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Phone interview with Chuck Billy of Testament
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
March 11th 2010, Los Angeles CA

Andrew: You guys have some sort of recording studio set up in one of your tour buses, but obviously those plans aren't working out on this tour.
Chuck: Yeah that's what we were going to do on the American Carnage tour, but the tour is obviously postponed till the summer. So right now as we already have the studio set up at the back of the bus, we are still working on ideas on our days off. We are just writing. Alex is not on the tour so we can't record anything this time. So we're just going to wait.

Andrew: You are playing the whole of The Legacy on this tour. How different are the dynamics this time around as compared to regular tours?
Chuck: Well it definitely brings back the old memories of those songs, some of which we haven't even played in over twenty years. That's how long it's been. So you know, it is good and brings back old memories. That's the whole thing. Its fun and I think we're playing the songs better than we did back then, just because we are better players. We tune the instruments different, I sing a little bit harder than I did back then. So all those things make it definitely better now.

Andrew: Does it ever pressurize you that the follow-up to 'The Formation of Damnation' has to be as good, if not better?
Chuck: It doesn't really stress me out or anything. You know, we wrote those songs ourselves and I think we can still write some good songs like we did on that record.

Andrew: The American Carnage tour was supposed to be running through January and February but had to be cancelled. What exactly did you do in the unexpected break?
Chuck: Well, we were still writing the record anyway when that tour offer came up. We never took a break to do anything else. And when that thing was postponed, we just decided that we're going to continue writing. Then the Megadeth/Exodus tour came up and we decided, ok lets just take a break because Alex is not going to be here right now. So let's just focus on the tour and not really tour hard this summer. Then we want to get the record done by the end of this year.

Andrew: Considering the circumstances today, is constant touring more of a necessity, specially for metal bands?
Chuck: Not more than ever before, but touring is always the most important thing because for most bands, that's how they have to make their money, through touring and selling t-shirts. It is not about the record sales anymore. The record business is not what it used to be. The internet and all that stuff is involved. Its not as big as it was.

Andrew: These days we get tours with a whole variety of bands packaged together. Don't you think we need more tours like this one, which is an out-and-out thrash fest?
Chuck: I think we do! It says a lot about this tour for Dave Mustaine and even the guys from Slayer, who decided, 'I don't want to listen to the record company who are telling me to take out a new band on tour that nobody knows'. That's the way the record company's business works. With this tour, it is more like 'No, this is the band I want to tour with and I'm just going to do it'. It ends up pleasing the fans more than the record company, which is more important.

Andrew: Your style of thrash vocals is quite unique, but you got mixed reactions when you first incorporated the 'growl' type sound into it. What did it take to deal with that and eventually being successful with it?
Chuck: I never really thought about it. I just kind of came into my own. Everyone has his or her opinion, that's the thing about the music business or being in the public's eye in general. You can't please everybody. So you can't really let it get to you, you've just got to do it. That's what you can do, to do your best and to give it your 100 per cent out there.

Andrew: The bands on this tour played together a pretty long while back. Does this tour make you think back to or talk about those years at all?
Chuck: We haven't really discussed it amongst ourselves. Its more about discussing it with the fans, talking about going to the tour back then and now they are bringing their new friends, bringing their children to the show now (laughs). So it is cool. For such fans its like 'I saw this tour back then and now here's my son who is going to see pretty much the same show twenty years later!'

Andrew: Jeff Paulick of Lazarus A.D [toured with Testament in 2009] told me that bands should really learn from Testament about how to treat opening bands. How important you think it is to do that?
Chuck: Oh it is as important as anything! All the tours that we've done for twenty-five years with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath, all of those guys were total professionals and treated their bands well. They never played games like not letting us put their lights and none of that kind of stuff. They are confident in their own performance and you get to learn that from them. So it is always nice to have that feeling. So whenever I have the opportunity to go out and headline and somebody's supporting us, it makes you think that yeah you want to do it right because that's just the way you do it! (laughs)

Andrew: How would you sum up this tour so far?
Chuck: It's been kickass! It's like old friends going out and having fun. There is no pressure, no attitude, no drama, just a lot of thrash metal (laughs). This tour is also great for us because we're doing secondary markets. We as Testament never really get a chance to go out and headline in a lot of those kinds of markets. So its nice that on the tour we're doing now we are seeing a lot of cool new fans again. So its nice and its been good.

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Check out Testament's website

Catch them on tour with Megadeth and Exodus on the following dates:

  • 3/11 - Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theater
  • 3/12 - Pittsburgh, PA - Palace Theater
  • 3/13 - Buffalo, NY - Town Ballroom
  • 3/15 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
  • 3/16 - Baltimore, MD - Rams Head Live
  • 3/18 - Scranton, PA - Scranton Cultural Center
  • 3/19 - Norfolk, VA - The NorVa
  • 3/21 - Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
  • 3/22 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
  • 3/23 - Memphis, TN - Minglewood Hall
  • 3/25 - Houston, TX - Verizon Wireless Theater
  • 3/26 - Austin, TX - Stubb's Amphitheater
  • 3/27 - Lubbock, TX - The Pavilion
  • 3/28 - El Paso, TX - Club 101
  • 3/30 - Tucson, AZ - Rialto Theater
  • 3/31 - Hollywood, CA - Hollywood Palladium

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