Slayer’s Tom Araya On “Repentless”: “You Can Hear That Jeff Was Not Part Of The Record”


Slayer finished off their latest album “Repentless” with a surplus of songs and at the time said it shouldn’t take that long for their eventual next album to come together as a result. As we near six months since the release of “Repentless“, the focus still remains solely upon it. Vocalist/bassist Tom Araya recently spoke with Full Metal Jackie in an interview presumably conducted earlier this month and said of his and the group’s current plans, which include this ongoing tour with Testament and Carcass:

“…I’m not thinking about a new record, I’m thinking about what’s going to be up for this year. I’m more concerned with what’s going to be going on with the new year and what we’re going to do. Even then, it’s more like, hey we’ve got this plan. How do you like it? This is what we got so far. That’s how I am. Even this North American tour, then deciding what songs. We’re doing four songs off the new album and then having just to figure out if we want to do more songs from the new album.

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Or, if we want to add new songs from the album and maybe retire. We’re doing four songs, and I know that there is another four songs that we’re thinking about playing live. The idea is, do we add them to the set? Or do we replace other songs that we’ve already been doing from the new album and replace them with these other songs? I’m sure that’s going to be discussed, actually, I fly to L.A. on Sunday. We’re going to be doing a video shoot, which will be a follow up to the “Repentless” video.”

Araya also mentioned that the band have two music videos in the works:

“You guys are going to be in for a treat … I’ll be flying to L.A. on Monday and Tuesday to shoot two videos. Or at least our part of the video, which is the performance part. When we get together then, I’m going to share and I’m sure Kerry will have an idea or I can get him thinking on the idea of what songs we’re planning to do on this North American tour. Then for the rest of the year, usually we’ll figure out, we’ll pick out a good 25-30 songs, and just start rehearsing those songs and figure out what to do as far as a setlist. Like a core setlist that we’ll use for the rests of the year, then depending on where we play or how long we play, you add or subtract songs. Make the set longer or decide, let’s switch these songs out.

I wish it was just stuff you didn’t have to think about, because you just want to go out and play. But you don’t want to play the same songs all the time. Then there’s songs you have to play because if you don’t everybody will get mad. So working out a set there are songs you have to play and then there are songs that you as a band enjoy playing, and then there’s songs that you think OK, we haven’t played this in a while. We’ll see how that works out. So I’ll be seeing Kerry and we’ll be able to discuss songs and our list of songs that goes into the pot to decide what songs we’re going to playing.”

A teaser was recently released for one of those clips: the bands upcoming You Against You” video. Araya also spoke of what it was like to write “Repentless” without the direct involvement of their late guitarist Jeff Hanneman:

Kerry has a different style of writing compared to Jeff. I’m just going to leave it at that. They both have different styles of playing. Kerry’s is very chaotic, very fast and in your face. That was my concern, what are these songs going to sound like? He writes good songs and lyrically he writes great stuff too, but I was really thinking OK how is this going to sound? What is this going to be like? What’s a finished product going to be like? So that was one of my main concerns when we started working on the record. My thought was, that Jeff was definitely — you can hear that Jeff was not part of the record because of the songwriting style that was predominant on the album.

A lot of fast stuff, a lot of riffy stuff, which is how Kerry writes. That was my concern and like I said, I was like what’s this going to sound like? Then as we worked on the record and progressed on the record, and you know doing what I do and having a producer that sat there with me and listened, tell me and give me feedback. That’s what I like, having someone give me feedback and say I like how you’re doing this, I like where you’re going. Keep moving in that direction. Or, eh, you’re not convincing me. I’m not feeling it, why don’t we stop for today?

Come back tomorrow and try it again. That’s the kind of stuff that was helping me with what I was doing in the studio. I didn’t get a lot of that on a lot of the other records, and I think this record lyrically and vocally I think was one of my favorite vocal recordings, period because of the producer, Terry Date, was just amazing help. He had an ear for melody and just paid attention, so I was really happy to have that.

On previous records, Kerry would say this is how I want it done and that’s how he expects it to be done. With this record, I kind of broke the mold on that because for one, we didn’t have Jeff. He needed to allow me to do what I need to do and what I do best, so I think that was my concern with this record. How everything was going to sound compared to a record that would have Jeff there.

Jeff would come in and say, “Hey that sounds great.” He would give feedback. That was my concern, and like I said, Terry Date was there with me and listened to me and kind of guided me and allowed me to do what I did. I was very happy with what I did on this record. In the end, sitting back and listening to it, overall thinking oh my god this sounds really, really good. I really like how this is sounding. So the doubt about how the overall album was going to sound like went out the window. It was like, ok, this is really good, this is Slayer. Fans are going to like this because I like this.”