Long-running thrash/metal/hardcore act Slayer is coming up on their 25th year together, and despite their peers aiming for radio-friendly rock, the band has kept its gaze squarely on making some of the fastest, most aggressive and controversial music around.

Today, the band released "Cult," the first song from their next record, and you can stream that from their official website.

While the band was recently in the studio working on their upcoming, as-yet untitled full length for American Recordings, Punknews.org had a chance to speak with guitarist Kerry King about the record, some of their future plans and the Adolescents.

First of all, how's recording going?  I guess you guys are mixing now?

Not quite. I think we're checking on vocals this week to see how things are, and if things need to be redone and I think I've got 60% of my leads done. But that's it, other than that we would be mixing.

Yesterday it came out that you guys were pushing it back to the fall? 

We never understood why guys dressed up like chicks and put on make up. I'm sure they got girls to understand that but that's not what we were about.

What did you hear?  (laughs)  You know more than I do!

Originally everyone was saying that it was going to come out on June 6th

Yeah that's not going to happen.  The record company bumped us way too late to make that happen. It was a great idea. But obviously we were the only ones that thought that way. 

So what can we expect from this one?

Its kind of a hard question to answer, for one because they've all sounded the same over the years with just a difference nuance here and there, and I would imagine this is going to be the same thing other than the fact that Dave's playing for the first time in 16 years so that's probably the biggest difference, just Dave's playing. Kind of gives it a different flavour.

The last one was very raw, the way you guys put it together, the production was really dirty and stuff. I liked the sound, but I think a lot of people are surprised by how raw it was.

Photo: Kevin Estrada

I don't know, I think that was the best record we did since something like Seasons.  I think it was probably the most completely done since Seasons.  This one, I feel the same way about it.  I think it's very similar to God Hates Us All.

There was definitely a big hardcore influence to it, much more so than some of your earlier stuff.

It was a pretty angry record. To me I associate angry performance with a punk performance, kind of thing, as opposed to being more of a metal performance if that makes sense.  To me thrash is the transition from heavy metal and punk so I think it was pretty much right up where it needed to be. 

And this one is probably the same. But like I said I haven't, I kind of let Tom go off on his own, see where he gets with the songs cause I wrote a bunch of them, and kind of turned him loose.  I haven't been paying attention to what he's doing cause I want him to do what he wants to do and see how close it is to what I had in mind.

But musically period, its pretty badass.

Cool, cool.

There's tons of riffs on this record, I don't know if that's good for a punk site or not. 

(laughs)

There's so much influence there that any kid who listens to any modern band has got to be hearing a bit of Slayer in there.

Oh yeah, I agree.

It's interesting that you did that album of covers, because it really shows how everything kind of feeds off itself.

Yeah, that's probably what we got the most flack for but its one of my favorite records.

Now on the lyrical side, you guys have a bit about what you're going to cover this time, can you tell me anything about what kind of stuff you guys are talking about?

Its pretty typical, again its Slayer, there's not a million things we can write about, I mean there's a million different ways we can say things we've said before, which is generally what we do.  I mean, there's ones that I wrote that people are going to say it's a sequel to "Disciple," but its not, it wasn't supposed to be like that, that's just how it turned out. 

You guys have been talking about the dangers of religious extremism for so long and now it seems like some people are getting increasingly violent and  intolerant.

My manager brought this up to me the other day, he's like "When you guys started doing this, you guys were the outcasts, and now people kind of look at what you're saying as 'Maybe they're right, maybe the whole religion thing is a sham.'

Since the time we last toured the States, I saw the original Adolescents play in Anaheim which I thought was pretty cool. I think it was Rick's last show I talked to Tony a number of times online, after I saw them cause when they first got back together I was so excited, and I went down there. I can't even remember what they opened with, but they had their first song and I just turned around with a big grin on my face.

And I'm just putting that out because you guys used to be on the dangerous side, now you're on the masses' side."  And I'm like "Well I didn't plan for this to be like that, but..." (laughs)  Opinions seem to be changing. 

But do you think that this one will be as controversial as every other one?

Oh absolutely.

Now you guys have always been, like I said, about the controversy, between even being called Nazis 20 years ago to when you covered "Guilty of Being White" and stuff like that.  How do you handle that kind of stuff, when you get all this flack from people who misunderstand what you're saying?

Well that's typical American crap in my book because we weren't the ones who wrote that line.  We get flack for it just because we redid it; we made it up to date.  It's the funniest thing because our singer's Chilean and he sings this song about "Guilty of Being White" and we still get in trouble for it, you know what I mean? 

Yeah.

Its just people not paying attention and people taking their first cue off what a title might be, not even what it says, and just running with it, rather than loading their brain up with ammunition before they start the verbal war, you know what I mean?

