SLAYER guitarist Kerry King was interviewed on a recent episode of “Talk Is Jericho”, the podcast of Chris Jericho, the world champion pro wrestler, actor, New York Times best-selling author and lead vocalist of the metal band FOZZY. You can now listen to the chat at PodcastOne.com. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how late founding SLAYER guitarist Jeff Hanneman, contracting necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, from a spider bite in his backyard:
“I don’t know where he was, but he was in some jacuzzi somewhere and that’s the story I got. And that is not a lie — I have no better story.”
“Jeff’s the kind of guy that wouldn’t have addressed it. He would’ve just been, like, ‘Uh, whatever.’ That was who Jeff was. And this time wasn’t the time to say, ‘Whatever.’ Actually, his wife made him go to the hospital. And the doctor said, ‘First, I’m gonna try to save your life. Then I’m gonna try to save your arm. Then I’m gonna try to save your career.’ Because that’s how messed up he was. Yeah, it was serious. And that was super weird, dude. But the funny part about it was Jeff’s a guy that would let it get to that point. That’s just who he was. I mean, he was a recluse — everybody knows that — and the poor dude just was sitting in his house letting his arm deteriorate.
“I’m 50. We’re invincible, right? We’re invincible. We don’t wanna go to the doctor. That’s how Jeff was. Jeff didn’t wanna go to the doctor. He was, like, ‘Man, I’ve got this.’ And he didn’t.”
On the fact that he wasn’t in regular contact with Hanneman when they were off the road:
“When we’re off tour, we scatter. So even though he’s an hour away from me, he’s an hour in a direction I don’t go. You know how that is. People know how that is. I mean, I haven’t seen my dad in a long time, ‘cause he’s a direction I don’t go. And that’s my dad.”
On hiring EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt to fill in for Hanneman after Jeff became ill:
“I knew Jeff couldn’t play. And I already had Gary in my back pocket for any future thing I ever do. And that’s a hard conversation. I called Gary Holt probably in early 2010 and I said, ‘Hey, man, if I ever do anything, would you be into doing it?’ And he’s, like, ‘Man, I was hoping if this day ever came, you’d hit me up.’ So we just kept it in our back pocket. There was nothing — there was no music, there was nothing. Then the Jeff thing went down, and I called Gary Holt again. And these are hard conversations, man. ‘Cause even though Gary’s my friend, I don’t know… You know, it’s like asking a girl out to the prom, kind of. If you get turned down, you’re, like, ‘Oh, man! We suck. Fuck!’ And I said, ‘Hey, dude, we’re going to Australia and Jeff’s not going.’ And I said, ‘Would you like to play in SLAYER?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’ And we’ve been going ever since.”
On whether he had a conversation with Jeff about Gary Holt replacing him in SLAYER:
“I didn’t have a conversation, ‘cause he was in the hospital and if we’re scheduled to be somewhere, I have to cover our ass, and I did. And after the fact, Jeff and Gary took pictures and Jeff‘s, like, ‘Man, [it] couldn’t be a better pick.’ And he’s my only pick. I mean, I had a backup, but he’s my only pick.”
“Me and Jeff and Holt go back thirty years… well, twenty-five-plus… And it’s cool because he’s from our era, he’s our age, I’ve known him all my life. And he’s the one — if anybody got left behind — he’s the one that should be brought into prominence. ‘Cause he’s that good.”
On whether he ever talked to Jeff about him coming back to SLAYER:
“I talked to him a lot about it, and every time… We had sporadic tours, or a couple of shows here and there, to where our manager would say,’ Hey, man, let’s get Jeff involved.’ And I’m, like, ‘Yeah, let’s get Jeff involved.’ And I would bring him around, and I would watch him play. And it was good. But I said, ‘Jeff, you’ve gotta understand, Gary’s playing this stuff and he’s playing it note for note.’ I said, ‘There’s no room for gray area here, and I hope you understand what I’m saying.’ And he was, like, ‘Yeah, I get it.’ And I’m, like, ‘Man, I want you to be there, and I want you to be part of what we are, but you’ve gotta understand, if there’s somebody doing your gig… I don’t wanna say ‘better’… but if there’s somebody doing your gig and you are not up to par with what he’s doing, you’ve gotta get better. And that’s the hardest thing I had to say. It was tough. [And] he said, ‘I know.'”
On Hanneman’s last performance with SLAYER in April 2011 at the “Big Four” show in Indio, California:
“When he came out for the ‘Big Four’ at [the site of the] Coachella [festival], he was supposed to play four songs, and we rehearsed a little bit. And I said, ‘Listen, man…’ ‘Cause I knew he wasn’t where he needed to be, and I didn’t wanna make him a spectacle. I said, ‘Listen, dude. You’re gonna play two songs.’ He’s, like, ‘Well, I’ve got the four songs rehearsed.’ I said, ‘I know you’ve got the four songs rehearsed, dude.’ I said, ‘I don’t want people to focus in on what you’re doing, because I don’t want them to think you’re not as good as you are, because you are are good. And I’m sorry, but I think if you go out there for two songs, they’ll notice it less. And I don’t want people to have a bad memory of you.’ Not even knowing that was gonna be his last gig. I said, ‘You’re my bro, man. I wanna protect what you are.’ But that being said, when we’re playing Coachella, when we’re in Jeff’s backyard, I can’t let him not be onstage. I’m, like, ‘Yeah, I want you onstage.’ But at the end of the day, it was me protecting who Jeff was.”
SLAYER’s first album without Hanneman, “Repentless”, was released on September 11 via Nuclear Blast.