Gary James' Interview With
Tom Araya and Dave Lombardo Of
In early April, 1986, Combat recording artists Slayer released their new album "Hell Awaits". Shortly thereafter, they went on tour with Venom and Exodus. Bassist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo talked with us about their band.
Q - MTV has cut back the showing of Metal videos by 75%. KMET radio in L.A. has axed most of the Metal from their playlist. The program director said "Metal has too narrow of an appeal for us. It turns off too many older listeners." Does Metal turn off older listeners?
Tom - Well, we're dealing here with politics more or less. They're trying to stay in business. They're being real cautious about what they play. They don't want to turn away listeners. Give it time. Give it another year and I think Metal is going to be accepted. It has to be. It can't go un-noticed.
Q - Do you feel that just as Slayer is gaining recognition, the Metal movement is beginning to bottom out?
Dave - It's not bottoming out. It's going to kick up even more dust. It's going to kick up more Rock.
Tom - It's going to open up a few eyes and ears. We've gone un-noticed this whole time and yet we're still selling records. We don't get any radio play aside from the underground radio stations that do play that kind of music. We don't get any press and yet we're still selling out places.
Q - Your record company is calling Slayer the ultimate Thrash band. Is that because Slayer was the first group to play such music, or is it because you're considered the best in the world?
Dave - It's both the same. It's both fast. Thrash is speed and speed is Thrash.
Tom - It's almost the same term.
Q - How did Speed Metal evolve out of Heavy Metal?
Tom - There were the punks and they probably grew their hair, probably got out of the scene 'cause there was a lot of trouble and they weren't' being accepted into society. I don't know. And they started getting into their own form of music. They still liked the heaviness of say Black Sabbath, but wanted to keep the speed of Punk. So they got both of those things, combined them and got this type of music called Speed or Thrash. That's how I think it all came about.
Q - Has Europe been more receptive to Slayer than the U.S.?
Dave - No. The United States has been more receptive. They've been incredible.
Tom - We thought Europe was really gonna push us. Kerrang! magazine in England has been giving us a lousy review.
Q - How did your European tour go in February?
Dave - We were supposed to fly over and do one show, which was cancelled. That same show has been cancelled for the last three times. I'm really upset with the people at Road Runner. They're the ones who are supposed to be arranging this whole thing in Europe and they're not doing it very successfully, put it that way.
Q - You guys left L.A. and went elsewhere to perform. Why not stay in L.A., play the club scene and wait to be discovered?
Dave - You can't play too much because people get tired of you. You wear out. You grow old. We figured we'd get out of L.A. and that would give us more exposure and at the same time give us a break from the city.
Q - How long did you play the L.A. club circuit?
Tom - We played for like a year and a half. The club circuit itself wasn't being great to us, so we decided to go to 'Frisco and see what we would do in 'Frisco. And that went well. Then we went back to L.A. and it got bigger because we did go to San Francisco. It's really funny because we had to leave L.A. in order to make it in L.A.
Q - How did this Venom tour come about?
Dave - We submitted it once before. We asked if they ever come to the U.S., hey, choose us please! We'd like to open the show for you. And it eventually did come around to where Venom was gonna come to America and we were the first choice.
Q - Whenever a group picks up a wider following with their music, the early fans will claim the group has "sold out." How will Slayer hold on to their earliest of fans while attracting new fans as well?
Dave - You know how we hold on to the early fans? We don't change. We're not going to change to a commercial type, value band. That's how you lose your fans. It's like there's a lot of major bands that I've listened to, for example Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. I used to love 'em, but now it's like their music gets too redundant after awhile. It gets on your nerves. It's the same thing. It gets boring. But we're going to try and keep the same way.
Tom - The direction is going to be the same. Our growth and our music has gotten a lot better.