Q&A with Gary Holt
Sheila Rene': Hello old buddy. Great to hear from you again. I was so happy to get the call from Century Media about the interview.
Gary Holt: There's never silence from us. We're just a bunch of loud mouths anyway. Hey, it's 4th of July weekend. I looked down the list of interviews to do and you're the only one I'm doing.
SR: It's so great that you're all back together.
GH: Yeah, we're having a great time.
SR: Did you have lots of fun at Dynamo '97? I just talked with Eric from Testament and he told me they used your equipment over there.
GH: It was incredible. It was like nothing I had even imagined.
SR: About 80,000 fans.
GH: It was 88,000 fans and they went crazy too.
SR: Did that make you decide to keep this thing going?
GH: Oh, yeah. We're definitely back and we'll keep the music going. Hey, I've been in this band so long. It's all I know how to do at this point.
SR: You've since been involved in another band called Wardance.
GH: That's been put way on the back burner perhaps forever. We were super heavy, but it wasn't fast.
SR: I love my thrash fast.
GH: After all those years in Exodus, I wasn't inspired to play fast; but now, I'm back into it again. Our fast songs are the ones I love the most.
SR: What would you say the history of trash was in the Bay Area? Was Exodus first?
GH: Uhhh, it was a close race between Exodus and Metallica. I believe Metallica and Slayer got their albums out before us. I think if you turn the clocks back, regardless of recording dates, to who was playing thrash first, I think you'd have to point the finger at us. We were thrashing in '81 and that's a long time ago.
SR: What caused the breakup in '92?
GH: Capitol Records was killing the band. They did nothing for us for two straight albums. There were certain bad attitudes that I could no longer handle within the band. My wife had given birth to our daughter and I was just not having fun anymore. It has always been about fun and not about money. It just wasn't worth it to me to not be a good father to my little girl and be out with a band I no longer enjoyed playing with just for a paycheck. There haven't been many critics who have been against our getting back together. The ones who have spoken up have quickly silenced when they've heard the album or seen us play.
SR: Well, it's always a good thing to have some critics on your side.
GH: There have been a few who questioned if we were just doing it for the money. Hell, I could have signed a deal the next week after Capitol dropped us, had three or four albums out by now and not missed a beat. We had plenty of allies in the business including a few major labels who were hip to Capitol's killing the band.
SR: I don't doubt that for a minute.
GH: Howie Klein over at Sire Records contacted us before we ever did an album for Capitol. I saw him at a music convention in Seattle and he told me straight to my face to give him a call after Capitol f**ks you over. Tom Wally who was instrumental in signing us, left the label and look where he is today, President of Interscope. The only major label to my thinking that knows anything about f**kin' aggressive music. They handle everyone from Snoop Doggy Dog to Nine Inch Nails.
SR: Back in the '80s I thought that everyone should play. I didn't want any drum machines or guitar loops. I have since learned to appreciate some of those techniques. I still love my thrash best of all.
GH: I agree with you. I love some of that industrial tinged stuff. A lot of the new material we want to do, since Rick and I are really into the digital recording stuff, is to take the industrial influences to another level. To a level no one has ever taken it before. We already have thrash/industrial bands, but there isn't one that is full on, all out, 100% brutal assault of metal that would just crush you by itself. Then couple that with the heaviest aggressive aspect of sequencing and sampling on top of it, then you've got something. If you stripped all the other stuff away, would it be heavy. I'm talking about our being as heavy as we've always been and then on top of that another ten tons of bricks.
SR: I heard Steve showed up in March just to pay his respects and to support the new band.
GH: Yeah, he was very supportive of the entire plan all the way through. After the show when I went to talk to him at the party, he looked very depressed. I know he misses the band and the live recording show was a massive success. In '92 the Bay Area was one of our weakest drawing points. We played the Trocadero toward the end of '92 and we drew 400 people. We sold it out this time at 1200 and turned away another three to four hundred. He saw that even without any new material out that we could do good business. We weren't doing that well when he was in the band and I think it hurt him a bit.
SR: Baloff has just always been "the" guy. The best suited for this heavy stuff.
GH: He's a monster. He has people who'll do anything for him. He calls them Povol's Puppets. Anything he asks for or says he needs..just shows up from nowhere. His bicycle got stolen and a friend gave him another one right away. His wireless mic got replaced in a second.
