Exodus’ Gary Holt and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett are among thrash’s most elite guitar players and, as revealed in an interview with Metal Hammer, the two once spent an entire summer doing LSD and unlocking their true six-string powers, learning quite a lot over that one seasonal period.
Holt, whose focus is now fully back on Exodus and their new album, Persona Non Grata, after Slayer retired in late 2019, recollected the early, buzzing Bay Area thrash scene, of which his band was the undisputed champion. “Absolutely. I’ll own that. We created the violent scene,” Holt said when asked if there would have been an early thrash scene at all without Exodus.
He and Hammett were bandmates in Exodus before the latter was called into service with Metallica after the group fired Dave Mustaine in 1983 and the two have remained close friends to this day. Hammett even made a guest appearance and played lead guitar on “Salt the Wound” off Exodus’ 2014 record, Blood In, Blood Out.
But after Hammett joined Metallica, there was a bit of a friendly rivalry between his current and former bands, as Holt relayed to Metal Hammer, telling the tale of the last time Exodus served as the support act for the ascending Metallica back in 1985.
Holt confessed that the first time he saw Metallica, “it felt like looking in a mirror,” as the two were the only genuine thrash acts amid the earliest days of that legendary Bay Area scene. “Everybody was gunning for us, but nobody could take us,” the guitarist affirmed.
Offering up an example, Holt continued, “The last time we played a proper show with Metallica was a New Year’s Eve show  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.”
Despite Hammett’s departure from Exodus, which rendered Holt “mad for a minute,” there’s quite a lot of positive memories regarding their friendship. One summer in particular was quite memorable as the Exodus leader recalled, “Kirk Hammett and I spent an entire summer taking acid,” Holt recalled. “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.”
Exodus’ new record drops Nov. 19 and, so far, three songs — “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves),” “Clickbait” and “The Years of Death and Dying” — have all been released. They’ll be out on the road in North America with Testament and Death Angel next year at these stops.