Slayer continues to play live while ailing guitarist Jeff Hanneman remains on the sidelines. But singer-bassist Tom Araya says the group will not consider any recording projects without him.
"There's no way we'd go into a studio without him," Araya assures Billboard.com. "As a band we're not going to do something without him. He's an integral part of the band. We require his musical skills, his writing skills. He's an integral part of the band. So we're going to hold off until he's at 100 percent and can join that process and be part of it."
Hanneman is battling necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria syndrome that was likely contracted from a spider bite. Slayer has continued to book dates, with Exodus' Gary Holt subbing for most of them -- including the Australian Soundwave Festival tour, the Big Four show on April 23 in Indio, Calif., and the upcoming Hell On Earth Tour with Rob Zombie. Hanneman did play two songs, "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death," at the Big Four concert, which Araya says was "very emotional" for all concerned.
"It was a big deal for him to play -- for us it was, too," the bassist, who's had his own health issues with his neck, says. "We thought that would be a nice surprise for everybody and also make everybody aware that he's still there. It's pretty severe what he's going through. He's had skin grafts, and he's got to rehabilitate his arm and get it back in shape again. It's going to require a lot of time."
Slayer heads to South America in June, then to Europe in early July to support Metallica before kicking off the tour with Zombie on July 20 in Reading, Pa. "It's a show that the people want to see, that I know they're going to be anxious to see," Araya says. "I know some people think it's an awkward bill, but I think it works. We've been building a really good reputation as far as our (live) performances, and Zombie is very visual and theatrical and provides some good entertainment. I think people are going to get their money's worth from both bands."
Zombie previously said that he might still be doing some casting for his upcoming film, "The Lords of Salem." Might Araya and his bandmates angle for a part? "Oh, if he approaches and says, 'Hey, I got a role for you,' I'd give it a try. Why not?" Araya says. "What's it gonna hurt? Let's face it; everybody wants to be in a movie. It's worth a shot. All they can tell you is that you're no good -- and they've said that since we started our band, but that didn't stop us from doing what we do."