Gary Holt recalls the birth of thrash metal in San Francisco: “Exodus stomped Metallica into the dirt”

Gary Holt Exodus
(Image credit: Javier Bragado/Redferns)

In an exclusive Metal Hammer interview coming to the site on Friday, October 29, Exodus guitarist Gary Holt dives deep into the birthday of the thrash metal scene in the early ‘80s in San Francisco, and recalls his band’s one and only support slot with Metallica, insisting "We stomped them into the dirt.”

When writer Dave Everley asks: ‘The $64,000 question: no Exodus, no thrash scene. True?’ Holt replies, "Absolutely. I'll own that. We created the violent scene."

"The scene was rad,” says Holt. “You could go to a different club five nights a week and never see the same band twice. There wasn’t thrash metal competition, cos in the beginning there was only us and Metallica - the first time I ever heard with them was when we played with them, and it felt like looking in a mirror. Later on, there was some competition. The bands were all friends, and we hung out together, but Exodus owned Ruthie’s. Everybody was gunning for us, but nobody could take us."

"The last time we played a proper show with Metallica was a New Year's Eve show [1985] at Bill Graham's Civic, and we stomped them into the dirt. We were getting wasted after the show, and James [Hetfield] was laughing and saying, 'Haha, that's the last time you guys'll ever support us.’ And it was the last time we ever supported Metallica."

Ironically, it was Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett’s decision to jump ship to Metallica in 1983 which pushed Gary Holt to take the creative reins in his band. Though he admits that Hammett’s departure made him "mad for a minute", Holt has fond recollections of his fellow guitarist, who returned to the fold briefly to guest on 2014’s Blood In, Blood Out album.

“Kirk Hammett and I spent an entire summer taking acid,” Holt recalls. “We’d sell some old jazz records or whatever that his dad had left at his house and go buy a 12 pack of beer and a purple microdot [of acid] or whatever. We used to love our psychedelics. We learned a lot of guitar on LSD.”

Check back to Metal Hammer on Friday (October 29) for the full interview with Gary Holt.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.