Kerry King spoke to Westword about the criticism SLAYER frontman Tom Araya drew from some of the band's fans in January when a photoshopped picture of Donald Trump and the members of SLAYER appeared on their Instagram account. Araya posted the image and later chastised fans who objected to the photo, saying that he "thought it was funny" and that anyone who disagrees should keep quiet.
The same image first appeared on the official SLAYER Instagram account on inauguration day, but was mysteriously removed before being reposted a few days later.
"A band's social-media site is for things that a band agrees on to put up," said King. "I've never put anything up on our band site, ever. When that went up, it didn't strike a wonderful chord with me. It's nothing I'm going to waste my time worrying about. I don't have any personal social media, so I put up my thoughts on my wife's social media, just so people know not everybody thinks the same and that it's okay to be that way."
A SLAYER band representative told Rolling Stone that Tom took it upon himself to post the photo and stressed that the image was "not something the band would have posted if asked," insisting that such a picture "does not belong on a SLAYER social page." The representative added: "We all have our personal opinions, some of which we have voiced in the past, but SLAYER has never endorsed any political party or any candidate, and the band intends to keep it that way." King also chimed in via his wife's Instagram account, saying that "my opinion is that our war of words should be with people who don't believe what SLAYER is about. NOT with our own fan base."
King told Westword that he and Araya never spoke about the incident, since it happened while the band was on hiatus. By the time SLAYER regrouped for the next round of live shows, the tension had blown over.
Although he describes himself as a political independent, King didn't mince words when talking about Trump. "I never used to wake up and watch CNN, but I do now — just to see what fucking idiocy this guy's said that day," the guitarist told Westword. "It's not even weekly. It's fucking daily."
Araya told the Chilean radio station Futuro in April that he was "taken aback by the response" to his decision to post the Trump photo and insisted that he "didn't realize that [he] was gonna piss so many SLAYER fans off." He explained: "That's what America has become. It's become a bunch of people that… because they didn't get their way, they're mad. I shared a picture that I thought was funny. They can't even joke. They can't even laugh at themselves. They can't even have fun. And that just is amazing that it's come to that. We're a nation of crybabies. [Laughs]"
Even though Araya expected to get some flak for posting the Trump photo, the ferocity of the reaction from SLAYER fans surprised him. "I didn't realize it was gonna be the way it was, which is blown out of proportion and people saying really mean things," he said. "I'm amazed. I was just amazed at the response, as far as people thinking it's funny and they thought it was great and they support Trump, and other people that didn't like it, they thought it was ugly and they can't believe that I support Trump. [Laughs] I don't even support Trump. I didn't vote for Trump and I didn't vote for Hillary [Clinton]. Those are two people that are the furthest from… that I would ever vote for. I was taken aback by the response and how people reacted. But it was all in fun. It was all to make people laugh, 'cause I thought it was funny. And also to piss some people off. I just didn't realize that I was gonna piss so many SLAYER fans off. [Laughs]"
SLAYER drummer Paul Bostaph last year called Donald Trump "the biggest joke I've ever seen in my life," and referred to some of Trump's rhetoric as "the scariest shit I've ever seen as an American — in my lifetime." Similarly, King said that Trump was "the biggest liar I've ever seen in politics," clarifying, "I mean, most of them are liars, but he just outright in-your-face lies." King's words were echoed by his SLAYER bandmate Gary Holt who described Trump as a "serial liar" who refused to disavow former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.