Rolling Stone caught up Slayer guitarist Kerry King at the opening day of the Mayhem Festival in San Bernardino to get an update on the band’s forthcoming album, as well as the health of sidelined Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman.
King revealed that prior to the launch of the Mayhem tour, Slayer had finished two songs that now await mixing, began two others that still need leads and vocals, and demoed two more with producer Greg Fidelman.
“If I get off my ass and start writing again on the road – since we’ve been in Europe, I keep trying to work on lyric ideas, maybe some leads, and fixing songs that didn’t work correctly – it should be a real quick process,” King said.
As of now, guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who is still recovering from necrotizing fasciitis on his right arm, believed to be caused by a spider bite, hasn’t contributed to the new record. However, King explained that it was the norm for him to begin recording the guitar parts, before bringing Hanneman in to record his solos. “I do a lot of the bass, too,” King added.
Furthermore, King remained adamant that there would always be a position in Slayer for Hanneman. “We’re planning for him to come back and the door is open, because it’s his f**king gig. If he can play, Jeff Hanneman is going to f**king be here, and I’m stoked about that. I love playing with Gary, and he’s doing a killer job, but if Jeff came back and said ‘I’m ready,’ I’ll check him out to see that he’s ready, and off we go.”
Unfortunately, Hanneman still has a way to go. “He’s rehearsed with us a number of times. He tried to do the Fun Fun Fun Fest [in Austin],” King said. “That’s the last time he tried to get out and do a show, and he’s just not there. It’s no secret we’re very intricate, especially rhythmically. But he can’t do that yet.”
Slayer will reevaluate Hanneman’s condition when the Mayhem Festival tour wraps up on Aug. 5 in Hartford, Conn.