The novelty of life on the road has worn off after 30 years, and now he’s concerned with how much of his family life he’s missed. And the message was hammered home to him when his 2010 neck injury forced him to remain at home for longer than he’d done for years.
As a result, he says with a laugh, fans might be surprised to discover he doesn’t enjoy touring as much as he used to.
Araya tells Noisecreep: “I hate to disappoint you, but I’ve been doing this for 30 years. It’s a long time. I hate leaving home. I’ve missed so much of my family life, my kids growing up.
“My son turned 13 and I’ve missed almost every birthday he’s ever had. I myself have never really spent a birthday at home.”
Araya, 51, was sidelined two years ago when a problem with his neck and back led to the insertion of a metal plate, leaving him unable to perform his classic headbanging move on stage.
He says: “When I had my neck injury I was at home for three months. Things have happened to me physically that have put me out, but allowed me to spend time at home. I’m trying to make up the time – it’s a little too late.
“But when I have to get on a plane to leave, I don’t want to leave. It’s part of my life I’ve missed. I get on the plane, and the minute I set foot wherever I am, I’m like, ‘I can’t wait to get home.’
“The anticipation of going home is what gets me through. I wake up and I think, ‘Ten more days,’ ‘Eight more days,’ ‘Five more days.’ – and that’s what gets me through.”
Slayer have started work on a new album, with guitarist Kerry King reporting at least two tracks have been fully written. Work won’t be completed until Jeff Hanemann has recovered fully from the near-fatal spider bite that’s kept him off the road for over a year.
Araya, a Catholic, says his faith doesn’t prevent the band from writing songs that criticise religion – although he doesn’t write them himself.
“A lot of the anti-religious stuff is written by Kerry,” he explains. “I hate to say this, but some of the stuff he writes, wow, it’s really good. The way I look at it is, ‘This is going to make somebody mad’.
“There’s no room to judge. I’m not going to be the first one to throw stones. My type of Catholicism allows me to do that.”