Slayer: Reign Date
GW How was it working again in the studio with Dave?
KING It was great. We all played along when Dave recorded his drums, but that was just to give him a point of reference. We’d try to keep him focused. We’d be fucking up all over the place because we’ll be giving him cues, waving our hands, nodding our heads…
GW When it comes to recording your rhythm guitar tracks, do you split things up equally or does one guy handle the brunt of it?
HANNEMAN Actually, on this one Kerry did all the rhythms. Even though he and I have similar styles, the parts sounded tighter when only one person played them. I think he did all the rhythm tracks on God Hates Us All, and most of [1998’s] Diabolus in Musica, as well.
GW So even on the songs that you wrote, Kerry played all the riffs?
HANNEMAN Unless he couldn’t do it. Having only one of us play the rhythms, whether it was me or Kerry, is something I wanted to do back in the old days as well, but the other guys weren’t into it.
KING Things get done faster that way, too. Because if I go through 10, 11 songs, I’m pretty fucking happening with my right hand. I can match myself better. I do one rhythm track for me, and one for Jeff.
GW So you record Jeff’s parts using his rig?
KING Yup. His guitar, his amps. So it’s his sound. And I hate playing Strats.
HANNEMAN I knew that was coming!
GW On the last record, you experimented with seven-string guitars and low tunings. How about this time?
KING The coolest thing on this album is that four of the songs are in D sharp [standard tuning, with all strings lowered one half step: low to high, D# G# C# F# A# D#], the tuning we used on everything from [1985’s] Hell Awaits through [1994’s] Divine Intervention. Diabolus was pretty much all C sharp [standard tuning, with all strings lowered one and one half steps: low to high, C# F# B E G# C#]. But on this one we’ve got D sharp, C sharp and dropped-B [dropped-D tuning, with all strings lowered one and a half steps: low to high, B F# B E G# C#]. And no seven-string stuff.
GW Do you split the leads equally?
HANNEMAN In the old days, we used to make it so we had an equal number of solos. Nowadays, I don’t even know how many solos are on the record, much less how many are mine.
KING Jeff was busting my balls in the studio because I didn’t even know who was playing leads on my songs. And he was like, “C’mon! Hockey season’s starting!” He wanted to get it done. [laughs] So in the end I was like, “You take this and this, I’ve got these covered, and then we’ll see where we’re at.”
HANNEMAN On “Catatonic,” I put one where it wasn’t even supposed to be. I was trying to get my leads done for hockey, so I was like, where do you want a lead in this one? Kerry told me where to play it, but I mixed it up and put it somewhere else. It sounds fine though!
GW Do you work out your solos in advance?
KING What I usually do is figure out where the lead’s going to go, determine what the rhythm is and decide what kind of scale goes there. Eighty percent of the time I’ll have something prepared. The rest of the time I’ll go in there and let it rip, do the classic Slayer noise lead or some shit.
HANNEMAN If I know I’m going into the studio to record solos on a certain day, then back at the hotel beforehand I’ll crank the rhythm tracks, put on my guitar and see what feels right. If I come up with something cool, I’ll race to the studio and put it down before I forget it. [laughs]
GW “Catalyst” has some cool harmony lead lines, which I don’t normally hear in Slayer solos.
KING Josh dug it, and I was like, “Well, I don’t hate it,” so we kept it in there. I just laid down the first part and went up four or five frets for the harmony.
GW You’re better known for doing harmony lines in your riffs.
KING We spend more time coming up with harmonies for the rhythms, Because when we get into leads, I mean, I have a style and Jeff has a style, and they’re both fucking all over the place. So it’s very weird for us to play a lead piece together.
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