A Conversation With Slayer's Tom Araya and Kerry King
Mike Ragogna: You're on what you're calling The American Carnage Tour?
Tom Araya: That's correct.
MR: Where does it cover?
TA: Actually, it started on the east side of Canada, which was actually the Canadian Carnage Tour. Then Europe, then the U.S.
MR: How's The American Carnage tour going?
Kerry King: Cool, man. We're having a blast.
MR: What acts are touring with you?
KK: It's us, Megadeth, and Anthrax.
MR: Who came up with the idea for The American Carnage tour?
KK: I think it was management and booking agents. Of course, they have to run it by us, but other than that, I don't pay attention until it comes time for, "Hey, are you into this or are you not into this?"
MR: What's the tour like, are you guys having some fun out there?
KK: We're having a lot of fun with Testament because usually Megadeth is generally gone by the time we get off stage. I see them a little bit during the day, but Chuck Billy, (Paul) Bostaph, and Alex Skolnick are hanging out a lot.
MR: Now, June 16, you performed along with Megadeth and Anthrax at Bemowo Airport in Poland as part of the Sonisphere Festival?
MR: And then you played Bucharest and Istanbul. Tom what's it like playing to international audiences as opposed to U.S. audiences?
TA: Well, they're just a tad more excited than the U.S. audience because they rarely get shows like that. They rarely get concerts, at least big ones. It's not a common thing to get a musical band to play in their country. So, whenever you play in areas like that--we played Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria -- those are the areas that really don't get concerts. So, when they do, they're overly excited, and they're genuinely happy to see you. It has a lot to do with the fact that everybody tours in America, and I hate to say it, but we're a little spoiled when it comes to things like that.
MR: In America, we pretty much take it for granted. It's like, "Yeah, we went to another show last night."
TA: We take it for granted, but in those areas they are few and far between.
MR: You have some new live DVDs with Live Intrusion, Still Reigning, and War At The Warfield.
TA: Yeah, it's going to be cool.
KK: I don't think anything is new, I think it's just re-release. The only new thing is that Live Intrusion is on DVD for the first time. It was only on VHS, if you can believe that.
MR: Why did it take this long to get on DVD?
KK: I brought it up years ago: "Why don't we have Live Intrusion on DVD?" Maybe they're doing it now because we're at the end of our contract with them and they want to put out as many things as they can before were on a different company.
MR: From that three-pack, Still Reigning from '04 was named the best live DVD ever by Revolver.
MR: That show was at the Augusta, Maine, Civic Center, right?
TA: I think so, yeah.
MR: Legend has it that you played a twenty-eight minute version of "Reigning Blood," and basically preformed the whole album.
MR: And it was ended by the band being drenched in one-hundred-fifty liters of blood as you were singing "Wall Of Blood."
MR: How do you get clean after that?
TA: You take a long, long shower.
KK: It rinses right off, man. It looked good, but yeah. I mean, sometimes I would just wipe it off, I wouldn't even rinse it off.
MR: So Slayer is a part of Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock.
KK: Yeah. I passed to where you have to start moving your hand on the fret board, then I stopped because I don't want that confusing me when I'm on stage.
MR: Are you good at Guitar Hero?
TA: Yeah, when I play it (laughs). It's one of those things where the more you play it, the better you get at it, and when you take a break for a while, it's kind of hard to get back into the groove of it.
KK: Well, I don't care about getting it perfect, you know? It's fun to play, but I don't waste my life on it like a lot of people do.
MR: You've been associated with these games since the original Guitar Hero with "Chemical Warfare," and then you were on Metallica Guitar Hero with "War Ensemble." You guys are staples.
TA: Yeah. I think, actually, "Reigning Blood" is on one of them, I think it's the Legends version. Yeah, it's one of the bonus tracks that you have to do to really beat the game.
MR: Nice, what an honor.
TA: There are four songs at the very end of the game that you have to beat in order to beat the game. I thought that was kind of cool because my son got all the way to the end, and I said, "These are the last four?" I think it was "Reigning Blood." He was able to do it, but it wasn't very easy.
