Inside Slayer’s Awesome New Collaboration With Jägermeister
When it was announced that Jägermeister was releasing a limited-edition bottle honoring thrash metal legends Slayer, fans were overjoyed, if not terribly surprised. For ages, Slayer and Jäger had gone together like blood and hellfire, their respective outsider statuses, unique flavors, and intense fanbases consistently complimenting one another. Meanwhile, the band has played on multiple Jägermeister Music Tours, and guitarist Kerry King was even featured in the liquor’s TV ads as one of their exclusive table of celebrities. This bottle, it seems, was inevitable — and to Slayer fans, it was a long time coming.
Jack Carson is, first and foremost, a huge Slayer fan. Though he’s now Jägermeister’s Director Of Innovation & Marketing in the U.S., and was once Slayer’s tour manager, you can still hear that all-in excitement in his voice when as he describes the signed Slayer tour poster and guitar he has hanging in his office. His excitement is comforting — it’s good to know that one of the people behind Slayer’s special-edition bottle is breathless at getting to work with the band, even after touring with them for ages.
“This is a bit of a thrill, honestly,” adds Jack. “I grew up in England, so I was reading Kerrang! when I was a kid, and arranged phone calls through the magazine over the years for other people. Now I get to do one!”
Above: The poster from Slayer’s Jägermeister music tour that Jack keeps in his office.
What prompted the change from tour managing Slayer to working for Jägermeister? What would you say is the difference between working for Jäger and an unholy thrash metal band?
Well, my favorite thing to say when I started working for Jägermeister is that I transitioned from saying, ‘I’m with the band’ to ‘I’m with the brand.’ So, that was a fun difference. But because I was a tour manager in the music industry, when I first started working for Jägermeister, my job description was still ‘tour manager.’ We had typically three music tours a year, with bands like Hatebreed and Arch nemy, and then typically a summer touring festival. So, for the first four or five years of my life at Jägermeister, I was doing the exact same job, only instead of wrangling band members to put on the bus at the end of the night, I was wrangling my crew guys and taking all of our branding assets and going to the next city. It really wasn’t that different.
Jägermeister has always been connected with heavy metal. But even amongst metal bands, Slayer and Jägermeister have always had a special relationship. Why do you think Jäger as a brand is so tied to metal, and why Slayer specifically?
So, the first one: metal, as a genre, if you’re in the know, you’re in. It is an inclusive genre, and a lot of people look at it from the outside and are like, ‘Wow, black eyeliner — weird.’ And that’s exactly the same for Jägermeister. It’s very similar in that way, I think. And, I can give you a billion examples of why metal’s great, I’m sure you know all of them, but…I remember one specific time when, Jaime [Jasta] was on the Jägermeister mobile stage at a summer festival, and there was a big pit, and a dude fell down — he stopped the show to get that guy picked up. And then they went right back into it. People don’t often see that stuff in metal, and I’m not saying Jägermeister has ever stopped a mosh pit. But I would like to say, if Jägermeister was a person, it would be that kind of person. It would definitely be a metal fan, or in a metal band.
And then, why do Slayer carry the banner — that’s a tough one. All I can tell you there is that Kerry King himself is a fan of the brand. He drinks Jägermeister. There’s no BS there. When you go out with Kerry, you’re drinking Jägermeister. That’s his thing. I think that when it’s so legitimate and truthful, that it just trickles down. I’ve been out with him, and people who don’t drink Jägermeister, and guess what they’re drinking — they’re drinking Jägermeister, because Kerry fucking King is drinking Jägermeister.
Is there something about Kerry King and Slayer in general that you feel like a lot of people wouldn’t immediately know, or might surprise your average fan?
