Testament; the American heavy metal band. A band preserved in its original condition and highly valued through the diverse and changing times of the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s metal scene, a band for all time credited as one of the most popular bands in the thrash genus. The band has constantly held the attention of thrash metal buffs by communicating their views on politics and corruption, leaving a high repute with fans. Metal As Fuck caught up with the one and only founding member of this behemoth recently; Eric Peterson to discuss the bands 25 year history, the Big 4 and the potential of Soundwave 2013.
The band is now in its iconic stages of life; how can you wrap up nearly 30 years of music together? “Well the band is in its 25th year, yeah since Legacy was released, all I can really recall is how many drummers we’ve been through, so many drummers. You have to treat a band both as a blessing and a curse, and over the lifespan of it you just have to make sure you’re keeping it fresh, keeping it dynamic and different, I mean the whole thing has been a lot of fun. It keeps you positive, but I mean really there is no way to sum it all up, there have been a great deal of highlights, some stomach churning lowlights but it all comes with the territory, I wouldn’t change a thing”.
The latest record, Dark Roots of Earth, is set for release in July this year; how does a band manage to get heavier and heavier? Usually it’s the other way around “Good question [Laughs]. I guess it’s just the life of the style we are, it’s always updating itself. Over the course of the bands history we have managed or evolved rather into writing more melodic as well so it has a great deal to do with it, you are forever inspired by both younger and older generations of bands. It’s the beauty of the beast really, learning how to be more epic than the last. You look back at the ideology of the style and know that thrash has never been afraid to grab ‘it’ and run with it”.
With a gargantuan back catalog; (which would make many haughty bands hang their heads in shame) all the albums from Testament have had their individual alcove. What was the most important aspect of this particular album? “We wanted the album to be very organic, with a warmer sound, sort of like the 70’s inspired sound of the ‘record’ you know, like the sound coming from the old school Led Zeppelin records, so the sound was very important to us, we didn’t want a lot of that digital processing or damn samples, we wanted to keep it within a natural tone and we achieved this”. So there were no issues with this particular method? Eric clears his throat “No…. getting the sound we wanted was the easiest part can you believe it. Getting the record done, yeah there were some issues with that, you know like we had to get a drummer signed pronto it was so last minute, with that comes the deadline of the songs, getting them together and just the general crap that’s thrown at you in between, it was chaotic, we really had to roll up the sleeves with this one”.
You mention drummers; Chris Adler [Lamb of God] was featured through this album, how was that experience? “Yeah it was awesome; the man is so talented at what he does, we had a great time working with him. Paul [Bostaph] as you might have heard was involved in a pretty serious injury last year so we had no choice but to get it all completed, so we again enlisted the genius of Gene, [Hoglan – Dark Angel, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory among the many other works he is credited for] another brilliant musician, who also helped us out with the Demonic album, yeah, to record the drum tracks with us on Dark Roots...”.
So a band, who’s style has never faltered, never weakened, never hesitated – what is it about thrash that inspires you? What does it all mean to you? “Thrash bands today, like real thrash bands are the top notch in heavy metal music, period. Its epic you know, thrash packs conviction in its music and these days thrash bands have a lot more to offer, we are able to articulate and convey real issues in the world, thrash isn’t afraid to talk about war or politics or the lack of ethics of both. thrash stands for something and has stood strong to this day”.
Ok so I have been dying to discuss the Big 4, for the life of me I can’t understand it. Exodus and Testament make the Big 6, what’s so wrong with having a big 6, it’s a no brainer! “The Big 4, yeah it has been around us all through our career, like the bands that make the Big 4, don’t get me wrong they deserve to be there, but seriously why does it have to be limited to just four, take the Pentagram for example right, it’s the most recognisable sign of metal, in the world, it has five points, why can’t Testament be that fifth point”. [Laughs] Yeah and Exodus can go right in the middle “Exactly”. [Laughs harder] “But yeah we get it from fans all around the world; they ask us ‘why?’ seriously what the fuck can we say? It basically comes down to the fact that after the ‘heyday’ these four bands were the leaders of the movement you know, they deserve the status”.
Alright. So plans to promote the new album? What have the band got in store for 2012/2013? “We are starting out in Europe for the Bloodstock Open Air plus Wacken, heaps eager for those, um, we then head to North America and Canada with Anthrax” One of the Big 4 “Yep, yep one of the Big 4 imagine that” [Laughs] “After that we are really wanting to pull some plans together for Australia, we have some interest in either The Big Day Out or Soundwave Festivals and we really want them to go ahead”.