Paul Bostaph is "excited to be back" with SLAYER and is "looking forward" to hitting the road again with the band starting this week, the drummer revealed during his first interview since rejoining the group.
Speaking to Nikki Blakk of the San Francisco, California radio station 107.7 The Bone (hear audio below), Paul said: "I'm excited to be back. It's been I don't know how many years since the last time I played with them… I think 12 years or something like that. It's been really cool to come back in the room and play some of the songs; SLAYER songs are epic and amazing. So that's been great. We had a lot of great years together when I was with them — I had a lot of fun with them — and I'm hoping to continue all that. So I'm looking forward to it."
It was announced on Thursday (May 30) by SLAYER's Tom Araya (bass, vocals) and Kerry King (guitar) that Bostaph will be behind the drum kit beginning June 4 when the band kicks off the first leg of its 2013 international tour in Warsaw, Poland. EXODUS' Gary Holt will continue to fill in for fallen guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who died on May 2 from alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver.
Asked to recount one of his favorite memories of Hanneman, Bostaph told Blakk: "I remember the first time I ever met Jeff, when I came down to audition. [I met] each individual guy in the band. Tom had a big smile on his face; he was there when I got there, and he shook my hand. Kerry was all business and introduced himself and asked if I was ready to kick ass, and I [said], 'Yup.' And the tour manager came out and asked if I wanted to meet Jeff, and I'm, like, 'Yeah, sure.' So they had this big warehouse and Jeff was sitting in the front, watching TV, and I came in. I was standing in the doorway, Jeff was sitting on the couch, and the tour manager goes, 'Paul Bostaph, Jeff Hanneman. Jeff Hanneman, Paul Bostaph.' And [Jeff] didn't even look at me, he just kind of nodded over my way and just [went] [makes grunting noise]. And he kept watching TV. And I was, like, 'OK. Great meeting you.' So we got to business, the audition part of it, and after we got done playing, everybody was really cool. But that impression of Jeff was really… After I got to know Jeff, it became comedic to me, because he didn't realize he did it. Years later, I [asked him], 'You remember when I auditioned for the band and remember when you met me?' He was all, 'No. What did I do?' And when I told him, he couldn't believe it. It was really funny and it was indicative of Jeff's sense of humor. Back then, they probably auditioned so many guys, it was just another drummer coming through for him. But I thought that was funny, because after that initial meeting, I thought, 'Boy, that guy's not really nice.' But that was so not him. You know what I mean? That's why I think that [memory of Jeff] stands out [to me]."
Bostaph was SLAYER's drummer from 1992 until 2001 and recorded four albums with the band — the gold-certified "Divine Intervention" (1994), the 1996 punk covers album "Undisputed Attitude", "Diabolus In Musica" (1998), "God Hates Us All" (2001) that received a Grammy nomination for "Best Metal Performance", as well as the DVD "War At The Warfield" (2001), also certified gold. In addition to SLAYER, Bostaph has been a member of FORBIDDEN, EXODUS, SYSTEMATIC and TESTAMENT.
SLAYER's 2013 itinerary will have the band playing 35 dates that will include headline shows as well as a number of major summer festivals in Europe, Eastern Europe and South America between June and October.
"Paul's a great drummer and a good friend, and we're very happy that he's decided to rejoin the band," said Araya. "We're still pretty numb from the loss of Jeff, but we don't want to disappoint our European and South American fans, and we need to begin moving forward... Having Paul back in the band makes that a whole lot easier."
In a 2003 interview with the San Francisco-based Internet music magazine Perfect Pitch Online, Bostaph broke his silence regarding the real reason he left SLAYER in December 2001. An official press release issued by the SLAYER camp had listed a chronic elbow injury as the reason for Bostaph's departure while a number of people had speculated that he left the band in order to join SYSTEMATIC. According to Paul, however, his reasons for leaving were purely musical.
"I didn't leave SLAYER because of an arm problem, and I certainly didn't leave SLAYER to join SYSTEMATIC," Paul told Perfect Pitch Online. "I was ready to go. It was nothing personal towards anybody in the band, it was just my time to leave. Musically, I wanted to do something else. And in terms of the problem I had with my arm, I re-aggravated an old softball injury by lifting up a laptop at the airport. That happened right at the beginning of the tour, and it never had time to heal. But even at that point, I was considering moving on from the band."
He continued: "SLAYER's a great band, and I had a lot of fun playing with them, but I have to feel like I'm taking chances musically.
"The first time I left SLAYER, I did [a project called] THE TRUTH ABOUT SEAFOOD — sure, it never got signed, but I enjoyed it a lot. SLAYER took my drumming to a new level, but there are also other levels of drumming that I haven't even touched yet. I want to become a more eclectic drummer."
Original SLAYER drummer Dave Lombardo sat out the band's recent Australian tour due to a contract dispute with the other members of the group. Filling in for him was Jon Dette (TESTAMENT, ANTHRAX).