Guitarist discusses band’s future after loss of founding member

After the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman earlier this year the future of California thrash titans Slayer was uncertain. Hanneman see was a critical part of the band’s songwriting formula — when we reach Kerry King over the phone for example he liberally talks about the late guitarist’s songwriting impact on Slayer noting that we might never see another Slayer track like the ever-controversial “Angel of Death.” Bassist-vocalist Tom Araya meanwhile told Blabbermouth that “his death has changed everything…. Kerry and I will have to sit down and talk as far as how we want to move forward if we want to move forward.”

Before Araya got a chance to speak to King however we did. And while he wouldn’t confirm Slayer’s future he wasn’t shy about responding to Araya’s uncertainty.

“That’s Tom’s version of the situation not mine. And everyone has an opinion on what we should be doing. We haven’t talked about the future yet because you don’t exactly go into the dressing room before the show [and talk] about the future” King says with a laugh. “But we’re having a full rehearsal tomorrow and I’m sure those questions will come up. But personally I’m going on with guns blazing. We’re recording in January and I plan on touring next summer. If it’s not with Slayer I’ll probably be playing with another band.”

Here’s what we do know: King’s penning the followup to 2009’s rock-solid World Painted Blood . How that’ll sound however is yet another question mark — Hanneman’s songwriting was a Slayer signature and King admits that he usually added the “aggro” portion to the band’s signature sound. “But we had each other’s backs. We’d police each other’s work. One of us would come in thinking we’d written the best part in the world and the other would be like ‘Nah.’

“Now I’m going to have to take Paul [Bostaph drummer] and Tom for their word” he adds. “But Jeff’s infused in me and I was infused in him. Working together for 30 years as songwriters we ying yanged — now I hear some punky stuff in my riffs and that’s totally Jeff’s style.”

Of course King expects detractors to claim that Slayer’s immutably changed. “Well I think we’re going to sound like Jeff would expect. But there’s always the 10-foot-tall motherfucker online expecting us to fail.”

Those following Slayer’s career however should understand the band’s resiliency — and while the band’s 21st century albums like God Hates Us All and Christ Illusion have only added to their illustrious legacy the band also announced that their upcoming tour will focus on their classic work. After test-driving an all-old-school set in Las Vegas Slayer decided to pay tribute to Hanneman by performing tracks exclusively from Show No Mercy Hell Awaits South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss . Oh and Reign in Blood . Obvs.

“The final set list is still coming together” Araya wrote on Facebook. “But we’re going to give the fans what amounts to decades of aggression. It’s going to be a great night of music and moshing for everyone.”

We can’t help but agree. As for the future direction of Slayer songs King says to expect the uh expected. “The most ludicrous thing people ask me is ‘How is your next album going to be different from the rest?’” says King. “It’s not. I don’t have an innate desire to do anything different. As a pioneer of the thrash movement people don’t expect us to try new things or be different — you like us because you like us.

“We have discussion over things that are taboo or hard to talk about like why humans suck and why mankind has to be restarted.”