Old & Dangerous Friends: Kirk Hammett Cuts Heads with Former Exodus Band Mate Gary Holt

By Molenda, Michael | Guitar Player, March 2015 | Go to article overview

Old & Dangerous Friends: Kirk Hammett Cuts Heads with Former Exodus Band Mate Gary Holt


Molenda, Michael, Guitar Player


IT SEEMED LIKE A HEARTFELT AND groovy studio reunion when Kirk Hammett walked in to record a solo on "Salt the Wound" for Exodus' new album, Blood In, Blood Out [Nuclear Blast], Hammett had co-founded Exodus when he was in high school in 1980, and although he had performed on a couple of demos back then, he never actually recorded a commercial release with the band before leaving to join Metallica in 1983.

But don't think the brotherly comradery extended to the solo sections Hammett recorded with long-time Exodus guitarist Gary Holt, because neither player gave any quarter. In fact, the ferocious attacks unleashed by each player are reminiscent of David Bowie's exclamation on "Diamond Dogs": "This ain't rock and roll. This is genocide!" Or, perhaps, one of the horror-movie gorefests that Hammett loves. In any case, it ain't pretty, and it presents a wonderful, inspirational, and thrilling head-cutting contest for guitarists and guitar fans alike.

Wow. You guys pretty much went for each other's throats on the "Salt the Wound" solos.

Hammett: You know, right from the beginning, way back in our high-school days in Exodus, Gary and I were all about stealing each other's thunder. At first, I thought, "This is not too cool." But then I realized that this was a way to get the best out of the both of us all the time. So we've always tried to outdo each other, and it does bring out the best in us--even today. It certainly keeps us on our toes.

Holt: Yeah--that solo is two guys just trying to out-shred each other. It was so much fun, and we felt like we were back in my parents' garage jamming. My solo was already laid down, so Kirk heard that, and he came in and threw down a bunch of takes of his own. The ripping solos complement each other perfectly.

As Gary's solo was already recorded, did you have an "uh-oh" moment when you first heard it?

Hammett: I did think, "Damn, what a great solo." So I sat down, and I tried to match the intensity of Gary's performance. I laid down about 35 solos to get there! It was funny, because when I was at about guitar-solo number 29, Gary walked in, and said, "How many have you done yet?" And I said, "I'm almost at 30." He goes, "Is that all?" [Laughs.] So you can see that whole thing of pushing each other never really went away.

Did he stay in the control room to torment you?

Hammett: No, he'd leave the room and give me my space to do what I wanted. Ultimately, he came in and said, "Yeah, it sounds good, man. It sounds good." When the track was finally recorded, put together, and mixed, I thought the solo I laid down was very, very complementary to Gary's. It felt so right; it felt like we were kids again. I was just so pleased to finally be recording with Exodus after all these years.

When you're cutting 20 to 30 solos for a track, are you refining as you go along, or are you exploring totally different approaches every time? …

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