Remembering the Bay Area King - Paul Baloff of Exodus!
I wanna know how many of you people go out the streets, looking to kick someone’s fucking ass! Maybe a couple of posers, You know... head on to the local disco to hang out and waste a couple of people...have a couple of drinks, get wasted... I WANNA HEAR IT FROM EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN HERE. IF YOU LIKE METAL, THE HEAVIEST IT GETS, I WANNA HEAR YOU FUCKING SCREAM!!!
What a cool statement! Damn, there’s plenty of testosterone in that short speech in Studio 54, New York in 1985 which can be seen in a video release called Combat Tour Live: The Ultimate Revenge featuring Exodus, Slayer and Venom! The man behind it was no one else than the legendary frontman of Exodus, the late Paul Baloff. It’s a pretty hard task to give a legendary figure such as Paul proper justice in a single article. But fuck it, it’s about time!
Paul was born in El Cerrito California on April 25th 1960. His musical journey started with Kirk Hammett who was at the time in a little known band called Exodus. Paul joined the band by replacing a guy called Keith Stewart on vocals. That was one of the single most important events in the history of heavy /thrash metal. Who knows where would Kirk and Paul end up playing if it werent’t for their mutual interest in NWOBHM bands like Tygers of Pan Tang, Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, U.F.O. Motorhead and others. The fate of heavy metal music was changed once and for all. The only studio album we have with Paul is of course, Exodus’ brilliant debut Bonded By Blood, an album that still sounds just as badass as before, even though it was released exactly 32 years ago. Without exaggeration, Paul Baloff was one of the most influental figures in the Bay Area scene. His charisma, stage presence and attitude defined the thrash metal mindset for years to come. Of course, if we have in mind that back in the 80’s glam rock/metal (or in Dave Mustaine’s words Gay L.A. music) was at its peak, came into being a genre which was about to destroy these feminine tendencies once and for all. In this quest, Paul Baloff played his role....and he played it well! Even though you can see some old pictures of Paul and Exodus guys wearing spandex he was and turned out to be the most metal person you’d know. In Kirk Hammet's words, all these posers who would end up at an Exodus gig would be ostracised by Paul. He would point fingers in the audience and say something like „kill this poser“ or „That guy is not banging! Kick his ass!“ or „you’re a fag, get the hell out of here”. Co-author of the book Murder in a Front Row, Brian Lew says that Paul would say: “Sacrifice a poser!” and that some unlucky bastard would be carried from the audience and then thrown in front of Paul. That was a true definition of an extreme frontman. He was the personification of East Bay Ruthie’s Inn Metal attitude. Paul was also known for his No Love when Motley Crew and Ratt fans are in question. His presence was so brutal that posers would be shaking if he was around. But the funniest thing about him is that he would tear down T-Shirts of Motley Crew or Ratt fans and would use parts of these T-Shirts as a “war trophy” and wear ‘em as bracelets. He even had fringes cut off of posers’ jackets with his pair of gardening scissors with shark-like teeth drawn on them. This “kill a poser” thing was perfectly reflected in the lyrics of Exodus’s self titled song or in a cartoon made by Paul’s girlfriend Lizzy Green called Slay Team: The Poser Wars, featuring Paul, Gary, Tom and Rick as main protagonists, who were killing hair metal fans around the Bay. It seems like a poser walks into a barwas a beginning of every Paul Baloff Story. He also hated disco culture (which can be seen in the The Ultimate Revengevideo with a picture of some disco guy on fire) and break dancers: If they wanna flip around, they go flip around in my toilet!
I would really like to know what would Paul do to these pussy-ass bands nowadays with joke aside haircuts if he was alive. And yeah he wasn’t in love with grunge neither: I tell you you’re all here cause you wanna hear something heavy as shit! Cause you guys don’t wanna hear any slow ass motherfucking semi-Seattle movement kind of shit. Well my mission is to kill stuff like that!
Here is a bunch of Paul Baloff’s anti-poser quotes. They are the funniest!
Are you all into evil? Because, eveybody has to be in some way. If you drink... If you get fucked up and kill a couple of posers. No one cares about posers...
It’s about cannibalism, people eating people! Or people eating posers! This one’s called Pleasures of the Flesh!
