LOS ANGELES, October 18, 2013 — Gary Holt is the lead guitar player and songwriter for the San Francisco thrash band, Exodus. He also plays guitar with Slayer as the replacement for the late Jeff Hanneman. Exodus is the band that pioneered the Bay Area thrash metal scene and was the band Kirk Hammett left to join Metallica. Gary Holt took some time to speak about a new records from Exodus and Slayer in 2014, filling in for Jeff Hanneman and touring with Slayer.
Kevin J. Wells: Is there a new Exodus record in the works?
Gary Holt: Right now, I’m starting to compile riffs and get to that stage and I’m gonna continue writing while out the upcoming Slayer tour as well. I pretty much have a break from the world of Slayer ‘til next April. So, I’m using this time off to make sure that I get that next Exodus record done.
KW: When can people look forward to hearing it?
GH: If it all goes to plan, the summer of next year.
KW: Do you have a title for the album?
GH: Oh, hell no [laughs]. We are still way far from an album title. I mean, there’s ideas jotted down on paper here and there, but that usually comes together closer to the completion of the thing.
KW: Is Slayer is also starting work a new record?
GH: The recording for that should start sometime maybe by the end of this year. So, hopefully, then kill two birds with one stone and manage to keep both bands touring at the same time. Who knows?
KW: Will you do any of the recording with Slayer?
GH: It looks like I’ll probably be doing solos on the record, but the songs are all written. Kerry [King] will handle all that stuff. My plate’s kind of full anyway, so I’ll probably be bouncing back and forth from L.A. to San Francisco.
KW: Tom Araya said that there are a few Jeff Hanneman songs that he was working on. Have you had a chance to hear them and has Slayer done any work on them?
GH: No. I know they have some stuff, you know, I think the bulk of whatever’s left over was stuff that remained from World Painted Blood, but I haven’t heard it yet, so I can’t comment on it. I’m sure it’d be super cool to have some of his last final works end up on the Slayer album. That would be awesome.
KW: What was it like replacing Jeff Hanneman?
GH: To me, there was nothing weird about it. You know, a lot of people assume it’s some big, intimidating thing, but they forget that I was playing music with some of my oldest friends, including Jeff. In the early days when we were touring together, it was me and Jeff were the two that hung out non-stop. It wasn’t an intimidating situation, you know, just playing music with some old friends of mine who were in a position where they needed some help and I happened to be in a position to assist. It’s been kind of cool playing some legendary songs written by another band, some of my favorite stuff, and I get to play it, you know?
KW: Do you think Slayer fans have fully embraced you?
GH: Yeah. I ‘ve been doing Slayer now for rapidly approaching three years now and I think I’ve had three hecklers the whole time [laughs], which I think is a pretty f**kin’ small percentage considering, I think, what most people would get. And one of the hecklers was super good natured and we had fun with it. Then there was another guy with the worst skullet you ever seen just flippin’ me off and tuggingon his Slayer shirt, you know, like, “yeah, look Slayer, f**k you!” I’m like, “Dude you paid money to come see Slayer knowing Jeff wouldn’t be here, so you could come up and go, “Yeah, Slayer, f**k you.” You’re paying to see it! I’m super thick-skinned and that s**t never bothers me and I could have had him beaten to death by the Slayer thug life crew, but I held back on that one. It didn’t bother me too much.
KW: How hard is it to juggle Exodus, Slayer and your family?
GH: Well, I went to the doctor today just to get my ears checked and my blood pressure’s a little high [laughs]. I guess that answers how easy it is to juggle all this stuff. You know, I’m working harder on my health than I have in a long time, trying to take care of myself and make sure I don’t collapse and faint from all the work. I mean, you could have worse problems than to have two successful bands keeping you busy and a happy family, as well. It’s a good thing to have. It’s a good busy. Sometimes I get a little stressed out, but who doesn’t, you know?
KW: In December, Exodus is playing at Slims in San Francisco. How often do you get to play small places like that?
GH: It’s our first show in San Francisco in a long time, so it should be fun, yeah. With the Slayer thing, the last Bay Area thing I think we did was over on the other side of the bay in Oakland. That was for the little Paul Baloff memorial concert. We haven’t done a headlining show in San Francisco in like three years. It should be really good, yeah.
KW: Have you ever thought about writing an autobiography?
GH: You know, I’ve had people ask me about writing a book about my whole life in thrash metal, especially because I have an inside connection to virtually, in one branch, to all of the original thrash bands just through relationships and actually playing in two of ‘em now. I don’t know. That a whole other endeavor that I would have to spend that much more time on [laughs]. Maybe in the future, I don’t know.
You can see Gary Holt with Exodus next at Slim’s in San Francisco on December 20. Gary Holt will also be touring with Slayer throughout the U.S. and Canada starting in November.
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