Interview with Tom Hunting

“Back from the Dead comes San Francisco's Thrasher ‘Exodus’ after a long absence the band return after the death of Paul Baloff with Steve Souza as the frontman. It’s great to see an old Thrash act reform and for the youngster’s of today to see a cult classic band, especially if you missed them the first time around. I caught up with the band once again when they played in Bradford (UK), their first tour in years to find out why they’ve reform once again and what the future hold for the band. Here is what Tom Hunting & Jack (their newest member) had to say to the following questions.”

Please Note: The interview has been updated recently to promote 'Tempo Of The Damned' album.

Looking back at the bands career, is there anything you would of changed and why?

"No not really, because after the last couple of years I feel like things are driven by fate and maybe we are in a lot less control of things that we think we are. I am proud of where we are now. We have been working of recent and this year we will work even harder because we have a new record out!"

“Out of all the previous album’s that ‘Exodus’ have recorded which are your favourite and least favourite and why?”

 “I think that the live is my personal favourite, because I got the best drum sound on that record & I really do not have a least favourite album. The band is my first love & I love all of them even the ones I did not play on.”

“Well I only played on the live record, ‘Another Lesson In Violence’, so that is my favourite. I think ‘Fabulous Disaster’ is Exodus at it’s best and also ‘Bonded By Blood’ is such a classic. I love the live album that I recorded, because I can hear my bass and the tone that I got from my bass is awesome!! I think the least listenable record for me is ‘Force Of Habit’, and we really do not play anything from that record.”

“Which would you say is the best selling album to date?”

I think it would have to be ‘Fabulous Disaster’, but getting a figure from the Record Company is a load of shit!! ‘The debut album sold a lot but maybe not as good as ‘Fabulous Disaster’.”

“So why did you leave Combat/ MFN’s and how did the deal with Capital come about?”

“Well we were signed by the president of Capital at that time and but unfortunate for us, all the staff had left and I was not with them at that time, so it must of sucked for the band. You really need a representative who will help the band. I guess the same thing happened with Combat/ MFN’s as well.”

So why did the band call it a day after the release of ‘Force Of Habit’?

“I think the business started to eat at the band because we have always been a fun driven band and I think that whole experience sucked the life out of the band. There were also eternal conflict’s & the timing was not right. Also what all that we went through I think the timing is now right for the band.

“It is hard to play music for the love of it for every and life does have it’s up’s & down’s and I think this time around it caught up with the band. The band’s hearts are in it but the label’s and people around us were not.”

So what did the band members all do when you broke up? I know you Tom did the ‘IR8’ demo with Jason Newsted, what did the other members do?

“Actually Jase you are the first person I have managed to talk about this demo. Metallica were not happy about that demo at all (ED: I can imagine) they did not like the fact he was doing something outside of the band. We are doing another demo soon with Andreas from Sepultura, so I’ll get Jason to send you it OK Jase!! (ED: Right On!!). I really do not know why ‘Metallica’ were treated by it, it is only a fun thing right? It is drunken barbicue music and what damage can it do for ‘Metallica’? If anything it would of made them more popular. It is not as if we were going to come up with Some killer riff’s or anything. Steve Souza got a union job making $36 per hour, Gary did some roofing for a while and when we hooked up with Jack we were doing a band called ‘War Dance’ and Jack came in and said ‘I can play that shit’.”

Do you still see your old manager Debbie and what is she up too? Also were did you find your new manager Steve?

"Well Debbie I think has quit, she was a lot older and she did some great work for us and many other bands. We found Steve because he use to manage Testament, and he is more suited to us and he is also hungry like we are so we get on really well."

Tell me a little bit about this project called ‘Piranha’?

“That was Paul Baloff’s project when he left the band and it is a really good demo actually. It was heavy but not fast like ‘Exodus’ and James Hetfield ‘Metallica’ produced it.”

I heard that there were some bad vibes between Paul & Steve, is this true? If so what band vibes were there between them?

"That was total fiction, (Thank You Paul), there was never animosity between each of them. Over the last year I have seen things in a different way, I thought of getting rid of Paul & having Steve in the band was a mistake, but saying that there would be no ‘Exodus’ now for us to speak about. They actually liked each other and anything that was created was only done for fun & press.”

So what made you want to form the band the 2nd time around for the live album ‘Another Lesson In…’?