I wanna know how many of you people go out the streets, looking to kick someone’s fucking ass! Maybe a couple of posers, You know... head on to the local disco to hang out and waste a couple of people...have a couple of drinks, get wasted...
This one is our theme song...It’s about killing posers and nice things like that.... It’s called EXODUS
This one is about going from place to place and disposing the things that are bad.. cause like fuckin’, you know like out of 100 of you guys here there’s at least 5 people that probably don’t belong here you know. Like it’s a cool thing to do...-“I don’t know if I like the band but I’m gonna go because it’s cool.“ Those people need to be found, thrown out and DESTROYED!
This one is about the amount of fucking plastic motherfucking posing assholes in this room...that would be none! Dedicated this one for you all! And then there were none!
We wanted to see right here that there are no posers in this place. Is that true? If you saw ‘em would you kill ‘em?
But however, this whole poser thing was an urban legend, since no posers were killed.
Paul was probably one of the funniest dudes you could ever meet. His sense of humor was over the top:
I mean, everybody’s story about Paul Baloff is crazy! Kirk Hammett describes him as a very intelligent guy. I guess the word boredom didn’t exist when he was around. Paul would book an Exodus show at some club, drink all night and then never come back! According to Sean Killian of Vio-Lence, he put a dead mouse in the mouth of some girl that passed out. Harald Oimoen of D.R.I. said in an interview that Paul brought a sewer rat in his house! Paul would get into a fight and then blame it all on Zetro when the cops came. What a guy! Gary Holt said in an interview that Paul used to piss in a squirt gun. Eeeewww! Even though he fucked up his leg ligaments in Baltimore back in 1997 and he performed the whole concert on a bar stool but that didn’t diminish his stage mastery at all! Funny thing is that, like, 2 days after that, he fell off from a skylight. When they asked him: why did you fall off a skylight, he said: I was doing laudry!
He was a big Giants fan. His girlfriend said that Paul had a # 666 Slay Team jersey! That’s killer! It’s also cool to mention that Paul lent 1000$ to Tom Hunting who didn’t have money for his first drum kit! He would say: He beats his drums down like you guys do your enemies! Unless you fix the drums you can’t fix your enemy....nor do you want to!
Paul also had a nickname – Destroyer. The moment you hear him say: Welcome to Paul Baloff's politically incorrect exercise video you’ll know why . - Weed will put you in ease when exercising.
It's a pretty sad fact that Paul had only one studio album behind him. Of course, we are talking about legendary Exodus' debut, Bonded By Blood released on Paul Baloff's birthday in 1985. The moment you hear his vocals, your jaw will drop, like some sort of Piranha! His vocals were so unique. The guy wasn't singing, nor growling. He was screaming in pretty unique way, impossible to be copied by others. The whole story behind Bonded by Blood album is so crazy! The actual name of Exodus' debut comes from the blood pact done between Exodus bandmembers Paul Baloff, Gary Holt, Rick Hunolt, Tom Hunting , Rob McKillop and Kirk Hammet on the one side, and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Mark Osegueda of Death Angel, Aaron Jellum of Laaz Rockit and many others who were friends with Paul. According to Death Angel guys, if Paul liked you he cut you with a razor blade, but if he didn't like you he cut you with a fork! So the verse cutting your palm and drinking your blood, the power that few others dare is literally true. The boys should consider them pretty lucky since they didn’t get AIDS or hepatitis. The song Bonded by Blood was based on a true event in a club Ruthie's Inn where Exodus was playing their gig after some rock n' roll band. Despite the broken glasses all over the place, their fans from the first row started banging their heads and hands and the stage was soaking wet in blood. And then Paul Baloff saw some girl who was enjoying the show and smeared the blood all over her face the way Saruman does it on his uruk-hai! Sick stuff!
On stage, Paul would say stuff like: I wanna see some blood! Come on, please I just wanna see a little blood! or Can I get little blood on the floor, a little violence right there (points his hand at the audience). In the words of Lee Altus, when Exodus said murder in the front row, crowd begins to bang and there’s blood upon the stage, there really was blood on the stage!
