Testament (USA)

Metal-Roos: Good morning, Chuck, how are you going, mate?

Yeah, I’m good. How are you?

M-R: Very well thank you. Let me introduce myself. My name is Adrian, and I’m calling from Adelaide, Australia, on behalf of Metal-Roos.

Ok, that’s cool.

M-R: Firstly, I need to ask how your feeling. It has been reported that you have been in quarantine with Covid-19. How is your family?

We’re getting better, and that’s the main thing—still not 100% but getting better every day, still in quarantine hiding from the world.

M-R: I saw that your bassist Steve DiGiorgio is now sick. Have you managed to see how he is going?

Yeah, he tested positive, but now he’s locked away too. He’s in good spirits and looking after himself, so he’ll be ok soon.

M-R: That’s good to hear. It’s sad to hear people getting sick with this virus, but I’m glad the both of you are getting better and be back fighting fit shortly. To your new album Titans of Creation, how has been received so far?

Yeah, so far we are happy with the way things are at the moment. It’s still quite new, but things have been going well.

M-R: Is there a theme or concept connected to this album?

No, not really. Not on this album. They all really have their own identity. There is not a theme on this not like Brotherhood (of the Snake)

M-R: Did the writing process change between Brotherhood and Titans?

Oh yeah, big time. Brotherhood was a pain in the butt, that was a two-year process whereas this was done in nine months. The songs are much different, the writing also. Eric wrote some unusual stuff which wasn’t the norm. I think it made for a dynamic record.

M-R: Speaking of Eric (Peterson), you two have been together in the band since the beginning. Has that bond created a better understanding of each other and in turn created better music?

I think when your writing and working with someone for so long you fight and disagree like brothers, but at the end of the day we get it done. You know we can disagree on a lot of things over the years. But the writing process, he understands what I can do and vice versa. If he’s writing something and I do not like it, I tell him. Sometimes it means me giving him shit just to push him a little. We have been writing for so long we have that kind of relationship where we can hang shit on each other but still walk away ok.

M-R: Lots of bands have had to cancel show all over the world, and I’m sure Testament is one of those bands how have you been affected?

Well, firstly we had to cancel Download Australia, we had a show in Thailand, and in Indonesia, we had to cancel that. We had a tour scheduled at the end of this month in America that won’t happen. It will be postponed for some other time. In Europe your gonna see festivals get cancelled left and right too! It’s happening more and more. We just have to wait until things turn back to normal.

M-R: When the green light is given around the world to resume life, how do you think your first concert back will be like? Will it be a party-type of atmosphere or something more subdued?

We have been working on an American tour for September. We almost have it fully booked so we hopefully can continue then. You know, hopefully, everything is back to normal then. I won’t be holding my breath but finger crossed it is. We will continue to make plans, but if we have to remove them, we will. Lots of things are unknown. Still, we have to wait and see like everyone else.

M-R: With the music industry being in the state as it is, venues closing down, concerts and festivals postponed or cancelled. Sadly people losing their jobs. Will the music business return to its former self or change into a completely different entity?

Well, it definitely will be going to change into what I don’t know just yet. People are still be going to be cautious and won’t run to shows straight away even though they want to get out, going to a concert may not be the first thing they do when they get out. I think we’re going to see people wear face masks to shows for a while. Which is good, I guess.

M-R: As a vocalist has there been someone who has influenced you either at the beginning of the band and up to this point in your career?

As far as testament style singing there’s definitely James Hetfield. I looked up to him, his style and approach. You know Thrash music style that he helped create.

M-R: What is your take on the heavy music scene of late, the bands of the ’80s are starting to call it a day, most notably of late, the mighty Slayer have said their final goodbyes but is there a band that will take over you think?

There are a lot of new bands. I keep hearing all this time, right now we have Sirius Radio. There a  lot of great bands and a lot of cool stuff out there. When I say that I still don’t hear any of that classic style bands. I don’t hear a thrash sound a lot of it sounds a bit recycled, but I’m sure they’re out there and happy doing their thing.

M-R: You have done many tours over the years, do you have a favourite band you enjoyed touring with?

One of my favourites was completed just recently. The bayside strikes back tour we did with Exodus and Death Angel. It was great to tour with bands that you grew up with and are your friends. Hanging out for 5 weeks, it was a lot of fun. There were no attitudes everyone gets along.

M-R: A bit of a party atmosphere going on, then?

