This month thrash icons, Slayer, will kick off the first leg of their 2016 Repentless World Tour with Testament and Carcass. Repentless marks the band’s twelfth studio album, the first without founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman, and the first with Exodus guitarist Gary Holt. It also ushers in the return of drummer Paul Bostaph who last appeared on Slayer’s 2001 release, God Hates Us All. Guitarist Kerry King and vocalist/bassist Tom Araya wasted no time reaching out to Bostaph when a vacancy came open. His resume speaks for itself; from his time with seminal Bay Area thrashers, Forbidden, to his work with Exodus and Testament, to his previous time in Slayer, Bostaph is a drumming legend. This week Metalholic caught up with Paul to chat about the upcoming tour, recording Repentless, and why he just wants to have fun at this point in his career.
As Slayer rolls into 2016, the band celebrates its 35 anniversary, and the 30th anniversary of its groundbreaking Reign in Blood album. Creating a setlist for the upcoming tour is a daunting task, and we asked Bostaph what fans might expect and if there will be any obscure cuts in the set:
“I’m not sure if you’ll see anything that’s totally obscure, per se, but we have so many songs that are at our disposal in terms of what we can play as a band that you never know what we’re going to come up with. We’re dusting off a few songs this week and you might hear a few things you haven’t heard in a while.”
Nearly 15 years have elapsed between Bostaph’s last record with Slayer and Repentless, but the drummer says that being back in the studio in many ways felt like business as usual. The difference from his perspective came from his growth as a musician.
“It was strange. The things that were familiar is that I’ve done it with this band before. I know the drill, per se. But the other side of it was in my absence from the band I’ve recorded albums with Exodus, Testament, and jammed with a bunch of different people. I’ve been able to draw from all those experiences on this record, which I didn’t have with any previous record I’ve done with the band before. Those experiences, I think, have made me a better drummer than I have been in the past—in my opinion.”
Bostaph also shared that the absence of Jeff Hanneman changed the dynamic in the studio for him, and in many ways, Jeff was with him in spirit.
“Typically when I’d be in the studio in the past, I knew how to read what was making the guys excited about my drum tracks. Since Jeff wasn’t with us, at times I was thinking of Jeff more than I ever would have. If he’d been in the room I probably wouldn’t have thought of him at all unless he said something. But he was always in the back of my mind. Part of it was I wanted to do honor to the album, to honor Jeff, and then part of it was, ‘Well, what would Jeff think about this?’ He was still in the room. So that was probably the strangest part about it.”
When Paul initially joined Slayer in 1992, he admits he felt he had a lot to prove. All eyes and ears were on him, and he had big sticks to fill. Over 20 years later, with a lot of metal and wisdom under the bridge, and his belt, Bostaph once again found himself replacing one of his heroes behind the same kit he had previously vacated. This time around, Paul says he did not feel the same kind of pressure.
“I don’t think I had anything to prove on this album. I just felt like this was an important record. Personally, I don’t think I have to prove anything to anybody but myself. I think that old attitude about having something to prove was when I was younger—and I did. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not resting on my laurels. I think now I approach it differently. I want to have fun playing drums. I think that’s the difference. I want that to define my playing now.”
You can listen to the full interview with Paul Bostaph above, and catch more of his thoughts on Slayer, Repentless, and the Iranian thrash band, Confess, recently jailed and facing execution for making “Satan’s music.”
Slayer will kick off the first leg of the Repentless World Tour in Chicago on Feb. 19 which runs through March. They will then head overseas for a couple of dates with Iron Maiden and several festival appearances heading into the summer.