MR: It's like everybody is playing Guitar Hero, but shouldn't they also be learning how to play guitar?
KK: Well, I agree. The funny thing about that is that some people have actually gotten turned on to our band and other bands because of that video game. That's something I never even thought of.
MR: Kerry, what guitars are you playing these days?
KK: B.C. Rich.
MR: What denominations?
KK: I'm playing Vs, Warlocks, and Beast Vs.
MR: Nice. You've played on a few really interesting things. You played on early Beastie Boy tracks.
KK: I'm only on one.
MR: You're on "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," right?
MR: Now, in the video, you knocked a gorilla offstage, but I understand it wasn't originally planned like that.
KK: No, the original plan was for the gorilla to knock me offstage. I said, "I ain't letting a f**kin' gorilla knock me off anywhere."
MR: Now, you've played with Pantera, Rob Zombie, Sum 41, Marilyn Manson and many others. When you're a guest guitarist, do you go in feeling like, "Yeah, man, this part is going to really kick this song in"?
KK: No, I just go in there, you know, like it's maybe something I've written. Friends ask me to do stuff because I have a particular style and sound, so I try to add that to whatever I'm playing on.
MR: Well, when listening to some of your runs, to me, you're obviously some of the magic on the record.
KK: Well, I appreciate it (laughs). I played on a Witchery album, and that was fun because they took their friends and had them do guest leads. So, I was on there, the guys from Exodus were on there, Hank Shermann from Mercyful Fate was on there. So, that was really cool.
MR: Someone once asked you what your KFK meant, and the big reveal was it stands for "Kerry F**king King."
KK: Oh yeah, we did that because that's what everybody calls me.
MR: So, it's still Kerry F**king King, you're sticking with that.
KK: Yeah, my parents don't really understand that, but yeah.
MR: Are you guys working on anything new?
KK: Not officially, no.
TA: Not that I'm aware of at the moment. Right now, we're going to do these tours, and then we have more stuff lined up for next year.
MR: Are you messing around on your guitar at all?
KK: Yeah. You know, if there's a good idea, you definitely try to remember it.
MR: Are you maybe working on some solo material?
KK: No. I'm still doing this, I don't even have any guest spots coming up.
MR: Any side projects?
MR: In the past, you were a big wrestling fan.
KK: I was. I haven't paid attention to it much anymore. I was really into it back when Stone Cold was popular.
MR: So, where do you see it going these days?
KK: I have no idea. When it gets too goofy, I just stop paying attention to it.
MR: Yeah, like twisted soap operas.
KK: There are no hardworking, good ol' boys. The Undertaker is still there, which is cool, but Stone Cold, Triple H, the old school guys aren't. That's not really old school, but as fast as that thing changes, it could almost be considered old school.
MR: I remember watching a South Park episode that totally sent-up wrestling. The kids didn't want to know what actual wrestling was, they were into the setups.
KK: Yeah, I saw that one.
MR: Speaking of kids, do you have any advice for new or young musicians?
KK: You've gotta f**kin' practice a lot. I don't. I scare myself sometimes when I think about how good I could be if I really tried.
TA: You know, don't give up. Be persistent. Don't listen to critics; you're your worst critic. The only advice I have is don't give up, and don't go looking for anything. Don't go looking, it will find you. Just be awake when it does because you might miss it.
MR: What a great line.
TA: It's like opportunities are always in front of you, and you need to see them. So, don't go looking for it because you'll never find it. Let it find you. And never give up.
MR: Never give up.
TA: Never give up. Never, ever give up because dreams come true.
(transcribed by Ryan Gaffney)
A Conversation With Anthrax's Joey Belladonna
Mike Ragogna: Joey, you were the lead singer of Anthrax from '84 to '92, right?
Joey Belladonna: '85 to '92, somewhere around there.
MR: And you've reunited with Anthrax. How does it feel to back?
JB: It's always a good thing because we really gel as a band quite well, and there's a reason why this thing developed the way it did. Many years have gone by that we could have actually made this more promising and long lasting as it was, but it's never too late. So, I feel that the band is strong together, and we really mesh well.
