Wait, What? Tom Araya ‘didn’t know metal existed’ before joining Slayer

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Tom Araya is one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time. There’s no contesting that statement. It’s a universal truth. So, it’s kind of crazy that the guy’s introduction to metal music was when he JOINED Slayer in the early 80’s.

Everyone has their own unique entry point to the genre, whether that’s an older sibling handing down a mix tape, a friend taking you to a show, or in the case of this writer, accidentally flipping the car radio to WSOU as a kid and having your mind blown open.

But, metal artists usually spend years absorbing and immersing themselves in the craft of the genre as a fan before being able to make their own meaningful musical contribution.

Not Tom Araya, though. Dude learned about it for the first time as he was making it. Nuts.

Here’s Tom talking about his introduction to metal during a 1988 interview with SuperChannel:

“You don’t want to hear my influences. Cream, Hendrix, The Animals, Jefferson Airplane… That’s what I grew up with. My sister used to listen to that all the time…The only time I started listening to this music was when I joined the band with these guys, and I didn’t even know metal existed. It’s true. It’s an honest statement.

I didn’t know this shit existed until he [Kerry] said what do you say you join the band, these are the songs we’re learning. I said who’s this?… Iron Maiden?… Who’s that?”

Here’s the full SuperChannel interview:

Fast forward a few decades to 2007, and it appears that Tom’s earlier love for the softer side of music stayed with him throughout the years. When asked what type of music he listens to in an interview with Miami New Times, he responded:

“My favorite records would surprise people. I love “Graceland” by PAUL SIMON. I am a huge fan of THE BEATLES. I like THE EAGLES, CAT STEVENS. I grew up listening to Sixties music: JANIS JOPLIN, HENDRIX, THE DOORS, YES, THE WHO. I grew up listening to all that shit. I listen to everything, even the great sounds of the Seventies. Bands like BOSTON and VAN HALEN. That was when metal started getting heavy.”

Welp, there you have it. Some of the best metal ever made came from a dude that wasn’t exactly a metal head!