Reunited San Francisco Bay Area thrashers EXODUS are tentatively scheduled to premier two new songs during their upcoming appearances at the Milwaukee Metalfest and Wacken Open Air festival, guitarist Gary Holt has revealed to BLABBERMOUTH.NET.
The two tracks—one of which has the working title "Throwing Down"—are reworked versions of songs originally written for and demoed by WARDANCE, the ill-fated mid-'90s act formed by Holt and EXODUS drummer Tom Hunting.
"I've got an album's worth of stuff written, and it's just crushing," stated Holt. "Everybody is really stoked about it—the whole band is completely re-energized and enthused about the new songs, and we're pretty much sick of just never rehearsing and never doing nothing but just playing a show here and there and playing the same fuckin' set [all the time]."
Currently in intensive songwriting sessions for the group's much-anticipated comeback studio album—the band's first since 1992's Force Of Habit—EXODUS recently renewed a working relationship with former manager Toni Isabella, who is said to be in the process of starting her own label with former Capitol Records A&R executive Rachel Matthews (who signed EXODUS and RIGOR MORTIS to the label back in the late '80s) with a view towards releasing the group's upcoming CD sometime next year.
"Toni [who is also a partner in 75Ark Entertainment with renowned hip-hop producer Dan "the Automator" Nakamura] has already met with the investors and the capital [to get the label off the ground] is already there," the guitarist said.
Isabella's return to the fold (albeit in a slightly different capacity) may come as a surprise to many in the industry, especially in light of the circumstances that led to her original dismissal as the band's manager—a move that Holt now attributes to certain people "[not seeing] the reality of things [at the time]."
"When [frontman] Zetro approached me [about working with Toni again], he thought that he'd have to convince me [to go along with it]," Holt offered. "But I said, 'That's exactly what I've been thinking as well.' 'Cause [the guy that we had helping us out before we got involved with our current management], Mike Murphy, was never asked to be anything more than my secretary, and he started doing a terrible job at doing that. The last three show road trips, he hid from us the whole time. And we got a glimpse of the photo he's been sending out with our press pack, which was one of the ones with [late frontman] Paul [Baloff], except that he just blacked Paul out [of the photo]. It looked so horrible.
"I spoke to Zet about it, and we agreed that there was only one person who could actually pull it off and get us to do our part—and that was Toni. All the other managers would have have ran screamin'—all we would have seen is asses and elbows going the other way. Toni knows what to expect, and she actually knows how to get us to work."
Although Isabella's long history with the group will inevitably result in her assuming some of the responsibilities normally associated with a band manager, Toni's involvement with EXODUS will primarily consist of her running the aforementioned record company while the day-to-day managerial duties will be handled by road manager/former guitar tech Steve Warner and the aforementioned Matthews.
In addition to ensuring that the band's upcoming live performances come off without a glitch, Warner and Matthews will reportedly focus their efforts on getting EXODUS' business relationships in order, a task which will include severing the group's ties with Century Media Records, who released the quintet's phenomenal 1997 live album, Another Lesson In Violence.
"All we ever signed with Century Media was a one-page 'Heads of Agreement'," Holt revealed. "They've got an option [for another album] with no dollar figure—how can they hold us to that? It's an option for nothing—without any agreement as to what we get.
"They'd better be prepared for hell on earth, because in the past, they've been able to do what any label has done, which is—'If you've got an angry guitar player who wants things done, just ignore him.' But we're gonna audit them. They're gonna have their books torn apart and thrown all over the floor."
Despite this, however, Holt offers another solution to the problem, one which he views as a "win-win [arrangement for everyone involved]—even though I don't think [Century Media] deserve a 'win'. Technically, they have the right to do it anyway, but it's the kind of project would make it sound like a good thing that they're doing, and us blasting it would make them seem like money-grubbing, greedy thugs, and that is, I will put my stamp of approval on a Paul Baloff tribute record with other people [i.e. bands] doing Paul songs [that he originally recorded with EXODUS]. I'll agree to put my total stamp of approval and say nothing but good things about it, [if] they'll agree to just simply sign another one-and-a-quarter-page thing saying [we] don't owe [them] anything else."
While no concrete timetable has yet been set for the recording of the group's next studio album, Holt hopes to begin tracking the as-yet-untitled CD by November, most likely with acclaimed British producer Andy Sneap (i.e. SKINLAB, MACHINE HEAD, NEVERMORE, ARCH ENEMY), who had worked with the band on the aforementioned Another Lesson In Violence.
"I've worked better with Sneap than anyone I've ever worked with," Holt stated. "There's not one bone of contention working with [Andy]. There's no butting heads [with him like there was with other producers we'd worked with]."
Following the group's appearances at the Milwaukee Metalfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 26-27 and at Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany on August 1-3, tentative plans exist for EXODUS to perform several dates in Spain in September and embark on a mini-tour of the UK and Greece during December.
More information about the group's next album and their future live appearances will be available in the coming weeks.