I nearly botched an interview with Kerry King of Slayer

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Slayer to play Saskatoon’s Praireland Park on Nov. 5

As a freelance journalist, missing a phone interview is total career suicide.

It’s like a chef sleeping in for an opening shift at Sunday brunch. Or what Canadian senator Pamela Wallen did.

Basically, if there were ever something to get you shitcanned from your work-at-home job it would be this. Not awesome. Now amplify that feeling times a hundred when the interview you messed up was none other than Kerry King.

Kerry King from Slayer, one of the most extreme metal/thrash bands of all time.

Crap.

kerryking slayer 3

It went down like this: I had scheduled an interview with Slayer’s agent, with instructions that Kerry would be calling me from Los Angeles. But on the big day I got the time zones confused. Ugh. Also, it didn’t help that my ringer was turned off when the call came an hour earlier than it was supposed to (in my mind at least).

When I finally began preparing for the interview I found the following voice mail on my phone:

“Chris, where are you?” asked the agent. “I’ve got Kerry here beside me and…”

“ARGGGGGGGHHH!”

It was a scream from the background that made the hair on my neck raise. It sounded like a road grader hitting a goat farm.

“Well, that might be the only quote you get from Kerry,” said the agent laughing.

Crap.

But through some miracle, either at the hands of God or, more likely, Satan, I was able to wrangle up another interview – I imagine when you play guitar in Slayer full-time you gotta be a busy dude. Unfortunately, due to my falling asleep at the proverbial rock journalist wheel, my redemption carried a healthy whiff of inauspiciousness – Kerry was less than impressed with my truancy.

“Hi, I’m Chris Morin from Saskatoon,” I began.

“You’re the one who didn’t answer the other day.”

Crap.

Thankfully King was game for talking about some other things. After all, it’s not every day that Slayer, a group that formed in the early ’80s and went on to become one of metal’s influential and infamous Big Four (along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax), comes through town.

Especially since it’s something of a monumental tour for the band.

This current tour will be the group’s first North American jaunt since the death of guitarist and founding member Jeff Hanneman, who passed away earlier this year from liver failure.

However, according to King, Slayer had already started writing new material without Hanneman. The guitarist had been absent from touring after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria when he was bitten by a spider.

“I took it upon myself two years, when there was a question of whether Jeff would continue with us in the future, so I started making up stuff just in case,” says King. “Not in case Jeff wouldn’t be with us – nobody expected that to happen. But this gave me 14 or 15 tunes, which really put us ahead of the game. I took it upon myself to finish a lot of these songs.”

Currently in-between record cycles, Slayer will be playing their “old school” set during tomorrow’s show, which will include tracks from Show No Mercy, Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood, South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss.

“We wanted to announce that we were doing something special,” says King. “So I got in my head that this would all work doing the older material. And it’s a good time for us to be doing something like this because we are in-between records so you aren’t missing out on a bunch of new songs.

“And a lot of kids never got to see these songs live – you get to see them all in one night.”

And while fans may not get to hear any new material being road-tested on this current tour, King says not to expect anything less than what he describes as the next extension of Slayer’s music.

“I am a firm believer that our fans like us for what we are. They don’t want any hard left or right turns. They want the next 10 Slayer songs and that’s what I intend to give them.”

Despite the tragedy of losing Hanneman, King, along with founding member Tom Arraya, drummer Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt – who is currently holding down the position of touring guitarist – are nevertheless happy to be back on the road to Canada.

“It was about ten or twelve years ago when the heart of Canada started bringing in metal shows,” recalls King. “I still remember the first time we went through a lot of the cities in the middle of Canada. We didn’t really get there a lot and now it’s been insane ever since then. These kids started getting bigger metal bands and couldn’t wait for us to come back. It’s always a really good time.”

And Kerry, sorry once again about not answering my phone when you called that first time. You are a thrash metal saint if there ever was one.

Catch Slayer at Saskatoon Prairieland Park on Tuesday, Nov. 5, along with Gojira and 4ARM. Doors open @ 6:00 PM.

– Featured photos from Flickr user “Mark Runyon | ConcertTour.org” – Creative Commons.


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