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Interview with Gary Holt of Exodus

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Exodus is playing their first headlining gig in San Francisco in three years. I had a chance to talk with Gary Holt, the only member of the band that has performed on all of Exodus albums. The upcoming show at Slim’s is special for the band for few reasons. “You could kinda call it a christmas special. We decided it has been too long. We haven’t had a headlining show in San Francisco in like three years” Holt said. The show is a break for the band. Exodus is preparing for their eleventh album. “We are just writing for the next album. Ready to go full steam ahead on that. We are hitting the studio in February. Probably a late summer release.”

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Exodus is part of the history of thrash and if you look at who’s played in the band at one stage or another and the bands they have played since you’ll find a big part of thrash as we know it. Holt says about the band “It’s my baby. It’s always special to me. What makes it special for someone else I don’t know. It all depends on someone’s taste. We do what we do and don’t take no prisoners. We just go out and try to hurt people and people seem to love it. We have been doing it so long that I think we are better at it than anyone else. We know couple of things about thrash metal. But so does a lot of other bands. I think the bands that were there at the very beginning are playing at the top of their game now.”

Early thrash albums were brutal, but also political. There was a very tangible sense of rebellion on those albums. There are still plenty of things to rebel against. “There’s no shortage of things that piss me off. All you have to do is open your eyes and you’ll see stuff to be angry about. But I’m a very happy person. My life is great and I’m always a happy guy. Exodus is a way for me to vent my frustrations” says Holt.

Thrash has seen it’s highs and lows in popularity over the years. Holt attributes the success or lack of it to trends and also to the bands themselves “Like in the 90’s a lot of thrash kids all of a sudden started wearing a lot of flannel shirts and started to pretend they were from Seattle. But then again Pantera blossomed and flourished in the 90’s. I think what it comes down to is that the marker got over-saturated and all of us collectively were not making our best records. Maybe we took things for granted a little and were kinda resting on our laurels a bit. But I think all of us now understand that every album has to be the best thing that you can do at the moment.” There may have been some naivety with dealing with record labels and the business side of music in general “We had too many people whispering into our ears about what the bands should sound like. Trying to be more mainstream and that’s not what thrash is ever about. It’s a genre created around not giving a fuck. I think we are all back to that now. We are doing what we want and not caring. We are on record labels that understand what the bands are really about. We all do our own thing and do it the way we want to.”

Holt thinks that the current lineup for Exodus is the best it has ever been ”It’s as strong as Exodus has ever been since the very beginning. Obviously [Paul] Baloff is not with us anymore. He’d be number one on the list. I do get to jam with Rick [Hunolt] occasionally which is awesome. The lineup we have now is like steroids level strength and we are super happy.”

Holt has a list of musicians he wanted to play with and a man with his experience has formed bonds with a vast list of musicians. Holt goes to explain “I’ve been lucky. I get to play with Slayer. With good friends and in band I totally admire. I spent couple of years playing with Dave Lombardo and now I’m playing with Paul [Bostaph] again. I do the metal masters clinics and play with other guys too which is super fun. Charlie Benante, Scott Ian, Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown so I do get that out of my system, playing with other guys.”
Playing in Slayer started out with Holt keeping a seat warm for Jeff Hanneman. It extended longer and longer and eventually became permanent with Jeffs' tragic passing.”I still continue with Slayer but now my focus is with Exodus.” There are differences in the bands and especially how the music is played live “Exodus runs around a lot more on stage. Exodus is kind of a freeway in a rush hour. You have to watch out, watch out for your lane changes if you don’t want to get hurt. Slayer has more of a dark vibe and you stand your ground and rip.”

Playing in two bands and especially so successful bands causes issues with time and priority management. “This next year is going to be the most difficult. There will be a new Exodus album and most likely a new Slayer album right around the same time. I’m going to be super busy. I have to manage my time well.”
Finally Hold wanted to address the fans directly “Thanks for the patience. Thanks for waiting for all this time for Exodus to start working on a new album. You won’t be disappointed!”

More info about Exodus:

Check Slim’s for ticket availability


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