INTERVJU: Paul Bostaph i Kerry King/Slayer

Slayer försvann, men Kerry King ville fortsätta lira och slog ihop sig med sin trummis Paul Bostaph. På Sweden Rock Festival slog vi oss ned tillsammans med den sistnämnde och snackade influenser, kärleken till musik, hur överraskad han blev när det visade sig att Slayer återuppstår igen och det där med att spela Slayerlåtar i Kerry Kings band:

Obviously we´re a new band and we don´t want to play a bunch of Slayer songs. We´re not trying to be baby Slayer, but then again it´s part of our pedigree and I think people still want to hear that and why not?

In the words of William Miller, what is it about music that you love?

That´s a damn good question! I like that it takes me on a journey and at times it can tell a story and music can eject the emotion into the story, so it´s a more complete human experience of what is being written about. I also like that it´s not any one language. It´s very universal, whether or not there are lyrics to it or not. Without lyrics, music is something we all can understand.

When you were a kid, do you remember the first kind of music you felt an emotional connection to?

That would be rock and roll. The first time I heard rock and roll. We basically listened to what my parents were listening to and it was never rock and roll. My dad was into big bands like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Bing Crosby and stuff like that. My mom was a bit more progressive and she was into jazz and stuff like that, but the first time I heard rock and roll it was like “Whoa!” The thing that captured me about it was the beat and the lyrical melody and after that it just got deeper. The first time I heard anything that was rock and roll was when… every Sunday we used to go to the dumps with my dad. We were a family of seven and we would load up the truck with garbage cans and it was me and a couple of my brothers and we would always ask him to play the radio. My dad hated rock and roll, but he´d let us hear one song and that was kind of the first time I ever heard it, in my dad´s pick up truck.

What made you go for the drums?

Funny enough I didn´t really know I wanted to be a drummer until I one day was watching a Rod Stewart concert on a black and white TV. At the time I was young and playing sports and soccer was my main sport. I watched the show and Carmine Appice was the drummer. He was back there playing and twirling his sticks. It was killer and I couldn´t take my eyes off of him, “Man, that guy is really good!” and I was thinking to myself “If he messes up once, it´s over for the whole band.” I kept looking at him and I wanted that responsibility. I hadn´t played drums yet and at the end of the concert Rod Stewart had these soccer balls and he booted them out into the audience and right there I said “That´s what I want to do.”

What´s it been like playing these Kerry King shows?

Well, there haven´t been that many, but it´s very interesting because the music is so new and trying to take the new music onto the stage with other guys we haven´t played with and also remember what I have to do plus there´s this live energy going on… actually for a band that hasn´t been on stage before ever, it´s a lot of good energy. There´s a very, very good chemistry going on with Phil (Demmel) and Kyle (Sanders) and… I´ve played with Kerry for years so we know how to play it, but Phil and Kyle… Kyle´s a beast. He´s locked in and I can listen to Kerry and Phil and it´s almost like one. It´s very good. There are some super tight moments. Mark (Osegueda) is great. Me, Phil and Mark are from the Bay Area so we know each other from that, but all the shows have been really good. Once we get some more shows under our belt it´s going to be very, very tight.

How much rehearsal time did you get?

What´s interesting about it is that before our first show we rehearsed four times with Mark. Four rehearsals in southern California. We´d never played before and got into a room. I´m going to take that back. Two rehearsals before the first show in Detroit and then we played our first festival show from there. Then we had 12 days off and no rehearsals. Then we played another festival and now we´re here. We had one rehearsal before this run, so we´re just jumping right in.

The upcoming Slayer shows? Were you as surprised as Kerry apparently was?