Bonded By Blood itself is definitely one of the best thrash metal albums of all time! There is simply no weak song on that one! The lyrics of And Then There Were None are probably the best ones when nuclear apocalypse is in question ! Cold War paranoia was perfectly grasped the in it. That song is like if you combine movies The Day After and Threads. Paul would say: This one is pretty about no care I have for fucking everything on earth in general. I’ve decided that I have no care for eveything so therefore, and then, there was none! His groundshaking vocals in No Love and Deliver us to Evil would make every death metal vocalist sound like a pussy. Funny thing is that, according to Jack Gibson, whenever his lyrics would get too complex for the dummies to understand , Paul would say: you gotta keep two-IQ-ers happy!
It is pretty sad to note that Exodus’ 1986 demo with Paul was rejected by the fans because he put his screming vocal approach aside which on this demo sounded „too comercial“ for many. However, songs like Seeds of Hate, Brain Dead and Pleasures of the Flesh are as cool as when Zetro sings them. In 1986 Paul Baloff left Exodus due to lack of commitment and personal differences with the band. Soon after, Paul joined Hirax for a short period of time and then moved on to make his new band called Piranha in 1988. It’s good to note that Piranha’s demo was produced by no one other than James Hetfield himself. Same year Paul got an offer to join Heathen and replace David Godfrey-White on vocals. He demoed 2 songs with them,Hypnotized and Mercy is no Virtue. Paul’s vocals on that one sound way crazy but I must admit that David Godfrey’s vocals on the actual Hypnotized song are unmatched!
On August 8th1993 Paul Baloff and Tom Hunting did a reunion Exodus show in Ruthie’s Inn but Gary Holt, Rick Hunolt and Rob McKillop refused to play. The line up for that show consisted of Robb Flynn (Vio-Lence) and Craig Locicero (Forbidden) on guitars and Moose (Othello’s Revenge) on bass. It would be funny to see an Exodus concert without half of Exodus members! Between 1993-1993 Paul had a project called Killparty, but the band didn’t record anything. Finally, Exodus was reformed in 1997 with a new band member, Jack Gibson on bass. Live album Another Lesson in Violence is proof how crazy and energetic Paul was as a frontman! He would say funny things like RIght now my neck is going: No, not again! orIt’s gonna be our slowest tune because I’m tired! Sikh! I don’t get tired till the songs are over. Then I just simply die!
Soon after the reunion show, the band played live at Dynamo in front of 80 000 people and was on tour again in Europe. US tourdates with Skinlab followed. The band was playing a South American tour in 1998 and announced a new record but sadly that didn’t happen. On August 11th 2001 Exodus was invited to play at Thrash of the Titans, a benefit gig for Chuck Billy of Testament who was battling cancer at the time. The band even performed Brain Dead with Paul and Zetro on vocals. Sweet!
Sadly, on February 2th 2002 Paul Baloff died in Highland General Hospital after a major stroke. He was simply too young to die. This was probably caused by his use of drugs and alcohol. He was definitely the most metal guy on planet. According to Harald Oimoen, they even called him John Belushi of metal because he would say: Metal rules! If you don’t like it, DIE! But anyways, Paul wasn’t that much of a popular figure in the 80s. His legendary status was partially provided by his early death since that is the case with all musicians who die young. He wasn’t good as a singer and the band would struggle when he gets out of the tempo but he surely was a hell of a frontman! It’s pretty sad to say that he left only one studio album behind him, even though he had some demoes recorded with the band. Paul’s family gave Gary Holt full rights over his body and status. However, Exodus’ album Tempo of the Damned was dedicated to him. Song called Impaler from that album was written back in the day when Kirk and Paul were in a band. I guess that nobody loves Let there be Blood, a modern sounding version of Bonded by Blood album as much as the original. Ten years after Paul Baloff’s death, and event was held on February 4th2012 at the Operahouse called Bonded by Baloff: A decade of remembrance with Exodus, Heathen, Possessed, Forbidden and other bands on the bill. In 2013, a rapper Ill Bill did a cool song as a tribute to Paul. Kreator's video Fallen Brother has a picture of Paul Baloff among many other musicians who are no longer with us. And here we are, 15 years after his death and 32 years of Bonded by Blood! He was older than shit, heavier than time! He reminds us that Heavy must stay together! All others must die! - Just remember one thing! We couldn’t do this shit without you guys! It would be just heavy without anybody to watch.
I asked people who were close to Paul to make a statement and share their favorite Paul Baloff story!Tonight we gonna rage and make Paul Baloff proud!
