Dave Mustaine pays tribute to Slayer

The Big 4 of thrash: Slayer’s Kerry King, Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, Anthrax’s Scott Ian, Metallica’s James Hetfield
The Big 4 of thrash: Slayer\u2019s Kerry King, Megadeth\u2019s Dave Mustaine, Anthrax\u2019s Scott Ian, Metallica\u2019s James Hetfield (Image credit: Getty Images)

First of all, I don’t think that Slayer will be winding down. That band ain’t gonna be ‘winding down’ for nothing. They’re gonna end, but they’re gonna go out on a bang. The good thing is the fact that they’ve contributed so much to metal, to thrash, and just because ‘Slayer’ is ending, I don’t think Kerry King will.

When I first met Kerry, he and I became friends. He played with Megadeth for a short while when we were a three-piece and looking for another guitarist, and he was a different man back then… he had long hair! I remember going back to Kerry’s house, and he would be sitting on the floor with a hammer and a piece of leather and some nails, and he would be banging nails through this thing that he was making to go around his stomach while his dad, an LA Sheriff that used to call everybody an asshole, was sitting on a recliner chair behind him. You would go in Kerry’s backyard, and he would have a garage that, from the rafters down to the floor, was full of those materials. When we made our first stage for Megadeth, when we had all those wacky amps on those corners, and we had that kinda military theme with the sandbags and the barbed wire and all that shit? We built all that stuff in Kerry’s backyard, with him.

The touring we’ve done together since then has probably been close to a hundred shows, and we’ve had a very up-and-down relationship over the years, because, as you know, Kerry is very outspoken, and sometimes he’s joking about somebody and sometimes he’s not. But he’s been a great friend, and I have tremendous respect for what Slayer’s done.

You gotta remember that we played with Slayer long before they found their direction, too, so they were still kinda getting their legs, so to speak. This makes me feel kinda old, but I got to watch them grow into who they are. And as a guy that had a pretty good influence in this whole thrash thing, watching this group of guys going from being on the outside of the circle, to entering the circle, to demanding and earning the right to be right in the centre… it was great, you know?

As far as metal is concerned, if there is a gauge, and the gauge stops at some point under ‘extreme’, that’s where Slayer lie. There’s always going to be someone faster, someone who can write songs about war and killers and the occult and stuff like that, and there are always going to be songs that have breakneck pace, killer drumming and stuff like that, but not like them. That’s what makes Slayer so great. That’s what sets those motherfuckers apart.

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