Metal vets Exodus have fond memories of the ’80s 

click to enlarge The Bay Area’s Exodus is playing with Testament on the “Dark Roots of Thrash 2 Tour.” - COURTESY  PHOTO
  • COURTESY PHOTO
  • The Bay Area’s Exodus is playing with Testament on the “Dark Roots of Thrash 2 Tour.”
A couple of years ago, guitarist Gary Holt was on tour with his metal outfit Exodus when a friend texted him some sad news. Ruthie’s Inn, a Berkeley rock venue where his band cut its venomous, high-decibel teeth, was being gutted to make way for a new bookstore, and its legendary stage was just sitting on the sidewalk. “I wanted to grab some wood off it to have two custom guitars built, with that dirty, fucked-up, nail-encrusted stage for their tops – just exactly how it was back then,” says the Bay Area vet, who in October 2014 released “Blood In, Blood Out,” a retro-minded album featuring the return of singer Steve “Zetro” Souza and a cameo from founding guitarist Kirk Hammett.

So this is the third time Souza has joined Exodus. Is he crying wolf?

Ha! I know, huh? Now that you put it that way…But you know, it’s just one of those things – that’s Exodus for ya. We operate in mysterious ways. We’re like wizards, I think, and sometimes the unexpected happens. And believe me, no one found this more unexpected than myself – we didn’t plan on it, we never foresaw it. We went into making the new album and Rob Dukes was our singer. But when we came out, he no longer was.

What happened?

How do I put it? Just not seeing eye to eye on the record. And it became a difficult working relationship. I love Rob Dukes, and the albums we made with him are some of my favorite Exodus albums, period. But it just was not working. Then it came down to: Who will sing? Zetro wasn’t given this job outright – we made him audition. He had to sing a new song, something he hadn’t heard and wasn’t familiar with. And he killed it. So that’s pretty much how he got back in – he earned it.

In the title track, you say, “Tonight we’re gonna fight like it’s 1985” and “If you have the pedigree, welcome to the family.” And you mention late Exodus frontman Paul Baloff. You’re feeling reflective?

I don’t know. Maybe with all that’s happened in my life, sometimes you mentally revisit where it all began. Because 1985 was pretty happening, and it felt like you were once part of something really special. I mean, this year is the 30th anniversary of our “Bonded By Blood” album, and I want to do something really awesome to commemorate it. So I even looked into the last remaining sort-of club that’s still standing, the On Broadway, because I wanted to take this right back to Broadway, where it all started. But I think they have serious noise problems now, because there are restaurants everywhere!

IF YOU GO

Exodus

opening for Testament

Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 7:10 p.m. April 1

Tickets: $30 to $32

Contact: (888) 929-7849, www.axs.com

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Tom Lanham

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