In a brand new interview with Noisey, SLAYER bassist/vocalist Tom Araya spoke about the songwriting process for the band's new album, "Repentless", without the contributions of SLAYER's co-founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who died in 2013.
"We started this process, like, four years ago [before Jeff died]. It's been a long time coming. We started with the idea that we needed to do an album — well, our management was, like, 'You know, it's about time you guys do another record.' and we said, 'Oh, okay.' [Laughs] So we start working on ideas and put together some new songs, and then four years later, a lot has happened. Kerry [King, guitar] had a lot of stuff written, and Jeff was working ideas out, but he was very limited because he had a tough time playing his guitar. Jeff was always writing music, so he had demos and stuff that he liked, and he started cutting and pasting those together and trying to make them work."
He continued: "So, we had a lot of material already, but I was a little apprehensive, because Jeff and Kerry wrote the music for SLAYER. We all contributed to the lyrics, but music was written between the two of them. So you have half of SLAYER — musically you have half of SLAYER — and physically you have two-thirds of SLAYER, so it's a big percentage of the band. Two-thirds is still a big percentage, and, like I said, I was a little apprehensive because they each wrote differently, so it would be a lopsided wheel, you know what I mean? [Laughs] And when we went into the studio, the relationship me and Kerry share is very different than the relationship me and Jeff had. The relationship between me and Kerry is more black and white."
Asked if his relationship with Kerry is "more business," Tom replied: "Yeah, more business. And through the course of our history, Kerry and I have a different relationship than Jeff and I. I had to wonder how things were gonna be, because the studio experience was always different with Kerry. With Jeff, it was very open, and things came together, and magic happens. With Kerry, he didn't allow the magic to happen, you know what I mean? It was very cut-and-dried. I was apprehensive about how this record was going to come together, and so we sat down, we communicated, we shared our feelings, I shared my feelings about how I wanted to move forward if we were going to finish the record. We shook hands and we said, 'Okay, let's do this record,' and we went in there."
He continued: "I did what I did, and we had a great producer that listened to what I was doing, and really liked the stuff that I was doing, and who said, 'No, this sounds really great. We're not changing anything.' Kerry was able to pull a couple of rabbits out of his hat and wrote some slower, heavier music, too; he's written the heavy stuff before, it's not like he hasn't, but both heavy songs kind of just came together in the studio. In the beginning, you're, like, 'Holy shit, what's this gonna sound like?' and then in the end it was, like, 'Okay, this is good, this is SLAYER.'"
"Repentless" will be released on September 11 via Nuclear Blast.