Former Exodus guitarist Rick Hunolt has discussed his band’s firing the late singer Paul Baloff and his band’s failing to achieve the same commercial heights as the so-called Big Four, which includes Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth.
Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979. At first, the band activated for 15 years until 1994 and released 5 studio albums since then. Later, they reunited three years later from 1997 until 1998. After all, the band once again reunited in 2001 and still rocks the stage.
During its ongoing career, Exodus released 10 studio albums, 3 live albums, 2 compilation albums, 3 video albums, and many more things at press time. Debuted in 1985 with Bonded By Blood, the band has been preparing to release its eleventh album on November 19, 2021, titled Persona Non Grata.
In 1986, shortly after Exodus toured for Bonded By Blood, the band had decided to fire Paul Baloff due to personal and musical differences. At the time, he was replaced by the band’s current singer Steve Zetro Souza, who released 8 studio albums with the band, including the upcoming album Persona Non Grata.
However, during a recent interview with Heavy Culture, the band’s former guitarist has shared his honest opinion on the band’s firing of Paul Baloff. At first, the guitarist was asked his band failed to achieve the same commercial heights as the so-called Big Four.
“First of all, we were just kids,” the guitarist commented. “We couldn’t even buy alcohol. We were super young and just crazy, full of crazy energy. We recorded the album, ‘Bonded By Blood’, and it took forever and ever and ever and ever for it to come out — it took forever.
“So that really messed us up in the world. Slayer, Metallica and Exodus — we were all there at the same time, we all had albums ready to be released, and, of course, ours was last one [to come out] because of record company craziness. So, the follow-up [1987’s ‘Pleasures Of The Flesh’], losing Paul [Baloff, vocals] was super tough.
“I think that when anybody… A good example if ‘Van Halen I’ — to this day, everybody compares everything that they’ve done after ‘Van Halen I’ to ‘Van Halen I’. Same thing that we’ve been dealing with for 30 years — everything that we do after ‘Bonded By Blood’ is gonna be compared to ‘Bonded By Blood’. So there’s always gonna be people that say that, ‘No, no, no.
“Nothing will ever be as good as ‘Bonded By Blood’.’ And then there’s gonna be people that say, ‘Yeah, their stuff after that is good too.’ It’s always gonna be that way. We have no control over it.”
“Hiring a new singer and putting out ‘Pleasures’… And then we had to wait another year for ‘Pleasures’ to come out; it was, like, another year for ‘Pleasures’ to come out.
“So that was like a double… ’84, and then we waited till… ‘Pleasures’ came out, what, ’86 or something? Late ’85? So, people were just waiting and waiting and waiting. And we’re sitting there going, ‘Goddamn it.’ It was a lot of pressure.
“Meanwhile, we got Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax now on board releasing albums every year. And we’re just slowly but surely losing traction. It was tough. But shit happens. We were just kids. We didn’t know anything.”
The Guitarist Adds Exodus Made A Mistake By Firing Paul Baloff
Later then, the guitarist touched on the thing that Exodus fired the late singer Paul Baloff back in the late ’80s. Saying that he thinks sometimes that what if Exodus did not fire Paul Baloff, the guitarist admitted that it was a mistake to fire Paul Baloff.
“I think losing Paul was a big deal back then,” he says. “I think that maybe we made a mistake by firing Paul. And this is just looking back on everything for me; this is just my personal thought.
“This is the stuff that I think about sometimes. What would have happened if we didn’t fire Paul? I just think that maybe we would have gotten a little bit more traction if we didn’t have that lag in between.”
“People love Paul. And Paul was… he’s a legend. He was going through a bad time in his life, and I guess, at the time, we felt that maybe he was holding us back; I think probably that’s what we were thinking. I think that probably we might have thought about getting him better instead of firing him.”