Slayer Readying Comic Books & BMX Bikes, But New Music Is on Hold for Now

Billboard

A follow-up to last year's Repentless album isn't even on the docket yet, but there's no shortage of Slayer-related projects coming in the next few months. 

The group is partnering with Dark Horse Comics (Hellboy, Sin City) to release three issues of Slayer: Repentless, based on the recent "Repentless" and "You Against You" videos directed by BJ McDonnell. The books are being written by Metalocalypse's Jon Schnepp, with artwork by Guiu Vilanova, Glen Fabry and Eric Powell, with the first volume expected later this year. 

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"Dark Horse came up with the stories based around the video ideas," bassist Tom Araya tells Billboard. "To me it's exciting to have a legit comic book company doing a comic for us. There are Slayer comics out there that we don't endorse and that we told them we didn't want to do and then went ahead and did it anyway. But I'm excited about Dark Horse. I talked to their editor and writer there and they told me their approach and what they came up with, and it sounds really cool. It's got me really excited."

Also in the mix is a line of new Slayer-themed BMX bicycles, which come out in October and will be decked out with the band's graphics on its frame. Araya got a look at those at this year's San Diego Comic-Con and walked, or rather rode, away impressed.

"They brought four of the bikes, one for each of us, and they're really cool-looking," Araya says. His own roots in biking, in fact, date back to his youth, even before he picked up a bass. "We used to ride bikes and make ramps to jump off of -- this was in the late '60s, '68 maybe, before the BMX riding stuff started coming out. We'd have tracks in the back yard and would do demolition bike rides, crazy shit you do when you're young like that, never giving a thought to getting hurt. We would even go around the neighborhood looking for bikes people would throw out. We'd round 'em all up and salvage parts and make our own bikes. So it's neat to have [BMX] making real bikes like this."

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All of that -- along with heavy touring since even before Repentless, has kept Araya and his mates from thinking too much about what they want to do musically. Repentless was the group's first after the 2013 death of co-founder Jeff Hanneman, although some of the material he was working on made it onto the album. Now the onus is on fellow guitarist Kerry King, though it's possible Exodus' Gary Holt, who filled in while Hanneman was ailing and is now a full-time member of Slayer, will help to fill some of the void. 

"We haven't been a put-a-record-out-year-after-year band since back in the '80s, when Reign In Blood, South Of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss came out," Araya explains. "We like to work our material out and make sure we're happy before anybody decides to say, 'Let's do a record.' And now there's no Jeff, so that leaves a lot on Kerry, and he'll need to take a break from touring work to start working on ideas and get stuff together and work things out. So there hasn't really been any talk of a new record yet. The Nuclear Blast [Slayer's label] people have, but we haven't."

That being said, one significant change in Slayer's world is greater communication between the band's principals, which began when Hanneman was ill and which Araya and King have continued since his death. "Me and Kerry are doing something we've never done, which is talk," Araya says. "Usually we never did communicate on things. When it came to Slayer business, we each kind of put in our input and then it was a majority rule kind of thing and the outcome was the outcome. I would say in the last few years we actually did get on the phone and talk about things, and after Jeff passed Kerry and I continued that dialogue."