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, Zakk Wylde — Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, Black Label Society bandleader and longtime friend to Slayer — tells tales of the thrash OGs, from the fun of wearing the band's shirts to nice restaurants, to why you might want to deck yourself out in sports gear before hitting one of their shows.
WHAT'S YOUR FIRST SLAYER MEMORY THAT COMES TO MIND?
ZAKK WYLDE I remember having to explain myself when I'd be wearing a Slayer shirt. "You can't wear that shirt in this restaurant." I go, "Why not?" They go, "Well that's like a devil band or something." I go, "No. That's one of the most celebrated Irish Catholic folk bands of all time." And they would go, "Oh, OK, we didn't know. Come on in. Here's a table right over here." So, you know, it has worked to its advantages at times whenever I've worn my Slayer shirt.
WHAT IS THE MOST UNIQUE THING ABOUT SLAYER?
I've known Kerry [King] and the guys for years now. But it's amazing, what they created all those years ago. It really is its own genre, you know what I mean? Same thing with Saint Dime, Saint Vinnie over there. Which is pretty remarkable. And that they've been doing it this long. In that genre, they're the Beatles of that genre of music. They're the heavyweight champs [of] all the bands that play that aggressive style of music, whether it's thrash meets punk meets, like that whole thing. That's part of the Slayer soup. So I think all bands are measured by them and I think that's what makes them unique.
DO YOU REMEMBER HOW YOU WERE FIRST INTRODUCED TO SLAYER? WAS IT VIA A SONG, A SHIRT, A SHOW OR WHAT?
I don't know if it was the first time I heard them or it was a combination of everything. You know, like, people wearing the shirts or cranking the music. It's just more of a lifestyle-type thing as well. It's more than just the just the music and a T-shirt, you know what I mean? It's more of a mindset, as well.
WHAT'S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU'VE SEEN AT A SLAYER SHOW?
I mean the videos, those goof videos that they put together were peoples are losing [their] minds when Slayer starts playing, those are pretty hilariously over the top. But, when you go to a Slayer show — the moshing and the crowd surfing and the whole nine yards — basically it's like going to go into a game. That's part of the whole experience of going on a on a rollercoaster ride, and it has a 20 story drop. That's part of the experience! [Laughs] When you go to a Slayer show, and you're wearing catcher's equipment. It's like, "You going to play baseball?" "No, I'm going to a Slayer show! We're going to see Kerry and the fellas." [Laughs]
YOU MENTIONED KNOWING KERRY FOR SO LONG. WHAT'S SOMETHING ABOUT HIS PERSONALITY THAT FANS MIGHT NOT KNOW?
He's just one of the guys. He's a good egg. I guess, you know, everyone's perception is what they see: Kerry, the mean guy onstage with the goatee and everything like that. But no, Kerry, he's just good people, man. Yeah, he's definitely one of your buddies you call at three o'clock in the morning when the truck broke down and he's like, "All right assholes, where are you guys at? I'll come get you." It's always a good time with Father Kerry.