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Monday, April 19, 2010

Take 5 With Gary Holt of Exodus


Photo (c) 2010 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

Metal Minute: The past couple years Exodus has been road-dogging with Kreator, Megadeth, Testament and Arch Enemy in advance preparation for your latest album Exhibit B: The Human Condition. I caught you twice on these legs and saw a very devout audience mixed with old schoolers and youngsters going berserk during your set. Brought a smile and a warmed heart to watch them whirling the trad mosh pits as we came up with during the eighties. Give us a general tour diary from your perspective being on the road with your peers and Arch Enemy.

Gary Holt: It's totally awesome touring with bands that we like and admire, and Arch Enemy are certainly at the top of that list. We're fortunate to have a whole new generation of kids into the band now, as well as the old diehards, so times have been good to us. And with the old guys and their bad hips and knees, it's good to still have some young kids with healthy joints to get the pits raging!

MM: (laughs) I read enough interviews lately between you and Tom Hunting and it seems like a lot of your hosts are actually surprised Exodus is still playing at breakneck speed on Exhibit B: The Human Condition. I’m sure that has to be getting on your nerves, since Exodus has hardly slowed down throughout the years, though maybe in spots on Impact is Imminent and Force of Habit. Listening to you and Lee (Altus) rip some beautiful solos amidst the pounding thrash of “The Ballad of Leonard and Charles” on Exhibit B, you can see why people are geeking out, yet you have to wonder if people have truly kept up with you guys over the years? Is it passé at this point for people to rave how Exodus is still a fast band?

GH: It doesn't get on my nerves at all, because I think it has more to do with how aggressive we are after all these years, when most bands would be seriously slowing down. It's more about how amazed people are that we not only keep things blazing, but we keep pushing the pedal to the metal more with each record.

MM: A lot has happened in society--in particular within the spiritual realm--since you released The Atrocity Exhibition in 2007, which leads us to your sequel, Exhibit B. We’re looking more at the foibles and fallacies of mankind on your newest album, but tying into The Atrocity Exhibition, what have you seen going on between Church and State and subsequently Church, State and Man which helps tell your story on Exhibit B?

GH: Well, in the US, seperation of church and state really only exists on paper, because the evangelic right holds so much sway with the running of this country. On Exhibit B we chose to focus on mankind's many weaknesses, and our historical ability for cruelty, ignorance, arrogance, plus our sheep-like need to be led.

MM: Let’s break down “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer).” I love this track for its speed and Rob’s spit-flung delivery, but I think it’s the flashpoint moment of Exhibit B: The Human Condition, where everything else afterwards is going to be considered effect from cause. Tell us what (or who) inspired this song of a love-deprived nihilist venting his announcement to wreak havoc.

GH: The obvious influence for this song is the American pastime of heading into the halls of learning loaded for bear and releasing one's rage on the students. From Charles Whitman to Columbine, to Virginia Tech and many others. I just wanted to write it through the eyes of the shooter, and because of that, some think it glorifies school shootings, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's just another dark part of this world of ours I chose to explore.

MM: Colin Marks worked on the album cover for Exhibit B and you guys turned to Leonardo DaVinci’s “Vitruvian Man” for inspiration. All the weaponry extended from the mandibles of the skeleton really sums up a postulated theory how mankind is inherently destructive. Given the artwork and the brutal realism of the album’s lyrics, where do you find redemption in mankind, if at all?

GH: I'm still waiting for man to redeem itself, but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime!


(c) 2010 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

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