Interview By Alison Booth
From the early days in 80’s California, to going on to become a band recognised as a pioneer of the thrash metal scene, EXODUS are back! After seven years since their last album, “Blood In, Blood Out”, the brutal and eleventh studio album “Persona Non Grata” is set for release on 19th November via Nuclear Blast.
Of course all fans know Tom has been fighting cancer and had a successful gastrectomy in July. We had a chat about his health before the interview, Tom told me that everything is looking great and he is back at work with the band, with some recent shows taking place.
Lots of topics were discussed from the new album and its recording and back to the old days, with more in between. You can check out the audio interview below, with some written excerpts – it wasn’t the best connection so it’s a little clipped in places, but Tom had lots of interesting things to say!
About the release of “Persona Non Grata”, Tom expressed:
“We feel awesome about it, I mean this album’s been done for quite a while but we’re super proud of the work we did on it and you know, the manner in which we recorded it and the songwriting process was, we just had fun all the way around. Crazy times and we just kinda like did the best with the time we had you know? Everything’s hooky and just you know, lotsa crunch. We’re very happy with it.
I think all the fun we had recording really came out in the music you know and we had a good time. We were under no time constraints like for tracking or anything like that. We had an open book of creativity and it was flowing you know?“
About recording in home studios, Tom revealed:
“Usually, when it comes time to track drums, we have the songs and arrangements worked out, but I usually only have like seven or eight days to set up, get my tracks in and then I can never revisit or redo anything. The way we did it this time, I set up, did my tracks – got it done pretty fast. But if I heard something you know, if I wanted to enhance a riff or whatever, I can go and basically insert a different drum fill or whatever. And that was a great privilege to have for me, ’cause at the end it’s a more beautiful drum template to play, you know? The guys liked it too and the same could be said for them, ’cause we were all stuck here together and it just worked out, everything lined up.
And it was the first time we tried to record this way, so remotely. Usually we do the drums in a proper studio and everything else gets done anywhere. But this time we just did it all, there was a lot of DIY involved. I was nailing up big ass pieces of carpet, you know I had my stapler out – I was stapling pieces of fabric to the ceiling to try and get those sound waves right for the cymbals crashing [laughs].”
Regarding keeping EXODUS going after so many years, Tom said:
“Well, I’m gonna go with a cliche here and we’ve all said it, everybody in our band. It’s crazy, if you’d asked me, you know when we first started, if the journey would still be going in 2021, I would tell you I don’t think so. But Gary is a force, Gary Holt is a guitar force in this world, our band’s more of a brotherhood than other bands I see that do it like on our level. You know, we’re still best of friends and we’re family you know.“
I think as younger men doing this we probably were more into it for the party you know and now we’re older, I think we respect the journey a little bit more. It’s the best education I ever could get in my life.”
Talking about debut album “Bonded By Blood”:
“There’s times I dread having to play Piranha for the umpteenth billion time, but I’m super proud of the fact that we made an album that was a statement, so long ago and so many statements were made back then. We just had fun – we were young, guys in the throws of creativity and just kind of hungry and learning our instruments.”
Tom had lots to say about his love of English drummers:
“I think about Clive Burr all the time. I watch his videos. I have to say I was pretty mad at Iron Maiden for releasing him without any real explanation as to why [laughs]. Don’t get me wrong, I love Nicko McBrain, I’ve been listening to him since he played with Pat Travers and I love Nicko, he’s a very colourful drummer, but I love the way Clive drove that band. The way he would install these crazy heavy metal disco type beats and he had such a fast flick of the wrist, you know?
And then of course Keith Moon was a maniac. You expect from a traditional drumming standpoint, even rock drumming, you would think he would do one thing and he does another. And Bonham, he was a force. There’s a lot of ’em, a lot of English drummers. Ian Paice, my favourite leftie, a man after my own heart ’cause I too am left handed, he’s still doing it!“
Gary Holt | Guitar
Tom Hunting | Drums
Steve “Zetro” Souza | Vocals
Jack Gibson | Bass
Lee Altus | Guitar