SR: So most of you guys were in contact with each other. You just woke up one day and said 'Hey, let's do it.'
GH: Certainly. It got to the point to where I was really missing it. The band that Tom and I put together in the interim period with Jack Gibson was just starting to click. We were getting some great gigs our singer went off the deep end as we were told early on. He just disappeared for two months and he was just loony. We had to fire him and we embarked upon the most painful experience of looking for another singer. It was horrifying. After that we started talking about the good 'ole days and getting Exodus back together, usually over a few drinks.
SR: What happened next?
GH: I started listening to the Exodus catalog for the first time in years. I just said 'f**k, this is an impressive catalog. It deserves to be played.' It shouldn't be relegated to where are they now status. Where are we now? We're coming back to wreck your life.
SR: I read where you had a little trouble locating Paul, who was living down the peninsula. He called you up about something else.
GH: Yeah, I instantly threw out the idea of putting the band back together. He sounded like he wanted to do it, but he sounded a little funny. About ten minutes after we hung up he called back and said 'You're not kidding are you?' He thought I was pulling his leg. I said 'No, we're not, I wouldn't f**k with you about that, That would be cruel even for me.' So once we crossed that bridge, and we all got together, it just felt way too good to pass up.
SR: Did you have to get back into playing shape?
GH: To play this fast shit, yeah. It took a while before I was back up to speed. As a result, it has increased by playing ability all across the board. I was playing all along, but just not at the strenuous pace Exodus plays. I was using muscles that hadn't been used in five years and now I can grind my ass off.
SR: It sounds like the old days are back. You didn't have too much trouble with picking "the" set did you?
GH: No, I remembered everything. Rick had to relearn some stuff. For the live album gig we wanted to only do material that Paul wrote. In Europe we only did material that was on the live album. On the stage tour we're doing a great deal of Bonded By Blood like "Last Act Of Defiance," "Toxic Waltz," "Verbal Raises," "Parasite" and "Only Death Decides," "Thorn In My Side," and a couple of new songs. We're looking at an hour-forty five minute set. It's going to be brutal with 70 shows in 80 days.
SR: I just heard that you're coming into the Voodoo Lounge in September.
GH: I don't have an update on all the shows and I know they're still working on Texas dates.
SR: Do you think one of the things that might have helped you back then would have been staying on the road more?
GH: Certainly. It was also attitudes. Zetro. I love the guy but he was becoming increasingly difficult to be around. He'd wake up some days on tour and the first words out of his mouth were 'I'm having' a bad day. I'm in a bad mood. Don't anyone f**kin' bother me.' I wrote 90% of every song ever written in Exodus and I never once ever pretended or said that this was "my" band. He certainly thought it was "his" band at times. He just became at miserable human being at times. I just couldn't work with him anymore.
SR: Next up in July is Milwaukee Metalfest. What a great show.
GH: It's going to be sick. I know we're going to have a fun time.
SR: After that you'll be out on the road. You're going to be playing with Skinlab who are a very good band.
GH: They're some of our best friends and that's the criteria there. The label pushed us to put them on our tour, but it was a non issue with us because they're such great guys. It just took our telling our agent that we wanted them. He wasn't convinced at that point. We're using local bands to open for them.
SR: What are you doing on the 4th?
GH: I'm just going to blow things up and hang out with the family.
SR: I'm going to be watching the Mars probe all day. We could be booking Exodus on Mars very soon.
GH: I'm there. I'm ready. We'll f**kin' crush the Martians.
SR: Have you already started writing for the next studio album?
GH: I've got a lot of material left over from Wardance that'll work. We'll get serious about the next album when the touring ends.
SR: I'm excited that my Bay Area babes, Exodus are back together. We're looking forward to having a party for you when you hit Austin.
GH: We can't wait. Is the Back Room still open?
SR: Yes, it is. I think you'll be coming into the Voodoo Lounge. It's a bring your own bottle club just like it's the '50s all over again. The kids bring in their coolers and party on.
GH: There's a place in Allentown, PA where the rules are the same. They don't sell it, but it's legal to bring it in.
SR: I'll be in touch and we'll party hearty when you get to Austin. Thanks for making me a priority today and give the boys in the band my love.
GH: No problem. Thanks for your 12 years of continued support.