GARY HOLT: SLAYER ‘Had A Lot More Music In Them’ Before Calling It Quits

EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt says that SLAYER “had a lot more music in them” before calling it quits nearly three years ago.

Last October, Kerry King made headlines in the metal world when he said that SLAYER retired “too early.” While recording a short video message to congratulate MACHINE HEAD on the San Francisco Bay Area act’s 30th anniversary, SLAYER‘s founding guitarist said: “So, I hear congratulations are in order for my friends in MACHINE HEAD. Apparently, it’s 30 years, which is quite an achievement. Not a lot of bands get there. We did, and then we quit too early. Fuck us. Fuck me. I hate fucking not playing.”

Holtwho spent almost nine years touring with SLAYERwas asked about Kerry‘s comment in a new interview with Guitar World magazine. He said: “Did the band stop too soon? That’s for them to decide. I know that’s how Kerry feels. Maybe [bassist and vocalist] Tom [Araya] doesn’t agree. I think the band had a lot more music in them, but you know what they say. It’s better to go out too soon than too late. The band went out firing on four cylinders. Better to do that than milk it for a few more years when everybody knows you’re milking it. That would tarnish the legacy of the band. This way they went out in peak form. Maybe that’s best.”

Asked if there is anything he misses now about being in SLAYER, Holt said: “Yeah, man. I’ve been friends with those guys since we were kids. And, I had one job in SLAYER and one job only. Go out, play killer, bang your head and play a little bit of a guitar hero role. One thing I was shocked with was how many SLAYER solos there are. There are songs that I played three solos in and at one point I’d be, like, ‘All right, I’m just going to go shred and play this one behind my head ’cause I’m out of ideas.’ [Laughs] But yeah, it was fun and relatively easy. I wear a lot more hats in EXODUS and have a lot more responsibility. Fortunately, I love it — but it’s not always easy.”

Holt began filling in for SLAYER guitarist Jeff Hanneman at live shows in 2011, and became the band’s full-time co-guitarist as of 2013, while remaining a member of EXODUS. Holt played on SLAYER‘s final album, “Repentless”which came out in 2015.

Holt previously weighed in on Kerry‘s “we quit too early” comment in an interview with Metal Hammer last fall. He said: “I’d have to agree [that SLAYER called it quits prematurely]. We were still playing at the top of our game, we were totally killing it. The band had a lot of years left in it, but I guess when it’s time, it’s time. When you decide to walk away from something, walk away . I can’t tell anybody they made the wrong decision. Better to go out on top than go out unable to play your own songs, and this shit isn’t easy. Playing ‘Angel Of Death’ at 70 years old would be fucking hard. But it was time for me to come back, let’s put it that way. I was really missing my first family.”

Back in March, Gary told Headbangers Con that he would be open to playing with SLAYER again if the band ever decided to come back. “Look, if the powers that be ever — like, in a year or something — said, ‘Hey, you know what? We feel like playing some shows,’ I’m there to do it,” Holt said. “But those aren’t decisions for me to make, or even me to really speculate on. As far as my knowledge, the band is over, and the final show was November 30th, 2019. And I’m full speed ahead with EXODUS now.”

SLAYER played the final show of its farewell tour in November 2019 at the Forum in Los Angeles. One day later, Kerry‘s wife Ayesha King said that there is “not a chance in hell” that the thrash metal icons will reunite for more live appearances. In August 2020, she once again shot down the possibility of her husband and bassist/vocalist Tom Araya sharing the stage ever again under the SLAYER banner.

After Ayesha shared three photos of Kerry holding their cat in slideshow-type Instagram post, a fan wrote: “No TomNo SLAYER Kerry. Stop thinking SLAYER without @tomaraayaofficial”. Ayesha then replied: “don’t worry, they’ll never be SLAYER again! You can rest easy”.

That same month, SLAYER drummer Paul Bostaph confirmed that he is involved in a brand new project headed up by Kerry King. The duo spent much of the last two years working on music with the hopes of recording it properly once the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

SLAYER‘s final world tour began on May 10, 2018 with the band’s intention to play as many places as possible, to make it easy for the fans to see one last SLAYER show and say goodbye. By the time the 18-month trek wrapped at the Forum, the band had completed seven tour legs plus a series of one-off major summer festivals, performing more than 140 shows in 30 countries and 40 US states.

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