METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Sandra. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it. So, how are you?
SANDRA ARAYA: I am awesome, thanks for asking.
MPAP: How are things going so far?
SANDRA: Things are great around the Araya realm.
MPAP: Most people reading this should already know who you are, but if they don’t, let’s give you a proper introduction why don’t we? Everyone, please welcome Sandra Araya to this Metal Pulp And Paper interview. She is the mother of two and resides in the great state of Texas, where she and her husband run a family ranch with cattle and other animals on it. It is said she is a big fan of horror films, especially The Amityville Horror and TheTexas Chainsaw Massacre, among many others. And oh yeah, then there is this; she is the other bad ass half of Tom Araya, her husband of 22 years, who just happens to be the bassist for the thrash metal band Slayer one of the biggest metal bands out there for almost 40 years now. Care to add anything to that?
SANDRA: I am also a grandmother. Martial arts are a large part of my life. I’ve trained for 10 years now. I also run my own business for about 5 years where I teach karate and a blended style of Kali/Silat/Jun Fan. I am an animal collector. I love to garden when I can find the time.
MPAP: Now that you’ve been properly introduced, thank you once again for being a part of this interview Sandra. So, without further ado, let’s get started. We’ll bounce around here and there with of course some questions about that aforementioned band your husband is in, but our main focus will at least be about the past, present, and of course the future, of your life with your husband Tom. It will be tough not to have every other question involving Slayer in it, but we’ll make the most of it and have some fun. You ready?
MPAP: Like just mentioned, you have been married to Tom for 22, going on 23 years now correct?
SANDRA: Yes, that is correct.
MPAP: Before getting married, how long had you and Tom been dating before that?
SANDRA: 6 months.
MPAP: If it’s not too personal, where did the two of you meet?
SANDRA: I was front row at a Houston show and he noticed my smile. He had me pulled over the barricades and we’ve been together since that night.
MPAP: Wait, what? Tom, had you pulled over the barricades at a Slayer show in Houston?
MPAP: Wow, how cool is that, especially since you’ve been together ever since that night?
MPAP: Let’s keep going with this for a moment if you don’t mind? What were your first thoughts, or even just your first initial reaction to having a tour manager or a security guard wanting to pull you over the barricades because Tom wanted to see you after the show?
SANDRA: It seemed sureal. I was tripping on acid at the concert...so for a moment I had to convince myself I wasn’t just tripping.
MPAP: Did you think you were just going to get to meet him and the band backstage after the show and then you’d be on your merry way?
SANDRA: I had no expectations at all. I was mainly hoping my ride hung around (especially since it was my car).
MPAP: Or by any chance did you think in the back of your mind, this was it, this was the one guy for you?
SANDRA: I knew the moment we locked eyes from across the room!
MPAP: So this was the guy you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?
SANDRA: Once our eyes met, yes I knew.
MPAP: When I ever I see Tom, I’m definitely going to have to ask him about that smile.
Had you seen Slayer perform before you met Tom that night?
SANDRA: My first and second concerts were Slayer many years prior to meeting.
MPAP: Might you of had a crush on Tom back then prior to meeting him in Houston by any chance?
SANDRA: Oh he’s a sexy beast, but I can’t say I had a crush on someone whom I didn’t know and never planned on meeting.
MPAP: Or did you just like the music and thought nothing of it, until that fateful night in Houston years later?
SANDRA: That's about it!
MPAP: I must say, wow, that Houston show was destiny wasn’t it?
SANDRA: Absolutely it was, and I had a chicks Mom whom claimed to be psychic tell me about a month before I met Tom, I’d meet my soulmate. That I’d know as soon as our eyes met. (Thinking maybe that lady was the real deal?)
MPAP: After you both were together, what was it like to be with him, on and off the stage?
SANDRA: Tom’s awesome! On stage off stage it doesn’t matter. He’s a sincerely happy person and makes people happy he comes in contact with! Back then, we did a lot of nothing happily. Now days, we stay busy.
MPAP: Did you go with him when he had to leave on tour?
SANDRA: I’ve always toured on and off thru the years. We chose a family lifestyle, so it stands to reason traveling all the time just isn’t reasonable or fair to the kids now.