Mate, there was a party going on every night!

M-R: Do you have a favourite Testament song to sing?

I wouldn’t say there is just one, but on this last tour we pulled out a lot of old songs we don’t get to perform very often. It was fun and challenging because we all had to re-learn them to play them, ok. By the time we got to tour, they were all pretty solid. For example, one was The Last Stand for Independence that was so fun to play.

M-R: Going back a few years, the Demonic album had a different feel to it, a more of a Death Metal feel. What was going on with the band during that time?

That was a rough time for us. Going back to 1994, I think when the band broke up. We were on our own. We had completed our Atlantic contract. The metal world was changing; it was all grunge back then. Everything seemed to change real quick. It happened so fast but yeah was a different and difficult time for us

M-R: When you toured Australia as part of the Soundwave package, Testament was one of the loudest bands on the day and up in my top 3 loudest bands ever. The thing I also noted, though, was the clarity. I mean the sound is so clear, how did you achieve this?

Yeah, that was a lot of fun and good times on that tour. We toured with all of our regular guys and we brought all of our own equipment. We shipped that all over there, so we had all of our favourite toys.

M-R: Does that make a huge difference as a band to have your own things versus hiring equipment?

Oh yeah, big time! I had my own monitors. We had all our own soundboards. So it was consistent every night and having our own crew who know how to set it up the way we like. We didn’t have to try and dial-up a sound and mix on the fly. It was just there. It made a huge difference for us, a lot easier and cleaner – a lot less stress.

M-R: As a lover of music, what format do you like to listen? Do you get into the modern downloading trend?

I like collecting records. I don’t buy many CDs anymore. The ones I do have the more modern stuff I’m given. Mostly the stuff I buy is vinyl. I’m always on the lookout for the stuff I grew up with. It all depends, I like trying to find older records because I know the way that they are produced and made in the pre, and mid-’80s. Back in those days, you did test pressings to make sure it was all mixed properly and all separated. Whereas today I don’t think they do that anymore. They’ll get the CD mix and put that onto vinyl. It’s not the same; you’re losing the life of it, it’s a totally different mix.

M-R: You play in a metal band but are you a fan of metal music or do you have different tastes in music?

I like a lot of different stuff, but I still like my old classic style of metal. The only time I hear current stuff is on Sirius radio when I’m on my boat. I like to listen to classic stuff like Joe Bonamassa. I like the bluesy guitar playing and that kinda stuff. Very chilled out stuff, its great stuff to listen too.

Interview Date: 2020-04-07

Interviewer: Adrian ‘Dren’ Barham

Testament (USA)

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me!

M.R: Well, the big talk here is the Download festival, obvious question first, your guys keen to come down under once more?

C.B: Oh, for sure, we had a taste of Soundwave in 2014and we were like “alright, now we have our foot in the door we can come back!” but then it disappeared. When we heard Download started a few years ago, unfortunately it’s taken 3 or 4 years to do it but we’re excited! Australia is one of my favourite stops. I just love the people there, the environment, everything’s chill reminds me a little bit of California in a way, I had a vacation there ever in Bondi Beach and just had a blast, I have friends over there that we visit, it’s been awhile, like 6 years now so it’s very exciting to get back there.

M.R: Download this year as every year has a very wide range of bands and musical genres, which, as always stirs the pot, can you share your opinion on the line-up and the general reaction we can expect from fans?

C.B: Well, I haven’t really had time to look at the line-up yet..hahah…we’ve been so wrapped up in the new record and getting back over there, planning this tour and everything, so yeah we just I just haven’t had to get around to get my head together but I didn’t really care to look at the line-up, you know, I’m just happy to get over there and play!

M.R: Download is one of the more recognisable names in the Festival market and have obviously branched out internationally, you have played basically every festival there ever was or is, is there something that separates Download from other festivals? Any idea why they have continued where the likes of Sonisphere failed?

C.B: Well we haven’t played Download Australia before so I don’t know about the experience of that one, I mean I can talk about the Soundwave experience. That that had to be the most organised travelling festivals I’ve ever been a part of, there aren’t many travelling festivals in the world, so that to me was very impressive. How big everything was, how many bands, how many flights, how much gear, everything was travelled around all over the Australia for the shows, that was very impressive. Everyone knew where we were going, no one got lost or left behind. I was just thinking you couldn’t do this anywhere else in the world, in Europe it would have been a mess. We have played UK download but the UK is quite far away from Australia, they have cold wet rain and muddy ground…hahaha

M.R: It’s wicked that you guys are able to chuck in a sideshow for Brisbane! I know that supports haven’t been confirmed yet, but can you give us a clue if anyone else will be performing with you guys?

