Interview: Exodus Guitarist Gary Holt

After wrapping up a grueling tour pulling double-duty with both Exodus and Slayer as part of the "Hell on Earth Tour", we managed to catch up with guitarist Gary Holt to talk about the rigors of playing with two bands at once, the Big Four jam, and when the next Exodus album might surface...

You’ve pulled double-duty with Exodus and Slayer recently. How do you prepare physically and mentally for two full sets of very demanding music?

GARY HOLT: The two sets really only add up to one headlining set by Exodus or Slayer, but the hard part is to keep your energy up between sets, you tend to want to relax with a beer and chill out after playing, but in this case, my work is far from over! Two nights I did have to play back-to-back: Zombie closed the outdoor shows due to all the LED screens and pyro (not too effective in the daylight) and those shows were scorching hot, so those were a bit tougher.

A lot of guitarists have the speed thing down, but are there any exercises (guitar or otherwise) that you would recommend for building up the endurance it takes to play demanding music over long periods of time?

I just work on being as precise as possible. The more you work on that, the stronger you get and your right hand will become deadly. But if only I would quit smoking! It would make my job a lot easier, that's for certain.

How were you approached initially about filling in for Jeff? Was your reaction an immediate “yes” or did you take time to think about it?

Kerry called me right after we returned from the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise and told me what was up and asked if I was down. I said sure, told him I had a gig in Chile with Iron Maiden that I couldn't miss, and they'd have to get someone else for the last few shows, and we went from there. I planned on taking it easy anyway this year, select gigs and song writing. Year's been a bit busier than I thought it was going to be, but it's been awesome.

Were you invited to take part in the Big Four “jam” at the Indio show? If so, was there a reason you didn’t take part? Have you taken part in one since?

I could have, but I had my fiancee and two of my daughters there, and I was just kind of hanging with friends and stuff, so I skipped that one, but it was awesome when we did do the jam in the end.

You guys sort of took a “break” between the first and second Atrocity Exhibition albums by re-recording Bonded By Blood with your current lineup. Do you foresee any projects like that in the future or will you be diving straight back into writing new Exodus material?

No, we're going to get down to some serious riff writing after the new year and hopefully be in the studio by summer time.

If there was one more album you’d like to re-record with the current line-up, what would it be and why?

[Laughs] I think I'm done with re-recording records, but if I had to choose one it would be Pleasures Of The Flesh. Great songs but we had some big issues with our producer, had to change mid-recording, and I never liked the sound of that record.

Exodus released their ninth studio album, Exhibit B: The Human Condition, last year via Nuclear Blast Records. You can find them on Facebook here.

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.