" I never met Paul but I lived with his memory for 10 years. I sang his songs to the best of my ability every night. I had the honor of re-recording Bonded By Blood. It was such a great experience to go in and record those songs. Singing No Love was my favorite, i love that song. After hearing all the stories about Paul it was an honor to sing his songs and when I went into the studio to record the new music he was always there with me, I pushed my vocals imagining that's what he would have wanted, he wanted brutal and mean and he wanted metal and that's what he pushed me to deliver... I never met Paul but I would like to think I helped carry on his memory" Rob Dukes(ex-Exodus, Generation Kill)
“There was no one quite like Paul Baloff…he was like a genre unto himself. He epitomized all things Thrash; fun, loud, rowdy and unrefined. He had his own lingo (referring to everything cool as “friendly”) and took life in stride…about as nonchalant as a budding Thrash metal star could be. I first met Paul when I was the new kid in town, having just arrived in Los Angeles in June 1983. He and his manager Adam came into town for some Exodus business and hung with me and Dave Mustaine at our apartments on Sycamore Ave in Hollywood. Dave knew Baloff from his recent Bay Area days with Metallica, just a few months earlier, and seemed a friendly and warm presence to this next chapter in Thrash metal with Megadeth. Every morning was a party at the apartment, with good times just hanging out & listening to the day's current metal albums, one of those being Marty Friedman’s band HAWAII and their song 'The Pit and the Pendulum’. I never forget the image of Baloff sitting on the floor like a smiling little buddha referring to the good tunes in his gruff voice as ‘that’s friendly’.Megadeth and Exodus played several shows together in those early years up in the Bay Area during the mid 1980s, but the stand out show for me was a bill we did together New Year’s Eve 1985-86 at the San Francisco Civic Center. The bill was Metallica, Exodus, Metal Church and Megadeth. (http://rockmetalmemorabilia.com/2013/02/01/unused-ticket-metallica-san-fransisco-civic-auditorium-usa-december-31st-1985-master-of-puppets-live-for-the-first-time/). Exodus completely slayed that night and were a true force to be reckoned with, made even more impactful with their hometown crowd amassing like an army awaiting every command from their fearless leader, Paul Baloff. Watching him commandeer his band on this legendary night enforced a visual and audio assault I’ll never forget.As the band would undergo vocalist lineup changes over the years that followed, Baloff will always remain in my mind as the humble, yet ferocious dynamo, that defined Bay Area Thrash.” David Ellefson (Megadeth bassist)
„Paul and I drove to KUSF in San Francisco to promote a show back in October 2001. My band was opening for Exodus at a club called The Pound in San Francisco California. I did my interview first and Paul wondered off. Paul was in the hall of cd's randomly pulling cds out and chewing on them. His mouth was bloody from breaking cds in his month. The girl that came along with us asked "do we really have to take him home?" I'll get Harald O and Mark to get you a story as well... Another time when I was a teenager my band Terminal Shock was playing Ruthies Inn in Berkeley California back in the mid to late 80's. I was walking in the Restroom and Paul was just going in the stall. I could see and hear pee splashing on the floor. As I'm still peeing in the urinal Paul preceeds to start tearing apart the bathroom stall. I quickly got the fuck out of there.“ Erik Cruze (drummer of Blind Illusion)“
“One of my favourite moments was on the first Exodus tour. I went out as an overall road crew/securityman .Paul had me fill a bucket with Ice so he could cool off and the look on his face was orgasmic as he he shoved his hands in up to his shoulders then returned to center stage! Another time was at Ruthie's Inn when the singer(Dave Vanderhoof) from FUHRER was giving me a hard time because he wanted me to plug his band next time I was on Rampage Radio with Ron Quintana. Paul was watching and waiting with baited breath knowing full well that something right out of a Kung Fu movie was going to happen.Backing up a bit on the radio show Ron was preparing to play Bloodshower from Blind Illusion and I quickly said ,"Oh yeah say something about Vanderhoof" and Ron says "Ok here is Blind Illusion Bloodshower,BLOOD SHOWER ALL OVER DAVE VANDERHOOF!" so I was tring to smooth it over by saying any publicity was good publicity, and Paulie who was a Jeet Kune Do practitioner (Bruce Lee's style of martial arts) always had his eye on me at gigs firstly because he was making sure I knew he always had my back.I'll tell you about the first time in a bit but this time he knew I was quite capable but he was almost in my circle. Vanderhoof had been inside my circlcle for about 3 seconds and made the mistake of waving his finger in my face. Too far in and too long in my circle(striking distance)That was it ! I quickly grabbed his leather coat at the lapels with both hands and pulled him in as I head butted his nose! Blood was gushing all over and Paullie began chanting in Exodus song style form in his screeching singing voice,"HEADBUTT ! Oops! HEADBUTT!!!....TO THE NOSE! All night whenever I saw him he was still chanting that line and ironically it was Ron Quintana's prophecy fulfilled. ” The Biedermann of Blind Illusion
