends. But then I’ll get an idea and be like, “See ya!” I’ll take off down to my music room and record it real quick before I forget it. Because when I forget it, it’s usually gone. But most of the stuff that I come up with is something I’ll hear first in my head. Then it’s the process of trying to match that thought on the guitar. That’s what happened with “World Painted Blood.”
KING The best thing for me is to be in a quiet room where nothing’s happening. If I’m watching TV, I’ll be paying too much attention to that, or I’ll make up a riff and not even know that it’s good. I definitely want to have silence so I can concentrate on what I’m doing. Then I’ll just noodle around, and if something catches my ear, I’ll put that on tape.
GW What’s your preferred environment for writing lyrics?
HANNEMAN Lyrics are a different thing. For lyrics I like to get in a dark mood. I like to be alone, and I usually don’t drink. I like drinking when I come up with guitar riffs, but not when I’m working on lyrics. I’ve found that you can really reach the darker side when you’re sober. [laughs] I just sit there by myself and think about things and write down a bunch of ideas and dark thoughts. Then I put them into verse form.
KING I definitely need to concentrate, too, because you gotta think about rhyming and being poetic and that sort of thing. When I sit down to write I have my dictionary and synonym finder. I’d rather write without those things, but if I can’t think of the right word then I’ll use them. You need ideas that make sense, not just mindless, drug-infused cock-eyed shit. [laughs]
GW Do you keep a journal with all these ideas?
HANNEMAN I have a notepad that I write all my ideas in. You should see it. It’s got all kinds of crazy stuff on it that you’d recognize from the last few albums.
KING I probably use one notebook binder per record. If some ideas don’t get used, I yank them and put them in a folder for later. Sometimes I have all the lyrics before we start recording, but for World Painted Blood we were recording the entire time while I was writing lyrics. This was a very weird process for us.
GW Slayer are known for their taboo subject matter. Is there any topic that is off limits for you guys?
HANNEMAN I think the only thing we wouldn’t hit on is rape. I don’t know if you’ve ever met anyone like this, but there’s this certain type of man that just hates women. I’ve met a few of them and it’s like, “What the hell is wrong with you? Why would you hate women?” We have wives, mothers and sisters, so rape is the one thing we haven’t touched on. Except for necrophilia, which is the dead, so who cares. [laughs]
KING Huh. I don’t think there are any areas I wouldn’t explore. I mean, Jesus Christ, Jeff can write about the Holocaust but he can’t write about rape? That’s bizarre. I’m not saying it to one-up Jeff, but the topic of rape is not tootaboo for me.
GW Jeff, on “Unit 731” you dig deeper into Word War II subject matter, this time dealing with atrocities that Japan committed [Unit 731 was a covert Japanese unit that experimented on human subjects during WWII]. How did you first get interested in WWI and Nazi history?
HANNEMAN My dad. He was a military guy. He got drafted and went to Germany to fight in World War II . When he came home he had a lot of German medals that he took off dead Nazis. Years later he was cleaning out his drawers and he gave them to me. I was like, “These are kinda cool.” That’s when I started getting into medals and the World War II thing. Plus, I had two older brothers that were in Vietnam.