I think that, in general, they come off very high-energy, but like any band and any genre in the world, they need about twenty minutes themselves to do whatever it is to chill. But when the dressing room door opens, they’re fun, laid-back, chill. I mean they’ve just been slaying — and I deliberately said that — onstage for like an hour and a half, with pyro and upside crosses on fire. And then, they’re hanging out in the dressing room, having shots and just being the most hospitable, down to earth guys. And they actually hang out together, by the way. Many bands — I don’t want to say who — they don’t hang out together. They get off stage and they split. You go to a Slayer show, and they’re all hanging out together.
I feel like I remember reading interviews back in the day where they said, ‘We see each other so damn much on tour, we can’t really take it anymore.’ So it’s interesting to hear that coming out the other side. Maybe in Slayer today, there’s much more of feeling kinship and being a band who can hang.
I think you really hit that on the head. I remember hearing those interviews and, don’t get me wrong, it’s been a long time since I was Slayer’s tour manager, and, maybe, if I put that hat on, I remember it not being the same as it was now with all these last summer music festivals. But I think they’ve come out of the tunnel. They’ve been friends since high school, and they’ve come out the other side. Yeah, they do see each other all the time, but it’s not like they have to hang out in the dressing room together. I think they just choose to. Slayer, as you know, has been evolving recently.
The last live tour I saw was two years ago at MSG, and that was maybe the best show I’ve ever seen them do. Not just from musicianship standpoint, but the production, also. I hate being the tour manager guy that notices this stuff, but the production was on point. The sound was unreal, they had a kabuki drop to open the show with pentagrams going across. It was just as refined as Slayer could be, or would want to be. They sounded awesome, looked awesome, and, to your point, they’ve evolved. And everything’s great for them and the fans.
How long was the idea of doing a signature bottle of Jäger for Slayer in the making? Is it a recent development, or has it been going on for a while?
We have a music manager in England named Tom Carson (who’s not my brother, although I would gladly accept him), and this was his idea, his baby. He’s a music nut and Slayer fan, and he asked me for my help, because of my relationship with the band, to put it together. So if I had to guess, I’d say probably a year and a half or so. And I think that the reason it came to fruition is because Slayer announced their last tour. So, really, it’s now or never!
Putting the bottle and box together, what were things that it had to have on it?
So, I gotta put both caps on here: I gotta put a Slayer fan and former employee hat on, and I gotta put the Jägermeister guy hat on. So, it had to have iconic logos from both entities. For me, the Slayer one is a Slayer logo. It had to be there, no question. For Jägermeister, the antlers and the glowing cross had to be there. That’s relating to the legend of Saint Hubertus, which relates to the master hunter name of Jägermeister. And then, Tom and I started ideating about, ‘What should the bottle say?’ I don’t have one yet, by the way, which is hilarious and sad. I’ve only seen pictures of it. But we were like, ‘What do we want to say on the bottle?’ and even on the box.
Even if you read through that, it’s all truths. It’s an ode to them, to thank them for their ongoing relationship, which is still ongoing and will be even after they stop touring. And to thank them, really, for their friendship and the stewardship of our brand. None of this was something they had to do — they’ve just been good friends to us and to the brand in a truthful way, not in a BS way. So, when we wrote this copy, on not even the box but the bottle itself, it was a tribute from Jägermeister to the greatest thrash metal band of all time ever. And that’s really it, in a nutshell.
As somebody who’s a fan of the band, who’s worked with them, and who’s worked with Jäger, can you name one Slayer song where, when it starts, you think, “We’re doing a shot of Jäger, NOW”?
Obviously, Reigning Blood has to be it. That’s what I was listening to, by the way, to gear up for this interview. It’s just that slow grind, the way that starts, is really it for me. There’s Angel Of Death, too — you’re a fan, I’m a fan. I could probably say all of them from the first album to the last one, and say, ‘Well, that one, that one, that one!’ You know what I mean? But, the one is Raining Blood, because really that [does the thunder booming] and that little pause before it actually starts…You know what? I might have two shots, because there are enough bars in there that you can probably get two in before it even starts, especially when they do the stadium intro which is even longer!
Slayer’s collaboration with Jägermeister is available now in the UK.
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