METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Ariel. So glad to be catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Metal Pulp AndPaper. We appreciate it.
We had the pleasure of speaking with your mother recently, so it is incredible to be able to talk with you as well. So, how are you? How are things going?
ARIEL ARAYA: Things are a little hectic, being a new-ish mother. But I think that’s how parenting is, right? Haha! All is well, though. Just working and spending time with family is my main priority in life. It keeps me happy!
MPAP: For those reading this and might not know who you are, and yet haven't had the opportunity to catch the interview we conducted with your mom, Sandra, let’s introduce you to everyone before we go any further, why don’t we?
ARIEL: Sure! I’m Ariel Araya, daughter of Sandra and Tom Araya, who happens to front the thrash metal band Slayer.
MPAP: So, before we go any further, let’s knock out all the Slayer questions right away. This interview is going to be about you and not necessarily all about your dad or even Slayer, even though it will be hard to stay away from asking every question about your dad and Slayer. Let’s get started, when was the first moment you realized that your dad was in the band Slayer? Was it possibly seeing him in a music video, or maybe seeing him get into a huge tour bus, or was it mainly just your mom telling you what daddy did for a living as you were growing up?
ARIEL: Honestly, they never hid that from us. Dad was gone a lot, working of course. We knew he played music and traveled all over to perform. I guess it really sank in when some of my classmates’ parents fangirled over him and claimed to be fans, but the older I gott I realized that they were just starstruck. Also traveling in the summer with him while he toured showed me how famous he was, because the shows were always so big, and seeing all those people in the crowd. It was definitely a crazy experience.
MPAP: I could totally imagine being starstruck. So, while growing up, what were some of the positive things about being in the life and times of your dad being in Slayer?
ARIEL: We got to experience traveling across the country, got to goto some cool awards shows like the Grammy’s and the Revolver Golden Gods Award show, and watching other great bands play with my dad on the road. And seeing the crazy fans get excited and happy when my dad took the stage. Those were definitely some great memories.
MPAP: You mention the Grammy’s. Now let’s go back to that day for a moment. It was 2008, and your dad and the rest of Slayer had won a Grammy for their song called "Final Six." That night, there was a picture taken of the Araya familyour, and your dad was looking at the camera screaming with a hand held up with the devil horns, and the best part is your looking at him like… 'Dad, calm down you’re acting like a dork.' Now let's fast forward a few years, now the picture is taken at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and Slayer was just inducted. However, now let’s say your daughter is in the picture. Do you hope she gives the same reaction to her grandpa as you did to your father so many years before to make it a tradition?
ARIEL: My reaction in that picture is me not knowing what to do with myself in front of all those flash bulbs. Haha! So, if Leontina ever goes through that, I’d be surprised.
MPAP: Your dad brought you and your brother along on Slayer’s The Unholy Alliance tour in 2006. He stated 'it’s kind of cool to expose them at such a young age.' You were only ten years old back then? Do you think this exposure was positive or negative in any way?
ARIEL: Wow, I was ten years old? Haha! Honestly, other than missing my friends back home during the summer was the only 'negative' thing about being on that tour. The road crew, fellow bands on the bill, they were all really nice to me and my brother. They played around with us, smiled and talked to us. I was too young to really enjoy the music because I was more into what my friends were listening to, but I never saw any negative aspects about it. Just more of a learning experience.
MPAP: That's so awesome. Any fun stories or experiences you can share from that tour with us?
ARIEL: The only thing I really remember from that tour was being able to 'adventure' backstage by myself and riding my skateboard all in the band parking lots near the buses and playing video games on our bus when dad wasn’t playing. They made sure to bring 'toys' for us because there’s only so much a kid can do backstage at a metal show! We didn’t want to get in the way of people working so we just had family time together on the bus.
MPAP: In 2003, Ozzy Osbourne and his daughter Kelly, sang a duet together, covering one of Black Sabbath’s songs called "Changes." I know this might be difficult since the genre and the styles of both bands are quite a bit different, and Slayer doesn’t really have a slow ballad song in their vast catalog, but just for shits and giggles, if you had to pick a song, which Slayer song would you like to duet with your dad?
ARIEL: Haha! I haven’t even thought about this! Um, honestly, I think I’d pick "The Antichrist" off of Show No Mercy.
MPAP: Any specific reason why you're picking this song? Or is it just because it’s a kick-ass song and it might be fun to sing it together with your dad?
ARIEL: The older I got, listening to that song, I could see myself in that song. It makes sense, since my dad is the 'Antichrist' himself, right? Haha! And it’d be interesting to see if I can match my dad’s high pitch screaming/singing.
