Interview with Tom Araya of Slayer: Worldwide Carnage

When you first debuted these tracks live, how did it go?

When we played Australia and Japan, we played ‘Hate Worldwide’ and ‘World Painted Blood.’ And we got a very, very good reaction. Even with ‘World Painted Blood,’ I thought no one having heard it yet; usually when we play a new song, everyone’s kind of like ‘Whoa, what did we just hear?’ When we played ‘World Painted Blood,’ it was a roar, which shocked the shit out of me. Usually when you play a new song, people don’t know how to respond. But on this one, when we played it, as soon as we were done, the whole place went nuts, because it starts with a great intro, and it leads into a song that’s just so, so Slayer (laughs).

The American Carnage tour, how did that lineup come together?

That lineup came together in 1990 on Clash of the Titans. This time around, Canadian promoters, they called us up and said, ‘We want to put this show together.’ It was like four or five shows they wanted to do with us and Megadeth. They were the ones that wanted us to do a show with Megadeth. I guess the Canadian promoters thought maybe we wouldn’t do it because I guess there’s supposed to be animosity between the bands, whatever (laughs). Our manager came up to us and said the promoters are putting together this tour and they want you to do these shows with Megadeth, and we’re like ‘Sure.’

The only position we ever take with something like that is, ‘Who’s gonna open and who’s gonna close?’ That’s usually the endgame agreement. With us, we told our manager, we don’t have an issue. We don’t want to do the flip-flop kind of thing. Either somebody opens or somebody closes. It doesn’t really matter who’s playing with us, usually someone will want to say ‘We want to close.’ And we’ll say, ‘Fine, close. We don’t have an issue.’ If you want to follow us, more power to you. (laughs) That’s our attitude about playing with people when that issue comes up. We’re like, ‘Dude, it doesn’t really matter to us, open or close. Just decide.’

Fans want to see that. They want to see Megadeth and Slayer play. It’s just good business. We did four shows or five shows with them on the west side of Canada, which ended up doing really, really well. The promoters came back to us and said, ‘Hey, how about doing it on the east side?’ Then I had all these issues come up, so they moved the dates. It’s just good business. People are gonna be who they’re going to be, no on can change them. I know that someone refreshed my memory as far as ‘You said you’d never tour with them again.’ And yeah, I did say that, but I’m also a smart businessman. (laughs). And I let everybody know, I know I said that, but business is business, and business is good (laughs). We would be dumb to say no.

But the Big Three or the Big Four; I remember even as recently as when Rick Rubin went to do Metallica’s Death Magnetic, there was some friction over that, and there is a history between you and Megadeth. Is it a question of business, is it time healing wounds, or is it that heavy metal media wants to create a playground war between all you guys?

Everybody does. Isn’t that the business? I’m not talking about band members or people in bands, I’m talking about people who write about that stuff. They throw in their little quirks and their little opinions, and anybody reading those articles is going to think that that guy is making an assessment of what he’s done as an interviewer, not an opinion he’s writing about the person or about the situation, you know what I mean? People read these articles and they think that there’s shit flying, and the only ones flinging the shit are the journalists? I’m not going to lie to you—when running into Mustaine, the first few shows we did in Canada, I was hoping not to run into him. I didn’t want to have to look at the guy. It just so happens, walking down the hall, he’s walking down the same hall I am. You’re kind of like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ He’s like ‘Thanks for doing the tour.’ ‘No problem.’ ‘Later.’ So much for camaraderie (laughs). After 25 or 30 years, we know where we stand as a band and as people. We don’t have issues. We’ve never had issues or problems with people. People usually had problems with us, and [we’d] kind of ignore it. Letting it go.

You’ve brought it up before, that you may see yourself getting to a point where you’re too old for this shit. Would you even know how to wind down Slayer if you could? Are you comfortable recuperating? Is it nice having Thanksgiving at home and not having to play the next night?

(laughs) Yeah, that’s nice. That’s nice being home. Dude, in the 30 years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve been married 15 years, and of those 15 years, I think I’ve spent maybe a total of 5 years with my family. The rest of the time is spent out on the road. If I’m not home, they’re either with me or they’re not. You get to that point. When I come home, I enjoy my time at home, because it’s not something I get to do very often. I like it. Believe it would not be an issue to wind down (laughs). When you’ve been going for 200 percent for 30 years, stopping and smelling the roses is not a problem. That’s something I look forward to every time I come home.

It doesn’t seem that bands stop anymore. The Mick Jaggers and the Steven Tylers and the Bruce Springsteens.

The way the world is today. It’s even allowing people to resurrect themselves. We’re talking about bands that no longer existed coming back and doing reunion tours. Modern day technology is allowing bands to go on living, go on existing, in a sense, even when the band is no longer around. As long as you have someone there pulling the strings, like the Wizard of Oz, you can sell millions of records and all kinds of product (laughs). You can have a long fruitful life if you don’t piss anybody off (laughs). That’s the way the world works, you piss somebody off and they turn their back on you.

That’s why I think we have such a loyal fanbase. When the record comes out and they put it on, ‘Dude, it’s Slayer.’ You don’t put it on and go ‘Who’s this?’ They don’t question the band. The minute they start questioning the band, that’s where they lose it. Judas Priest, I was a big Judas Priest fan, somewhere along they line they came out with a record that I was like ‘ugh.’ And they followed it with another record that was ‘ugh.’ Same with the Scorpions. Scorpions are great! Scorpions have some great records. And all of a sudden someone told them you should write songs like this. And then every record was like that, and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ You lose your longevity the minute you turn your back on your loyal fanbase.

Slayer performs at the Izod Center in E. Rutherford, NJ, on Aug. 12 and the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ, on Aug. 15, and Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY, on Oct. 8.