Austin Fusion Magazine recently conducted an interview with TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Austin Fusion Magazine: In the video documentary that is included with the [“Dark Roots Of Earth”], we get the sense that this record was perhaps more intentional and collaborative than many of your previous records in the past, that each member has grown to respect the others opinions and roles in regard to songwriting and producing. How has this album and that collaboration process matured from past recordings?
Alex Skolnick: This was the second reunion album. “The Formation Of Damnation”, released in 2008, was the first new record in almost a decade, and I had been away from the band. But having completed that previous album, we’d done a lot of touring, and all that experience playing on the road, gave us more of a prerequisite. There’s just nothing like coming off of a tour, and having that feeling of being on stage, and then you just have this connection with what ideas that are gonna work. Also we’ve had a few different drummer changes. For a while we didn’t have a drummer to work with, so Eric (Peterson) and I just had to sit with our guitars and write songs, and I think that was a really good way to write songs. It used to be more Eric sitting with the drummer and then I’d come in and make changes. And this time we really initiated the songs together.
Austin Fusion Magazine: Back in the day, it used to be that if you were a metalhead, that’s what you were, but perhaps your music has crossed genres a little bit?
Alex Skolnick: Well I think that’s true. One of the struggles I had with it early on was it just felt so exclusive. If you played metal, you couldn’t do acoustic world music, and you couldn’t do blues, and I believe in being an all-around musician. But I also believe that you can be an all-around musician and do metal. When I left the band, I immersed myself into other music scenes, the jazz guitar scene, the world music scene, and even to study music at the university level in New York, and that was unheard of. Nobody ever thought that I’d return to play heavy metal, but one of my points was that you can be an all around diverse musician and play metal. So now it’s a pleasure to play all these different styles of music. Now there’s an environment where you can be a diverse musician and also play metal, but back in the late ’80s, early ’90s, there was a lot of resistance.
Austin Fusion Magazine: Do you think there has been a resurgence of heavy metal music in the US and/or globally?
Alex Skolnick: Absolutely, at least at the underground level. What happened in the ’90s was very strange. METALLICA became this supergroup in league with BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and MADONNA, and the harder metal had been sort of relegated to underground status. And now it’s growing a lot. A band like TESTAMENT, for example, was playing very small clubs in the late ’90s and early 2000s in the U.S., and now in addition to playing Emo’s in Austin, we’re playing the Fillmore in San Francisco and the House of Blues all over the country. So it’s not arena level, but it’s not tiny club level either. And I think that’s true of a lot of other metal bands. In Europe we just played the Wacken festival, which had 70,000 people.
Read the entire interview from Austin Fusion Magazine.