Festivalphoto spoke to Exodus bassist Jack Gibsonshortly after they played the main stage at Bloodstock 2011.
Festivalphoto: Firstly congratulations on a great set tonight. How did you think it went?
Jack: I think it was good and bad you know, as always with a live performance we had some technical difficulties, but in true Exodus fashion we just got mad and played through it.
Festivalphoto: ...and destroyed the crowd.
Festivalphoto: With 10 albums of material to choose from, how do you pick the setlist?
Jack: Man its a fucking fight every day. Man I have to tell you that's a really good question. We fight about it every day, you know what I mean. I mean its a good fight to have, it could be worse, fighting about material, too much material is always good.
Festivalphoto: Better to have too much material to choose from than not enough.
Jack: Right. One of the real tricks, especially when you're not headlining a show is picking songs that are short enough, because we have a lot of like epically long tunes and in a 45 minute set we could easily play just three songs and run out of time, so we've kind of learnt what really works for big crowds, what works in small places you know, and then we just kind of hammer it out every day. Like when we're on a tour we'll find something that works and settle on it , but when we're doing these festival runs its a different time slot every day and different stuff so we just hammer it out every day, its part of the creative process.
Festivalphoto: With a festival of course its not just your own fans who will be there.
Jack: Exactly, exactly.
Festivalphoto: You've had a busy year so far including shows at Wacken and the 70,000 tons of metal cruise plus a tour. What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Jack: We're doing another cruise, we're doing the Sweden Rock cruise, that's like around the beginning of October and then we're going to come back to the Thrashfest again this year which is what we did with Kreator, and we'll be co-headlining that, and that runs November into December.
Festivalphoto: Keeping busy then.
Jack: Yeah always and then we've got to write a new record, so hopefully at the beginning of the year we'll start writing stuff and get it together.
Festivalphoto: When is that likely to be recorded and ready for release?
Jack: Well the ultimate goal is to at least have it out by summertime so we can come back out and hit the festivals again, hit the circuit.
Festivalphoto: Who writes the songs in Exodus? Is it a team effort or one or two main song writers?
Jack: It's mostly Gary you know, Gary writes a good 80% of everything - the riffs and the music, and then Lee will write one or two songs per record. Rob will put lyrics on one or two songs per record too, and I write nothing in Exodus. It's just that I play Bass, and the music is really guitar driven you know what I mean, it really does start with the guitars so I'm just kinda out of luck as far as that's concerned.
Festivalphoto: Its just over 20 years since Exodus was first formed. Do you think they ever expected the band to still be around after 20 years?
Jack: I've only been around since 1997, so I've only been around for about 15 years, but knowing Tom and Gary, and knowing, I also play in a band with Rick and Paul Baloff, and knowing the original members I doubt if they thought much about anything other than consuming drugs and playing real heavy music. Like even today we don't, there's a certain kind of zen to Exodus, like we just do it man, we just play heavy metal. I mean planning 20 years in advance? No fucking way.
Festivalphoto: Whats your favourite song or album by Exodus?
Jack: Boy that's really tough, I mean of course I'd probably say that something I'm on is my favourite, you know what I mean, but some of the real old school fans would probably disagree I mean Bonded by blood is obviously the number one classic, and I mean I don't know what my favourite song to play is, I mean there's so much music it's really hard to say. Sometimes certain songs are more a favourite than others, like I'll find a real good rhythm in a certain song and that'll be my favourite, and then we'll put something else in the set and that'll be my favourite. Its hard to say.
Festivalphoto: It is an unfair question really as for most people the favourite changes depending on their mood and so on.
Jack: Exactly. One of the things I do have to say is obviously I tend to be more comfortable playing some of the newer stuff because I actually made it if you know what I mean, I recorded it, so when we hammered the songs out it was my hand that did it, so that seems to be a little easier sometimes than playing the older stuff that I didn't take part in making.
Festivalphoto: How would you say the newer Exodus material compares to the early albums?
Jack: I just think that the music today is just right for the time, like I think its not dated, we're writing pretty modern thrash metal - we're not just going back and copying what we did before, we've kind of moved, progressed and there's new ways to be as heavy as fuck these days and we want to explore those ways and keep pushing the envelope, just keep making it more and more brutal. I think one of the only things you can say is that our production gets better and better because equipment gets better and better - that to me is one of the only real differences - the newer records sound better. That's why we went back and re-did the Bonded by blood, which a lot of people got pissed at but we wanted to say "look this is how we play these songs now, its real heavy and it sounds real good", so I think thats one of the only differences, production quality.
Festivalphoto: What bands do you like to listen to?
Jack: Well metal is...there's very few metal bands, I really like Meshuggah, you kno Gary really listens to a lot more metal than I do and that's what kind of comes out in the writing, I mena he listens to a lot of the newer younger bands, death metal, black metal, kinda everything and I think that creeps into his writing.
Festivalphoto: Do you listen to much non-metal?
Jack: I listen to a lot of non-metal stuff, classic rock and I listen to a lot of vintage Nashville country music, old Big Band, and lots of different styles of stuff too. Sometimes you need a break from the metal. I actually have a country band with Tom our drummer, I pick banjo and do like old style country music just for a break and for fun you know.
Festivalphoto: What's the band called?
Jack: The band's called Coffin Hunter.
Festivalphoto: I think a lot of metal fans do listen to other non-metal stuff as well.
Jack: Metal itself is, I dont want to say limited, its a strict set of rules that go along with it but it takes a great amount of talent to play this kind of music and guys who've played guitar for so long I mean not everybody just likes to do that, there's so much good music out there, spanish guitar, flamenco jazz, I mean I love old country pickers, they just blow me away, and I jus tthink thats a natural progression of real talent.
Festivalphoto: Thanks very much for your time.
Jack: Cool thanks.