Slayer ready to ‘bring it’ for Chicago shows – an interview with Paul Bostaph
Originally published February 15, 2016
by Melanie Falina
2015 was a somewhat of a landmark year for thrash masters Slayer. After the untimely passing of co-founding member and guitarist Jeff Hanniman in 2013, many believed that was the end of Slayer – but Slayer is simply too good of a band to hang things up just yet, and so the thrash lived on. A reassembled Slayer featuring Kerry King on guitar, Tom Araya on bass and lead vocals along with Paul Bostaph on drums, and touring guitarist Gary Holt, the band wrote and recorded ttheir 12th studio album, Repentless, and unleashed it upon the metal and thrash worlds this past September – proving without a doubt that Slayer is still a mighty force to be reckoned with.
Not only did Repentless sell 49,000 copies in its first week alone, the newest Slayer album debuted at #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart – the band’s highest position in the career of the band. With a killer 12-track release at the ready as well as a cache of well-loved classic tunes, Slayer went on doing what they do best – touring the world and playing the in-your-face thrash metal that fans have voraciously loved for more than three decades now. And now there’s going to be even more where that came from in 2016 – and it’s all beginning right here in Chicago.
Kicking off a North American headlining tour on February 19 at the Riviera Theatre (Chicago), Slayer is embarking on a five-week stretch with more than two dozen shows already scheduled. The tour’s first night in Chicago quickly sold out and an additional show was added for the following night for double the thrash, double the mayhem, and even more of that aggressive, mosh-pit beckoning brand of metal that Chicagoans so love. With the bands Testament and Carcass as special guests for all dates for this tour, after the initial dates in the Windy City the tour will snake all over the U.S. and Canada before wrapping things up in Las Vegas on March 26.
But before packing up to begin this sure-to-be delightfully-wicked thrash tour, Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph, who had returned to the band in 2013, took some time out of his chaotic schedule to talk. When asked what kinds of things are going through his head during this exciting time in the band, Bostaph replied: “I kind of just look at what’s in front of me and in the moment. My head’s not spinning over it; it’s true I never thought I’d be back in Slayer – not that I never thought I’d come back, but I left the band, they moved on, I moved on – you just don’t expect to get a phone call again. Needless to say, I’m basically grabbing the bull by the horns and I’m giving 100-percent effort while I’m here and I always have.”
He went on to day: “But I think this time around, because it’s one of those things where I never expected to be back, and when I got the opportunity, I valued this opportunity because when I was out of the band I missed it, I really missed it. I missed the style of the music, I missed the songs, and I missed the guys. So when I got the opportunity to come back I was like there’s nothing that compares to this for me in terms of this energy, this level – you know, it’s Slayer! For me it’s the ultimate gig in terms of the musical style, and as a fan what I want from heavy metal or thrash metal, and also I’m an athlete – I love sports, I love to swim and exercise. This is kind of the marriage of everything that I’m interested in in terms of sports, being active, and drums, and it’s great to be back.”
Adding in earnest: “I consider myself fortunate. I’m not taking this for granted.”
And in regards to this upcoming tour, Bostaph has got a pretty clear plan for how it’s all going to go down: “I’m a firm believer in that it’s all about playing live and I think that we’ll still bring it. And I’ll keep bringing it live until I can’t anymore. It’s all about the energy.”
With the first night at the Riviera Theatre having sold out and the second night’s tickets selling like hotcakes as well, Bostaph commented on the imminent Chicago shows: “I love Chicago. Chicago is a great town and a great heavy metal community. I always have a great time playing there, it’s a very passionate audience and crowd.”
If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet for either of these shows don’t delay, it is still possible to see Slayer with Testament and Carcass on Saturday, February 20.