Ruben Mosqueda of Oregon Music News recently conducted an interview with guitarist Gary Holt of San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal veterans EXODUS. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Oregon Music News: You toured with MEGADETH in 2010; how was it working with Dave Mustaine on a day-to-day basis? Some have said he’s difficult to work with. How is your relationship with the guy?

Holt: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I like the guy. He and I go way back, as you know, and it has been great to get to reconnect with him. He was gracious enough to think of us and get us on that tour. He’s been nothing but a good friend to me. We got an opportunity to go out on the road with our old friends in MEGADETH and TESTAMENT. The tour also sold out night after night; it was a good time to reconnect with Dave again. It was a total blast, man.

Oregon Music News: You’ve recorded three records and a live album with [vocalist] Rob Dukes. For those who haven’t heard this incarnation of EXODUS, what does Rob bring to the band?

Holt: A new-found energy and aggression that’s in perfect synchronicity with what we are doing musically right now. We are a full-on garage, thrash metal band; we have gotten more and more aggressive as the years have gone by. Rob brings out that fury and rage in the band, both in studio and in the live setting, that the songs so require.

Oregon Music News: So for those who might consider Rob the new guy, it isn’t necessarily fair?

Holt: No at all. Rob and Lee [Altus, guitar] joined the band at the same time, which was about five years ago. So in terms of being in the band they haven’t been here as long as I have but it wouldn’t be fair to say that they are new. These guys didn’t join EXODUS yesterday or anything.

Oregon Music News: You guys once again used producer Andy Sneap who has become the go to guy for many bands these days. This has been a long-lasting partnership between you guys and Andy.

Holt: Right, we’ve been working with Andy since 1997 when we recorded “Another Lesson In Violence”. First and foremost, Andy is a friend of ours. Working with Andy isn’t considered work, because he’s one of us and we’re just having a fantastic time the whole time. It’s very loose, humorous and we see eye to eye. He knows and I know what works for this band and he gets the best out of us. He’s a great producer and engineer and he get the best mixes. He’s on top of his game and that’s why he’s in high demand.

Oregon Music News: Gary, you had the opportunity to fill in for SLAYER’s Jeff Hanneman, who is on the mend after contracting necrotizing fasciitis. Was this an audition or were you just asked?

Holt: No audition. Kerry [King, SLAYER guitarist] called me up and I said, “Yeah, let’s do it!” I missed the last few shows in Europe due to EXODUS obligations, but other than that, I had the time, so why not?

Oregon Music News: Does it bother you that bands like EXODUS, TESTAMENT and OVERKILL get overlooked at times because of the exposure that the “Big Four” (METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX) have received?

Holt: Not at all. I’ve never been one of those dudes who sits and complains about who should be where. I’m perfectly happy with what EXODUS has accomplished and we continue to push the envelope of thrash metal.

Read the entire interview from Oregon Music News.

Professionally filmed video footage of EXODUS’s July 24 performance at the Heavy T.O. festival at Downsview Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada can be seen below.

EXODUS – HEAVYTO 2011 from Distort Inc. on Vimeo.