We've got a new one called "Supremists" and I'm leaving it there and letting people run with it for a while, because who knows what's going to come out of it before people actually read what its about.  (laughs) I just want to leave it like that, I want to say "we've got a song called Supremists, figure out what you want to say about it and when the record comes out we'll talk."

(laughs)  That actually brings up an interesting thing is that you guys have been kind of on the edge of things lyrically, musically, throughout - y'know a lot of bands that kind of came up with you guys have kind of softened, and gotten more radio friendly. Bands from your scene I guess you could say.  And you guys never did and I'm just wondering - what keeps you going?

I think, to be honest, and opinion I've come up with over the years, I think it's an unwritten American rule that when you get older you have to grow up.  I never abided by that rule, I still think I'm fucking 17.  And I think that's the difference, I'm still that kid that made up Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits, I'm just older now.  I don't have that gene that says "You gotta chill out and be radio-friendly when you're 40 or you're not accepted."

I just don't buy that shit.  I enjoy what we're doing and it's kind of obvious because we're the only people playing very similar music to when we started.  I think you could say the same thing for Anthrax but Metallica's not even close, Megadeth made a pop record for God sakes.  I think it's just a tale of who we are. 

And you guys are organizing a tour in that spirit this year.

The summer tour's awesome, I can't wait. We haven't done the States since  - our last show was December 04, so it's going to have been 18 months since we played the states, its going to be massive.

How did you guys pick the bands that you're bringing along? 

The funny thing is for the last two Jager tours that we did, Lamb of God was always on our list and it just never happened. So now they're actually available and they're putting out an album too, which makes our tour a one-two punch of brand new Slayer, brand new Lamb of God; brand new Mastedon I believe.

And I just saw Children of Bodom for the first time, and he's supposed to be the next big thing guitar-wise, and I checked him out he's really good, so I'm excited.

Yeah those guys are a lot of fun.  In terms of modern stuff, obviously you guys probably see your mark on a lot of stuff, but what kind of music do you guys listen to these days that you find exciting?

I could go band to band here, but everything I'd say is pretty much what you'd expect.  If you look at my iPod, its west coast punk from the early days, metal through the years and metal bands now, aside from an oddball harder Eagles or something for sleeping music or whatever (laughs).

Since the time we last toured the States, I saw the original Adolescents play in Anaheim which I thought was pretty cool. I think it was Rick's last show

Wow.

I talked to Tony a number of times online, the singer, after I saw them cause when they first got back together I was so excited, and I went down there. I can't even remember what they opened with, but they had their first song and I just turned around with a big grin on my face cause I went in there thinking it was going to be really shitty or really good, and it sounds just like the record.

Yeah, another thing that's interesting is that you guys have kept almost the same line up forever, obviously Dave left and came back, two or three times?

Yeah, however many (laughs)

I'm just wondering do you guys never get sick of each other. I had roommates that I got sick of in a year, so twenty-odd years is dedication.

Well I think a lot of it has to do with people realizing the greater good and realizing that individually we're not special, but together we're pretty rad.

And sure you get in fights, you've got four grown men living in small quarters for 20 something years, you're going to disagree, but look at the big picture and get past it.

You rarely see that kind of solid line up -

You get people who think they're bigger, and that's the demise of a lot of bands, somebody saying "I'm better than you guys" and they go out on their own and the original band sucks and the guy that went out on his own sucks. All you gotta do is look at any kind of musical history and see that its happened a million times. 

Photo: Kevin Estrada

I think a lot of people were surprised with your choice of producer; his last big album was probably Velvet Revolver which is definitely from a different place.

He's done some odd stuff, but hanging out with Josh, talking about the record, after we got the drum sound, the rhythm sound, he truly thinks this is going to be one of the best sounding records he's ever done. Which I think is pretty cool because he's done a lot of bands, and whether I like them or not, they sound good.

So it's a good compliment to us that he feels that way about this record and it's going along good, its going to be awesome.

To me thrash is the transition from heavy metal and punk.

He did Korn and Limp Bizkit too.  But my first conversations with him, I'm like "The first hint of anything I get where you try to make us sound like that, I'll just throw my guitar at you, you know?" (laughs) It was never an issue.

And he knew what we were about and he'd been wanting to do a record with us forever, so I think it's a great combination.

Do you think a producer really has a lot of influence on your sound?

I think because I'm not that big in the engineering realm of it, I think its how things are miked, how the mike hears what you're playing and how it translates into the board, is the most important thing, cause other than that we're like a machine you know?

A lot of people credit you guys with inventing thrash and stuff, and I'm just wondering - What kind of inspired you guys to play the way you guys do?

More than anything probably just not relating to what was big in LA at the time, when we came out it was all Poison and Rat and all that stuff.  I know for one we wanted to be as far from that as we could, we didn't dig it at all, we thought it was just lame. 

