Interview with Gary Holt of Exodus
Interview and live pictures by Michael F. Coles
Conducted sometime in December of 2007
What can I say about Exodus and Gary Holt? Having seen them on numerous occasions with almost every vocalist they have had, one can not deny the influence and power that Exodus has unleashed upon the Metal world. Although my first attempt to interview Gary wasn't a successful one (he was tired??), I'm happy that this interview was finally granted. As I have mentioned before about other Metal artists, if you aren't familiar with Exodus by now, what rock have you been hiding under?
The thing that really disappointed me about this interview is the fact I waited far too long for a follow up. I really wanted to ask him about the "facts" he claims Christianity .... "ripped off every ancient Mesopotamian story and turned it into their own morality tale." I also wanted to him to elaborate on what he meant by "..the two cover (slip-case and the jewel box) represent the two faces of religion, the false and the true." Gary, if you're reading this, by all means please elaborate for me brother! You can always contact me on My Space!!
The Outcast: So how does it feel after all these years of trial's and tribulations and yet still being able to release yet another killer Exodus album? Do you feel old yet?
Gary: Ha, ha, ha! Old? That's a state of mind! Seriously, it feels pretty good to know we are at a creative high point this late in the game. But truth be told, I feel pretty fucking young these days.
The Outcast: Exodus' lyrics haven't been typical in the sense there isn't one set theme as opposed to other bands who talk about gore, death, Satan, etc. What inspires the lyrics for an Exodus album? Do you always have the final word on all of the lyrics if they are written by other members? What influences you to write your lyrics?
Gary: Inspiration can come from many places. This fucked up world is always full of great lyrical content. As far as other members, only Rob and I write lyrics, but Rob is getting better and better at it, so it's requiring less oversight on my part. Influence? Just turn on the news or take a walk outside.
The Outcast: Tell me about - The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A. What exactly is it about? Is there a theme? What exactly does the original artwork-cover represent?
Gary: The basic theme is the horrors of organized religion. But it doesn't thread its way through every song, so it's not a full on concept album, so to speak. But the two covers (slip-case and the jewel box) represent the two faces of religion, the false and the true.
The Outcast: Do you feel that George Bush is the worst US president we've ever had, or do you think they are all the same? I see that you have a strong voice about the war and the US government on your past and most recent album.
Gary: Oh sure, he's an idiot. But all politicians are inherently corrupt. Think of the election process. It takes tens of millions of dollars to get a job that doesn't pay a fraction of that. Contributors are going to want to get paid back for the cash they've invested.
The Outcast: "Shroud of Urine" and "Altered Boy" are obviously anti-religious songs. What is your opinion on Christianity and religions in general?
Gary: It's a cancer to all mankind, and responsible for ninety percent or more of all the war and bloodshed we as people have to endure.
The Outcast: Do you believe in God or Satan as actual beings?
The Outcast: What is your opinion on Jesus Chrsist? Do you think He is who He claims He is and what He represents?
Gary: Just a fairy tale, nothing else. People are quick to point out what they believe to be facts of the Bible by trying to find evidence in history, but they have ripped off every ancient Mesopotamian story and turned it into their own morality tale. But what, to me, He represents is the sheep needing a shepherd to tell them what to do before they are led to the slaughter.
The Outcast: Were you ever "forced" to attend church growing up? What denomination?
Gary: Sure, no different than most people. I had to go while my parents did not, that sort of thing. Baptist.
The Outcast: What is your opinion on Christian Heavy Metal (Tourniquet, Believer, Saviour Machine, Mortification, etc.)? Do you think it is a contradiction?
Gary: While I don't agree with the message of the herd, I see nothing wrong with using music to share your beliefs. Not everyone agrees with mine either. I have my soapbox, they can have theirs.
The Outcast: Do you think that Heavy Metal is the devils music? Some metal artists say yes, while others say no.
Gary: I certainly hope it is!
The Outcast: Do you think that due to most metal bands lyrics that scream about death, gore, Satan, etc., that it can influence someone's state of mind in a negative way? Maybe even making someone accept a "belief" of sorts that they have no clue on why they believe in it.
Gary: Frank Zappa said it best. He said if music can make you do things, the whole world would love each other, since there are millions of love songs to every one about hate. But you may find some unstable individual who takes it to another level. People have gone on killing sprees for Christ many, many more times than they have for Heavy Metal.
The Outcast: What do you hope to find after your life has ceased?
Gary: Nothing but the biological process of decomposition.
The Outcast: How did you finally quit your drug habits from the past? Did you have to go to rehab, or is it just a matter of the addict having to say "No" to the drug and to him or herself?
Gary: I'm no super hero, but I did it without rehab. Just that it was time, that's all. When I put my mind to something and I am ready to do it, I just do it. That sounds like a Nike ad! Same with smoking, I tried (quitting) twice before, but I wasn't ready. But when I was, that was that and I haven't had a smoke for a year now.
The Outcast: Do you think that the music scene is what got you into drugs?
Gary: No, because I was doing the typical high school shit before I ever played guitar (smoking weed, selling joints, drinking). The drugs never became a big issue until after the reformation of the band in 1997, and then reached its low point after Paul's death.
The Outcast: What has been your favorite thing with Exodus in your life? What is your greatest memory?
Gary: My favorite thing is all of it. The highs, the lows, it all has a big role on shaping who you are. Greatest memory? Maybe playing the 1997 Dynamo festival, getting Paul back to Europe and sharing in that moment of 88 thousand people.
The Outcast: What is your favorite song that you've ever written, musically and lyrically? One of my personal favorites that you've written is "Like Father, Like Son."
Gary: I could never pretend to have a favorite. Favorite riff though, is the main riff to "Impact is Imminent." I may be biased, but I think it's the greatest thrash riff ever, brutality and technicality wise.
The Outcast: Who's your favorite band currently, or bands that you have been listening to?
Gary: There's so many, but I really love Fintroll, Lamb of God, (they) are killer. Hypocrisy, Dimmu Borgir, Gorgoroth, Nile, etc.
The Outcast: What would be the ultimate tour for Exodus?
Gary: I'd love to tour with Slayer, but I don't think that will ever happen unless we start selling more records. But maybe the world might get a taste of a bay area thrash tour someday (That would rule!! - Mike).
The Outcast: Gary, I thank you so much for the time and for releasing some killer material man, any closing words?
Gary: Thanks for taking the time.