Ex-EXODUS singer Rob Dukes says that it will be "fun" rejoining his former bandmates on stage this weekend.
Dukes, who fronted EXODUS for nine years, will perform with the band during their July 8 concert in San Francisco, California. He will sing several songs with the group on the second of EXODUS's two-night stint at The Chapel in what will mark the band's first headlining Bay Area club shows since late 2013. Also appearing with the act at Saturday's gig will be former EXODUS guitarist Rick Hunolt as well as possibly ex-EXODUS drummer Paul Bostaph (now in SLAYER).
During an appearance on the latest episode of the "Talking Metal" podcast, Dukes was asked how he reconnected with his bandmates three years after his departure from the group.
"I'm gonna say it was about eight or nine months ago, Gary [Holt, EXODUS guitarist] and I spoke," Rob revealed (hear audio below). "We reached out and we talked. It was the first time we talked in years. And it was nice, it was awkward. I hung up the phone with the feeling of… kind of like… just regret that we hadn't spoken sooner. Actually, a mutual friend had kind of put us in the realm of talking. [Our friend] had somehow convinced us that we should bury the bad blood and kind of just move on."
Dukes added that a famous rock group's internal dispute inspired him to make amends with his former bandmates. He explained: "I had read this little story… I don't remember where I read it, but Sammy Hagar had sent Eddie Van Halen a tweet saying, 'Happy birthday, dude. I hope all is well.' And then they asked him why he did that. He said, 'I don't wanna die with that stuff. I don't wanna go through my life with this nagging anger and resentment.' 'Cause when things end, nothing really ends good. Most things end badly; really rarely [do you say], 'Hey, this is so awesome. Let's just part ways.' That rarely ever happens. Usually things are amiss and things are not [as they should be]. And that's kind of how it was. I mean, I was at fault, I think they were at fault. I think we all kind of agreed that we all kind of have a part to play in this, and that's true. And I do too. And it took some [time] to see that. At first, it was anger and then resentment. Dude, I was losing five friendships, my job, my security that I had… my life I had grown accustomed to. So all that had played a part."
According to Dukes, he felt a sense of "relief" when he first spoke with Holt. "It was kind of what Sammy talked about — that [feeling of], 'Yeah, man, it's nice to not hold on to that,'" he said. "So it just kind of all went away; it really did. And I had spoken with Lee [Altus, EXODUS guitarist] a few times.
"Since I spoke with Gary, we pretty much stayed in contact pretty regularly," he continued. "And here's the thing: we've never talked music, we've never talked EXODUS, we've never talked… We didn't really hash out the past. We just both said, 'Look, I'm sorry for my part in all this.' And it was kind of nice. And Lee was the same way. So we talked for months. [Then] Tom [Hunting, EXODUS drummer] had called me a couple of months ago for the first time. We spoke. He was getting married and wanted me to come, but I couldn't make it. But, anyway, we just settled a lot of bad blood."
Dukes joined EXODUS in January 2005 and appeared on four of the band's studio albums — "Shovel Headed Kill Machine" (2005), "The Atrocity Exhibition... Exhibit A" (2007), "Let There Be Blood" (2008, a re-recording of EXODUS' classic 1985 LP, "Bonded By Blood") and "Exhibit B: The Human Condition" (2010).
EXODUS in June 2014 announced the departure of Dukes and the return of Steve "Zetro" Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.
In some of the first interviews after his split from EXODUS, Dukes slammed his former bandmates, claiming that he "didn't like the new music they were writing" and saying that "there was just no passion in it."
Rob addressed some of his negative comments during the "Talking Metal" interview, saying "it was like a divorce. It was an ugly divorce that no one was really happy walking away from. And as some divorces happen, later on you become okay with the people. And I didn't wanna go through my life with that resentment."
He continued: "Look, I lived with those guys for ten fucking years. We've been through a bunch of shit. Especially with Lee — me and Lee were really close. I was close with his family — not only his parents, but his brother. So the family side of it was hard to walk away from without… One, you feel disappointed, you feel bad, which can sometimes turn to anger and resentment, and then you talk shit when you don't really want to, 'cause you're just hurt. And when you are hurt, sometimes you lash out. And I know that I did that from time to time. I tried to take the high road, and I tried to just be grateful for the experience and move on with my life. And then there were times when I would just get overwhelmed with the emotions of, 'Fuck them!' Even though most of the time I didn't walk around like that. I just tried to live my life and tried to move on to something else and focus on where I was at. And I missed some of the times we had."
Dukes said that he was looking forward to spending time and performing with his former bandmates again.
"I am flying [to San Francisco] Thursday [July 6] and we're gonna rehearse and then I'm gonna join them on stage Saturday with Rick Hunolt too, which I'm so stoked to see that me and him are gonna be in the same hotel," he said. "Rick is one of the funniest people ever and so much fun to hang out with. So it'll be nice to be at the same hotel with Rick and a couple of other guys that are gonna be there. And it'll be fun, man. It's gonna be fun. I'm gonna go out there, settle some bad blood, go out there, have some laughs, play some songs. I'm sure it'll be a love fest, it'll be all good. And hopefully it won't be too weird. You know what I mean?"
Regarding how he expected Saturday's concert to play out, Dukes said: "I'm gonna go out by myself with the band and sing the songs that I wrote. That's basically what's gonna happen. There's songs that I wrote — I wrote 'The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles', I wrote 'Children Of A Worthless God'… there's a couple of others. And so I'm basically gonna go do those. And then they're gonna do their show [with Zetro] or whatever, and then, at the end, probably everyone will come up and sing 'Toxic [Waltz]' or something like that. I don't know exactly how it's gonna go, but in my imagination, that's kind of how I see it going… And hopefully when I go back there, it'll be just kind of like a soothing process of all that, of, 'Yeah, man. That was fun, and it's all good. I wish you the best. And let's move forward.' So that's it."
Holt in 2014 defended the way EXODUS fired Dukes, saying that "much time" was spent mulling the decision before the final move was made. He also shot down Internet speculation that the split with Dukes was motivated by financial reasons or that it was masterminded by TESTAMENT singer Chuck Billy, who co-founded EXODUS's management company Breaking Bands LLC. "It isn't for the money [and] Chuck did not orchestrate this," Holt said. "There were issues behind the scenes and we came to a conclusion."
Holt, who previously said that the decision to fire Rob and re-hire Zetro "was the most difficult decision of our lives, one the entire band made," was once again full of praise for EXODUS's former frontman, saying: "I wish nothing but the best for Rob, [and I] have nothing but love for the man. He will be a force for a long time and I am proud of him and how he went from a dude with a pink mohawk to a vicious thrash vocalist. He is a killer singer and we have total respect for him and love the music we made together."