EXODUS Singer On Drummer Change For Upcoming Festival Appearances: TOM HUNTING 'Didn't Want Us To Cancel'
August 18, 2021
Last week it was announced that San Francisco Bay Area thrashers EXODUS have tapped John Tempesta to play drums for the band at two upcoming festivals — at Psycho Las Vegas on August 22 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada and at Full Terror Assault on September 11 at Hogrock Campground in Cave In Rock, Illinois — while Tom Hunting is recovering from surgery. Tempesta was a member of EXODUS from 1989 until 1993 and played on the band's albums "Impact Is Imminent" (1990) and "Force Of Habit" (1992).
EXODUS singer Steve "Zetro" Souza addressed the temporary drummer change during the latest installment of his Zetro's Toxic Vault YouTube livestream. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "If anybody has seen the post this week. Tom Hunting released a post telling everybody that it's five weeks since his surgery and he's doing really good. But I remember when we first started this, we were booking Psycho Vegas and Full Terror Assault, which is in September, we were saying, 'Wow. Is he gonna be able to do this so soon?' And his take was, 'Well, if I'm walking, I'm drumming.' Unfortunately, that isn't gonna happen. He's recovering, and we want him to recover correctly. We don't want him to overstep his boundaries.
"EXODUS is a very family-oriented band," he continued. "We never look down each other's tenure. I've been in the band three separate times. There's been a singer before me and a singer after me. I sing both Rob's [Dukes] music and Paul's [Baloff] music with no dismay — I love it. Same thing goes with any other player that had been with the band — it goes for Lee [Altus] playing Rick's [Hunolt] parts or Jack [Gibson] playing Robbie's [McKillop] parts, from the original 'Bonded By Blood', or Mike Butler off of 'Force Of Habit'.
"Unfortunately, Tom will not be able to play these shows, so he called Johnny, our good friend John Tempesta, who was in EXODUS. This was his first band — basically [his first] real band. John was working for [ANTHRAX's] Charlie Benante as a tech, and we met him on tour, when were [touring with ANTHRAX] on [their] 'Among The Living' [album] and then we did a 'Headbangers Ball' tour on [their] 'State Of Euphoria' [album]. Tom, unfortunately, stepped out of the band at that time — he took a little bit of a hiatus — and John Tempesta came in, took over, and then actually got the job and played on 'Impact Is Imminent' and 'Force Of Habit'. So, Tom didn't even think twice about it [this time]. He called Johnny up, and Johnny was full-on.
"So this weekend in Psycho Vegas on Sunday at the Mandalay Bay on the main stage — I hope to see you guys there — will be EXODUS's first show since returning," Souza added. "And we will have an old legend — he plays with THE CULT now — Mr. John Tempesta on drums. He has a great résumé. And so that's what's gonna happen this weekend.
"We're very excited to return to you guys live. And we didn't wanna cancel, and Tom did not want us to cancel. So that's why we didn't. We kept the shows. And we'll be also next month — September 11th — at Full Terror Assault in Illinois, and John will be on that as well."
When Hunting announced his absence from Psycho Las Vegas and Full Terror Assault, he said in a statement: "I need to manage my own expectations, and then work my very core back into shape to be fully ready for action. I have no doubt I'll bounce back and get there."
Last month, Tom underwent a successful total gastrectomy in his battle with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the stomach.
According to Cancer.org, a total gastrectomy is done if the cancer has spread widely in the stomach. It is also often advised if the cancer is in the upper part of the stomach, near the esophagus. A total gastrectomy involves the surgeon removing the entire stomach, nearby lymph nodes, and the omentum, and possibly removing the spleen and parts of the esophagus, intestines, pancreas, or other nearby organs if the cancer has reached them. The end of the esophagus is then attached to part of the small intestine. This allows food to move down the intestinal tract. But people who have had their stomach removed can only eat a small amount of food at a time. Because of this, they will need to eat more often.
A GoFundMe campaign to help Hunting with medical expenses had previously raised more than $108,000 — including $5,000 from Tom's former EXODUS bandmate, current METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett, and $1,500 from FOZZY singer and wrestling superstar Chris Jericho.
After Hunting went public with his diagnosis, guitarist Gary Holt said that EXODUS will "delay" the release of its recently completed new album, "Persona Non Grata", "so that when Tom has defeated this, he will be back to full strength to hit the road and pummel his drums like only he can! When he has kicked cancer's ass like we know he will, we will resume kicking YOUR asses with the sickest record yet!" he said.
"Persona Non Grata" will be the follow-up to 2014's "Blood In Blood Out", which was the San Francisco Bay Area thrashers' first release since the departure of the group's lead singer of nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.
"Persona Non Grata" was recorded at a studio in Lake Almanor, California and was engineered by Steve Lagudi and EXODUS. It was produced by EXODUS and was mixed by Andy Sneap.