'I may be old but I still feel young'

High Energy

'I may be old but I still  feel young'

American thrash-metal band ‘Slayer’ recently performed at the ‘Vladivar Rock ‘n India’ concert, giving their maiden performance in this country in their three-decade-long career. Metrolife spoke to the band to find out about their next album, how their album artwork is conceptualised and if any of them plan to retire anytime soon.

The band’s album artwork has always been a matter of controversy among some community or the other — though it garners a lot of appreciation from the metal fraternity. Interestingly, they share a two-way relationship with the artist and the concept is usually a culmination of their combined efforts.

Kerry Ray King, one of the band’s founders and the lead guitarist, explains the process. “A lot of times, depending on who the artist is, we give him some direction and let him do what he wants. That’s how it works with our own stuff too — I write my own stuff and I don’t want somebody telling me how to do it. He has as much right to his own thing as we do,” he notes.

“We just give them the lyrics and titles and say, ‘Here, take off and do something!’ Then, after we get the first draft, we’ll redirect them a little bit. It’s offensive but I think it’s awesome because people can see it and get their own idea out of it,” adds the 48-year-old.

In between their tours across various countries, the members of the band are trying to make time for their next album, which they started working on in May. “We’ve got two songs done but they’re just not mixed. We’ve got two other songs with no leads or vocals. But we’re further ahead than we usually are. It should hopefully be done by next summer,” informs Kerry.

Jeff Hanneman, who co-founded the band with Kerry, contracted a disease last year, preventing him from playing till he is healthy again. For the time being and for this concert, Gary Holt — the guitarist of thrash-metal band ‘Exodus’ — is filling in for him. “It’s different from ‘Exodus’ because I have far less responsibility. In ‘Slayer’, it’s just like ‘shut up and play your guitar’ — which is totally awesome. Besides, I’m playing with guys who I’ve known since we were children. So, the friendship and admiration have always been there,” shares Gary.

Kerry adds that this is a concert from which they don’t really have any expectations as performers. “It’s just going to be one of those things where you get on stage, do your thing, take a breath and look around. Till recently, India was very detached from the world. Nobody had our equipment, other than the guitars. But we’re here now and looking forward to playing,” he says.

He goes on to add that the band’s been really brainstorming on the set list for this concert.

“The special thing for me is that we’ve never played in India. I’m trying to get a lot of old stuff in there because the rest of the world has heard it, but you guys haven’t,” he says.

The good news for ‘Slayer’ fans is that despite the fact that all of them are nearing or are already in the 50-plus category, retirement is definitely not on the cards. “I may be old but I still feel young,” wraps up Kerry.

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