SLAYER and EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt was recently interviewed on “Whiplash”, the KLOS radio show hosted by Full Metal Jackie. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
Full Metal Jackie: SLAYER are going on the road for the last time on a final world tour. Tom Araya had hinted about retirement a couple of years ago, but people are still surprised. Was it always the plan to end in 2018?
Gary: “I can’t really comment on anything other than what the press release put out there. There’ll be more info to follow. All I can say is that the band’s gonna go out swinging and we’re gonna go out hard. And it’s gonna be epic. And from there, we’ll see wherever the avenues, roads take me.”
Full Metal Jackie: Seeing SLAYER has always been a metal “rite of passage,” who do you think will be the must-see band for kids getting into metal after SLAYER ends?
Gary: “That’s a really hard question to answer. I mean, there’s so many just amazing bands now, but it’s also so much harder to build a three-decade-long career in the music industry. Bands like SLAYER and EXODUS and MEGADETH and all of us, we are fortunate to be old. [Laughs] We started before downloading. Back then, it was called tape trading. We were able to build a fanbase, and now it’s much harder. There are so many killer bands, like MUNICIPAL WASTE, who you can hardly call a new band — they’re veterans now; they’ve been around forever. And POWER TRIP, and so many more. But as far as filling the big venues, it’s gonna be hard for another one to come up, an extreme metal band to get to that level, just because the business model has changed so much. But I hope so. Rap is the number one music form in America for the first time ever. It’s not rock ‘n’ roll, and that pisses me off — angers me to no end.”
Full Metal Jackie: EXODUS has long been regarded as a pioneering band right alongside METALLICA, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX and SLAYER. Do you feel any greater sense of responsibility to continue that thrash lineage with EXODUS once there’s an absence of SLAYER?
Gary: “Well, EXODUS, that’s my life — it’s like my childhood friends I’m playing music with there. And they’ve been super supportive in my absence, and nobody more so than the EXODUS fans themselves. But I’ve been writing for the last several months. Tom Hunting [drums] and I are both the like-minded in wanting to take as long as it takes to make the next record. We want to make the most badass thing anybody has ever heard. And the new material is simply just devastating — it’s just so crushing. The only responsibility I feel is to the band’s fans and our own legacy. I don’t ever wanna hit the stage and appear to be way past my prime. I feel I’m in my prime now. I’ll be 54 in May, and I feel as confident in my abilities as a player and onstage as I ever have. I have to take better care of myself to do it. When I was young, I didn’t take care of myself at all. But we’re just gonna keep waving the flag of thrash metal. I’ve always been proud to be a standard bearer and I always will. It’s the music form we helped invent, and I love it. It’s done very well for me in my life, and I’ll never take it for granted.”
Full Metal Jackie: You’ve been playing in SLAYER for seven years. What is going to be the biggest adjustment for you when it’s done?
Gary: “There won’t be. I’m fortunate in that I won’t have to, like someone else in a similar circumstance, start over. I’m sure there are a lot of fans who… I see some of the funny memes out there on Instagram. There are a lot of fans who are, like, ‘Come back.’ But I have two musical families. Yeah, seven years — that’s crazy. It’s something that I thought was gonna be a few months long, and, unfortunately, tragedy struck, and I’m still here. I’m not taking that for granted either, but I wish Jeff [Hanneman] was here. I’m just gonna enjoy it while I can and move on to other chapters — EXODUS and other projects I’ve wanted to do and haven’t had time. Time is something in short supply sometimes. I’m just [gonna] stay busy.”
Full Metal Jackie: People will speculate what Tom Araya will do next, what Kerry King will do next? What will you do after SLAYER with EXODUS and otherwise?
Gary: “I’ll probably be on the road a few weeks later. [Laughs] I’m just gonna keep writing music, writing riffs and playing guitar. That’s what I love to do. And as far as what anybody else is gonna do, that’s a question only they can answer. But for myself, I’ll do what I’ve been doing — headbang. [Laughs] I fear if I stop, I’ll never be able to start up again.”
Full Metal Jackie: EXODUS were expected to be already started to record a new album but you’ve been taking more time with the songwriting. What will be different about the next EXODUS album?
Gary: “That’s always a hard question to define for me. I mean, sometimes what’s different to me isn’t different to other people. Am I trying to retread the same thing? I never do. I think all of our last five albums are different in their own way yet 100 percent EXODUS. Maybe in some ways, some of the riffs are a little more dissonant and bone-crushingly brutal, yet some of the stuff I’m writing is really melodic. Everything seems to be jumping out with really big, badass choruses. It’s heavy, it’s fast, crushing. No one’s gonna be disappointed, that’s for sure — no one’s gonna say we watered anything down. They’re gonna say they turned it up fucking 10 notches. I just challenge myself to see where I can take this thing called thrash metal and this band EXODUS — see where we as five guys, how far we can push the boundaries.”
Full Metal Jackie: The last “Big Four” show — [featuring] METALLICA, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX and SLAYER — was almost seven years ago. Do you think SLAYER announcing its farewell might motivate one more “Big Four” show?
Gary: “I have no idea. [Laughs] I know Dave Mustaine [MEGADETH] would like to see it; he said so much publicly. I can’t comment on any of that stuff. All I can comment on is we’ve got some dates coming up, and it’s the tour of the summer. It’s gonna be epic.”