ABSU percussionist Proscriptor (a.k.a. Russ R. Givens) is a strong candidate to fill the vacant SLAYER drummer slot following the departure of Paul Bostaph, who left the group last December due to a chronic elbow injury. Although the drummer has yet to be officially offered the position, Givens reportedly auditioned with SLAYER guitarist Kerry King on February 7th in Dallas and passed the test with flying colors.
According to reports, Russ was given three days to prepare 11 SLAYER songs and to be video-taped performing these tracks simultaneously with the original SLAYER recordings prior to delivering the cassette to SLAYER's management. After seeing the tape, guitarist Kerry King asked Proscriptor to audition with him on the day of SLAYER's scheduled Dallas concert (which ended up getting cancelled following the death of frontman Tom Araya's father). The subsequent jam consisted of four songs of Givens' choice—"Postmortem", "Raining Blood", "Disciple", and "Hell Awaits"—and was said to have been a rousing success. At the moment, Givens is awaiting further word from the SLAYER camp on his possible inclusion in the group's line-up.
Givens is the first high-profile skinsman to have gone public with his account of a SLAYER audition, but he is certainly not the only “name” musician to have tried out for the coveted slot. Other drummers that are known to have auditioned or attempted to arrange auditions include former WHIPLASH/KREATOR skinsman Joe Cangelosi, DYING FETUS/MISERY INDEX pounder Kevin Talley, and ex-ACROPHET drummer Jason Mooney. Mooney, as you may recall, originally auditioned for the gig back in 1996 prior to Bostaph rejoining the fold and was reportedly in serious consideration to make the final cut.
In an interview conducted with King in Houston, Texas on February 6th—the day before the above-mentioned audition took place—the guitarist discussed the ongoing drummer search and spoke briefly about Dave Lombardo's temporary return to the fold. The following quotes are taken from that interview, as reported by Rockzone magazine:
On Dave Lombardo's performance since coming back into the band:
“I really didn't think Dave was going to be able to do it, but he surprised the hell out of me. He comes in and rips through it better than he did the first time.
“We rehearsed, like, two or three weeks [to get ready for the current tour]. Actually three weeks, but less than 14 days we actually played [as a band]. [Dave]'s still learning a couple of [the newer songs that were originally recorded with Bostaph on drums], but they're good enough to play [as they are].”
On the ongoing drummer search:
“The guy Dave brought down has been our favorite so far. But that's the good stack (points to a pile of tapes on the table). It's a lot smaller than the 'ungood' stack. We've got 'ungood' ones everywhere, I'm just going through the ones we picked off already and seeing if there is anything I want to remember about them or if I just need to be done with it.
On the Dallas auditions (which were to take place the next day):
“[There] might only be two [drummers that we'll jam with tomorrow]. There are a lot of people from the East Coast sending tapes in that can't make it to Dallas, so they may have a better chance getting into San Francisco. It's easier to fly coast-to-coast. I think we only have two tomorrow. A kick-ass dude [presumably Givens—ed.] might be coming tomorrow, but if not, he'll be in San Francisco.”
On the preferred age group of potential drummers:
“I'd rather get someone less than...the oldest guy I'd want would be in his early 30s, because I think we'll go longer than whatever drummer it's going to be. Because they get beat up a lot more and it definitely takes more out of them. I want someone who is going to be able to play as long as we can play. If we get someone 37 or 38, they might run out of gas after a few years.”