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Holt: I'd never play like Hanneman

Slayer stand-in guitarist Gary discusses doing justice to late Jeff’s legacy

Slayer stand-in guitarist Gary Holt resists pressure to play just like Jeff Hanneman would have done – because he doesn’t believe it’s the best way to respect his memory.

Hanneman died two years ago today (May 2) after Exodus leader Holt had already spent two years covering for him due to illness.

He’ll make his first album appearance when the thrash icons release their 11th album later this year.

Holt tells Loudwire: “Some people say I should play Jeff’s solos the way Jeff did. But I don’t think that’s doing him justice, trying to copy him. From the riffs to the solos, they were uniquely him.

“I keep little signatures and melodies, particularly in their early songs. But I always say, if you want someone to play them exactly, there’s a million guys in Slayer tribute bands who’d do a better job than I am.”

Slayer and Exodus became friends during the thrash movement’s formative days – and Holt recalls the night the bands met in the early 1980s.

“We just destroyed their hotel room,” he says.”With their permission, of course. The cops came in and we scattered like cockroaches. 

“We told them they couldn’t wear the eyeliner. It wouldn’t go over well with the hardcore people who came to all our shows. They never wore it again and they’ve been friends ever since.”

And he remembers a particular honour Hanneman paid his band at a festival in France: “Jeff came up to watch Exodus’ set. Everybody was stunned because Jeff doesn’t leave the bus to watch anybody play. I take that as the highest compliment that he got out of the bus to watch us.”

Slayer are the cover stars of the current edition of Metal Hammer, on sale now. An in-depth interview covers why the band feel Holt was the only man to replace Hanneman, and how the co-founder’s death created a new level of communication between Tom Araya and Kerry King.

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