Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal of Metal Assault recently conducted an interview with vocalist Chuck Billy of San Francisco Bay Area metallers TESTAMENT. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Assault: What are you up to these days? I’m sure you must be enjoying the little break that you have now from all the TESTAMENT activities that you usually have going on.
Chuck: Yeah, we had the holiday and the New Year off, and now we have the OVERKILL tour coming up in a couple of weeks, so we’ve just been planning and working on putting together a set for that. We’re trying to change the set because we did three American legs with ANTHRAX. So we’ll be putting some new songs and some new music into our show, and we’re just focusing on that at the moment. We’re laying out basically the next five or six months of touring, trying to get it all worked out.
Metal Assault: This time the difference, of course, is that you’ll be headlining. As you just said, you toured a lot with ANTHRAX, but as a co-headliner. TESTAMENT fans have been waiting for a long time to see the band as a headline act. I think the last time you did that was after the release of “The Formation Of Damnation”, right?
Chuck: Yeah, exactly. We’re pretty excited about this and like I said, we’re going to work on new songs. That’s the best part about being the headliner — you’ve got control of what to play and how long you could play.
Metal Assault: Yeah, and you’re taking out OVERKILL as the support act, which will make people pretty excited about the whole touring package itself. I don’t really recall you touring with OVERKILL in recent times.
Chuck: Yeah, we’ve not toured with them recently, but OVERKILL was one of the first tours we did in America, in 1987. We haven’t toured together or even performed together for 25 or 26 years!
Metal Assault: So, after “Dark Roots Of Earth” came out, you did the third leg of the ANTHRAX tour. How did you find the new songs on stage, especially in terms of your vocals?
Chuck: The new songs actually worked out really well. Usually when we do a new record, we probably only put two or three songs into the set, but right out of the gate we put four new songs off of this new record. We really wanted to play five, but we had only, like, 12 songs to play on that tour so of course we couldn’t make it all about the new record. The songs off of “Dark Roots Of Earth” really feel natural live. I mean, usually we have to work out new songs until we feel comfortable and feel like we own them when we’re playing them with everything else in the set. But these ones just came pretty naturally and when we first started rehearsing, we were like, “Oh, man, these are going to be fun live.” It felt really good and we were all pretty pumped up while playing them live.
Metal Assault: As you were saying earlier, you’re gearing up for the next 5-6 months of touring. Is that going to be your thing this year, just touring and promoting the album everywhere?
Chuck: Yeah, that’s just about it right now. The days of selling records are long gone, and we have to kind of go on the road to promote the record. That’s where it’s at, basically. But the record got a very, very good response from everywhere around the world, so I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of places that we’ll play to promote the record. We’ve been talking amongst ourselves, since the record did get such great reviews and stuff like that, it would be kind of neat to may be set up a tour of special shows around the world just to play the record from start to finish, all the songs live. That would be a good promotion as well, and we’d really enjoy that.
Read the entire interview from Metal Assault.