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Gary Holt Interview

A Chat With The Exodus Guitarist




Zaentz Records
Chad Bowar: There’s been a thrash revival the past couple of years. What do you think of that, and are there any of the younger bands that have caught your ear?
Gary Holt: There are a lot of good ones, but the two best in my opinion are Warbringer and Evile. They are both really killer. Warbringer is doing really well, and Evile is doing well overseas and hopefully will be over here soon. They are playing this kind of music for the right reasons, because they love it. If it takes off and it popular again, so be it. It’s a good thing. I like the young bands.

Do you find it amazing that so many of the Bay Area thrash bands are still together and very successful 25 years later?
The new Testament album is fantastic. The Death Angel album is also really good. We’re far more active than most of those guys. We’ve been touring nonstop for the last four years. I think it’s great. Metallica learned how to play a riff or two on their new album.

What do you think of Death Magnetic?
Some of it I don’t like, some of it is pretty good, but the main complaint I have with the album overall is Rick Rubin. He doesn’t know what he’s doing as a producer.

I hear he’s a pretty hands off producer.
He does nothing. It depends on who you talk to. With Slipknot, Jim Gray will talk about how he’s this psychologist kind of guy, while Corey Taylor says he never saw the guy. To me, if you’re paying that guy the kind of money he’s getting to produce it, which I’m sure is astronomical, I want the guy there every day. If Metallica would have used Andy Sneap, imagine what that album would have sounded like.

There have been complaints about the audio being compressed to the point of distortion. Did you notice that?
I was just searching for good riffs, but it sounds like a System Of A Down record. I was hoping that James would pull out his And Justice For All guitar tone again and show everybody that this guy was once considered the heaviest rhythm guitarist in the world. But the guitar sound is small. I have read that people are complaining about the over-hot mastering levels.

You spend a lot of time watching the cable news channels and following what’s going on. Is there anything that can be done to fix the mess the country’s in right now?
Vote Obama. I used to have a lot of respect for McCain, but he realized after the dirty defeat that he suffered at the hands of George W. Bush in the South Carolina primary in the last election that he can only get elected if he plays the Karl Rove tactic b.s. He’s doing it. It’s just one debunked lie after the other. He’s the kind of guy who will tell you the sky is red, you look up and it’s blue, and he won’t admit he’s wrong. He’s playing dirty politics. Palin is just terrifying, the thought of this lady being a heart attack away from having the nuclear codes. She’s crazy and she’s dumb.

Getting back to the music, as you look back is there an Exodus album that you think is underrated, or didn’t get a good promotional push at the time of its release and didn’t do as well as you thought it should?
The Capitol Records albums were certainly under-promoted. Force Of Habit (1992) was better received at the time it came out, but now I look back and think it’s by far the weaker album. People have appreciated Impact Is Imminent (1990) now, especially before this recent re-release. You could tell by the amount of money it was going for on Ebay. People were paying like 60 dollars for this record. Vocally there are flaws on it, but that’s not Zetro’s fault. Some of the phrasing that I had written for the album didn’t really give him room to work with. There was too much to say in too short of a time frame. But riff-wise, I think it has some of the best riffs I‘ve ever written.

With all the changes in the music industry over the years, how would Exodus do if you started at a band in 2008?
We might do better if were a new band. Certainly we have a built in audience, more in Europe than in the United States. In the U.S. we’ve had to work our way back because people tend to stop going to metal shows 20 years after they were into it. Maybe it would work out better and we’d be a new band and sell as many records as DevilDriver. Maybe we wouldn’t have that stigma of being an old band from the ‘80s. But at the same time we’ve escaped that by continuing to make albums that are relevant and powerful in this musical market.

When you’re playing live, do you see a cross section of older fans from the ‘80s and the younger generation?
It’s mostly kids. You get some of the older guys who still come. But that doesn’t mean they are 44 years old. The older guys may be 30. But it’s largely kids. We’ve done some shows where I’m completely blown away about the average age range of the audience, which is about 16 to 25. I guess we are connecting with a different audience, which is good.

Is there a TV show you won’t miss, or always record if you’re out of town?
Other than my obsession with cable news I don’t watch much television. I watch a lot of movies, mostly foreign period movies. I love Jane Austen flicks. I love costume dramas.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
I’ve never been on a vacation. The closest I’ve ever been is the second time we went to Brazil. We spent about 11 days there and it was like paradise. It was amazing.

What did you buy with your first big paycheck?
I’m still waiting for a big paycheck! The very first one I bought some furniture. It was back in 1989. We got a nice check and I went and bought a new couch. It’s not very rock star, but when you’re sitting on some messed up furniture, you want to buy a nice couch. It goes hand in hand with the remote control.

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