Guitarist Kerry King can't even remember the last time his band — the iconic speed-metal maelstrom that is Slayer — played a gig it didn't close out. That's because, with more than 25 years in the business, Slayer have been a headlining act for quite some time. When Slayer take the stage, no one else follows. Or at least that's the way things were before the band decided to team up with Marilyn Manson.
Slayer's summer co-headlining run with Manson is set to kick off July 25 in West Palm Beach, Florida, and will hit 25 cities before concluding September 1 in San Antonio (see " 'Satan Is Alive And Well': Marilyn Manson, Slayer Announce Summer Tour Dates").
"[This tour has] been in the works for a good part of this year, and the way it started out was, we were looking to do another Unholy Alliance this summer," King explained of the festival, which featured Mastodon, Lamb of God, Children of Bodom and Thine Eyes Bleed last year (see "Slayer Forge 'Ozzfest Alternative' With Mastodon, Lamb Of God"). "Then, when we found out we'd probably be touring with Manson, he didn't want to call it [the Unholy Alliance]. So, we were like, 'Fine, man. Let's just go out and do a big tour.' He basically said [playing festival runs] wasn't who he is anymore, and we were like, 'All right.' It didn't make much sense to me, but that's who he is now, I guess."
So, while this summer's trek is billed as a "co-headliner," King said each and every date on the tour will end with a set from Manson.
"It is completely co-headlining, except that he wanted to close every day, and we're like, 'Hey, knock yourself out,' " King said. "We've been in so many situations like that, and sometimes, it's better not to be the last band on. So, we're just kind of happy about it. I don't have the ego that makes me — and I'm not saying Manson does — but I don't have the ego that makes me have to close every show. I won't be playing any longer, and we'll be done with our show and be able to chill for a change."
But, while some speculate that the two artists have vastly different fanbases, King said the pairing does make sense to him. And if Manson plays his cards right, he might not witness a mass exodus of Slayer fans leaving each venue once King's crew is through.
"It's definitely going to be weird," he admitted. "My whole thing is, it depends on what Manson plays, whether our kids stay or not. If he comes out and plays 'Tainted Love,' half the place is going to leave. No offense to Manson — I'm just saying what's up. I want him to come out and kick ass, because I'm an old-school fan. He can succeed on this tour, if he chooses the right set."
Slayer fans might be pleased to know that this summer's tour will coincide with the re-release of 2006's Christ Illusion on July 24 (see "New Slayer Album Might Be Their Fastest Yet"). The limited-edition set will contain the previously unreleased cut "The Final Six," as well as an alternate version of "Black Serenade." The reissue marks the band's first collaboration with new label home Columbia Records; Slayer left Warner Bros. when longtime producer Rick Rubin jumped ship to head Columbia back in May.
"This version of 'Black Serenade' is the version [guitarist] Jeff [Hanneman] originally wrote, and during the miscommunications of recording, it came out the way it did," said King. "I like the original version better. And 'The Final Six' was a song that just wasn't finished in time for the record, because [frontman] Tom [Araya] had to head home for [gall-bladder] surgery" [see 'Slayer's Tom Araya Says He'll Be 'A Little Slow' On Speed-Metal Tour."
"The Final Six," said King, "isn't going to sound out of place, because it was written for Christ Illusion. So, it's just another song off of that album, and it's not separate at all. The track was recorded by the time Christ Illusion came out — we just had to have Tom sing on it."
The reissue will also boast a bonus DVD called "Slayer on Tour '07." It will include the "Eyes of the Insane" video; a live rendition of the band's 1988 LP South of Heaven that was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, on last year's Unholy Alliance run; and a behind-the-scenes, five-minute documentary-style montage of footage shot earlier this year when the band performed in Florida and Australia.
As for Slayer's next album, King said it will be a while. The band hopes to book another tour toward the end of this year but has no definitive plans to write or record anytime soon. "It would be awesome to have football season off," King joked.