Gary Holt Opens Up About What Made Him Decide to Quit Drinking
On June 15, Exodus guitarist Gary Holt announced he had quit drinking in a social media post and now, as part of an interview on the 'Backstaged: The Devil in Metal' podcast, he has opened up on this decision and explained what events led to this newfound lifestyle.
Holt admitted that drinking no longer felt like a party and that "the booze has crept up" on him as he looked forward to "feeling clear and lucid from here on out," which was met with support from a handful of his peers.
On the podcast, the Exodus leader and now former Slayer axeman explained what events transpired that prompted him to steer clear of alcohol from now on as he realized some crucial signs that pointed to what he recognized as a genuine problem.
"I always did have the best time [drinking and partying] until fucking deep into this pandemic. And all of a sudden, I’m becoming a cranky drunk, but wasn't a cranky drunk when I'm social drinking with friends. Like a lot of guys in the pandemic, [I was] sitting around at home, drinking by myself," Holt admitted to 'Backstaged' host and Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn, who provided the transcript of the conversation.
"Drinking by myself prior to the pandemic meant cracking open two or three beers and watching the 49ers Game. I came home from tour and barely drank. And then now I was drinking more than I ever did on tour. And that's why I quit," he went on.
He did note that his level of alcohol consumption varied from day to day from nothing at all, to a couple of beers to upward of 12 brews. It was the change in his emotional state, however, that signaled a change was needed and that realization became clear after a recent birthday party that left him guzzling down leftover White Claw drinks, despite his aversion to how they taste.
"I always mock people who drink White Claw. Eight White Claws got left behind [after the party]," he recalled. "I drank every last one of them because I ran out of beer. It was just this fucking shit left over from the parties, and I drank it down to the last White Claw. I cracked one. 'Oh, this is horrible. This is terrible. Glug, glug — drink it down. 'Maybe this other flavor. No, that's awful, too.' Drink it down. And suddenly they’re all gone, all eight of them," Holt added.
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As was certainly the case for many people around the world, the sheer boredom of being stuck at home amid a pandemic spurred behavior symptomatic of alcohol abuse, and this was the case for Holt, too.
"I kind of became miserable to be around for my wife. That was a lot of it," he relayed and further explained, "I had circumstances I've been fighting through like my elbow problems — which led me to not be able to play guitar for several months — but I'm getting past that. My drummer has cancer. He’s doing quite well so far — all good news coming from the bad. It’s just really because I haven't been able to do what I love doing for over a year, which is to perform, so I had nothing but free time. So all I did was sit around outside and get hammered."
There was no one grand, singular moment that underscored the need to lay off the booze, but rather a series of indicators Holt himself understood to be signs of alcoholism.
He again confessed that he was not a pleasant person around his wife (he called himself a "miserable fucker") and the conversation surrounding the idea of quitting came up frequently.
There would be successive weeks in which the Exodus icon stuck by his idea to quit drinking, but would re-engage with lower alcohol percentage beers that caused him to believe this was justification for drinking through a six-pack compared to a lesser amount of higher alcohol beers.
"I found myself purchasing my beers based on how fucking drunk they get me and then rationalize it that I only had four – four giant bottles, which, on a per ounce basis, adds up to ... about eight beers and the alcohol content is super high," detailed Holt.
It was this type of behavior and rationale that offered perspective on his habits as the guitarist acknowledged, "And that's another thing when you're like starting to flirt with alcoholism — you start justifying things. I don't drink hard liquor. I have a bunch of tequila in the house. I don't drink it at all, but I'm buying fucking beer based on how strong it is. And I view that as not being in control."
"I'm not a full blown alcoholic," Holt clarified and reiterated the purpose for change in his life. "I started seeing signs in myself I didn't like and I decided to do something about it. For a couple of days, I had mental desires for a beer just because it's fucking blazing hot, a hundred degrees out here — a nice tall double IPA sounded really fucking good. But, sometimes that one leads to two, sometimes that one leads to 12, and it's unpredictable and I don't like unpredictability."
When asked if he substituted beer for something else, such as marijuana, Holt stated he quit smoking weed in the '90s due to the anxiety and paranoia it produced within him as a side effect and that he stopped doing drugs completely in 2002. "Every now and then I'll take a little pop off my wife's [cannabis] oil," he said, citing the extent of his marijuana usage.
Again, congratulations to Gary Holt for making such an important decision and well wishes on an alcohol-free life from here on out!
If you or someone you know if struggling with drug and/or alcohol dependence, help is available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website. To speak to someone on the phone, dial 1-800-622-HELP (1-800-622-4357) or send a text message to 1-800-487-4889.