GARY HOLT Says 'Big Four' Should be Expanded To Include EXODUS: 'We Were There At The Start'

May 6, 2010

Metal Asylum recently conducted an interview with guitarist Gary Holt of veteran San Francisco Bay Area thrashers EXODUS. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metal Asylum: Briefly explain what the subject matter is on "Exhibit A: The Atrocity Exhibition"?

Gary: [Laughs] Oh, man, I'm not good at explaining my own music, it's my least favorite thing in the world to do. I like to leave it up to the listener and I can always guide them along, you know. How do I explain "Exhibit A"? Well, the connection between it and "Exhibit B: The Human Condition" is it has more to do with the music than the subject matter, and the fact that when we were recording "Exhibit A" we had too many songs to fit on one album. We bounced around the option of making it a two-disc release and once we did the research on how much it cost to do a two-disc set, we decided to do it in two parts. "Exhibit A" and "B" are tied together musically because "B" begins where "A" faded out and "B" ends where "A" came in. But it's not like they are concept albums, more conceptual. It's not like [PINK] FLOYD's "The Wall" or anything.

Metal Asylum: What is "The Human Condition" and what is its relation to "The Atrocity Exhibition"?

Gary: The human condition is so many things. Mankind has adapted so many things like sadism, stupidity, arrogance, ignorance — you know, just general bad behavior. [Laughs] And lyrically that's the direction the songs started going in. Even when we are not sitting down writing for an album, I'm always jotting down ideas and title ideas, and it became apparent that that's where everything was going for this album. Initially it was going to be "Atrocity Exhibition, Exhibit B" and then we said no because I said this album is heading in a direction to be almost entirely based on what I consider the human condition. So we took it from there.

Metal Asylum: Do you feel the "Big Four" (METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX),should have been expanded and considered the "Big Seven", including EXODUS, TESTAMENT and OVERKILL?

Gary: Well, I think it should be the "Big Five" with EXODUS, because we were there at the start of thrash metal with METALLICA in the real early '80s. Same thing with MEGADETH because [Dave] Mustaine was a part of METALLICA's birth and he also created MEGADETH. And SLAYER are SLAYER. ANTHRAX are also great and old friends, but if you listen to those first few records, they have definitely changed. TESTAMENT has every right to be part of the thrash metal legends, but it just came down to timing because they came later. And OVERKILL have been their since the beginning also. But I don't get hung up on that shit, because I know how it all started and I know where I was when the shit got created. We [EXODUS] certainly deserve to be part of the founding fathers, but you know who often gets excluded are the Germans — KREATOR, DESTRUCTION and SODOM. Everybody looks to America and forgets those guys. KREATOR, DESTRUCTION and SODOM all released records in the early '80s.

Metal Asylum: You'd have to call it the "Big Ten."

Gary: Yeah, if you boil it down, but really the "Big Four" is solely based on sales and the ones who sold the most. But if you compare records, I will put EXODUS' last few albums up against anybody's shit. SLAYER is always awesome; the last TESTAMENT album, "The Formation of Damnation", was great; the new MEGADETH is one of their best; METALLICA are still finding their feet again, and their last album, "Death Magnetic", was a step in the right direction. The new OVERKILL, "Ironbound", is one of their best records ever; it's so good. And KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, and SODOM still make great new music. What I think it boils down to is the bands who've been doing this the longest still can do it the best. METALLICA are still a mighty force live, but they lost their way for quite a while. But then again I've never had to deal with the horrible problem of having millions of dollars. [Laughs] Maybe if I had that kind of money, it would distract my hunger for doing this kind of shit, too. But, unfortunately for me, I have to keep kickin' people in the teeth, I don't have the funds to go art-shopping. My version of fine art is a new edition of Hustler magazine. [Laughs]

Read the entire interview at Metal Asylum.

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