If you hear some demolition-like sounds coming from a club in your city, it's probably because Exodus is back in town. The Bay Area band is out and out playing material from their newest record Shovel Headed Kill Machine. There are a few changes in the Exodus camp this time out. Paul Bostaph (Slayer/Testament) has replaced drummer Tom Hunting. Lee Altus (Heathen) has taken the spot vacated by Rick Hunolt. Assuming the vocalist duties is relative newcomer Rob Dukes. I spoke to band founder/lead guitarist and main songwriter Gary Holt to get the info on all the changes and how this version of Exodus is coming together out on tour.
antiMusic: Hey Gary, it's a real pleasure to speak to a legend such as yourself. How are you doing?
Gary Holt: Not bad man. I'm just getting up and about. Getting ready for sound-check in a little bit.
antiMusic: Before we get into the record, I guess we've got to catch up on the new lineup. How did you come into contact with Paul Bostaph?
Gary Holt: Well, when Tom started having his mental problems, the first thing that came to my mind was Paul. I've known him for years but the main thing was I didn't know whether he was in, doing any other bands at the time or anything. So as luck would have it I got a hold of him and he wasn't, and we got together and jammed and I played him the new material and he was totally digging it. And we started jamming and everything just clicked.
antiMusic: Lee Altus is from Heathen. What about him made you have him as part of Exodus?
Gary Holt: Lee's been one of my best friend's for like 20 years, you know. And we have the total same roots you know, and the kind of music we like. There was nobody else for the job, you know. I never even considered anyone else. Lee was the only guy I ever called. He's the only guy I would have called cuz if he'd have said no, I would have called until he'd have said yes, ya know.
antiMusic: And the most visible change in the band, Rob Dukes. I'm told he hasn't played with any high profile bands before. How does he come to snag the vocalist job in Exodus?
Gary Holt: He was my guitar tech on the Megadeth tour. And only because the first guy I'd hired was doing a really poor job. And a friend of mine, who also happened to be a friend of Rob's down in Hollywood recommended him, you know. So had the first guy done a good job I'd never have met Rob. It's one of those things. He sang and played guitar in like, some punk bands in New York, and stuff like that, but never anything like this. And he wanted an audition and I gave him one and I really didn't know what to expect. And he came in and just killed it.
antiMusic: You've been on the road now for awhile with this lineup. How's it all working out?
Gary Holt: It's amazing. I couldn't be happier than playing with the guys that I'm playing with now.
antiMusic: Overall, how has the sound of Exodus in 2006 compare to any lineups of the past?
Gary Holt: Good question. Exodus at their peak with the original line up was as good as it gets. But the bottom line is there were certain members who were no longer anywhere near their peak. Tom was, like, before he had his, you know, full-on nervous breakdown and stuff he was, you know, starting to doubt how long he could continue to play this kind of music. This stuff was starting to take its toll on his body, so he wasn't able to, you know always keep the aggression levels as high as I wanted, and as high as Paul can, and Rick with his drug problems, it was, you know, his lead playing was okay, his rhythm playing was terrible. And like now this band has never been as tight as it is now.
antiMusic: The newest record is just brutal. The title accurately reflects the music. What is a Shovel Headed Kill Machine?
Gary Holt: It's a dog. Yeah. It was a description used to…for our European drum tech's pit bull. It was such a perfect description of anything, I (laughs) just had to use it.
antiMusic: Lyrically, what were some of the themes or ideas you were going for on this record?
Gary Holt: Everything from the amount of past experiences, with drug addictions to pyromania, you know, pedophile priests to good ol'fashioned violence.
antiMusic: How much of this record are you playing live?
Gary Holt: Oh, we're playing quite a bit. I think we're playing like 7 of them.
antiMusic: Who did the solos on "Altered Boy"?
Gary Holt: There's two of 'em. Lee and I both.
antiMusic: I like all the solos on the record but these ones really stand out. They're excellent.
Gary Holt: Yeah I think there two of the best solos that Lee and I did, for sure.
antiMusic: How are the shows going down on this tour?
Gary Holt: It's been great. Like I mean we've only been out, s***, I don't know, like three weeks now. We've only had what I would consider like two bad shows. One was really bad, and that was Fort Collins, Colorado. A really big place and terrible turnout and last night's show was the other one and that was cuz, we played this little bar that didn't allow any thrashing or anything and by the time we went on I heard that in Full Blown Chaos they were throwing somebody out every three seconds. So you know, I think like half the crowd's literally been thrown out the building by the time we played.
antiMusic: What's the point of having these bands in there?
Gary Holt: Yeah, exactly. Like you weren't allowed to move at all. Anything beyond head banging, you got ejected.
antiMusic: Exodus has a bit of a reputation as hell-raisers. You're not 18 anymore but considering you've got three new guys in the lineup, is life on the Exodus tour bus still a wild affair?
Gary Holt: Yeah, at times. Certainly. You know, we still like to drink. We've always done that with the best of them. The only down-side is the bounce back time. It's a little longer (laughs). You used to be able to do it every night, all I needed was 10 hours sleep and I was fine and ready to go again. Now I try to pick and choose my spots where I'm really going to drink, you know. Other than that I just drink a few beers and relax. A glass of wine, some Campari or something.
antiMusic: Exodus also always had a reputation as a great live act. Not the choreographed stuff of Judas Priest or anything like that, but just running around crazy, beefing your knees on monitors or whatever. Do the new guys fit that template?
Gary Holt: Oh, yeah. I'm covered with bruises right now. I mean, both knees have huge green and purple bruises on, my legs and thighs are covered, you know.
antiMusic: You've got the summer touring ahead of you. After that, however, what is on the map for the band?
Gary Holt: Going over to Europe, for like I think 12 shows in June. Then we're taking July off cuz I want to spend the summer with my kids. Then we're working on some other stuff for August, Sept and October and we're probably going to Europe in November.
antiMusic: That's all the questions I have, Gary. Anything else you would like to add?
Gary Holt: Just thanks for the support, you know. We wouldn't be here without the people who appreciate what we do.
antiMUSIC and Morley Seaver thank Gary Holt for doing this interview.