We never understood why guys dressed up like chicks and put on make up.  I'm sure they got girls to understand that but that's not what we were about.  We were about making killer music, so I think it was just part of our history and part of rebelling against LA. 

On another note, Slayer has always been a political band it seems, but it's never very overt.

 I think that bands have a lot -  especially if bands have been around for as long as us with the fan base we have - impress  on the kids.  I like to throw out an opinion, but I don't like to throw out an opinion in a way that it's cut and dry - this is the way it is. I like to throw out ideas about politics so maybe kids will think about it, and make their own opinion of it.

The main thing I didn't like about Rage Against the Machine was like - that Zach had a political agenda, in my book.  With the fans they had I just didn't dig that because to turn a kid onto his way of thinking whether he agreed with it or not, just because he was his idol. I don't agree with that.

Right.  Right now a lot of bands are going to talk about politics in light of the war and everything else.  Is that the kind of stuff you guys are going to be talking about or -

Not really, because in the sense, of the way things are we wouldn't do that because everybody under the sun has done it. The only one we've got even edging on the war and September 11 is Jeff wrote a song called "Jihad" and it's written from their perspective, not ours.  We kind of went back-door on it.

Yeah.  As far as the tour, all that we've got so far is that you guys are going to be doing an hour every night?

I think we've got an hour and 10, cause the bill's so large.

Yeah and what kind of, have you guys picked your play list yet?  Or are you guys just kind of going to go by ear?

Not really but being that we haven't played in the states for 18 months, and we're only playing an hour and 10 I would imagine at tops you're going to hear two new songs, probably only one cause with that new song it would only leave us 13 old songs and its hard to cut our list down to that many as it is without having the old.  So I would imagine one new, probably 12 favorites, and probably one abstract one.

One thing that came out is that your manager, Rick Sales,  said that you guys were trying to present an alternative to Ozzfest.  The way he said it almost seemed like he was saying that Ozzfest was just a big radio thing, radio-friendly bands and stuff like that.

Well I'm not even positive who's on Ozzfest this year except for System and I think Disturbed and I know Zach Wylde's headlining the second stage, which is good for him cause he never gets anybody when he's on the main stage cause everybody's going from stage to stage.  So I don't know much about Ozzfest.  We're big-time alumni from Ozzfest, we did the first two ever done, we've been on the whole tour twice, done numerous ones overseas. 

So they've been nothing but good to us, but with our tour we're not going up against them, we're trying to stay away from that so that our tours don't suffer cause there's two good tour out at the same time, y'know what I mean?

A lot of hardcore bands these days seem to be incorporating a lot more metal and metal imagery in their sound, and of course people are mentioning you guys a lot in that context.

It's definitely more a mix between the two, which is what you just said, if you put me on the spot I couldn't tell you the name of a new metal band, I'm sorry, punk band.  The only thing I know that comes out that was really huge was everybody trying to sound like Hatebreed - hardcore or whatever the hell they call themselves -  that was the biggest surge of new sounding bands.

But it seems to me there's a lot coming out of Scandinavia, I don't know what the hell you'd call it, but it's thrashy but it's got a lot more melody, in the guitar lines a lot more harmony and some stuff. Other than that, the punk movement as it is, I couldn't tell you anything about it because I haven't heard anything new in so long.

And you guys are coming up on your 25th anniversary this year?

I don't know (laughs) This year's the 20th anniversary of Reign of Blood, I know that.

Its pretty typical, again its Slayer, there's not a million things we can write about, I mean there's a million different ways we can say things we've said before, which is generally what we do.

I think most of the stuff I have says that you guys formed in '81.

Yeah the first record came out in '83.

So how does it feel to reach that kind of milestone? 

Its cool, we must be doing something right.  Staying together, fucking keeping the ideal that as a whole, this is where we need to be, and hopefully after this record we've got another record or two before we hang it up. 

I don't want to be - nothing against Black Sabbath - but I don't want to be a Black Sabbath because I don't want to be doing this when I'm considered old.  I want to be doing it as long as I can sell it physically, cause I think our shows are more active than Black Sabbath was as well. So that's another reason I wouldn't do it, I want it to be real, I want it to translate and I want it to be relevant, rather than just coming around for some nostalgia tour all the time.

So you figure you guys could do this for another ten years or -

Possibly.  We're rocking strong right now, we've got great tunes and are looking forward to getting on the road so, I'd say either that or if it ever becomes not fun. It's always been fun to me, so, (laughs).

Any other plans after the Package Tour?

Um, I know, I think Europe's right after that, and I would imagine there would be another stage tour before the end of the year. Unless we get stuck overseas, like in Japan.  We haven't done Japan in five years so there are places that are really starving to get us over there.