MPAP: That brings up a great subject, life out on the road and away from home. The uncomfortable tour bus bunks, the no privacy, the truck stop bathrooms, or the greasy concert venue food, all those great perks; did it ever get to you after a while when you would go?
SANDRA: Not really..we’re not complainers in this family...you just get up and handle your business ya know. For me the worse part is waiting around! I’m such a busy body just sitting and having to hide out is the worse for me.
MPAP: Now looking back, did you ever say to Tom, “how in the hell did you do it for all those years?”
MPAP: So, we must get this out of the way. Recently there was some huge news announced that shocked and really stunned many people around the globe. On January 22nd, 2018, Slayer announced they would be retiring after one more final world tour together. More than likely this tour could last way more than a year, but the outcome is still going to be the same, Slayer is retiring. I’m sure you knew way before many, but it was quite the news to be heard correct?
SANDRA: Not to me. I can’t comfortably go into too much detail. I’ll just leave it with a no.
MPAP: Some fans knew the end of Slayer was just right around the corner, especially after original longtime guitarist Jeff Hanneman passed away in May of 2013. Gary Holt has been amazing taking over on guitar duties, but some would say it was just never the same without Jeff. And then, of course, your husband many times openly discussed in interviews that he just didn’t like to be out on the road anymore. He wanted to be with his family, so, the retirement, or disbanding, was eventually going to happen. I’m sure as time went on, it probably got even harder for Tom being on the road after you both became Grandparents in 2016 correct?
SANDRA: Yes. We have the coolest granddaughter ever. Tom has actually gotten to spend quite a bit of time home. She’s quite the grandpa’s girl. They do a lot of guitar playing and singing.
MPAP: Your husband has quite the fan base. If you could temporarily step out of your shoes for a moment of not being married to Tom, how do you think you would you react to hearing about Slayer’s announcement?
SANDRA: The same as I feel now...it sucks! That’s the fan side.
MPAP: We won’t go any further with this because I don’t want you to be speaking for the band, but it probably had to be a very difficult decision for both your husband and Kerry King, to make don’t you think?
SANDRA: Tom never second guesses any decision he makes. I have no idea about Kerry.
MPAP: Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment. What are some of your fondest memories of being with Tom at the beginning of your relationship?
SANDRA: Just the way he makes me feel. He loves me. I know it, accept it and return it. That’s about it. I just like him. So, it doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing they are all great memories.
MPAP: What are some of the best moments you have of him when he was home, and the bass guitar was put away for a while and he didn’t have to think about the next album or the next tour coming up for awhile?
SANDRA: We’re homebodies for the most part. So, most moments are home related. I mean we have a small ranch with many animals, kids, grandkid so it’s kinda the whole package. As I said above it doesn’t matter what we’re doing.
MPAP: Speaking of your kids for just a moment, when they were growing up and started to go to like high school, did you ever have to deal with other parents who were also Slayer fans that you know they just told their kids to go make friends with your kids just so they could meet and hang out with your husband?
SANDRA: Public school didn’t last long. I homeschooled our kids after a certain grade. Most of the parents/ staff were cool.
MPAP: Did you ever have to experience that at any time with people taking advantage of him and his stardom?
SANDRA: Yeah people are people ya know.
MPAP: For some of the fans that still might not understand it, and as bad as this sounds, I’m sure it was a breath of fresh air, or some weight off Tom's shoulders to announce the retirement?
SANDRA: Yes, no big hush hush any longer.
MPAP:Slayer had formed back in 1981, and no one in the band was even married yet, or let alone, was even thinking about having children back then? Then you add on Jeff passing away, and then the on again, off again, relationship with original drummer Dave Lombardo. To sum it all up, it had to have been tough these last 5 plus years of Slayer's career right?
MPAP: Slayer has done a lot, and accomplished a lot, along with influencing thousands of fans and bands as well. What’s one thing that you’re proud of your husband?
SANDRA: Oh man! I’m assuming you’re asking from the work side of things since that’s what lead to this question. Talent wise the whole package. He loves the fans and always gives you guys his best no matter how he’s feeling. I’m very proud every time he hits the stage.
MPAP: Putting aside his music accomplishments, what’s one thing you think of when you look at him?
