Interview: Exodus Talks Tour With Testament, Praises Goatwhore & High On Fire

On April 29, 2015, Testament and Exodus played a sold out show at the Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York for their current leg of the “Dark Roots of Thrash II” tour. This tour is the first time these thrash giants have toured together.

After the opening act Shattered Sun, Exodus took the stage.  They started their set with a nice mix of later material before getting the crowd really going with their classic track “A Lesson in Violence”. The set continued to be a mix of new tracks and classics, such as “The Toxic Waltz” and “Bonded By Blood”. The band ended their set with the fan favorite “Strike of The Beast”. The band’s sound was spot on and the mosh pit and the crowd got more and more energetic as the set went on, a normal trait for Exodus’s shows.

Though Exodus is a tough act to follow, Testament started their set with “Over The Wall”one of their most acclaimed songs, before taking the audience through a retrospective set consisting of their classic studio albums The LegacyThe New Order, and select tracks from Practice What You Preach. The stage had a backdrop of the band’s first album cover as well as two talls signs with demon heads on them that would occasionally breathe smoke.

Strobe lights flickered and changed color through the whole set. Metalheads both young and old were screaming along to their favorite tracks from these classic albums. The band played an almost two hour set , with their perfect sound and stage presence keeping the crowd interested. It’s certainly a metal tour to behold. I caught up with Exodus drummer Tom Hunting prior to the show, who brought me up to speed on the current tour, his opinion on modern metal music, and a couple of fanboyish tidbits…

Photo by Ray Rollings Jr.

How did an awesome double bill tour like this happen?

This is a sequel to Testament’s “Dark Roots Of Thrash Tour” they did two years ago.  For this tour we wanted to bring a Bay Area package. The two bands never really toured together. We have played random one offs but never a full tour. It’s doing good, man.

Yeah, I heard the show at Mojoes in Joliet, Illinois over sold by four hundred tickets.

That wasn’t us, that was the promoter (laughs). Something was going down with the local government and the venue. A fire marshal was called. The promoter was in a tough spot because the venue was only meant for so many people. I think the local government was trying to bestow some new laws. It got messy. They would do a body to body swap where someone would get out of the venue, then they would let another person and that person who went out wouldn’t be allowed back in. It sucks for the fans, but we couldn’t do anything about it.

With the high demand for this tour and how well it’s doing, do you feel Exodus is bigger now then they were in the 80’s?

I think it’s a different time & different climate for sure. I think the state of metal, in this country, is pretty good right now. People are still coming to shows and supporting live music, which is good because I think this music is best delivered live. We are in a very good place right now.

Are there any modern metal bands you keep an eye on? 

I’m not the most knowledgeable on new bands, but I feel Warbringer are doing it old school, and doing it well. Then there is Goatwhore, who I absolutely love. Not really a thrash band, but my favorite Bay Area band right now is High on Fire. They just have that groove. I love anything with groove in it. A bunch of bands today are doing it right.

Any advice for young metal bands just starting out?

Keep in mind that if you are able to play music, for a living, it’s a gift. Don’t get caught up in your own legends, no matter how many people tell you how bad-ass you are.

Back in 1989 you guys did a cover of the War classic “Lowrider“. What made you beside to do an out of genre cover like that? If you were to cover another 70’s funk song what would it be?

Probably something by The Ohio Players. Not “Rollercoaster of Love”, but maybe “Fire” or “Skin Tight“. We tossed around ideas of doing another funk cover. That War song was kinda near and dear to our hearts because Gary and I grew up in an area where the funk culture was pretty heavy. That song covered to heavy metal pretty easily. War just wrote good music, super talented band with a killer riff section.

If you were trapped on a desert island and could only bring one album which would it be?

It would have to be Rainbow’s Rising. I just think that album is a journey. It’s just a great album. Classic metal band with Dio and Richie Blackmore, it just crushes.

Also check out my interview with Testament’s Eric Peterson.

Photo by Rob Muller.

Edited by Doug McCausland.