EXODUS Guitarist: 'I'm Not Interested In Sounding Like I Did In 1985'

Peter Jandréus of Sweden's Critical Mass recently conducted an interview with EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt. A few excerpts from the chat follow:

Critical Mass: Tom Hunting is back behind the drums on the new album. What happened to Paul (Bostaph)?

Gary: Well, you know, nothing happened to Paul. All that happened is that it was understood between everybody that if Tom wanted to come back there would be a seat waiting for him. He is one of the founding members and one of my best friends since I was 17 years old and Tom needed some time away from the band and to concentrate on his own self 'cause this band can be quite controlling on everybody's life and so he came back and Paul was absolutely fine with it and Paul wanted some time to himself anyway and I'm pleased that my buddy Paul is back in TESTAMENT, so it's a win-win situation for everybody.

Critical Mass: I was listening to your previous album the other day and perhaps you've gotten this question many times before but I was wondering about the song "Deathamphetamine". Is it a way for you of dealing with a darker past?

Gary: Yeah, sure, it was kinda my way of exorcise some of the demons I used to carry around. In a way it describes the nightmare of amphetamine abuse. I'm not the one to preach to people but if anybody out there putting the poison in 'em might learn something and not get as fucked up on the shit that I once was.

Critical Mass: So is music a sort of therapy for you in that sense?

Gary: Yeah, for sure, and in this band the music gets angry and angrier and I'm happy because of it. I don't walk around with a mean look on my face, I'm the happiest guy you'll ever meet. You know, it helps to express the anger through a song.

Critical Mass: Your current lineup really kicks ass but some might think that you are sort of touring with a company name and that you should change the name of the band?

Gary: Well, they don't know what the fuck they're talking about, for starters. I would understand and agree with them if, let's say, for instance, EXODUS was broken up and then five to ten years later Gary Holt comes out with four new guys and calls it EXODUS. That would not be right but when we went into the studio to do "Shovel Headed Kill Machine", Rick (Hunolt), who was still a member of the band, quit the day we moved the equipment in and he wasn't committed anymore. He also never went to rehearsal. Zetro (Steve Souza) was just an asshole. He was impossible to deal with even in 1993 so there was no choice but to let him go. He wasn't the original singer anyway. All these things happened within weeks and just before the recording of the album and I'm not going to stop what I've been focusing on for the last six months. EXODUS has been my baby since I was 14 years young and I'm not gonna let it die. Most people today have thanked me for not letting it fade away.

Critical Mass: How would you label the EXODUS sound of 2007?

Gary: It's absolutely thrash, and I'm not gonna let somebody convince me it's not, 'cause then I'll be running away from something we helped to create. You know, I don't approach things any differently than I did then. I mean, it starts with a riff and anybody who is a musician can see how I arrange songs. I have my own style and still go by it. But at the same time I'm not interested in sounding like I did in 1985. Other people are but I did that first so why would I wanna do it now.

Critical Mass: Here in Sweden stagediving is more or less forbidden at most larger venues and people is often thrown out because of that. Is it similar when you visit other countries? How do feel about it?

Gary: We just recently heard that we are the reason that stagediving and moshing is banned at the Whisky in Hollywood. I'm quite proud of that. I don't know how they plan to enforce those rules but I remember a couple years ago in Gothenburg this one kid dove of the stage and the whole crowd moved out of the way and he landed really bad and we could hear it from the stage and we thought that kid was gonna die. The ambulance came and everything but we saw him at the next show and he was OK. But I mean he hit hard — that shit was scary.

Critical Mass: Have you experienced more of that over the years?

Gary: Well, yeah, we were sued by this guy's parents when the crowd ran over this kid and they claimed that he had permanent emotional and physical scars but I say [anyone that] comes to see EXODUS already has the emotional [scars]!

Critical Mass: What part of the world you think has the wildest crowd?

Gary: You know, there was a time I wouldn't say this about Hollywood but our shows there has gotten more and more insane and the audience is 17-year-old kids and I've seen them in front of a venue doing sort of soundchecks to start up a pit on the sidewalk and it's like 20 kids at three o'clock in the afternoon just slammin' into each other in the street. People trying to walk by and they're terrified...

Read the entire interview at Critical Mass.

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