MPAP: Seriously wish that father-daughter duet could happen. Continuing on with while you were growing up as a little girl, did your dad ever have some fun and sing to you one of his Slayer songs like a soft, soothing lullaby? Could you imagine him singing "Dead Skin Mask" like the "Rock-a-bye baby" nursery rhyme to his lovely newborn daughter?
ARIEL: I have no memories of my dad singing to me any of his songs as a lullaby, but that’d be pretty funny. I do know he used to sing to me, but I don’t remember what he’d sing, exactly.
MPAP: Does your dad sing anything special to his granddaughter Leontina when they are together hanging out at home?
ARIEL: Yes he does! I’m not sure who the artist of the song is, but he’ll sing "Take You Riding In My Car" to her. He also sings any songs from the Minions movie soundtrack, like "Happy Together" by The Turtles. She gets the biggest baby doll eyes and laughs and showers him in kisses.
MPAP: Awee, that's so cool. Your father’s band is on their farewell tour right now. He’s been going at it for well over 35 years now. If by some chance they were to extend this farewell tour for just one more extra month, and you got to be in charge of whom the opening bands would be, what groups would you want to open for Slayer? And it can be any bands, your favorites or whatever. You’re in charge.
ARIEL: Wow! Um, I’d for sure enjoy Marilyn Manson anytime, anyplace. Another good band that I’d love to see is Pantera, if that were an option. (Rest in peace, Vinne and Dimebag.) Another good band that would put a good show on is KoRn, and definitely Deftones. A guilty pleasure would be Nirvana, though.
MPAP: You and your brother have never really been in your dads’ spotlight. Your parents have kept your personal lives quiet for so many years, but has there ever been a time when you were out and about alone somewhere and said, 'holy shit, how in the hell did that person know who I was?' Ever had that happened before?
ARIEL: It’s not very often, but every once in a while, it does. And it’s so strange, because they’ll ask me if I’m me, and I’ll be honest and say 'Yeah.' Then they start fangirling and I’m standing there like 'Woah, this is crazy!'
MPAP: It makes you really wonder what the fan thinks and expects to happen next. So, how many times have you been with your dad and heard these words screamed out loud, 'Fuuuuuuucking Slaaaaaaaayer!'? I’m sure quite a few hundred times, right?
ARIEL: Way too many to count. Never fails to make me blush and start walking two times the speed I was before. Haha.
MPAP: Has there ever a time when you looked at your dad and said, 'dad, you’re in Slayer, stop that?' Like, have you ever caught him humming to a Madonna song on the radio, or started dancing while he was pushing the shopping cart down an aisle at the grocery store?
ARIEL: I’ve never been like, 'wtf dad you’re a metal god, what are you doing?', but I have witnessed him dancing down the aisles of the grocery store. Also caught him a few times humming along to songs of his youth.
MPAP: If your dad were to write a Slayer song about you, what do you think it would be about, and then, of course, what do you think that song would be called?
ARIEL: Hah! That’s something I can’t answer. I’m not too sure what he’d have up his sleeve.
MPAP: Hopefully I can interview him some day. I'd love to ask him the same question. Hey Tom! If you're reading this, please answer, we'd all love to know, hahaha. Continuing on, eventually, your daughter will realize that one day her grandpa was once in a band called Slayer. When that time comes, what will you say to her? How do you think you will you explain Slayer to her, and what her grandpa used to do for so many years?
ARIEL: When that day comes, I’ll be honest. My dad and his fellow bandmates helped change the thrash genre into what it is today. That’s music history! I think she’ll understand and be proud of him like we all are.
MPAP: Yes, so true! Even though you were on the sidelines like all the fans out there, and of course it was none of your business to interfere, but were there ever any times it was hard to watch what was going on in Slayer? For instance, in 2013, Dave Lombardo, Slayer’s original drummer, had exited the band for the second time? Then you pile on top of that; one of the biggest shocks to the metal community, original guitarist Jeff Hanneman passed away also in 2013, three months after Dave vacates. All that going on must have been stressful in the Araya house?
ARIEL: We felt for Dad. He had lost a close friend, and that hurts for anyone, ya know? I don’t have a comment on the Dave side of things.
MPAP: What did you think when you heard the news about Jeff’s passing?
ARIEL: That I hope he didn’t hurt too much. I was a little sad, because it had happened around the time of my 17th birthday.
MPAP: He was loved by many and will never be forgotten. Do you have any personal Jeff moments that you can share with us? Did he ever tell you any stories when you were hanging out backstage or on the tour bus with your dad?
