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Jeffery John "Jeff" Hanneman (born January 31, 1964) is a guitarist and a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer. Hanneman grew up in Los Angeles in a family of war veterans, and his fascination with warfare is attributed to his upbringing. His interest in the subject of war pertains to much of his lyrical material including the song "Angel of Death".

Influenced by punk music growing up, Hanneman stated that the genre influenced Slayer's sound to make and create a faster and more aggressive approach. Hanneman has contributed both lyrical and musical material to every Slayer album and wrote the songs "Raining Blood", "War Ensemble", "Seasons in the Abyss" and "Angel of Death", which are played at almost every live Slayer show. He has his own signature guitar, the ESP Jeff Hanneman Signature model.

Biography

Hanneman was born in Oakland and grew up in Long Beach, Californiamarker, in a family containing several war veterans: his father fought in Normandy during World War II and his brothers in Vietnam; so warfare was a common conversation topic at the dinner table. War films were popular on TV at the time, and Hanneman often joined his brothers in constructing and coloring tank and plane models. His interest in warfare and military history is attributed to his upbringing.

Hanneman approached Kerry King in 1981, when King was auditioning for a band. After the try-out session, the two guitarists started talking and playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs. Slayer was born when King asked "Why don't we start our own band?", to which Hanneman replied "...Fuck yeah!". In 1982, Hanneman, Dave Lombardo and Suicidal Tendencies's guitarist Rocky George had a brief punk side project called "Pap Smear" - the band due to start recording when Hanneman was advised to avoid the side project by Slayer's producer, Rick Rubin, who is quoted as saying "Ahhhh, don’t do it, man — this is the kind of thing that breaks bands up!" Hanneman took Rubin's advice, and later used two of the songs on Slayer's 1996 album Undisputed Attitude.

In 1997 Hanneman married Kathryn , whom he had met in the early 1980s. The couple have no children and live in Los Angeles, forty minutes away from King. Kathryn stays at home when Slayer tours; Hanneman claims to prefer this, saying that when he comes home, she's "all brand new again". Kathryn has toured with the band twice in twenty years.

Hanneman and Slayer vocalist Tom Araya are reformed cocaine and pill abusers. They decided to quit when they realised "this can lead to only death or something, this is going too far". Both Araya and Hanneman restrict themselves to drinking beer. Hanneman's favorite brand is Heineken lager; he can often be seen with the drink backstage and in publicity photos. During The Unholy Alliance Chapter II tour, Hanneman was seen playing a guitar with a Heineken logo, but it says Hanneman instead of Heineken as a custom finish. In the new issue of Guitar World, Hanneman can be seen with a newer version of his Heineken logo guitar, with death head Nazi emblem between the two laurels.

Interest in National Socialist History

The Knight's Cross


Hanneman's interest in German war medals and Nazi Germany is illustrated by many of his lyrics. Those interests in the National Socialists began with medals given to him by his father, including some taken from a dead German soldier. His most prized medal is his Knight's Cross, which he bought from a Slayer fan for $1000. While touring with Motörhead, Hanneman discovered Motörhead vocalist Lemmy's interest in medals, and the two discussed medal designs, weapons and tactics used by the Wehrmacht.

Hanneman's lyrics for the song "Angel of Death" led to accusations of Slayer being Nazi sympathizers. The track details the actions of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration campmarker during World War II. Hanneman has defended himself with "nothing I put in the lyrics that says necessarily he was a bad man, because to me - well, isn't that obvious? I shouldn't have to tell you that." The band have stated numerous times that they do not condone Nazism and are merely interested in the subject.

Style and influences

Hanneman's musical influences include early heavy metal and punk rock, which led to Slayer's 1996 album Undisputed Attitude. Hanneman's and King's dual guitar solos have been called "wildly chaotic", and "twisted genius". Early albums, such as Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood, featured a "wailing style" and "demented soloing often mimicking the screams of the song's victims". South of Heaven featured "more technical" guitar riffs, utilizing the aforementioned tremolo picking and down-picked notes, improving musicianship while retaining a melodic sense. Both Hanneman and King were ranked #10 on Guitar Worlds "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time".

Lyrics and music

Hanneman wrote the music for most of the band's fan favorites, songs such as "South of Heaven", "War Ensemble", "Raining Blood", "Angel of Death", "Mandatory Suicide", and "Seasons in the Abyss", which have all become staples for live performance at Slayer shows. Hanneman's favorite album is Reign in Blood, and he enjoys performing the songs "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death." He has contributed lyrics and music to every Slayer album, forming a music and lyric writing partnership with Araya, which sometimes overshadows King's creative input.

When writing new material, the band writes the music before the lyrics. Hanneman often composes riffs at his house, using a 24-track and a drum machine and then gathers opinions from the other band members; King and Lombardo make suggestions of alterations. The band will play the riff to get the basic song structure, and then figure out where the lyrics and solos go. Hanneman has stated that writing lyrics and music is a "free for all"; "It's all just whoever comes up with what. Sometimes I’ll be more on a roll and I’ll have more stuff, same with Kerry — it's whoever's hot, really. Anybody can write anything; if it's good we use it, if not we don’t."

Equipment

When touring, Hanneman carries six guitars due to the different tunings required. Early albums such as Haunting the Chapel - Divine Intervention have E-flat tuning, while later albums such as Diabolus in Musica - Christ Illusion feature alternate tunings, the first album Show No Mercy was recorded in standard tuning, while live performances of the respective songs are being played in E-flat since about 1984. Extra guitars are also brought in case a string snaps or a guitar sustains damage.


Discography



References




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