SLAYER bassist/vocalist Tom Araya recently spoke with Gary Graff of Billboard.com about the band's future following the passing of founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman in May of this year. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.On not making definite plans to return to the studio until they finish their current tour: Araya: "We're at a point where we're obviously going to have to do a lot of communication and figure out where we want to go. There are decisions the two of us need to make as a group. Three weeks after [Hanneman] died, we were back on the road; a lot of stuff was put together in advance, so we're meeting our contractual obligations, in a sense. We've never really had an opportunity to really sit down and discuss what we're feeling and where we are and where we want to go. Jeff was a big part of the band; some people are just now realizing that, but I've always known it. So Kerry [King, guitar] and I have a lot of thinking to do, a lot of talking to do and we haven't been in a place to do that yet." On whether Hanneman's final songwriting ideas will be used for the next SLAYER album: Araya: "The new record idea was brought up a few years back. I had injured my back and wasn't able to make the recording sessions that they had with Jeff, Kerry and Dave [Lombardo, SLAYER's now ex-drummer] and started to putting ideas together for a new album. Now we're basically at a point where, 'What are we gonna do?' with that stuff. And we won't know until we talk." On playing without Hanneman: Araya: "When we started back out, it was hard for, like the first week of the tour. Everything was fine until we would drop the banner; I had a tough time maintaining control at first. I mean, even though he wasn't part of our live performances for the past two years, there was hope. There was always the possibility and chance he'll be coming back — there was never any doubt he was coming back from my perspective. So when we got the call [that Hanneman had died], it was, like, 'Holy shit! It's permanent now.' And still, every now and then I have to remind myself that he's not gonna be back. This is how it is. I have to remind myself that he's not alive anymore. That's hard." Read more at Billboard.com.