Kerry King Opens Up on How He Really Felt About Slayer Retiring: ’It Was Premature’

Metal Hammer recently published an excerpt from an interview with Slayer’s Kerry King, taken from their newest printed edition. The highlight of the interview seems to be his stance on Slayer retiring in 2019. When asked what did he feel when the decision to pull the plug came up, the guitarist replied:

“Anger… what else? It was premature. The reason I say ‘premature’ is because my heroes from my childhood are still playing! I can still play, I still want to play, but that livelihood got taken away from me.”

Slayer - last concert Los Angeles - Angel of Death & Slayer says Goodbye

On the other hand, King seems to be focused on the future and isn’t all too keen about dwelling on the past. What’s done is done and, additionally, he’s also okay with ending things at their peak. King continued:

“But, anyway, on to the next chapter, I guess. We were on top of the world, and there’s nothing wrong with going out on top of the world, it’s a good way to go out. So, bravo for that. But do I miss playing? Yeah, absolutely.”

During the band’s last years, bassist and vocalist Tom Araya was very open about being burned out from Slayer. The statements go way back to the 2010s, around the time when original guitar player Jeff Hanneman passed away.

The band’s final show of the final tour took place on November 30, 2019, over at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Reflecting on this final run, Kerry King said:

“Every one of those shows was a bummer! We were going to all these places and all these cities where we have all this history. It’s a bummer to think, ‘I’m not gonna see my friends there again.’

“You’d get to that country and know you were going to see these people, and you’d see them yearly. I haven’t seen them now in three years. That sucks.

“And the fans, too. Slayer means a lot to our fans, and they mean a lot to us. I know I will see these people again, but no Slayer leaves a big hole for a lot of people.”

King was also asked about his upcoming new project that he’s been talking about for a while. When asked about this new band, the name of which is yet to be revealed, he said:

“If you know my work, you know what it’s going to sound like.”

Apart from Kerry King and Tom Araya, the band’s final tour featured Paul Bostaph on drums and Gary Holt of Exodus on guitar. Dave Lombardo, the band’s original drummer, was fired back in 2013 over a financial-related disagreement with the band.

As for Jeff Hanneman, his last performance with the band was in April 2011 when he joined to play two songs at the first Big Four show in the United States. This was also the last time that the original Slayer lineup played together.

Jeff Hanneman Last Performance

Back in 2017, Tom Araya spoke up on the difficulties he had with touring and how it all affected his health. Discussing the issues in an interview, he said:

“I’m tired. This is our fourth show in, and we’ve got another 38 days. I like being home. I have my animals that I take care of. I’ve got a beautiful granddaughter now.”

“I’m able to experience what I didn’t experience with my kids because I wasn’t home so much – I’m watching her crawl. And now she’s not even crawling, she wants to stand up and walk.”

“She’s bypassing the crawling stage. She’s trying to walk! So I’m able to experience a lot of development stages I didn’t get to experience with my kids because I was always gone.

“I like doing this, I just hate to travel. Dude, I can’t be any more honest than that. The first two nights we had late shows, we call them ‘the deadliners.'”

“You’re the so-called headliner, but you play last. And it’s deadliner because, by the end of the night, everybody’s dead. Then it depends on the kind of concert you’re playing. The concert we initially started this tour with, the festival that we did, was like radio-type bands, and then us at the very end.”

“And at the very end, it’s just people… You know, we played last before, but these people were just kind of like slowly trickling away. So by the end of the night, there wasn’t really that many left. But we were still playing. It wasn’t like we were gonna play half-ass.”

“We did the whole show. We put a 100% in, and when I was done I thanked everybody that decided to stay. [Laughs] ‘For those of you who decided to stay with us, thank you very fucking much!’ [Laughs]”

“I have a tough time sleeping on the bus. So we get here, and the minute we get in I crash. I only sleep maybe 4 hours and then I wake up. I can’t sleep. It’s a road thing. And then I – see, now you’re getting into my private life – I wear CPAP when I sleep. I need that to sleep.”

“So if I can’t sleep well I don’t sleep long. So I only slept 3 or 4 hours, I woke up, so I’ve been up since 10. So I didn’t really sleep very long. I don’t sleep good on the bus period, and then when I got off to the hotel I just didn’t sleep very long.”

“That’s the part of the road that I’m not enjoying anymore. Because I can’t rest, I can’t get plenty of sleep. So now when I do this, and we’re on early which is great… You know, it’s a long drive.”

Photo: WanderingTrad (Slayer Tuska 2019 (4))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.