EXODUS Guitarist: 'Everything We're Doing Now Is A Natural Progression For Us'

Christopher Porter of Washington Post Express recently conducted an interview with guitarist Gary Holt of San Francisco thrash metal legends EXODUS. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below

Washington Post Express: Do think EXODUS' longevity is due to the fact the style of music you helped create is still an important part of today's metal scene, whereas some of the '80s hair-metal bands can sound dated?

Holt: I think so. Especially now there's a whole new generation of bands paying homage to what we helped create. We didn't invent metal; we stood on the backs of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and punk rock, and JUDAS PRIEST and stuff like that. And we created thrash metal along with a few other bands, obviously — METALLICA, SLAYER, stuff like that. And from that came death metal and from that came black metal, and it's just a big circle that shares its influences. ... We've managed to rebuild a good level of success by acquiring a whole new crowd of kids. Most of our audience now is 16 to 25 years old.

Washington Post Express: And unlike thrash, hair metal hasn't made a major resurgence.

Holt: It was based more on image, not chops. And old hair bands look silly when they get older and try to slip into the same clothes they were wearing in the '80s. It's pretty humorous. Bands like ours have always been based on musicianship, chops, songwriting and performance, so it stands the test of time a lot better. Most hair bands were pretty shitty. When it comes to hair metal, I secretly love every lick George Lynch ever played, but do I really like DOKKEN? No, but I'll listen the fuck out of George's playing. I actually RATT — I like RATT a lot — [and] some of the MÖTLEY CRÜE stuff. But shit like ENUFF Z'NUFF? That's pretty shitty. But [EXODUS guitarist] Lee [Altus] and I have been RATT fans forever; they had some great riffs. But back in the '80s we just couldn't admit it; they were part of the common enemy. We had to gather in secret to listen to them, make sure nobody was listening in [laughs].

Washington Post Express: You never had to do like METALLICA did with "Death Magnetic", where they said they were trying to reach back to their '80s albums in order to recapture that energy. EXODUS hasn't had any stylistic speed-bumps like they did.

Holt: No, but we also haven't gotten caught up in being the world's biggest metal band of all time. Somebody's gotta keep the energy going and I guess it was just us. But I do think their new album's really good, though. Not all that fond of the production — I was hoping to hear James [Hetfield] pull out his "... And Justice for All" tone again — but it sounds like a Rick Rubin record. But the songs are great. ... [And] no, I haven't seen or spoken to [Kirk] in years.

Washington Post Express: What I really like about the last decade-plus of EXODUS records is that it's still thrash music but with the heaviness of more extreme post-death-metal bands.

Holt: That's probably true, but it's not anything intentional. We're not trying to sound more death metal, but the one thing we're not concerned with is sounding retro. There are plenty of others bands playing retro-style thrash metal that we don't need to do it; we've done that — 20 years ago. We just want to take it as far as we can and take it to new levels of extreme brutality. None of us have any interest in writing songs with tons of gang vocals because we've been there, done that. Obviously, there's some people who think it would be the best thing in the world for us to put out an old-school album, but it would be a dishonest album because we'd be forcing it. Everything we're doing now is a natural progression for us — musically, lyrically, everything. And to go back, it would be fraudulent. We'd just be stealing from ourselves.

Washington Post Express: What's the status of "The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit B"?

Holt: We're going to try and just finish this tour up, and then we'll do a couple of weekend fly-in gigs, but we're just spending the rest of the summer completing the songs. We have a ton of stuff written, and we're hoping to be in the studio by late October, probably. We have four recorded already and I have another eight I'm working on, and Lee's got a few. So we have more than enough material; it's just finishing it and putting all the pieces together and stuff like that.

Read the entire interview from Washington Post Express.

Quality video footage of EXODUS performing their classic song "Bonded By Blood" on April 17, 2009 at the House Of Blues in Chicago. Illinois is available for viewing below.

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