EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt spoke to Canada's The Metal Voice about the lyrical inspiration for the song "The Fires Of Division", which will appear on the band's upcoming album, "Persona Non Grata", due on November 19 via Nuclear Blast Records. "It's just about the sad state of affairs in the world today, the divisive nature of everything," he explained (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "Maybe it's just me showing my age — I'm old enough to remember when people could have political differences and still get along. [Laughs] I guess I'm just old, right? My own band is comprised of varying different political ideologies, and we're best friends. The world has forgotten how to do that. We're so divided. And the powers that be want us divided. And that's on both sides — that's not just a hard-right or hard-left thing. They're doing everything they can to pit everybody against each other. I think [the media and the politicians] all have a hand in it — the media, all of them; the politicians as well. Because the game they're all playing now is they don't think they have to earn voters to get elected; just keep the ones you've got and be as vile and bad as you want. And the right will portray the left as a bunch of snowflake liberals, and the left will portray the right as a bunch of inbred fucking dummies. But we're all Americans here. And the sooner we remember that, the sooner we can start to heal. But I wrote that song while staring down the fucking Capitol riots and shit.
"I look at it like this: it's the same thing with religion," he continued. "Everybody pretty much knows I'm an atheist and I'm not a believer, but if I fucking wrote off all those that were, I wouldn't have a family. Most of my family believes in Jesus fucking Christ. And I'm not gonna part ways with them because we share a different religious idealogy. And I won't over a political either. Some of my best friends are completely different than me, and that's okay. It's not a bad thing. I don't look at them as fucking lesser people because we don't agree on something. And a lot of time, if you take the time to discuss shit like fucking humans, you'll find that you actually can find middle ground on a lot of things."
Back in April 2020, Holt spoke in more detail about the different political opinions within the EXODUS camp, telling the "No Fuckin' Regrets With Robb Flynn" podcast: "Everybody knows I'm liberal on hella shit, but I'm also super conservative on hella shit too. And those are just my own opinions, and I leave them off my [social media] 'cause it starts a huge fight. People are, like, 'Ah, liberal snowflake EXODUS.' And I'm, like, motherfucker, three-fifths of EXODUS are Trump-loving Republicans — the majority of the band. Lee [Altus, guitar], Jack [Gibson, bass] and Zetro [Steve Souza, vocals] — it's full-on."
Three years ago, Souza said that he supported then-President Donald Trump, explaining in an interview: "The economy in the United States… the unemployment is the lowest it's ever been in the history of the United States. I think [Trump] making the attempt to go to meet [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un, I think that's great — that's what you need to do. People need to touch together, not do it through channels."
In a 2016 interview, Holt ripped Trump, saying: "You can't believe anything he says, 'cause he's a serial liar… He won't even condemn David Duke's support. He pretended he doesn't know who he is… That was your moment, Donald Trump, to say… you know, to condemn the man, basically, but you pretended you were just ignorant of who he was, 'cause you don't wanna fuck with that vote. There are some fucking hillbillies out there who you want voting for you."
Holt went on to say that he was "in many ways a Republican" but that he hadn't been able to find "a candidate up there who wasn't walked around on a leash by the Christian evangelicals, because they're the death of the conservative movement anyway. And if they just stay out of women's wombs and just actually concentrate on running a country and not being beholden to those people, I would vote Republican in a second."
Holt added that he had had productive discussions about the political situation with his bandmates. "I know people, including my own bandmembers in EXODUS, who, you might not agree with them, but I'd love to see some uptight, metal-hating, I-know-everything-about-politics dude go up against Jack Gibson in an argument," he said. "It might come to a draw. It's a debate — like, if you disagree with him, you're not gonna win — but he knows his fucking facts. And we're not all idiots. We actually do know what's going on in the world around us."
"Persona Non Grata" is the follow-up to 2014's "Blood In Blood Out", which was the San Francisco Bay Area thrashers' first release since the departure of the group's lead singer of nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of Steve "Zetro" Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.
"Persona Non Grata" was recorded at a studio in Lake Almanor, California and was engineered by Steve Lagudi and EXODUS. It was produced by EXODUS and was mixed by Andy Sneap. For the third time in the band's history, they returned to Swedish artist Pär Olofsson to create the album artwork.