Things have been going well for longtime Exodus anchor Gary Holt. At 49, the Bay Area-based guitarist is happily married with kids, has his own signature-model instrument via Schecter Guitar Research, and has ventured into production and instructional videos like his popular “A Lesson in Guitar Violence.” When Slayer axman Jeff Hanneman fell ill in 2011, Holt temporarily filled in on tour, then joined permanently after Hanneman’s death in May. His future is so rosy, friends jokingly assume the new Exodus album he’s writing — which follows 2010’s grim “Exhibit B: The Human Condition” — will be warm and fuzzy. Not so, he vows.
Exodus and Slayer, simultaneously? You must be feeling slightly schizophrenic. Well, you know, it’s been three years now, and I’m still doing it. It started as just helping some friends out in Australia, and with the tragic passing of Jeff, it’s continued on since then. So I’ve been beyond busy with two bands.
And you’ll be recording with Slayer, too? They’ve been demoing stuff. And when they get to the actual recording process, most likely I’ll go in and play some additional lead work. But right now, I’m home, I don’t have any Slayer stuff until next May, so my one and only focus is Exodus. We hit the studio in February.
Does it feel like there’s a thrash-metal brotherhood now? Yeah, certainly. And there are bands from back in the day that I’m really close to, like Death Angel. I’m closer friends with those guys than I ever was. But I think over the years, maybe some of the competition part of it — of being a Bay Area band — died down. And now it is more of a brotherhood, more of a friendly competition now.
Did you learn anything new from Slayer? It’s a different vibe onstage. With Exodus, you almost need a traffic cop out there, ’cause you’ve got four guys running around like chickens with their heads cut off. But that’s definitely not the Slayer vibe. Slayer is more about darkness, whereas Exodus has a very dark side, but we actually have a lot of fun.
Until your back and neck go haywire, like Slayer’s Tom Araya? We all go through that. The last two Slayer tours, I’ve had two injections for my left hip, a heavy-duty anti-inflammatory. And I suffer from arthritis — my hand is as stiff as hell sometimes — and my knees are shot from years of jumping off drum risers. Now I can barely jump off a curb without feeling pain. But live, our goal is to go out and never show our age!
IF YOU GO
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Friday