C.B: First we had King Parrot but one of the members had something else on so they couldn’t do it. So, we have Danny Tomb’s (Former 4ARM) new band Meshiaak. Danny’s old band 4ARM opened up on a Testament show in the states, so he hit us up when they had a new record coming out and asked us if there was chance they could play, we said “yeah, sure, come on out!” so they’ll be on the bill in Australia.  

M.R: When it comes to choosing local supports, I know that it’s usually if not always handled solely by the promoter, have you guys had any involvement in selection? Through the years have you ever been truly impressed by a local support act that went on to be massive?

C.B: Well, I think King Parrot will be a good example when we played. We hadn’t heard of King Parrot the first time we saw them, but when we saw them they’re just insane! So crazy on stage! It was pretty awesome to watch. Then they came to America and did a lot of touring, they grew and got better and better as a band. The singer’s still a lunatic but he’s awesome.

M.R: Testament have released a brand new single, literally hours ago on Spotify called Night of The Witch. Awesome track! What made you choose this track as the lead single?

C.B: It was actually a very tough decision! there’s a lot of really strong songs on the record. I thought this song in particular, the groove, the riff, the drumming, you could see to the pit getting ready to go crazy listening to it you know? also Eric Peterson is singing the chorus in it, the screaming witch voice, so, I thought it would be cool for the fans to get to hear it. He never gets to sing lead in Testament. He has Dragonlord but I thought would be an interesting change for Testament fans to go “I never heard Chuck do that” but it’s not me it’s Eric!

M.R: Testament are tireless workers for their entire career, especially over the past fifteen years, during that time has the passion for performing ever wavered? Like, being on tour is rough and exhausting, how do you still bring 100% to every show?

C.B: The goal is to bring 100% every show. We’ve learned to travel as comfortable as possible, because everyone hates being away from home, you know, your family, pets and everything, it’s hard to be away from home. It’s also hard to live with someone 24/7 in a small submarine called The Bus. But we are fortunate enough to have guys in the band that we all get along and there’s no problems in the band, no arguments or that type of thing which makes it easy to live with. We ain’t no spring chickens no more, so it’s not about the party anymore, it’s about doing 100% performance at the show, that’s what we focus on. I mean we’re kinda boring as people but it’s always 100% at the show.

M.R: Over the years many vocalists begin to wear a bit thin, especially in heavy music, where you have been so consistent with you sound, on record and on stage, how have you had to change or evolve as a vocalist to manage this if at all? How do you work through a bad show vocally?

C.B: Well if it’s a bad show it’s going to be a bad tour! When I was younger it was truly sex, drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll man. Party every night, gigs every night, staying up late, I listen back to recordings of the old days and I was like, guys, I sound like shit! I was probably hungover, thrashing about, not really focused on my performance you know? I quit drinking a couple of years back, I’m a big weed smoker, but when I go to tour I don’t smoke, I’m totally sober when I go on the road. I’m very focused on what I do, and it helps to stay focused on that on the performance. Before I go, I do a lot of bike riding trying to get my lungs back, I don’t have kids’ lungs anymore! I think my voice has got stronger and my performance levels gotten better over the years now that I’m focused on the performance instead of the party. When I finally got sober on the road I was like “I should’ve done this years ago!” I don’t want Testament fans walking away from a show saying things like “Oh, they’ve lost it” or “They need to give it up” you know, I don’t want that!

M.R: You have been coming to Australia for a long time now, just wondering if there are any amazing memories of shows or experiences you would like to share?

C.B: Not last time but the time before we came there, I brought two or three of my buddies, when they heard we were heading there, they wanted to go, hell, everyone in the world wants to go to Australia! So, they came with me and us four guys stayed at Bondi for a week after the show. We just had a blast! we drank and partied and had a really good time! Sitting on the beach, we went down to the Harbour had some lovely dinner down there, sightseeing the whole deal! I rode some crazy boats in the Bay, you know, some awesome memories! I wish we had more time with this one, but we have to head straight out.

M.R: Thanks again for your time!

C.B: Thank you man! Hope to see everyone at the shows!

Interview Date: 2020-02-13

Interviewer: Jonathan Hurley