Gary Holt Talks Exodus’ ‘Blood In, Blood Out’ Album, Upcoming Slayer Disc + More
Exodus / Slayer guitarist Gary Holt was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend show. The guitar great spoke about Exodus' Blood In, Blood Outalbum, offered info on his new ESP guitar and shared how the creative processes of Exodus and Slayer compare. Check out the chat in full below:
How are you?
I'm doing great how are you?
Doing great! So happy to have you back on the show. So much to talk about. It's been said that a band is as only as good as its last album. What aspects of Blood In Blood Out make you say that Exodus is at the top of its game?
Yeah I mean that’s always a hard question to answer. Because we just try to make albums that we like you know. And I guess maybe to that end were like hard to please ourselves so you know, we just kind of do what we do. You know we try not let ourselves down and in the end not to let our fans down. And you know the album is just killer. It’s fresh and it’s alive. And that’s I think is key. Does an album take on a life of its own or does it seem sterile and forced? You know, and I still love doing this and I think it shows in the music for all of the fans.
Blood In Blood Out from Exodus was the first time original guitarist Kirk Hammett actually played on an Exodus album. What precedent was set by his original contributions that continued to be a part of the Exodus sound today?
Well you know, Kirk taught me the base of the playing guitar and he showed me my first chords. Showed me my first licks, like all the picks, I hold the pick like he does. Because that's just the way I always thought it was done. I didn't think it was another way to hold it because Kirk showed me that. And you know he has always been one of my best friends and just over the years we’ve been reconnecting over the last few years. He came up and like wants to play on the record. He was so excited, he fired up and it’s kind of coming full circle. He was able to finally play on a recorded moment with the band he was a founder of, you know. And it was just awesome. I was so stoked.
You just unveiled your own signature model ESP guitar at NAMM. What did it absolutely need to have for you to put your name on it?
Playability, tone, you know style, balance, just all the things you want in a guitar. Sometimes you pick up like a guitar it plays so great and you put on the strap it heads straight to the ground because the balance is off. It’s just all those little things. And also one of the most important things to me was the different price points. I have the one that is just like the finest guitar I’ve ever own and it's also extremely expensive. That’s for people who have the means and desire to own a world-class instrument. And then, the middle price point is the one I play most of the time. Because I'm less worried about beating it to death. Because it isn’t such a high-end instrument. But it is every bit as good as any other that I’ve ever played. It’s incredible and then there’s a starter guitar on the price point and so I wanted to be able to reach all those people. I didn’t want one guitar that was out of the reach of everybody. And I ended up with three that covered all the bases. It’s just flawless, it's perfect and I couldn’t be happier.
There's a new Slayer record coming out this year, your first with the band. What similarity is there in the way Slayer and Exodus make albums?
Well, the similarities that figure in the music. We each have our own particular style with words. Both of us have been around forever. We’re founding fathers of this whole genre. The way we make albums is drastically different because you know the guys, they just work tirelessly nonstop for like months and months on the record. And I personally get real sick of making albums if I spend too long doing it. And Exodus, we build our own studios all the time. We’ll do the drums in a proper studio and we recorded everything else on the goat ranch where Tom lives. Slayer set up shop in a top-flight studio and set up shop there for a long time and for me, once we recorded like a month I'm kind of done.
I never consider an album finished anyway. Just kind of abandoned it you know but that's also what keeps me striving to make every album better. Because, I don't really listen to them once they’re done. I haven’t listened to Blood In, Blood Out since we finished the mix. I’ve never put on the CD. And the Slayer album is killer. People are going to be blown away. I went and did nine solos on one day until I can't play because of wrist pain in my left hand and it's like a stabbing pain. It may be a little pinched tendon or something but I kept going and by the next day I couldn't move my wrist. I was glad I was done because I couldn't play for a few days. Then Kerry [King] asked me if I wanted to revisit any of them before we wrapped it up and I listened to them and thought they were killer and that was the end of that. I guess it's in the mixing stages right now.
You just did the All Star Metal Allegiance show in Anaheim back in January. What makes a gig that celebrates metal like that with so many pioneering musicians so important to the continuing to the genre itself?
It's just fun to get together with a bunch of guys you've known for years and some of them you've never had that opportunity to jam with. I've done a few of them before when it was under the name Metal Masters, that was my first under the revised name of Metal Allegiance, which we also just played on the ShipRocked Cruise, which was a lot of fun. There was a lot of tribal tattoos on that boat [laughs]. It was a pretty rock and roll crowd. It's always fun.
A lot of the guys I've jammed with several times like Scott [Ian], Frankie [Bello] and Charlie [Benante]. Of course I've played in a band with Johnny Tempesta. Then other guys I've known forever and never had an opportunity to jam with like Alex Skolnick. Its just a lot of fun. All egos are checked at the door and everybody just wants to sit and watch everybody else play. It's a lot of fun.
Gary, what things about the way metal has grown and evolved never would have occurred to you as a kid recording Bounded By Blood?
I would have never imagined that people would still enjoy what we do. When we recorded and wrote Bounded By Blood we were just a bunch of lunatics -- out of control youth making the kind of music that we wanted to hear and I think 30 years later the album would still be considered landmark thrash album. No, I'm surprised people even knew who we were. It's good to see metal healthy, especially in this day in age of reduced record sales and it's really hard for younger bands to get anywhere because there are really no record sales to speak of, comparatively. I'm blessed to still be doing what I'm doing, knock on wood.
Well, thank you again for being on the show. Looking forward to what's to come. There's going to be Exodus touring this year, yes?
Oh yeah, we've got some stuff to be announced very soon.
Awesome. Good luck with everything, looking forward to more on the Slayer record of course.
Thanks to Exodus and Slayer guitarist Gary Holt for the interview. Blood In, Blood Out is available now in a variety of bundle options here. And, as stated, you can look for a new Slayer album at some point this year. Look for Exodus on tour at these locations. Slayer, meanwhile, are hitting the festival circuit at these dates. If your interested in picking up one of Gary Holt's ESP guitars, head here. Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.