In a new interview with the "Talk Toomey" podcast, EXODUS guitarist Gary Holtwas asked if he thinks the band's lineup changes in the early years were largely responsible for EXODUS not achieving the same kind of success as some of their contemporaries. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "From the moment [we released] 'Bonded By Blood', then [after that] we [got] a new singer. And other than a bass player change, we were solid for several years. Yeah, it doesn't help. But nowadays when I look at it, it's not that big of a deal. Shit happens. I know other bands — there's bands out there… I think NAPALM DEATH doesn't have a single original member in it. And NAPALM DEATH are legends, so fuck it. Who cares? But we've been rocking for years, and we're doing better than ever, so I've got no complaints. The only complaint I've got is some of our self-destructive behavior in the past might have inhibited us a little bit."
Asked what he would say that self-destructive behavior was, Gary said: "Oh, God. Meth. [Laughs] When four-fifths of your band — Jack [Gibson, bass] being the only guy who wasn't — was spun out of their minds, it kind of tends to put up some road blocks to success. [Laughs] I laugh about it now. Any former tweaker will tell you this: There are some fun moments, some fun shit that happens when you're sleep-deprived. But I'm so glad [that it's behind me]. I never [wanna] go back there."
According to Gary, drugs weren't "a big problem" for EXODUS back in the 1980s. "We partied. Back in the early days, we'd get a little bag of meth and the whole band would function on it all night. It was in the '90s when we reunited with [singer Paul] Baloff, and that's when we got really fucking spun and started smoking meth," he explained. "And shit got bad then. It fucking sucked. But I laid that cross to bear on the ground a long time ago — 2002. Hell, I'm 90 days sober today. [Laughs] I'm no fun at all anymore — no more meth, no more alcohol. I do smoke a little bit of weed nowadays though. It's much better. It's only an occasional thing for me, though. My wife's a full-on stoner, and occasionally I'll join her, like, 'Hand me that.'"
EXODUS will release its new album, "Persona Non Grata", on November 19 via Nuclear Blast Records. The LP 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.
"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.