Exclusive Interview: Rob Zombie and Slayer’s Tom Araya Discuss the Hell On Earth Tour
Kicking off on July 20, Rob Zombie and Slayer will team up for the Hell On Earth tour, their first time trekking across the US together since Ozzfest ’99, and to many, it’s about time these two metal juggernauts roamed reunited. (This reporter remembers the Jersey show of Ozzfest ’99 as the single concert that changed his life, introducing him to Slayer and plunging him headfirst into metalheadom.) We contacted Zombie and Slayer frontman Tom Araya to talk to them about the upcoming tour, lineup changes (Zombie has signed on ex-Marilyn Manson drummer Ginger Fish, and during recent tour dates, Slayer have had to replace founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman with Exodus’ Gary Holt due to an infected spider bite on the axman’s arm). Here’s what they had to say:
REVOLVER How did the Hell On Earth tour come to be? What brought you guys back together?
ROB ZOMBIE How do any of these things come about? A publicist came to me and was like, “Do you want to do a tour with Slayer this summer?” Of course I said, “Yeah.” I mean, I know the guys in Slayer, we run into each other all the time just by being in the same circles. We just got done doing a tour in Australia together.
TOM ARAYA I think, after 30 years, I think Slayer has arrived at a cool factor. We’ve gotten to the point where it’s cool to be in it. I think it makes for a show to come and see. Zombie has that cool factor, we have that cool factor now, so it’ll allow people who maybe aren’t into both bands to check it out. To me, it’s a bill that works good, that works a lot better than [Slayer's 2009 Mayhem Fest co-headliner Marilyn] Manson. That was a very different audience for us. Manson’s also very theatrical, but Zombie has more groove. Manson’s all doom and gloom. [Laughs]
The last time you guys toured together was Ozzfest ’99. Why have other bands risen and fallen, but Slayer and Zombie remained?
ZOMBIE Both bands have are really intense and do a really over-the-top thing. I think it’s just a good match, a really good package, something that the fans will really enjoy. We both have very big sounds, and put on really big, satisfying shows. So I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and a really good time for everyone.
ARAYA I think because we stick to our guns. We’re a very sonic band, we stay true to our sound and the heaviness that comes with Slayer. And Zombie has stayed really true to his stage show, to this kind of circus atmosphere. Zombie’s also a bit more radio acceptable, so he’s able to get out on the radio. We do it more by touring.
You’ve both taken on new members. Rob, how is having Ginger Fish on board? Tom, you guys have been friends with Gary Holt since back in the day, right?
ZOMBIE We haven’t actually played that much with [Ginger Fish] yet, but I’m really excited to have him on board. Obviously, I had luck with John [5, Manson’s previous guitarist]. When [Ginger] played some stuff for us, it really felt good to watch him, to see that he got what we were trying to do. I’m excited to bring him out on the road.
ARAYA Yeah, shit, the first show we ever played in San Francisco, we played with Exodus and a band called Lääz Rockit. We met Exodus back in ’83, and it’s been one of those friendships that pick up every time we run into each other. Gary playing with us has made the decision [to replace founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman] a lot easier, because he was a friend. It’s a very comforting feeling to have Gary along, because it’s based on a friendship. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Rob, you’re also touring England later this year for the first time in forever—what has kept you from doing more tours like these in the past?
ZOMBIE Making movies basically got in the way. Once the movies started happening, I basically stopped touring as much. I’d do a US tour every once in a while, then do another film. It really does take a lot of time and effort to tour around the world. My new goal is to try and find a balance for it—to get around the globe and tour and also go make a movie.
Tom, Jeff Hanneman showed up at the Big 4 show in Indio, California, to play a few songs with Slayer. Will he be playing any shows with you guys this summer or maybe at September’s Big 4 show?
ARAYA We really have to see. He’s still got a lot of work to do on his arm. It’s on a day-by-day basis. At the moment, he’s still healing up. It was pretty severe. If you were to know what really went on behind the scenes, you’d understand. I don’t think people quite understand what he had to go through. We’d rehearse with him, to see where’s he’s at, and he’d only be able to do a few songs before his arms got really tired. He’s really anxious to play, and we just said, “Take your time, recover.” I want the fans to understand that he ain’t going anywhere, and the band’s not going anywhere without him. He’s just out of commission at the moment.