Slayer bassist and vocalist Tom Araya was thinking about retirement since at least the early 2010s, according to ex-drummer Dave Lombardo. In an interview with the Ex-Man Podcast, Lombardo said he and guitarist Kerry King were aware of Araya's intention to retire and started thinking about forming a new band.
Lombardo said he and King were considering asking Exodus guitarist Gary Holt to be in the band, which ended up unfortunately working out after Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman passed away in 2013 and his shoes needed to be filled.
"When I was [still] in the band, I knew Tom wanted to retire – I knew he wanted to stop," said Lombardo. "Actually, Kerry and I were gonna start a new band after Tom's retirement, and we were actually scouting guitar players. When Slayer was playing Hellfest, we said, 'Hey, let's go see Exodus.'
"And so Kerry and I walked over to the stage where Exodus was playing, and we stood on the side of the stage – stage left – and were watching Gary. Jeff was still in the band – Jeff was still playing, Jeff was fine. And I told him, 'There's our guy, right there. That's the guitar player we need.' And it just turns out that, as life went on, we needed to replace Jeff.
"We didn't tell Gary – I don't think we had told Gary that Kerry and I were going to start a new band, but he was the first choice when that moment came. And I agree – everybody agreed. And Jeff agreed as well because he knew – he knew."
Kerry King is currently working on a new band with Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph, Phil Anselmo on vocals, and Gary Holt on guitar. Lombardo is drumming for Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, Mr. Bungle, Dead Cross, and probably has a million other projects in the works.