„Exodus, along with Sacrilege BC will always be a bay area favorite metal band for us. We had the pleasure of playing with them a handful of times in the mid eighties. Paul was a crazy guy with a sense of lost innocence and intensity about him. He obviously was very happy when behind the Mic and in front of the stage. He will never be forgotten. Bonded By Baloff!!! He always drove everyone into a frenzy and we loved it.” Eric McIntire (Attitude Adjustment)
There are many great stories about the man we lovingly call Baloff!! He was the epitome of what thrash metal is all about! HIRAX played with him before "Bonded by Blood" was released. I can tell you, from personal experience and confidence that he is one greatest thrash metal frontmen that ever lived! Rest in Peace my brother! The first time I met him he was very cool to me and treated me like he had known me for a long time. The stories about him smashing televisions with baseball bats are all true!” - Katon W. De Pena HIRAX
„Possessed and Exodus have always been super tight. Exodus has always supported my endeavors and I have always had a tremendous respect for them. Gary, Paul & Tom were always helping us either to get shows or coming to our shows. Even when I was a kid they seemed to always be around. And of course, I used to stand in front of the pit, by the stage, and worship on the altar of Exodus. Paul up front screaming out, "Murder in the front row...." And Gary, well Gary is fucking God." Tom raging out fully on his drumset. And I partied and hung out with Paul so many times back in the day. Paul was super funny, always seemed in a good mood, even when yelling about something in particular. He just had a way about him that made you want to rebel against society as a whole, play metal, and get fucked up and roar through the pit.
In all seriousness, I considered Paul my friend and loved being around him and the Exodus guys. Very sad when Paul died and a sad loss for metal. RIP” – Jeff Becerra of Possessed
"My best memory of Paul is when I lived in Concord California not to far from his house. We both did a metal video for Jerry Allen talking about music and introducing band for his home video. Got to spend the entire day with him taking shoots all over the area. We had a few beers later at his house and I think that was the last time we saw each other. So to have the encounter recorded was just a special memory for me.
Tales from the pit , was the video series." Bobby Gustafson (Satans Taint, ex-Overkill)
I remember going to play the Milwaukee metal fest with SOD in 97. I had just lost my entire studio in a fire and went on the road anyway and said at least I can sleep on a bus instead of a couch somewhere. I remember getting of the bus and standing there by the bus door. The bus directly behind me opens up and Baloff walks out. I walked up to him and said, "whats up Paul?" He looked at me perplexed. I said it again, " Whats up Paul?". Again a blank stare. I finally said , " Yo Baloff whats up bro? " He then respond in a way I'll never forget. He looked at me and smiled and said, " Yooooo , Brooooo, How the hell are you Chris?"... I just kinda laughed to myself and said. I'm doing great....... the end. Billy Milano (M.O.D./Stormtroopers of Death)
“When we heard the first EXODUS album "Bonded by blood" it really was that blowed us tally over. It is still one of my 5 all time fave albums! The aggressive voice of Paul Ballof really did fit to the music. I saw him once back in October 1985 when they played together with Atomkraft and Venom here in Germany. After the show Paul signed my jacket and i wss really proud to meet on of my idols (by the way: I was 18 years old)! I will keep his voice in my mind and hope to meet him again one day on the other side! Thrash Metal will never die!” Andreas “Gerre” Geremia of Tankard
“Well I can only speak for myself I remember going to hell house one night, the name for Paul's home and feeling like I entered another universe. I was actually a little young and a little scared lol. It was a big place but I think the housekeeper was off that year, lots of illegalities ensued from every room I visited but I gotta say, one of the best parties I've ever been to!” Danny White of Mordred