“Well when we did the ‘War Dance’ band we were going a lot of local gigs and we were tired of the of looking for a singer & our singer was crazy and we had a bad gig one time and our singer disappeared for a month because he could not take the slander. After the show I was in his face telling him that he sucked and we thought about what singer can we have that does not have a ego trip? So we thought of Paul right away. Borivoj from Century Media at that time was a friend of ours & he told us to reform so that is why we reformed.”

Did you ever approach Steve to sing once again before asking Paul to sing?

“We never approached Steve first, we called up Paul because we thought if we were going to do this one more time than we should go out that way the same way we came in. We even approached Rob Mckillop about doing the live album with us and he told that he could not play that stuff any more, so we asked Jack to join the band.”

What made you want to release this album as a live album instead of a new studio album? I bet you wish you had now don’t you?

“Well when we talked to Century Media they suggested that we did a live album, so that is what we did. We did think about doing a studio album and when Paul died we gave it some serious thought and this came about after the ‘Thrash Of The Titans’ festival. This was with ‘Death Angel’, ‘Testament’ when Paul died, so we asked Steve to help us out. Steve was really into this so we made it happen. Some of the songs are old ‘War Dance’ song and some are new which usually take longer to write.”

How do you see each ‘Exodus’ album as a progression?

“Well I think we were at our peak when we released the ‘Fabulous Disaster’ album and the one I am curious about is the new one we are going to be doing which will we start recording in April. We know we still have the balls so things should go OK.”

Getting back to the live album, it has to be one of the truest live albums recorded, it must of done the band some justice and sold well too!!

“Well it never sold that well to be honest, I guess it is a hidden classic (Laughing).”

I heard this live album is also going to be released as DVD & Video, when will this happen?

“Well we have been talking about that happening forever, but nothing has happened yet. We have had so much trouble to Century Media that all the business went down the drain, and if we do it then it will happen with our own money. We have some friends who have some old stuff which we could also put on their as the extra footage. We did release a couple of live songs from that show to various people in the music business that we knew. If we do release it, it will be the best parts of that show with other bits thrown in.”

When Paul died, how did it effect the band as a whole?

“We miss him every day and I think he is with us too. It is a really shame and a waste of life, I miss him.”

“It was really bad for me, I know things in life can go wrong, but you never expect this sort of thing to happen to your friend and singer in a band right? It was hard for me because I grew up with the band and having been in the band made it a lot harder for me. He had 3 strokes and the last one finished him off.”

Did you record any new songs with Paul before he died?

“We never really recorded anything with him.”

Did you ever feel after Paul’s death that you would carry on in memory of him?

“Yes we did, we had to keep the spirit of the band and Paul’s memory alive!! We knew he would never want the band to stop anyway.”

So how did you hook up with Steve this time around and what was his reaction when you asked him to join the band once again, also was he in another band at that time?

"Well it started out when we had 2 L.A. shows booked and then Paul died and a month went by and Gary  & myself spoke to him about rejoining the band. He said we would do it, so we did 2 shows and it felt good and we always wanted to keep on going, and unfortunately with Paul it did not happen, so we knew we had to have Steve back in the band because there is no 3rd singer, it's Paul or Steve. Steve was in another band called 'F Bomb', for a while and he left to rejoin us."

What is your opinion on the Thrash movement making a come back with bands such as ‘Heathen’, ‘Nuclear Assault’, & ‘Death Angel’?

“I think it is cool and I am glad that we are not the only band out there doing it (laughing).”

“It is a good feel for us and we are having a good time.”

So when we will see the new album released, as you are in the studio in April?

“We are not sure when it will be released, we have the titles, one is called ‘Temple Of The Damned’, but we have a few more to work on. It will not be on Century Media that is for sure!!! We have no titles for this album yet. It will be recorded in Texas with Andy Sneap, and Steve will do his vocals in San Francisco.”

What do you think of Andy as a producer?

“He is awesome that is for sure and he did the live album as well. He is a total professional and a cool guy. The album will be mixed in the UK with Andy.”

Lets talk about the new album, where was it recorded?"

"It was recorded in 2 different studios actually. The drums were recorded in Northern California were we recorded 'Bonded By Blood', and then we took to drum trax down to Santa Cruise were we did the guitars and vocals and then Andy took it back to the UK to mix it. 

Why didn't you record the whole album in one studio instead of 2? What was the reason behind it?"

"Well Andy wanted to do the drums in that studio because it had better equipment then the other studio and it was away from the Bay Area, and we had no people coming in and disturbing us."

How long did it take to write the songs for the new album and who wrote them?