MR: Basically, you guys have the classic lineup?
JB: Yeah, except for Danny Spitz everybody is still there.
MR: Are you on tour?
JB: Not yet, actually, we haven't left yet.
MR: When does your tour start?
JB: We'll be in Oklahoma on the 23rd of September. Then, we'll roll to Hollywood for the last show on October 21st.
MR: Are you guys planning on any kind of a live or studio record to document your return?
JB: Yeah, well, there's a studio record that's in process right now. We've got, probably, six or seven songs or better. I've sung on one, so far, and things sound pretty good. So, it's back to business.
MR: I used to work at Universal for a while, and I had the honor of producing one of your compilations. Now, remember when we were having all those, well excuse the expression, "anthrax" scares with the mail?
MR: Well, this was a time when the security inside our building was out of their minds -- you know, they thought the Taliban was going to come invade the Universal building any moment. So, I had a couple of boxes of your collection that were on their way to the vault sitting right outside my office, and of course, I wrote "Anthrax" on them in big letters. People passed by and regularly did double takes because they didn't know exactly what to think. It always took a few clicks before they realized what was in those boxes, and it gave the office a good laugh for a few weeks.
JB: (laughs) I didn't know how that was going to work out because sometimes, that can turn for the worse on you, you know?
MR: Yeah, you guys must have been wondering what the fallout would be, so to speak. Getting back to your music, one of my favorite Anthrax tracks was your version of Joe Jackson's "Got The Time."
JB: Okay, great. That's a good song.
MR: Well, to cover a Joe Jackson song is kind of an unheard of thing.
JB: Yeah, even so, it's nice that we could turn it into something that fit our catalog, you know?
MR: Yup. Now, you've had some solo records -- Belladonna, Spells Of Fear, '03...
JB: Everything I have now is on iTunes. I've got everything up on the Internet, so you can proceed to find it. I'm also working on a brand new one right now, it's about three quarters of the way done. It's definitely one of the better ones I've come up with so far. I think it's going to be neat; it's pretty heavy, and it should be interesting.
MR: You also released Artifacts which is the demos of Belladonna?
JB: Yeah, there's Artifacts 1 and 2, then there's Deadly Night Shade, which is a studio record that was never released.
MR: When you look back at the Anthrax years, your classic lineup, can see a progression from then to now?
JB: Well, everybody has gotten a lot wiser, and quite efficient musician-wise. We've just gotten better, as far as the longevity to stand any kind of touring, and everything that goes with it has all gotten better on my end, anyhow.
MR: A lot of singers take voice lessons to keep their chops up. Do you have any kind of workout regimen for your voice?
JB: Yeah, I play out every weekend with my cover band and do four hours a night. I do an old classic rock show, playing drums and singing for this cover band. We played five times last week, and we're playing two or three times this week. I'm always doing something, you know? I'm always keeping busy as far as singing. That's what I like to do. I don't think there's anything different about it, it's just an exercise, I guess.
MR: Are they any new acts that are knocking you out?
JB: I mean, I'm a fan of a lot of things in different styles of music, I don't even want to start naming stuff because people will be like, "Really? Are you kidding me?" I just like a lot of different kinds of music. There's a lot of stuff, whether it be blues, hard rock, metal, thrash, progressive rock, progressive classic stuff, or even just fusion stuff. I just like a lot of music. I'm not one sided to anything when it comes to music.
MR: When one looks at the music scene right now, obviously, one sees all sorts of Internet marketing approaches and tools that one absolutely must use to promote oneself, Anthrax too, I imagine.
JB: Well, I think everybody is exhausting any kind of avenues there are to drop an opinion or to drop an insight to what we're doing, as far as all our movements. I personally don't do a lot of it myself, but I have some other people that will do some of that, that know better than I do and can handle it properly.
MR: Do you have a website presence?
MR: Right. So, is your website offering this, that, and the other, beyond news updates?
