Kerry King is a straight shooter – his deadpan honesty in interviews is the mark of a musician who made his name long before the minefield of social media. And when he spoke to to Rolling Stone recently about the launch of his new self-titled band with new song Idle Hands, he was open about his dealings and feelings about Slayer. Surprisingly so, in fact, when it comes to particular members.
"Lombardo is dead to me," King responded to a question about whether he's spoken to original Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo since he was fired in 2013 after posting online about his questions regarding the band's finances.
"He went on that tirade when we were on a flight to Australia, and he knew we couldn’t retort for 14 hours, and he threw me under the bus," adds King. "I was the only one keeping him in the band. Tom [Araya, bass / vocals] wanted him out before that, and Jeff [Hanneman, late guitarist] had just gotten the spider bite, so he wasn’t playing with us much. I said, 'We need [Dave]. The fans won’t get it if we replace him right now.'
And then the Australia thing came up. He threw me under the bus, and I’m like, “I’m the guy that kept you here.” So I thought, 'Fuck that guy.'"
Paul Bostaph would eventually end up returning to Slayer following Lombardo's dismissal and the drummer now joins King in his new band. The guitarist went on to suggest that he believed Lombardo was listening to the wrong advice.
"He’s super impressionable," continued King. "He was listening to this woman that was his attorney at the time, and she thought we had Metallica money, which we’ve never had fucking Metallica money. So she’s just blowing shit in his ear, and he thinks he should be getting more than he should be getting. It’s like, talk to somebody that actually knows the situation and isn’t just blowing sunshine up your ass to make money in your commission."
King has never made a secret of the fact he wasn't ready to end Slayer when Tom Araya called time on the band in 2019, but the guitarist reveals he hasn't spoken to his former bandmate since their last show at the LA Forum.
"Not even a text. Not even an email," confirms King. "I’ve talked to everybody else from the band on the phone, text, or email. If Tom hit me up, I’d probably respond. It probably depends on what he hit me up for, but I don’t wish him dead at this moment."
That's something at least. King confirmed two of the song's on his new band's debut album From Hell I Rise – Rage and the title track – were actually written for Slayer's final Repentless album, and he's got another four from those sessions that could end up being re-worked for the next Kerry King album.
Though former Machine Head guitarist Phil Demmel is joining him in the new band, King confirmed that he only plays leads on the album. Not surprising in light of how things worked in Slayer.
"Since the early Nineties I’ve done all the rhythm guitars and all the bass [on Slayer records]," King revealed. "I’ve always done bass because my guy [Tom Araya] really didn’t." King's new bassist Kyle Sanders (former Hellyeah and brother of Mastodon's Troy Sanders) did track bass for From Hell I Rise though, with Death Angel vocalist Mark Osegueda completing the lineup.
It's now King's creative home – and sounds very Slayer far – so renders any desire to reform his old band unnecessary for him for the foreseable.
"I can pretty much a hundred percent say no because I have a new outlet, and it’s not Slayer, but it sounds like Slayer," said King. "I’m making the music I like to make still, so I don’t need to do that. Records don’t sell anymore anyway. It’s just a means to have a product out so people know what I’m playing when I come to town.
"Will Slayer tour again? I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. Could Slayer play a show again? I’m sure there’s a scenario. Am I looking for it? No, I’m just getting ready to start my career. So if that happens, it happens. But I’m going to be doing this for the next 10 years at least."
From Hell I Rise is released on 17 May. Read the full interview at Rolling Stone.