Listen To Pap Smear, Slayer’s Hardcore Punk Side Project

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Slayer’s love affair with punk goes almost as deep as their relationship with metal itself. 

There is a hardcore undercurrent flowing through most of Slayer’s catalog. It’s an influence that is readily apparent throughout their catalog. Take one listen to the scorched earth styling of Reign In Blood, in particular. At a runtime under a half hour, the band does not waste a moment, prioritizing speed and economy over technical opulence in order to deliver the acute, frenzied attack that would become the high water mark of the genre.

For many young headbangers, it was seeing Black Flag and Dead Kennedys stickers on Jeff Hanneman’s guitar that sent them down the hardcore rabbit hole. When Slayer collaborated with rapper and Body Count frontman Ice-T on a medley of Exploited covers for the Judgement Night soundtrack, it made for a seamless meeting of the minds and a fitting homage to their heroes. Of course, it was a tribute the band took a step further with their covers album Undisputed Attitude, which featured Slayer’s interpretations of songs by Minor Threat, D.R.I., and Verbal Abuse, among others. 

Two tracks on Undisputed Attitude are covers of a largely unknown band from the early 1980s called Pap Smear.

Pap Smear was a short lived project featuring Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo (Slayer) as well as Rocky George (Suicidal Tendencies). The band created short, fast bursts of crossover hardcore fury in the vein of D.R.I. In an interview with Metal Hammer, Lombardo discussed their origins:

“Jeff shows up to rehearsal with a shaved head: ‘I’m punk now! He brought all this music with him: Black Flag, TSOL, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks.

“We were very close friends with Suicidal Tendencies at the time. We used to go see them a lot, and then we became friends with the band. Jeff really loved Rocky George’s style and his feel – the soul he had when he played.”

The band was rounded out by vocalist Joey Fuchs, a friend who looked so much like Jeff Hanneman that he became dubbed “Joey Hanneman.” For his part, Jeff switched from guitar to bass, with Lombardo later lamenting, “I’m sure at the time he would have developed into an amazing bass player if he’d kept at it.” 

Pap Smear wrote a handful of songs but never manifested into a serious band, dissolving before they even played a show. Hanneman planned on writing a full album but was talked out of it by producer Rick Rubin during the Reign In Blood sessions. For his part, Lombardo agreed that Pap Smear ran the risk of becoming a distraction to the important work that Slayer was doing, saying “I feel our focus was Slayer and Pap Smear was kind of taking us away.”

Before they stopped playing, the band did manage to carve out a four song demo. Clocking in at a total runtime of four minutes, it’s a short and sweet snapshot of some of our favorite musicians exploring an important side of themselves. Check it out below via YouTube.

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