Now, it seems Slayer is always doing something to get themselves in the press – tabloids, magazines, clerical billboards, and banned from Los Angeles bus benches – but, how often does any of this leave them "speechless?" Slayer frontman Tom Araya was shocked when notified that he would be awarded the "key" to a little city just south of the United, (less-than) heavenly States: his birth-town – Santiago, Chile. This moment of unforeseen, blasphemous glory occurred when Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo attended a press-conference at a Chilean Ritz Carlton (has the standard of metal living been rising? It may just be for Slayer!), right before their performance at a nearby arena. Completely caught off guard by the request to accept this key from the mayor of the city, it appears Slayer has gotten some unexpected, political clout.
Araya was born in Chile's tiny city of Viña Del Mar, and left the country with his family when he was just five years old; thus carrying the thrash rage that would gradually ferment into Slayer's earliest form. Many decades down the line and during the press conference, it was in his home-town that he was recently asked if he would be returning to Santiago, to receive the "key" to the city: a high honor and privilege for any Chile-born citizen. Despite Slayer's exponential status – for better or for worse (in the metal, and non-metal world) – Araya was utterly shocked, expressing, "[I'm] kind of speechless; I don't what to say. They're probably gonna change the locks when they give me the key." Acknowledging the irony that after fronting a band as infamous as Slayer, that he should receive the key, he added that "it [is] an honor…I don't have a reply. I'm more speechless than anything. It's not something I expected. That's never happened before. You see other people receive rewards like that, but it's usually people of political status or someone that's really done something for the community or done something important." As for "community service," we can say political rage and anti-religious commentary may be a Slayer-spawned source of societal brownie points!
Possessing a similar focus on Araya's early childhood is his 50-year old sister – Jeanette Araya – who is currently in the midst of creating a "tell-all book" about their family history, and developmental trajectory: Tom Araya's entry into Slayer, their jams in his parent's garage (talk about parental support!), and how his father courageously brought their family to the U.S., and lived the American dream – sans cliché, a word of English known, yet a fundamental determination to create a better life for his family, in a radically different society. Just from looking at some excerpts from her book, I can tell that it will be an utterly honest and inspirational story of the Araya existence; definitely check it out if you're interested in the roots of said founding father of thrash.
On the subject of Chilean roots, the setlist for Slayer's most recent Santiago show was as follows:
01. World Painted Blood
02. Hate Worldwide
03. War Ensemble
06. Stain of Mind (first performance since 2005)
08. Dead Skin Mask
12. Not Of This God (first live performance)
13. Mandatory Suicide
14. Chemical Warfare
15. Ghosts of War
17. Seasons in the Abyss
19. South of Heaven
20. Raining Blood
21. Black Magic
22. Angel of Death
A video of Tom Araya and Dave Lombardo's interview at the Santiago Press Conference can be found below!