ARIEL: I don’t have much to say on Jeff. I didn’t interact with him a lot, but he was always polite to us and wasn’t mean in the slightest. He was just a very introverted person.
MPAP: Ok, thank you so far. I think all the Slayer questions are out of the way now. Hopefully, that wasn’t too bad?
ARIEL: I’ve never minded talking about that stuff. I really enjoyed your fun questions though. Some of my personal favorites so far!
MPAP: Thank you for those kind words. Moving forward, if you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be, and why?
ARIEL: Wow, um, I haven’t thought about this. Simply just to see where his mind was and how he lived with his depression, I’d trade places with Kurt Cobain. I’ve always loved him as an artist.
MPAP: It was sad to see him taken away from the music industry way too soon. Let's say, one day if you decided to write a biography about yourself, what do you think the title of the book would be called?
ARIEL: If I were to write a book? I think the title would simply be My Life as Ariel Araya, because it’s nothing too crazy. Just enough to peak the interest of some people.
MPAP: What do you think your brother would want to call your autobiography?
ARIEL: He’d probably say, 'I don’t know. It’s your book, you title it.' Haha. He’s a smartass sometimes.
MPAP: What’s one of the scariest things you’ve done in your life so far?
ARIEL: Honestly, it’s becoming a mother. Because before Leontina, it was just me looking out for myself. Whatever I did, was mostly on me. Now though, I have a little kid to raise and care for. I get scared that I’ll never be good enough for her, and that I’ll never be able to give her the life she deserves. But she was my saving grace. I swear she’s my little secret blessing. She came into my life when I needed her most.
MPAP: Even though you are not in a band, but you have a father and also an uncle that are, is there anything in the music industry you’d like to change that you observed over the years and it’s just not right to the musicians or even the fans?
ARIEL: Letting the artist make the money they deserve, and allowing them time to be with family, if they have a family. I don’t know much about the technical stuff, or much of the business stuff. But I do wish they were appreciated more by the industry.
MPAP: Totally agree with what you said. Now music lies deep in the Araya family bloodline, like just mentioned; your dad and your uncle are both in bands, have you ever desired to be a musician at any point in your life?
ARIEL: Yes, I have. I still kind of do!
MPAP: Have you ever just picked up your dad’s bass and thought this could be something fun to do, or is that just something you don’t find interesting at all?
ARIEL: I’ve dabbled with the bass on and off since I was fourteen, and I’ve always loved singing.
MPAP: What is one thing both your mom and dad were shocked about when you told them, or they found out about it?
ARIEL: That I was pregnant! I was only 19 when I found out, so they were both just worried about my financial wellbeing, and not in college yet. But I’ve managed. They’re not so worried anymore.
MPAP: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things that you think you would absolutely have to have there?
ARIEL: I would need a book, a radio, and a hammock to sleep on so at least I’m a little comfortable.
MPAP: What would be three things you’d happily leave off not having on your island?
ARIEL: No creatures that would kill me, haha. And no poisonous fruits. I can’t really think of what else is on an island.
MPAP: Before we bring this interview to a close, this world is so fast and ever changing, what do you worry about and why?
ARIEL: What my daughter would have to deal with growing up. Things are so different from when I was a kid, that I hope things change for the better soon. I don’t want her seeing all the negative things I see. I want her to experience a happy life and a happier world than what we have now.
MPAP: One last question, who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
ARIEL: For me, it will always be Hayley Williams from Paramore. I met her twice, completely by accident. The first time was after we flew home from the second Grammy’s we’ve ever attended. She had a connecting flight from Dallas, and she was sitting across from me the whole flight home. The second time was when we were at LAX, after my grandma’s funeral. (My dad’s mom, Leontina.) I had seen her at the check in counter. I told my mom and she encouraged me to talk to her, but I felt bad for bugging her at the airport. She looked tired. I walked up and asked, apologized for disturbing her, and reminded her of our previous encounter. She remembered me and took another picture with me. I thanked her and told her it meant a lot, because my grandma had passed. She gave me a big hug and told me I was one of the sweetest fans she’d ever met. I’ll never forget those meetings. But Jeffree Star is a close second.
MPAP: That's so cool. So, on behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Ariel, for doing this interview. This was a huge honor to be able to speak with you. Any last words for anyone out there?
ARIEL: If you took the time to read this interview, I thank you most graciously. And thanks to the people at Metal Paper And Pulp for even wanting this interview! I believe this is my first actual interview I’ve ever done, and it’ll definitely be one of my favorites forever. Haha.