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Interview:
Slayer/Exodus guitarist is thrash metal superman
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

When he's not on stage, Gary Holt says he tries "to get my rest and stay off my feet -- and stay hydrated."

He has good reason for that regimen, too.

The veteran thrash metal guitarist is on the road this fall playing two sets each night -- and arduous ones at that. He opens the evening with Exodus, the San Francisco-based group he's been with since 1981 and is currently its senior member. Then, after a respite while Suicidal Tendencies plays, Holt is back on stage with Slayer, which he joined in 2011 as a temporary replacement for co-founder Jeff Hanneman, who passed away in May of 2013.

Holt has done double duty on Slayer-Exodus tours before, but "not of this length," he says. But the 50-year-old says he's up to the task.

"They're both similar animals, but two totally different entities" Holt explains. "It's high-speed music. It keeps your chops going, that's for sure. Your right hand never gets a break. Neither of them are flooding their sets with sappy ballads, y'know?

"But it keeps me going. I'm prepared or ready for whatever."

Both bands have indeed kept Holt busy during the past couple of years. Exodus released its 10th album, "Blood In, Blood Out," during October, giving the quintet a career-high No. 38 debut on the Billboard 200 chart. And Though the group only has time to play a couple of songs from it on the current tour, Holt says he and his bandmates are "stoked" by the reception and pleased with both the return of singer Steve "Zetro" Souza after a 10-year absence and the guest appearance by former guitarist Kirk Hammett, now of Metallica.

"Time heals all wounds," Holt, Exodus' chief songwriter says of Souza's return. "There was definitely some bad blood from the circumstances surrounding his last departure from the band, but those wounds have scabbed over and the scars have faded to get us to this point. It wasn't like we swallowed our pride and anger and brought him back; all that was already gone.

"Everything happens for a reason. The timing was perfect and we were all ready to move forward as light more mature, middle-aged, 50-old men, too."

Meanwhile, Holt is also helping Slayer move beyond Hanneman's death from liver failure. Fully accepted into the ranks by fans and band members alike, he's been recording tracks for that group's upcoming 11th studio album, which is due out next year and which Holt says is "crushing, super-killer. People are going to be blown away." Of course, that will leave him juggling membership in two fully active bands, which he acknowledges could lead to some difficulties in the future.

"At some point next year I'm going to be in two bands with two albums out," Holt notes. "I'm fully committed to Exodus, and with Slayer, if they go anywhere I go with them, though it's more of a gray area. I just take it one day at a time and don't really worry too much about it. We'll just see where it leads."

Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus

Friday, Dec. 5. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are $39.50-$59.50.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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