"Some of the songs were wrote back 95-96 and the rest of album songs really kicked in back in December of 2001 and when got back from that tour we all got clean and wrote some kick ass material and he had a goal at the end of it, and what you now hear is what came out of it."

Which songs from the new album stand out for you and why?

"That's a tough question to answer!! I think all the songs on the album are great, one that stands out for me right now is 'Shroud Of Heine', because of the sound of it."

So why the title of the album and did you have any other titles in mind? Does the artwork of the album reflect in the title?

"I think the title means something different for all of us, for me the title is something of the paste which we live at, like the time when Paul was took from us, we were all abusing our bodies at that time with drugs.. so that's what it means to me. I think the artwork reflects in the music."

What sort of press reaction's has the new album been getting so far, do they like it?

"It has been really good so far, really positive."

How do you see this album as a progression from previous albums?

"I think it is the best thing we have ever done, I am proud of all the past work we have done but to me this is the best."

What do you think of Andy's previous work and will you be using him again?

"Yes we will be using him again, we total trust him, he does great productions on albums. I like the work he has done on previous album."

What labels have you showed the new album too before signing the deal with Nuclear Blast?

"Well we did not shop it around to anybody really. It was down to Andy our producer who had some connections and we wanted to be with somebody who was going to be behind it 100%. I feel that we are in really good hands with Nuclear Blast this time around. There actions are speaking louder than their words and that's what we want!!"

How long is the deal with the label?

"It is for 2 albums and we may do more if things go well."

Do you think that it is cool that Death Angel & your self's are signed to the same label and both from the Bay Area?

"Yeah for sure!! I think it is great that 2 bands from the same area are signed to the same label. I think it would be cool if we toured together, don't you think?"

What do you think Paul would be saying to you all if he was here right now?

“Well I know he is with us still and watching us everyday. He loved the music just like a kid who loves his dog.”

How well is the tour going so far for the band?

“It’s going killer, and we did some cool shows in the Greece. Everything you hear about the Greeks loving anal sex is totally right, because we got totally fucked up the ass (Laughing).

What do you mean?

“We got fucked over by the Greek’s, we were told we could bring all our stuff through customs. When we tried to leave the country they tried to make us pay for thing been over weight for the flight. It’s really pissed us off and we had to leave our banner there among some other things.”

You played WOA in 2002, was this the first time for the band & how well did it go for the band?

“It went great, we wrote the perfect set for that show, all the songs were fast and it was cool. That and ‘Dyanmo’ are the high lights of my life as far as festivals go. We never did any other festivals and we never did a mini tour either. We had nothing new to tour for.”

The band played the UK and Europe in 2002, how well did that tour go and what did you think of the show in Bradford (UK)?" Also did you see a lot of old school fans on tour or were they Nu-School?

 "It went ok and for that tour we only had one new song wrote. So for me personally we were loosing credibility until we had new material out. Forthe tour we did last year with Nuclear Assault & Agent Steel among others went really well!! I think the last tour 2003 had a mixture to be honest and with the new record we should influence a lot more people too!!"

As many bands have tributes to them these days does Exodus have one and if so have you heard it? If not then what would your reaction be if one was put out?

"Well I have not seen one, as for some bands doing a tribute well, I think it would make me feel a lot older than I already am (Laughing). I would be happy if there was one."

Has anything strange happened whilst on this tour?

"Well it is still early days in the tour yet to see if anything strange happens. We expect something strange to happen.”

Have you been listening to any new bands or styles recently?

“I like ‘Tool’, and we played with ‘The Haunted’ which was really cool for us. I really do not listen to that much Metal as I play it in ‘Exodus’, so I listen to a lot of classic Rock stuff like ‘Rush’, Boston’ etc…”

So what are your top 10 classic albums of all time Tom.

“Mmm, I would have to say that they are: AC/DC ‘Hightway To Hell’, Mercyful Fate ‘Mellisah’, ‘Mercyful Fate ‘Don’t Break The Oath’, Angel Witch ‘Same’, ‘Accept ‘Restless & Wild’, Accept ‘Balls To The Wall’, Rainbow ‘Long Live Rock & Roll’, anything else by ‘Rainbow’ UFO ‘Strangers In The Night’ & The Scorpions ‘The Best—Old’.”

Well guys thanx for your time, best of luck and do you have anything to say?

“Yeah thanx for the interview, thanx to our fans for coming to the shows & look out for the new album. Also say hi to the band ‘Re-Animator’ from us!!”

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