After nearly four decades as revered pioneers of heavy metal and one of the best live acts on the planet, Slayer are nearing the end of their farewell world tour. What will they leave us beyond the fruits of their uncompromising vision: songs, videos, shirts, posters and other memorabilia? For one thing, stories. Lots of stories. So for Revolver's new issue, which features Slayer on one of its multiple collectible covers (you can purchase a copy via our store), we tracked down a few of their many famous friends and fans to compile some of the best.
Here, frequent tour mate and longtime pal Chuck Billy, of Testament fame, sends off the thrash OGs, recalling a classic story of drunkenly asking Tom Araya to stitch up a bad cut, and waxing poetic on the "pandemonium just from the beginning until the end" that is a Slayer show.
YOU GO WAY BACK WITH SLAYER AND HAVE ALSO TOURED WITH THEM AS PART OF THE FAREWELL RUN. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES WITH THE GUYS?
CHUCK BILLY Well, I mean, there's new and old — but first memory always kind of takes me back, to our first tours with them in Europe, which were incredible moments. And just being able to tour with them so long back that, just seeing from day one, to L.A., to where they are today. Slayer has always been the same band, with the same approach. That's what's kept Slayer true from the beginning through the end, and they've held their stance of who Slayer is. [They've] created a monster brand of it and I do see that from the beginning until now, the way they're going out is just such classic Slayer. Just playing it, awesome set, awesome show, just straight to the point.
It's pretty awesome being a part of that and seeing that. I've been friends with the band for a long time. Tom [Araya] used to come visit me a lot from L.A. and we had a lot of tours together and a lot of history together. And there's some classic moments between me, Tom and Jeff Hanneman, in the younger days. Just being a little more crazy. [Laughs]
COULD YOU TELL ONE OF THOSE CLASSIC MOMENTS?
Sure. It was Clash of the Titans and we were in Europe. We had a day off in London. Of course, the tour was sponsored by Jägermeister, so there was a lot of Jägermeister being drank on the tour. But this off day, really Jack Daniel's played a part in it. And somehow — well, I know how, the Jack Daniel's played a part in it — but me and Tom were in the elevator [and] somehow I broke the glass and split my wrist. It was a pretty good cut and we're just sort of drunk.
I just came down bleeding like hell and Hanneman was sitting at the bar and I just remember wiping my bloody hand all over his blond hair [laughs]. I mean, it was just all over the place. Tom, at this point, he had no shoes on. We decided, "Let's go to the hospital," so me and Tom jump in a car, wrap it up and go to the hospital. 'Course Tom's screaming top of his lungs, just profanities in there.
So we get into the room for the doctor to see me, and he knows who we are. And he's a little shaky trying to stitch me up we're still drunk. I'm like, "Tom he's shaking too much. Why don't you just stitch me up?" Tom used to study a lot of EMT training, so [laughs] I thought it'd be a good idea if Tom stitched me up. The doctor wouldn't let him do it, so [the doctor] stitched me up and it felt like the worst two stitches ever.
But that was just a moment I remember — just with me, Tom and Jeff, where it just happened — blood everywhere and next thing you know we're in the hospital. That's my classic Slayer, Tom, Jeff moment.
THAT'S AMAZING. SO WHAT'S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU HAVE SEEN AT A SLAYER CONCERT?
Ooo, shoot. I mean, there's people cutting into themselves. But, for one thing, it's just the aggression of the crowd from the minute the first song of a curtain drops. It just it's pandemonium just from the beginning until the end. It's pretty ruthless. [Laughs]
And that's what I love about it, it's always been like that. Just from back when I first started seeing them in bigger places in '87, back in Europe touring with them, it was just like today. Like I said, they're still the same guys, same band. They get out there, they're just fucking rule it and throw it down. It's pretty awesome, on this tour and to be a part of that and see them every night and Tom saying goodbye to the crowd. And them just putting on, I think, their best performance ever. It's got to be one of the best stage shows — just all the cylinders are firing perfectly. That's the way this farewell tour is, so it's great to see that.
TOM SAYING GOODBYE ONSTAGE HAS BEEN PRETTY EMOTIONAL, WHICH REMINDS ME THAT WHO HE IS ONSTAGE IS NOT WHO HE IS OFFSTAGE. KNOWING THE MEMBERS OF SLAYER PERSONALLY, WHAT'S SOMETHING FANS WOULD NOT KNOW ABOUT THEIR PERSONALITIES?
You said how, if you've never met Tom, you would think he's just going to be like he is at the microphone — screaming at you. But he is really soft spoken, and the same, as well, with Kerry. When you first see Kerry King sunglasses on, he comes off pretty intimidating and unapproachable almost. But once you approach Kerry and you start speaking to him, he's definitely a total down-to-earth dude that just likes to hang and talk football. I've seen it, people just are afraid to kind of approach him. But all of them, just the same exact way, especially being Slayer. That kind of comes with the brand, kind of like, it comes with the title. [Laughs]
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST UNIQUE THING ABOUT SLAYER?
I think because they stayed a straight line for who Slayer is from the beginning, musically, to where they are now. I mean, I think definitely it's a band once you put a record on, you right away, instantly know: That's Slayer.