EXODUS Guitarist GARY HOLT: 'We're Arguably The Band That Started It All'

BigMusicGeek.com recently conducted an interview with legendary EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

BigMusicGeek.com: Prior to start of the recording sessions, was there any doubt that "Let There Be Blood" [the newly released re-recording of the band's classic 1985 album "Bonded By Blood"] would be an entirely self-produced affair? Initially, I assumed the group would be working with Andy Sneap

Gary: "Production wise, I'm more than capable of doin' everything myself, ya know? I produced 'The Atrocity Exhibition...Exhibit A' and 'Shovel Headed Kill Machine' myself and on 'Tempo Of The Dammed', we worked with Andy. He and I work so well together. He knows I can do this stuff myself, but the creative end of things between him and I is just phenomenal. We see everything eye to eye and really get brainstorming and diabolical about shit. You have to look at it from a historical point of view, ya know? We come from the same genre and era, so he understands the music and knows how to get the best performances out of us. On top of it, he's one of my best friends. We have a total blast workin' with each other and it's fun from start to finish. We're constantly bustin' each other's balls and fuckin' with each other (laughs). It's a great relationship and it doesn't even feel like work, ya know? As an engineer and a producer, his mixes are just second to none, ya know? So I always like havin' him there, but on this, how much brainstormin' is there really gonna be? I'm goin' in and doin' 'Piranha'. I know how to record 'Piranha' (laughs). I'm not gonna all of a sudden start doin' some crazy remix of it, ya know? Like put some industrial beats behind it or anything.”

BigMusicGeek.com: At this point, do you consider (vocalist) Rob (Dukes) to be the de facto EXODUS frontman and by extension this the ultimate EXODUS lineup?

Gary: "Definitive short of Paul [Baloff; late EXODUS singer], ya know? And that's the beautiful and amazing thing about Paul Baloff. He's always going to be the definitive EXODUS singer because he's the one who sang on 'Bonded By Blood', ya know? And that's the album that we'll always be defined by. We did some great stuff with (former frontman Steve) Zetro (Souza), but Rob's the guy for now, especially for EXODUS in this day and age because the band has become so much more aggressive, ya know? Rob is the guy to sing on all that stuff, but he really does justice to Zetro and Paul's stuff, too. He does it with his own flair but without straying too far from the original feeling and sprit of the song, ya know? I'd never want him to go out and sing 'Fabulous Disaster' like he was (former CANNIBAL CORPSE/SIX FEET UNDER frontman) Chris Barnes or something, ya know? There's nothin' wrong with that, but it's not the style or spirit those songs are meant to be sung in, ya know? Rob does them correctly. This lineup is more dangerous that any we've ever had. It's faster, it's more aggressive, it's more over-the-top and just hungrier, ya know? The first line-up was the greatest because we were actually inventing something, ya know? It was something that no one had ever done. But knowing what I know now, this line-up is an unstoppable force, ya know? It's just a fuckin' juggernaut."

BigMusicGeek.com: In hindsight, to what do you attribute the group's seemingly unprecedented longevity? You have, after all, been doing this in one form or another for quite some time now.

Gary: "The only thing I can attribute it to is that I'm insane (laughs). I'm out of my fuckin' mind and I don't know better. We're bitter old men. That's why we're still here (laughs). Sometimes I'm surprised we're still here, ya know? We've stayed true to the core beliefs of the band. We've never sold out, ya know? We've managed to endure and survive a lot of musical trends that have come and gone. The kind of stuff we do and play has always managed to find a way to survive, ya know? We're kind of like the cockroach of the musical world. I still absolutely love doin' this, ya know? When I sit down to write a song or come up with some new riffs, I l love it and when I come up with a good one, I get really into it. It's just like when I was twenty years old, ya know? I'm just sittin' there absorbed it in and then I'm callin' everyone in the bad so I can tell 'em how heavy the new shit is, ya know? I still get fired up about it. But I don't take it for granted, ya know? I still want to do this. I think we still have a lot to offer."

BigMusicGeek.com: As a pioneering thrash metal musician, have you found yourself pleased with the group's place in the hierarchy of the genre's history?

Gary: "I'm perfectly content with our place in thrash metal history, ya know? We're arguably the band that started it all. Us and METALLICA, ya know? There's room for argument over who came first. It's kinda like the chicken and the egg argument, ya know? Every day I hear people give homage to us and give us the respect that we deserve, but at the same time, I carry around a huge perceived lack of respect. I still feel like we don't get any. But that's one of the things that fuels me and keeps me motivated, so maybe I create it myself sometimes. I don't know. There's only two bands like us that have had multi-platinum success. One is METALLICA, the biggest rock band in the world and the other is MEGADETH. SLAYER doesn't have any platinum albums, TESTAMENT doesn't have any and neither does ANTHRAX, ya know? [For the record, ANTHRAX's "I'm The Man" was certified platinum in 1993. — Ed.] We've certainly been on the outside looking in at times, but when I hear people throw words around like 'The Big Four'. We were fuckin' doin' this shit when everyone else was still doin' covers and wearin' striped shirts, ya know? Sometimes, stuff like that can rub me wrong, ya know? But out of all of the 'old guards,' who else is still making albums as vital as we are right now, ya know? I don't think anybody is."

Read the entire interview at BigMusicGeek.com.

"Bonded By Blood" 2008 recording (with Rob Dukes on vocals):

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