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Interview:
Slayer lets music, not theatrics, do the talking
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Slayer bassist Tom Araya reports that the group is "a little more theatrical than we have been before" on its return to the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tour this year.

"We've added fire," the Chilean-born Araya, 51, says.

Slayer has never really employed, or needed, much in the way of gimmicks, anyway. The quartet, one of the Big Four of thrash metal along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, specializes in crushing, dynamic heaviness amidst precision dynamics and provocative socio-political commentary. Yet it often finds itself in the company of acts theatrically advanced acts such as Slipknot, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson.

"We have a tendency to play or band together with bands that put on elaborate set-ups, so maybe we complement each other," Araya notes. "Whether we have theatrics or not, we'll always be Slayer, you know? We're not about the big 'shew.' We make sure our shoes are tied so we don't stumble and fall, but really we just like to get out there and play. I think that's what people expect, not the other stuff."

Those fans, meanwhile, are also hoping for some new Slayer music -- the group's first since "World Painted Blood" in 2009. Araya confirms that a next album is "in motion" but is waiting for producer Rick Rubin to finish a new studio and also for guitarist Jeff Hanneman to rehabilitate from the battle with flesh-eating necrotizing fasciitis which has kept him off the road since early 2011.

"Jeff's had a long ordeal," Araya says. "He's still working at it, working on his playing ability, so it's something that's gonna take some time. We were hoping it wouldn't but there was a lot of damage.

"On this (tour) it's really dawned on me more that he's not there. The audiences have been really good and really big, and I just kind of look out at the crowd thinking, 'Jeff, God, you should be here. You worked 30 years for this.' He should be enjoying this part of his career, but it'll be awesome when he's back, and I can't wait for that to happen."

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival takes place at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Acts include Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax, AS I Lay Dying and others. Tickets are $42-$99 pavilion, $28-$32 lawn with a $92 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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