SANDRA: How blessed I am to have him in my life, and, hahaha, I’m not sure what age your readers are, so let’s just say the rest is all XXX rated.
MPAP: Once again, it all goes back to that show in Houston? Just think, if you didn’t go, or maybe if you ended up farther back in the crowd, this all might not of have happened?
SANDRA: Very true.
MPAP: It just goes to show there are certain destinies everyone gets to experience, and yours was to be a wife, mother, and grandmother. Doesn’t get any better than that, does it?
SANDRA: No it doesn’t. I couldn’t be happier with the cards I/we have been handed.
MPAP: The final tour hasn’t even begun yet, and who knows how long it will last, but has the Araya family even begun to contemplate life after Slayer yet?
SANDRA: Oh yeah. We have some ideas and plans.
MPAP: It might sound silly, but when the dust settles, and it’s time to open the curtains and face the day, is there anything you and Tom have talked about wanting to do when the time is right?
SANDRA: Yes, a couple of things...we will see.
MPAP: Does the itinerary have the family and grandchild going to Disneyland?
SANDRA: Absolutely, hahaha.
MPAP: Or do just the two of you want to go for a walk somewhere that Tom could only see from the back of a tour bus, or 35,000 feet in the air?
SANDRA: A big yes to this as well!
MPAP: Or will it be just sitting around and relaxing on your farm and taking it day by day?
SANDRA: A lil of this too.
MPAP: If you follow Sandra on any of the social media, you’ll know one of the things she likes to do, or better yet, what one of the things her family likes to do together, and that is martial arts. So, let’s talk about that for a moment? Is it true, you, Tom, and both of your kids are all black belts?
SANDRA: Yes, it’s true. Tom is a NiDan (second degree), I test in 5 days for SanDan (third degree), Ariel is a ShoDan (first degree) and Tommy also tests in 5 days for NiDan (second degree). He should be testing for third, but he got caught in an age gap for kids and had to wait.
MPAP: That must be exciting? SANDRA: We enjoy training together.
MPAP: What inspired you to do it?
SANDRA: It was part of our homeschooling curriculum. After a few months the kids asked me to join them. Tom comes home later, and he decided to join us as well.
MPAP: Were you looking for something in life that you could have been missing?
SANDRA: I don’t think so. I just took the opportunity to bond with the kids.
MPAP: If someone was interested in the martial arts, what would you want to say to them? SANDRA: Do it! Just get up and do it! It will level your body, mind and spirit. Keeps you active too, mentally as well as physically.
MPAP: Before we bring this interview to a close, just a few more questions. Obviously, Slayer’s career has spanned for almost 40 years, having12 albums, four of them already certified gold, 30 tours, 5 Grammy Awards nominations, winning two of them, and all in all you have been a part of it and Tom’s life for over 23 years now. So, if there were to be a golden billboard to be erected in honor of Slayer, what do you personally think it should say?
SANDRA: FUCKING SLAYER!!
MPAP: I agree!
Now moving forward, once Tom is home from the final Slayer tour, and life has gone on, let’s say maybe a year or two has gone by, or maybe even 5 years have passed, what do you think he will miss the most?
SANDRA: The stage and fans without a doubt! He loves you guys!
MPAP: I know the fans will be missed most, but do you think there is anything else?
SANDRA: Not from what he’s shared with me. MPAP: And of course, we can't leave you out, what do you think you will miss the most after Slayer been retired for awhile?
SANDRA: Meeting the fans I’ve become online friends with! I love all of you guys too plus I am sincerely a fan as well!
MPAP: Ok, one more life after Slayer question…one, two, three, off the top of your head without even thinking about it, you and Tom are relaxing around the campfire and someone brings out an acoustic guitar, what Slayer song do you start to sing?
SANDRA: Hahaha, "213".
MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp AndPaper, I’d like to thank you, Sandra, for taking the time to do this interview. We would like to say we look forward to the future of Slayer, and that the retirement just wasn’t happening, but instead, let’s just leave it at this; we look forward to everyone being happy and healthy in whatever endeavors they may do in the end.
Any last words for all the readers out there?
SANDRA: Thanks for taking the time to read this. And thank you to all of the Slayer fans out there for all the years of support!