JB: Like I said, I'm not too big on doing everything. I'm not too good at it, so, I don't get to thorough. I just do the basic stuff, I'm not Tweeting or telling everybody where I'm at all times. I don't get into all that stuff, but I'm sure other people do, documenting their whole day.
MR: Do you think things like Tweeting is turning us into a culture of voyeurs?
JB: I think anybody that wants to do all that kind of stuff and it works for them, that's cool. I don't have enough time to get my day going. Have you ever started an email and gone, "Man, I don't want to be doing this right now, I've got something to do." So, for me, I'd just rather call you and we could take care of all this in two minutes. I don't have time for too much of that stuff, it's just too taxing for me.
MR: And if you do one, you need 'em all -- Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube...
JB: ... I know. I've got some buddies that are at Majorgeeks.com, and they handle a lot of stuff with me. They handle a lot of things that I don't know about that I should do or could do, and if they have time, they'll help me out on that stuff. Even with the cover band -- it's called Chief Bigway -- I try to keep the Internet open to people so they know where we're at and what we do. Of course, YouTube is so big now that I don't go a gig without somebody putting up what we did the night before.
MR: Most bands are either blessed or suffering from that right now because there's a lot of stuff going up that maybe the band doesn't want posted.
JB: It's too bad now, you can't get around it. You can't say, "No, no, no, you can't do that." They'll say "Oh, yes I can."
MR: Yeah, we're now a YouTube culture. Twitter is so yesterday.
JB: People can just stand at the bar, and you think they're taking a picture of you, but no, they're already filming the song, which I think is good. I'm over it. You do whatever you've got to do because I'm doing my best right now, and whatever you get, if it sounds like (roars into phone), you know, sometimes, it just doesn't sound very good on a phone. It's just part of what's going on now, and I think it's kind of cool.
MR: Yeah, it's a lot of fun if nothing else. And that brings us to TMZ, which is always fun to watch since you get to see what happens to the other guy. But if it happens to you...
JB: Yeah, of course, it's like, "Dude, did you see him fall in the airport?" It's tough, there's too much information, but unfortunately you can't get around it now, it's way beyond not wanting it.
MR: I know, you can't put the genie back in the bottle.
JB: No, not at all, at this point.
MR: So, what are your personal plans for the future? A little vacation maybe?
JB: I never vacation... I don't recall any vacations, you know? I just don't do it, I'm always sitting around doing stuff like chores, or I'll go to a concert. I just do certain things, whether it be lounging or taking care of business around here, there are always things I need to do. I wish I had a little bit more of plan to do things, but unfortunately I don't.
MR: Remember your role in Pledge Night?
JB: Yeah, it was a moment in time when somebody asked me to do something I thought was kind of cool. After seeing it back I'm like, "Holy cow, was that bad." It was just something I felt like, at the time, was awesome. Who knew? Does anybody know when they're getting into something like that?
MR: Still, it's Pledge Night, a classic.
JB: I know, and I did the Spooky Fest last year in Orlando, and I never thought of incorporating that film at the festival. There are a lot of people that go to those things, and -- bad or good -- it is horror. So, it's got some creepiness to it. It's kind of neat, but it is bad at the same time.
MR: What is your advice for new artists?
JB: Well, I'd always say you just have to decide if you really want to do this for the right reasons. You get what you can out of it, the way you want to put the time in. If I did this on a part time thing, I never would have gotten very far that way. If I would have listened to my father at one time who said, "You're playing in the same places, what are you going to do? You've got to get something going on," it's like, "Well, no. This is what I want to do, and I'm going to keep doing it, trust me." Of course, it comes around and they say, "Oh yeah, I see what you wanted to do." I still think you have to stay focused on it. Again, there are a lot of guys I play with that it's a hobby for. "Oh, I've got to play five nights a week? Well, that's a little too much, man. I'm working, I've got this going, I've got to take the kids here... " Well, maybe you're not the guy. Certain people have certain time frames to take care of business. That's not to say you can't be successful doing it part time, but I just think you have to put your priorities on notice to put it together and make it right. That's just the way I look at it.
(transcribed by Ryan Gaffney)