Gary Holt had no hesitation in taking on Slayer studio duties in Jeff Hanneman’s place – but he admits he’d rather the late guitarist had been there to take his job back.
Hanneman stopped playing live with Slayer in 2011, two years before his death from alcohol-related illness.
The band have just completed work on their 11th album, their first to feature Holt’s work. It also marks the return of drummer Paul Bostaph, who replaced Dave Lombardo in 2013.
Asked whether he hesitated to continue with Slayer after Hanneman’s death and Lombardo’s departure, Holt tells Metal Insider: “No.
“By the time of Jeff’s tragic passing I’d already been doing it for a while. We all hoped – no one more than myself – that Jeff would be recovering and reclaiming his throne.
“It started as just helping some friends out. I had no idea that almost five years later I’d still be here, and Jeff wouldn’t.
“The band wants to continue, and I just try to make Jeff proud.”
Slayer yesterday released a stream of When The Stillness Comes, the opening track from the album – hear it below. But Holt won’t discuss its contents except to say: “It’s killer; that’s all.”
Meanwhile, he’s continuing to work with his own band Exodus, who are touring the US with returned classic-era singer Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza.
Holt says of his double duties: “At 50 years old I’m playing two sets of thrash metal a night. It can be rough on the body, but there’s worse problems a guy can have.
“I’m not going to complain because there’s guys out there roofing houses in the middle of summer. So I just stop bitching.”
Slayer’s Kerry King this week confirmed that although Hanneman wrote the track Piano Wire for the album, his guitar work doesn’t appear. Holt recently said he was ready to write for the band whenever they wanted. When The Stillness Comes is released as a Record Store Day limited edition tomorrow (April 18).