SLAYER guitarist Kerry King says that he didn't take it personally when Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival co-founder Kevin Lyman criticized the metal scene for the lower-than-usual attendance at this year's edition of the travelling event. The tour is smaller this year, with fewer bands overall and fewer "headline-worthy" acts at the top.
"The bands at the top all demand a certain level of fee to be on a tour," Lyman told the Detroit Free Press. "Unlike punk rock, metal never knows how to take a step back to move the whole scene forward…What happened was metal chased girls away because what happened was metal aged. Metal got gray, bald and fat."
King, whose band is headlining this year's Mayhem, told the Houston Press that the problem with this summer's event lies not so much with the metal bands themselves but with the way the festival was booked.
"I didn't take what he said personally," Kerry said. "He just definitely had a mike put in front of him and said some shit that's detrimental to this tour and any tours he has in the future — not just Mayhem, but whatever else he promotes. Because, to me, he committed business suicide.
"At the end of the day, what I think happened to Mayhem was that they waited too late in the game to get the talent they needed to pull it off correctly," Kerry continued. "Because what happens is, people get booked up so early these days that it seems like all the bands that could have made this more of a success are playing in Europe now instead of being on a U.S. festival. It just made the talent pool less than it could be."
According to King, there is a certain benefit to headlining a big package like Mayhem. "The advantage, for me, is that if we're doing our own tour, we're carrying our own sound and lights, whereas if we do a big tour like this, sound and lights are provided," he said. "It lets us invest more in the show, which is why at Mayhem you always see us with fire and video screens behind us instead of a backdrop."
Despite his public war of words with Lyman, King told the Houston Press that he wouldn't rule out another Mayhem stint for SLAYER in the future.
"Under different circumstances, of course," he said. "One of the owners is a close friend of mine, and I can't wait for him to come back. Not to chew him out, just to say, 'Hey dude, I understand your partner made some shitty comments, but I don't hold that against you. You didn't say 'em, you're my bro, and somebody never should have put a mike in front of that guy. In the future you better keep a mike away from him if you want your festivals to be well-attended, because he's just fucking everything up.'"
This year's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival kicked off on June 26 in Chula Vista, California and will wrap on August 2 in Dallas, Texas.