TESTAMENT Drummer Discusses His ‘Serious Injury,’ Says He Is ‘On The Healing Path’

Drummer Paul Bostaph (TESTAMENT, SLAYER, EXODUS, FORBIDDEN, BLACKGATES) was interviewed on this past Friday’s (September 9) edition of the “Metal Zone” show with host Nikki Blakk on the San Francisco, California radio station 107.7 The Bone. A few excerpts from the chat follow below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the “serious injury” which has forced him to sit out the recording sessions for TESTAMENT‘s new studio album and not be able to take part in any touring activities with the band:

“I have a rehearsal studio of my own, and [back in March] I finished rehearsing and there was some equipment stacked around my drum set that, when I rehearse sometimes, I keep that studio a little dark… which is always good except for when you can’t see what you are walking around. And I tripped over some stuff on the floor, fell, and subsequently, a couple of hours later, I had a lump on my wrist. I wasn’t sure what it was and I went into physical therapy and the lump had caused tendonitis, so it kept me off the drum set for a while. And I just have had the lump removed. I think now it’s been three weeks. And what it turned out to be was I was born with what they call an extensor muscle that was attached to my index finger of my right hand, which is an extra muscle. They removed the muscle, the tendonitis is gone. Now I’m just recovering from the surgery, so as soon as I do that, I’ll be back behind the kit again.”

On why it has seemingly taken so long to get the surgery done:

“Usually, when it comes to, especially a wrist, or anything in particular when it comes down to physical injury, the last thing you wanna do is go to the knife unless it’s a clear-cut case where you need surgery. When it comes to a wrist, it’s such a delicate area that I know drummers that have gone and had surgery on their wrist, and now they don’t play anymore. It’s something where when you have a wrist injury, you wanna exhaust all possibilities in terms of physical therapy ’cause the problem could go away with time and healing.

“When I was younger, I had tendonitis, and every doctor I saw wanted to cut me. ‘Surgery will fix it,’ [they told me]. And I said I didn’t wanna do that. So I [followed] my own therapies and it went away over time. So with that experience in mind, instead of going straight to surgery, which… Even MRIs didn’t show what the problem was with my wrist, because I don’t think too many people are born with an extra muscle where mine was. So that was it. And I’m on the healing path.”

On how it seems to have taken a long time to get to this point in his recovery:

“It actually did seem like a long time, but not only because of TESTAMENT‘s schedule. I’m really not the kind of person who likes to sit around and do nothing, and because of the wrist injury, that’s literally what I was doing — other than running, ’cause my feet work. I’m used to playing drums all the time. You don’t really know how much you use your hands until you can’t. So I couldn’t even twiddle my thumbs. So, yeah, it did seem like a long time. TESTAMENT had a timetable; they had to get a record done. There was no way that I could force myself to get behind the kit to record a record or do any kind of touring without knowing that I would do more permanent damage and potentially not be able to play drums anymore, and that’s not an option.”

On when fans can expect to see him behind the kit again:

“As soon as I’m ready to play. Basically, the tendonitis problem is gone; it was the result of the ‘mini-me’ that was in my wrist. The tendonitis that was caused from that is gone, but now they had to make an incision in my wrist, and because of that, anytime you get an incision, scar tissue develops after the surgery. So the scar issue is around all my tendons, and that has to be broken up through physical therapy, which is now happening. I’m getting my range of motion back, and after I get my range of motion back, then I get my strength back, and as soon as I get the confidence to start playing behind the kit, which is all repetitive motion. When you’ve got scar tissue surrounding tendons, and it’s really tight and you try to push it, and you start doing any kind of a repetitive-motion exercise, which would be drumming, you could make whatever you were trying to fix, like, worse, or permanent.

“I’ve been getting timetables [from doctors] ever since I injured [my wrist], and they never turn out. The last time I saw my doctor, the doctor said, ‘Take up the sticks whenever you’re ready.’ So as soon as I feel healthy enough and I’m confident that my wrist feels good, then I’ll start picking up the sticks again and I’ll start playing.

“I’m a very physical player, so there’s only one way I know how to play, and if I can’t do that, then that’s just not playing drums to me. So I’m just gonna take my time.”

On how he feels about Gene Hoglan (DETHKLOK, FEAR FACTORY, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, DARK ANGEL, DEATH) playing drums on the new TESTAMENT album:

Gene‘s a god behind the drum set. The only thing that I think about when I heard that Gene was doing the new TESTAMENT record is, ‘Oh, God, I’ve gotta learn that dude’s parts?’ There’s a benchmark for metal drumming — I think Gene and [Dave] Lombardo [from SLAYER], those two guys set it, for me.”

On whether it was awkward not being around for the writing and recording of the new TESTAMENT album considering that he is still the band’s official drummer:

“Yes, it was very strange. I’ve been going through a lot this entire year. This entire year has been very interesting. Not only did I have the wrist injury, I went through a divorce this year as well. So the divorce came first, then the wrist injury happened. And it was like, ‘OK. What next?’ I was really kind of disconnected from creativity this year. The physical injury really kind of threw me back; I didn’t know what was wrong and I didn’t know if I would be playing drums anymore. And the band had to forge ahead. And they had my 100 percent understanding and blessing to do that.”

Look for audio/video of Paul Bostaph‘s interview with “Metal Zone” to make its way online in the coming days.

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