GARY HOLT ON IF “THE BIG FOUR” WAS TO EXPAND TO “THE BIG FIVE” SHOULD EXODUS BE INCLUDED? GUITARIST SAYS, “I KNOW WHERE I WAS WHEN THRASH WAS BORN…SO, THAT SPOT BELONGS TO US”
Greg Prato of Guitar World spoke with Exodus guitarist Gary Holt, highlights from the interview appear below.
Guitar World: Let’s start by discussing the new Exodus album, Persona Non Grata.
Gary Holt: The big difference on this album is we built a full-on recording studio up at Tom Hunting’s – up in the mountains. And I literally had the ability to mic up as many speakers as I wanted, and really go crazy – and really do it the way we did back in the glory days of spending a ton of money on recording studios. But we did it on our own, and it was super awesome to play with sound like that.
Guitar World: Which songs are you most proud of from a guitar standpoint?
Gary Holt: My favorite solo on the album is on The Fires of Division. That one came out really, really good. Some of them are not easy to play – the title track. That main riff is just completely weird, and it’s a “left wrist killer.” It’s just one of those where the process of playing that riff is really hard on the left hand.
Guitar World: Do you think there could ever be another movement as far-reaching as thrash metal was in the ‘80s?
Gary Holt: I don’t know. I guess in its own way, the nu metal wave took off, and there were a million bands that came out of it. And some rose to the top. So, I guess you’ve got to give them credit for having a movement of their own. But going forward, I don’t know. I don’t know if there will be another genuine movement like that. The club scenes aren’t what they were.
Guitar Word: Do you agree that if The Big Four was expanded to The Big Five, Exodus would be included?
Gary Holt: I don’t waste time thinking about that kind of stuff. I just tell people, “I know where I was when thrash metal was born,” and a lot of other bands that lay claim to that spot didn’t exist yet. So, that spot belongs to us – f–k everybody else! [Laughs]
Guitar World: Are you still in touch with the members of Slayer?
Gary Holt: Yeah, I was just texting Kerry [King] a little while ago. I haven’t seen anybody since the band ended and the pandemic struck. It’s not like I was out on the road where I could run into people at shows and such. I’ve got nothing but love for those guys.
Guitar World: What are your thoughts on the current state of metal guitar?
Gary Holt: I think it’s awesome. There are kids I follow on Instagram that are just shredding – young kids, like 15-year-old girls, that are riffing out Meshuggah riffs. I think that’s awesome that there’s a whole generation of guitar players coming up – rather than DJs. It gives me hope for the future.
Guitar World: Who are your favorite modern day metal guitarists?
Gary Holt: Michael Amott. He’s the modern day Michael Schenker. But he’s his own man – his vibrato, his tone, everything. Zakk Wylde is one of my heroes. But he’s been around a long time – he’s an old guy like me. There are a ton of guys out there that are all so good now. It’s crazy.
Guitar World: You just mentioned Michael Schenker. It seems like all the thrash guitarists of the ‘80s list him as a major influence.
Gary Holt: It’s our age. In our heyday, UFO were huge – and still are one of my all-time favorite bands. And Schenker is number two on my guitar list…sometimes number 1 – it depends on how I’m feeling between him and [Ritchie] Blackmore on any given day.
But I think all of us thrash guys grew up on the same music. And Michael is a phenomenal guitar player and just as good of a songwriter. His catalog of hits is phenomenal – it’s crazy what it is.
Read more at Guitar World.
To read details about Exodus’ forthcoming album, Persona Non Grata (out 11/19), and to stream audio for their first single, The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves), click here. To see a lyric video for the song, Clickbait, please go here. Pre-order for Persona Non Grata is available now.
The “Big 4” represented commercial success, not where the band was positioned when the thrash genre was born. Based on the “commercial success” criteria, the #5 spot would belong to Overkill, not Exodus.
Over the course of their music catalog, I think Exodus is a better thrash band than Metallica and Anthrax. And Exodus’ debut album “Bonded By Blood” is my favorite thrash debut album. IMO, they rank in the “Big 4” as a quality thrash band, but not “Big 4” based on “commercial success”.