The punk-thrash band’s co-founder and guitarist Jeff Hanneman died from complications following a two-year illness in 2013.
“It was tough because Jeff was a friend of ours as well as a band mate. Not only did we lose a band mate, we lost a friend,” Bostaph said.
Working after Hanneman’s death was a constant reminder of what they had lost, but they continued to move forward.
“Every time I showed up to practice, this was where not only on the friendship level I lost somebody, but on the band level,” Bostaph said. “So for me even in the recording studio I felt like Jeff was present and he was in my mind. That’s something I’ve never gone through before, but we got through it.”
Bostaph and the band felt the best way to honour Hanneman was to push forward.
“I don’t believe he would have wanted us to just stop. I know when he was alive he wanted us to keep going as well.”
Some die-hard fans were of the opinion the band would not be Slayer without Hannemen, though Bostaph and his bandmates didn’t feel that way.
“It’s just Slayer. Those opinions were out there,” Bostaph said. “The reality is when something as catastrophic as what happened to us happened, there are going to be opinions. Those opinions are to be respected, they’re also critiques,” Bostaph said. “I definitely didn’t agree with that and I don’t believe anybody in this band did or we wouldn’t be standing here.”
Bostaph wasn’t any more worried about what the fans would think of their 12th studio album Repentless, than any other album.
“The only thing you can do is write material that you like. You can’t chase people around and try to second guess what they like and don’t like. I think then as an artist you’re lost,” Bostaph said.
Slayer found a new home for Repentless with record company Nuclear Blast after two decades with American Recordings.
“You got to stick with the formula that got you there. We liked the material on the record and it sounds like Slayer to me, so again we push forward,” Bostaph said.
He said from his perspective the response to Repentless has been overwhelmingly good.
“I think it took people some time to get over the shock of what happened,” Bostaph said. “There were some critiques of the early recordings that came out but as people sit with the record more they’re really liking it.”
Slayer was on a European tour during the terrorist attacks in Paris.
“We actually had played (Paris) days before,” Bostaph said.
Playing in Belgium right after the attack was a trying experience for the band.
“It hit close to home for all of us, one because we’re entertainers. But the other side of it … on the TV you could see some of the tour busses that were out front. I mean some of those tour busses were the same company on our tour,” Bostaph said.
The rock and roll community is a small one, Bostaph said, and while he didn’t know everyone’s name, there were a lot of familiar faces in Paris that night.
“One of the merch guys was there, he had been shot and killed,” Bostaph said. “I saw his image on social media. When you’re at music festivals and stuff you see faces and you see them over and over again. You may never know the person, but I saw this dude’s face and I know that face. It starts hitting close to home. I think it’s shocking that these things are going on,” Bostaph said.
Slayer comes to the South Okanagan Events Centre on Oct. 19 with guests ANTHRAX and Death Angel. Tickets are $69 and $79 (plus applicable fees)
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC, by phone 1-877-763-2849 or online at www.ValleyFirstTIX.com.