GARY HOLT On Whether SLAYER Will Ever Reunite: 'To My Knowledge, It's Done'
June 8, 2020
Gary Holt says that SLAYER's November 30, 2019 performance at the Forum in Los Angeles was indeed the band's last-ever concert. "To my knowledge, to what I know, it [was the final show]," the guitarist told Dean Delray's "Let There Be Talk" podcast (hear audio below). "People say, 'Oh, maybe they'll come back in a few years.' I don't know. If it does, if it ever happens, it has nothing to do with me. Someone else would call and say, 'We wanna [do this].' To my knowledge, it's done. And I think it should be that way. The band went out fucking on a bang, went out on SLAYER's terms, and how many people get to say they did that?"
He continued: "Everybody's happy doing their own thing. I'm happy as fuck. Not that SLAYER made me unhappy — I was treated like family — but I'm back with my first family," referring to San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal legends EXODUS. "I'm back with not my stepbrothers — I'm back with my real brothers. And that's where my heart is, and I missed it, and I was missing it more and more all the time."
In 2011, Holt began filling in for Jeff Hanneman at SLAYER live shows, and became the band's full-time co-guitarist as of 2013, while remaining a member of EXODUS. When Delray suggested that no one else could have replaced Hanneman as well as Holt did, Gary responded: "I think there's other guys. I'm not that narcissistic to think that I'm the only guy. I mean, yeah, I had old-school cred. I don't think they could go and get some young kid. Like, 'Who's this fucking 25-year-old dude?' I think there would have been a huge culture shock within the band. I think that was it more than anything — having to be comfortable and know the guy. I was pretty well accepted in the ranks of SLAYER fans. There's always someone, like, 'Ah, he fucking doesn't even play Jeff's solos.' No, I don't. And no one in the band ever asked me to. And if the band really wanted that, there's a million guys in tribute bands who are nailing every fucking crazy note that Jeff ever played, and they would have been a better fit for that. When I first did it, it was supposed to be a short-term thing, and people were, like, 'Oh, cool. We get to see Gary put his stamp on it,' and that's what I did."
Asked how he approached the solos in SLAYER and whether he actually sat down and wrote out the leads, Holt said: "A couple of times I did. I'd work something out usually improv, and then I'd find something I like and I'd stick to it. And then over the last two years, I worked out a solo in 'Seasons [In The Abyss]' I liked. I was just winging it. I'd look back at Warren Lee, my guitar tech, and if I did a really good job, he'd be, like, 'That was hot,' and then I'd try something different that didn't work and he'd look at me, like, 'That sucked.' But I tried to keep the vibe there."
He continued: "A lot of the early, early stuff, like the 'Show No Mercy' stuff, Jeff put out a lot of melody, put a lot of signature lines, and I tried to keep those. If there was a time when he broke from the chaotic fast stuff and put, like, a written melody, I tried to keep that there or something really similar. But the band allowed me to do my own thing, 'cause I can't play like Jeff; that shit's crazy. Jeff did it naturally, so if somebody wants to play like Jeff, that's a guy in a tribute band who's dedicated himself to learning how to play like Jeff. I'd have to relearn how to be a guitar player to do that shit. I'm a rock guitar player who plays real fast songs. I grew up on hard rock, and that's what I am. I have an easier time playing the Angus [Young, AC/DC] solos than Jeff's 'cause those are my roots."
After SLAYER played its final concert, Ayesha King, wife of SLAYER guitarist Kerry King, said that there is "not a chance in hell" that the thrash metal icons will reunite for more shows following the completion of their farewell tour.
A year and a half earlier, Tom Araya's wife said that he had not questioned his decision to embark on one final SLAYER tour before the band called it quits.
Sandra Araya, who has been married to the SLAYER frontman for more than 20 years, told the Metal Pulp And Paper web site that the announcement that the band was pulling the plug on its nearly four-decade-long career didn't come as a surprise to her. "Not to me," she said. "I can't comfortably go into too much detail. I'll just leave it with a no."
Asked if the decision to end SLAYER was a difficult one for Tom and Kerry to make, Sandra said: "Tom never second-guesses any decision he makes. I have no idea about Kerry."