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Interview

Exodus Drummer Tom Hunting Discusses New Music, Thrash Metal And More

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Band Photo: Exodus (?)

It could be argued that thrash metal was the first recognised sub-genre of heavy metal. The mix of hardcore punk and the sound of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal saw a huge wave of talent from the USA and Germany gain prominence with this new sound that broke necks and burst eardrums. At the forefront of this fresh new sound in the Bay Area was Exodus, who along with Metallica and Slayer, are hailed as one of the most influential Californian bands of the time and gained a fierce reputation for violent live shows and equally violent music.

This Winter, Exodus are back on the road in Europe, being joined by two other legends of thrash, Sodom and Death Angel, as well as one of the more impressive younger thrash bands, Suicidal Angels from Greece. At their stop in London, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Exodus drummer Tom Hunting to talk about the tour, as well as their latest album, "Blood In Blood Out," new material and much more. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: This is the Headbanger's Ball tour, which is obviously kind of a blast from the past. Like an eighties revival if you like. It's you, Sodom, Death Angel and Suicidal Angels, which is like a wet dream for thrash fans...

Tom Hunting: And a nightmare for others!

Oz: How has it been going so far?

Tom: Tillburg last night was off the hook. You never know what you're gonna get with Holland but there's something going on in Holland because they were fucking maniacal last night.

Oz: And this is the only UK date?

Tom: Yup. We're in and out in twenty four hours. Catch us while you can, London!

Oz: Well it's also a dream come true for some people to get the fuck out of England as quick as possible! But, how did this lineup come about?

Tom: This tour was put together months ago, it just wasn't announced until we finished our last little Summer run. It was always in the works and it's a fun bunch and it's a kick night of metal. All four bands are bringing it every night and we're on the bus with our bros from the Bay Area, Death Angel and we're having a great time.

Oz: Well, obviously you're still promoting the latest album, "Blood In Blood Out," which is a couple of years old now. Now that it's had time for the dust to settle, how do you feel the reception has been?

Tom: To "Blood In Blood Out"? I think people loved it because it was kind of like, not a retro record because it has elements of the newer sounds that we use, but it's been positive. We're gonna play one song from it tonight and then the rest is going to be all old school.

Oz: It's gone down that well that you're only playing one song?

Tom: No, it's just this feels like an old school tour. Death Angel's set's mostly old school stuff, Sodom's set is mostly old school stuff. You know, our band could make twenty new records but all people want to hear is the old shit.

Oz: It's a solid, pure Exodus record. You said some people thought it was a retro album but I felt it was a continuation of albums like The Atrocity Exhibition albums, not a carbon copy but still in that vein.

Tom: The A and B are kind of more of a journey. I think "Blood In Blood Out" is more like an Exodus thrash record. I would compare it more to "Fabulous Disaster" or "Tempo Of The Damned" myself, but I'm glad people like it because we're going to make another one, one of these days. *laughs*

Oz: Well obviously Gary's not here right now, he's back in the States with his family, who have you got filling in for him on this tour?

Tom: We've got Kragen Lum from Heathen, joining us in what's probably his sixth year of doing this with us, playing with us obviously when Gary's not available. Him and Lee play beautifully together already. I gotta hand it to Kragen because he built it himself, people were kind of apprehensive at first but he won them over and he didn't have to do shit, he just jumped up there and let the music do the talking. It's not easy!

Oz: Absolutely not, filling in for a guy like Gary.

Tom: It's not easy for Gary either to jump in there and do Jeff Hanneman stuff. That's legendary riffage they've got there but they've got another legendary riffer to go up there and do it!

Oz: And obviously now they've got Phil in from Machine Head...

Tom: Yeah, it's been a tough year dude because we're living in the times when our folks are getting older and they're getting sick, you know. It's just the times we're in.

Oz: Well, I was lucky enough to see you twice at 70000 Tons Of Metal this year and one of the things I liked most was seeing you guys watching other bands and stuff.

Tom: I loved it! That last one was great and you get to see legendary bands that you love and also, I'd never been exposed to like, Aborted, I'm not a huge death metal fan but my drum tech Mike, a good friend of mine who also plays in Exhumed and Pounder, he was like, "Come on dude, we gotta go see this band Aborted" at around two thirty in the morning and I was like, "Holy fuck!" This energy and off the hook drumming, completely different school to what I come from but it was amazing.

Oz: Yeah, it's got to be good for you as a musician to witness and these different kind of techniques too.

Tom: Absolutely. I mean Nick Barker, I think he invented a lot of what those guys are doing nowadays.

Oz: Absolutely. It was a good year for thrash too. What was interesting was that you guys were announced more or less at the last minute. I was already in Florida then, I was on some beach and there was a group of guys with 70000 Tons shirts and I came in going, "Look! Exodus! Exodus! Exodus have been booked!"

Tom: Honestly, my bags were packed the whole time because I know how the promoter operates and it's not our first go with him. It's like, it's on, it's off, it's on, it's off. I just look at it as it's always gonna be on until you're not on the airplane going there.

Oz: Cool. Well you mentioned earlier that there's going to be a new album. Has there been any work started on that?

Tom: Me and Gary have jammed and there's the makings of four great songs but I don't even know if we'll use that because at our last meeting I went to his house and heard some of the riffs he's working on now and I'm like, "That might be better than the four that we're working on" so we might piecemeal some of those riffs into different songs but it's gonna be great and I think he's itching to get back into the creative process because Slayer doesn't use him to write riffs. They just kind of use him to shred live and play that stuff but we're excited.

He's got a long break coming up, he's dealing with some family stuff right now but I think by the time we get home from this we'll probably both need a creative outlet, somewhere to just *shriek* I don't know when we'll actually be recording, I think we'll have to work around both bands' schedule because we continue working when he's with Slayer too.

Oz: It's great to hear that you still want to be creative at a time when Slayer are winding up and a few other bands are calling it quits.

Tom: Yeah, we've had lulls and breaks throughout our career, spanning now for almost forty years. We're not quite ready to stop yet but as far as the records go, we'll take it one record at a time. I can't say there'll be five more albums or whatever but we'll see how it goes. Right now we're having fun and if we're having fun and we still enjoy the process and tourings a lot more fun because when I was twenty it was all about the parties and now it's about the journey and making sure you have a great live show.

Oz: It definitely comes across, I've never been disappointed in an Exodus show yet.

Tom: Thanks dude. We work hard.

Oz: Well the only thing really left to talk about is next year. Obviously we discussed the creative output with Gary but will you be coming back over to these shores for some festival shows?

Tom: I'm not gonna say it's totally not gonna happen. There might be a festival that really wants us to come and we'll come and do it. We came and did Dynamo, just the one show when they last did that but we're not slated to do any extensive European touring because we've kind of toured out that record. So if we do tour for "Blood In Blood Out" again, it'll probably be most likely in the States and maybe Canada. We haven't really ventured into Canada too much but now that our bass player can get back into Canada! He got into a little trouble before with a DUI. But we love you Canada! We want to come back!

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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