Kerry King of Slayer

A conversation with Slayer guitarist Kerry King, who plays this Sunday, December 12, at Roseland.

What's the most satanic thing you've ever personally witnessed?

A question like thatÉ I can't think of anything I've ever witnessedÉ I dunno, probably the Exorcist.

That could include bands you've toured with as well.

I never liked playing with Megadeth. That sucked.

Dave Mustaine's disposition qualifies as Satanic.

Yeah. Without a doubt.

Have you or any other member of Slayer ever drunk human blood?

Shiiiit. I know for a fact I haven't. I think (guitarist) Jeff (Hanneman) did way in the early days, when he used to hang with Exodus on the West Coast. They had that song Bonded by Blood and they did the cut-hand blood-brother thing, but I don't think they ever pulled a vamp or anything. We're pretty normal, dude.

Which leads me to the question many of your fans have been speculating about. Is Tom Araya (vocals/bass) a Christian?

I don't know what he is exactly. I think I'd be incorrect if I said he is a Christian. I don't know what he is; maybe a Catholic, I dunno. He's got some sort of religious belief. That's that.

What's it like to be a living legend?

So you're calling me a living legend, I guess.

Well, Slayer in general. Your fans are diehard.

It's cool. One thing I'm extremely happy to be a part of is that we had our first record come out when me and Jeff were like 19. That promotes a long career if you put out good product. We've managed to keep our heads above water for 20-something years and I think the fans are pretty sure that when we put a record out, they're going to like it. Because we've used more or less the same formula since the first record. It's cool to be able to have such a long career and still be relevant.

Which contemporary band do you think are worthy to continue your blood-soaked legacy?

My favorite new guys are Chimaira out of Cleveland. They remind me a lot of ourselves when we were at their level.

Would you say that having (original drummer) Dave Lombardo back in the saddle has increased the intensity of your live set?

Yeah, he plays with more fire. He's so gifted; he's the most natural musician in the band, I think. I mean, he doesn't even have to try. Dude doesn't even warm up. He just hops on stage and he's ready to play. He blows me away, every day. LANCE CHESS