Last week, part of Guitar World Magazine’s feature interview with the late Jeff Hanneman’s widow Kathryn was released, in which she admitted that she struggled to get him to attend therapy or rehab. Now more from Guitar World’s interviews with Hanneman’s bandmates have been released, and they are indeed quite revealing about the guitarist’s health condition (and the impact it had on Slayer). In fact, it even shows the current members of Slayer sharing conflicting expectations of the future.
Not only did Kerry King admit that he too was concerned about Hanneman’s drinking, but both Tom Araya and Dave Lombardo shared that his arthritic condition got progressively worse and interfered with his playing. “You would notice it in his hands and a little bit in his walk,” says Lombardo. “It seemed like he was struggling with his playing — it wasn’t fluid. You could hear it in the leads. His playing just wasn’t as tight as it could have been.” While Araya states that it was hard to move on without him in light of the infamous spider bite incident, King admits that he had doubts about Hanneman would ever return,saying “We were holding out hope until the day he died. If he ever came to us and said, ‘Okay, I can do this,’ there was no question. This was his gig. Now, did I think that would actually happen? No, I didn’t.”
According to Kathryn, Jeff was at first not too thrilled that Slayer were moving on without him (even temporarily), saying “I remember when the tour came up, Jeff said to me, ‘No. No. There’s no way in hell this band is going out without me.’ He was definitely hurt by the fact that, for the first time ever, the band had to go on without him, but eventually he became okay with it, and a lot of that was because it was his friend Gary [Holt, also of Exodus] that was going to fill in for him. He knew the band had to go on.” Kathryn also added that “I think part of him knew that he wasn’t going to be back in the band.”
But what does Hanneman’s death mean for the future of Slayer? Well, King states in the interview that he plans on “continuing” with Slayer (as he’s been saying a lot lately), and that “I don’t think we should throw in the towel just because Jeff’s not here.” However, Araya seems to be less sure than King, saying in the same interview that “After 30 years, it would literally be like starting over. To move forward without Jeff just wouldn’t be the same, and I’m not sure the fans would be so accepting of that drastic a change. Especially when you consider how much he contributed to the band musically. And you can have someone sit in for him, but there’s no one on this planet that can do what Jeff did. There’s no replacing him.”
Araya definitely voices the same concerns many fans have about Slayer continuing on without Hanneman. However, that doesn’t change that fact that Slayer are continuing on with tour plans with drummer Paul Bostaph returning behind the kit (even though Lombardo tells Guitar World that “If they want to talk, I’m here. I don’t want any kind of animosity between us. Life is too short and we’re too old for that shit. I’m ready and willing, so we’ll see what happens.” The full story featuring interviews with Slayer (both current and former members) and Kathryn Hanneman can be read in the August 2013 issue of Guitar World.