Slayer: Reign Date
GUITAR WORLD You were shooting to release the new album and start your tour on June 6.
JEFF HANNEMAN We sure fucked that all up!
GW The idea of a 6/6/06 release date comes off as kind of quaint considering that your last record, God Hates Us All, came out on September 11, 2001.
KERRY KING I’d have to agree. That one was a fucking weird coincidence.
GW Was the release date delayed because your label, American, was still hammering out the distribution details with Warner Bros.?
KING At first, yeah. The tour delay was unavoidable, because Tom had to get better. But doing the album was the weirdest fucking experience for us, because usually the record company’s begging us to get in the studio, and this time we were trying to get in the studio and all we were getting back from the label was, “Not yet.” And it was like, “Fuck you!"
HANNEMAN We had been playing this stuff to the point where there was nothing else we could do to it. We were ready to go into the studio at least a few months before we finally did.
GW So you’ve had much of the new material for a while now.
KING Pretty much. One of the tunes, “Catalyst,” was written for God Hates Us All; it just didn’t get used. The music was done but Tom never sang it until recently. But Dave and I demoed nine of the songs that appear on the record back in March 2004. So the shit’s been around.
GW Did your producer, Josh Abraham, suggest any changes or help to arrange songs?
KING There was very little of that, because we had been working on this material for so long. It was probably the most ready we had been to record in a long time. All the shit was streamlined and ready to go.
GW Rick Rubin is credited as executive producer on the record—why not have him produce it?
KING We thought he was going to. With Dave back in the band now, it seemed to make sense. It would have been like having the whole starting lineup again.
HANNEMAN We expected to be working with him, and it sounded like he was interested. When we first wanted to go in to the studio, he was the one causing the delay, because I think he wanted to be able to go with us.
GW Now he’s working with Metallica.
KING It was like, “Well, that’s kind of a slap in the fucking face.” But we’ll see how that pans out. You can’t reinvent somebody that doesn’t want to be reinvented.
GW Is that what you think he’s attempting to do with them?
KING If they can’t reinvent themselves, where are they gonna go? When you do the thrash thing for however long they did it and you go away from it for years, you can’t just come back and pretend that you’ve been a thrash band all that time. Because it’s fucking running right by you. And I think that’s what they’re finding out.
GW You mentioned the idea of having the whole “starting lineup” back. How are things with Dave?
KING The best thing about it is that we got him back a few years ago, so we were comfortable with him by the time we made the record. It’s not like it was tense at the beginning, but it was good to have that time to gel.
GW He seems to have a looser, more instinctive style than Paul Bostaph.
KING That’s fair to say! [laughs] We call Dave “the loose cannon.” Even though he’s got a structure for a song, you never really know what’s gonna happen.
GW Like you never know when he may throw in a roll or a fill?
HANNEMAN Sometimes, we’ll be playing live and he’ll start a roll early, and you’re like, “Oh shit, where’s this going?”
GW But then it always ends in the right spot.
HANNEMAN But for those seconds when that roll is going, it’s like time freezes. You’re just like, Where the hell is this going to land? [laughs] And then it does, and it’s like, boom! We’re off again!
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