Yeah! I mean, Kerry knew it before I did, but yeah. I got the phone call and I never saw that coming. Really, when it was done in 2019, I went “That´s all! That´s it!” I´m not going to sit there and go “I hope it happens again.” I´m like “It´s done. Time to move on.” It was a fun ride while I was there and a great band, but then all of a sudden I get that phone call and I was like “Huh?” It´ll be great. It will be great to jam with Tom (Araya) and Gary (Holt) and Kerry, which I´m doing anyway, but just playing Slayer songs. It´s Slayer, so what´s not to really like about it, unless you don´t like Slayer, hahaha! But yeah, I was surprised about it.

When you started out playing with Slayer, was there like one song you struggled more with than others?

A lot of them. I´m not going to say that I sat down and started playing like “Oh, I know how to play this stuff!” Literally, I had to dissect Dave´s playing, because for me to even… when I got the call for the audition and if I come in and can´t play the songs the way they should sound, I´m not going to get the gig. It doesn´t matter how good of a drummer you are. You´ve got to give the band what they want and I´m all about that. It took me a long time and I dedicated a lot of time to it. I had ten days and over those ten days I walked around with headphones on and it was all I listened to. I had like a Sony Walkman with a cassette in it and for each song I had to learn I had the live version taped twice and I had the studio version taped twice and it was all I listened to all day long and I would rewind and fast forward and rewind and fast forward. Some of them were easier because the structure of the song was easier, but it was no fooling around. Dave´s drum fills are no bullshit. That´s his style and I was doing my own thing and I never tried to… I´ve played cover tunes with people for fun, but never like “Ok, you´re going to get this opportunity to play with this band with one of the most iconic drummers in heavy metal and by the way, you probably should play his drum fills like he does…”, I play them the way I play them as close to the way he plays them as possible, but there´s only one of him. There´s only one Dave Lombardo and there´s only one of me and there´s only one of everyone else, which is a good thing, right. Man, if I had to say which one was the hardest one, oh man! That´s a really good question, because there were so many of them that took me some effort to get right. “Silent scream” was not an easy one. That was a great one. I wanted to play that one, but they didn´t even bring it up. One day I went “Can we play Silent scream?” and they went “Wow, we haven´t thought about that one.” That was one because there´s fast double bass. I was influenced by that song for the Forbidden song “Infinite” I heard Dave do double bass and I was “I want to do a song like that!”

You´re playing a few Slayer songs with Kerry now. How did you go about picking which ones?

Kerry picked them. Obviously we´re a new band and we don´t want to play a bunch of Slayer songs. We´re not trying to be baby Slayer, but then again it´s part of our pedigree and I think people still want to hear that and why not. Me and Kerry can do it, so why not? Kerry picked them and I think once we get more known and have more records out, we´ll probably interject different ones in. I don´t think there´s anything he can throw at med that I don´t know. All the other guys have to learn them, but not me.

Is there already now stuff that you know can end up on the next album?

Yeah! When Kerry and me started working on this record, well, all the material for this record, we didn´t know what was going to be on this record, but over the pandemic Kerry kept sending me songs. What Kerry will do is he writes out what he thinks he wants the drums to do in the song and then I just do whatever I want with it. Over the pandemic he kept doing that, so by the time we got together in a room, which was a couple of years ago, we got together for seven days and we had ten songs demoed. He had all these other songs so I said “Let´s keep going!”, so we kept going and there´s some stuff left over from the “Repentless” era that we could bring over to this because it will work with this band. We´re sitting on… I can´t remember what he said last time, but we´re sitting on like 17 songs. When we get done and when we´re ready to go into pre-production, he and I can get together with the band, depending on how familiar the guys get with the material, but If Kerry and I had to go in and just track the album by ourselves, it would take us like two weeks to just rehearse and we´re in the studio and it´s done. That´s what I think. We´ve got a lot of material ready and that was kind of the thing when we got together, we had so much time off and we kept talking and I said “Dude, keep writing, because now is the time! If we get this album done, we´re going to be on the road and we can´t afford to take a year off, so let´s just get into the studio and BAM put out another record and get it out there.”

Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen

Foto: Björn Olsson, Therés Stephansdotter Björk