So what does the lead singer in a Thrash band like to do on his day off? Play golf!!…who knew? I wonder who would win in a real golf match between Chuck and Alice Cooper?
Gotta’ love Chuck though, who’s quite the accomplished air-guitarist. Normally he plays air guitar on stage with his half mic stand while playing live with TESTAMENT. And who can blame him? When you’ve got choice riffs flying all over, song-after-song from guitarist Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson!
Hopefully you were able to catch them on tour this year or the last few months of 2011. They played quite a few dates all over the U.S. co-billing with thrashers Anthrax and Death Angel. For old school thrash-mavens, you couldn’t ask for a better concert bill. This tour pretty much destroyed every venue they played at.
I know it’s hard to believe that these three bands are still alive and kickin’ in 2012 after almost three decades. Kudos to all three for giving us much enjoyment and such killer music through the years. As a matter of fact, TESTAMENT is about to drop their new album this year as well, which is entitled The Dark Roots of Earth.
Concert goers were in for a unique treat for some of the shows in the Midwest, as Joey Vera (Armored Saint) temporarily replaced Anthrax bassist Frank Bello. Unfortunately, Frank and [his uncle] Charlie Benante both had to leave to spend time with family due to Charlie’s mother [Bello's grandmother] becoming ill and passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bello and Benante and their family during this difficult time.
As they say in show business, the show must go on, and so for the fact the band was able to carry on [albeit with fill-ins] is why I considered this a treat. Drummer Gene Hoglan (who was filling in for TESTAMENT) sat in for the Anthrax set as well! Being a major Hoglan fan, this was a kick-ass line up and once in a lifetime event. Well, technically that is not 100% accurate as all true Testament fans will know that Hoglan appeared on the Demonic record in 1997 with the Bay Area thrashers.
*So is Gene a replacement for Paul Bostaph now and or do you think he will come back permanently?
“Well, Paul has recovered but he is not coming back to the group. He has decided to start a new band, I guess. So, we had Gene do the record, and the touring for the record. Well we’d love it if he decided to [come back] but we haven’t really got that far yet. We just have to get through this tour and see where we’re at. Gene kills it.” Chuck states.
Andy Sneap is producing it; did you go to England to record?
“We did it at our place in Oakland and at Trident Studios and Andy came out and did all the recordings with us—as much as he could—and then we finished off some vocals and guitars at Trident studios. I think over the years Andy really knows the sound of this band, and kinda knows what we want. We’ve mixed stuff with Andy, so I think he knows without has having to be there physically with him what we are looking for. And I just haven’t heard anybody in metal come out with any better mixes! Honestly!”
Tell us about some of the songs on the album?
“Well, there’s a song called “Native Blood”, which is basically a song about my Native heritage. It’s almost like a protest song, that the Native Americans have a voice that needs to be heard—that’s the chorus of the song. There’s another called “True American Hate”, which was kinds inspired by when we sent all our troops overseas there, and we were just seeing in the news when all that was going on a lot of young kids, under 10 years old, out there with their families burning American flags. And that was a pretty shocking thing to see, to see that generation, a kid that young being taught to hate that much. It makes you think what’s going to happen, 10 to 15 years from now when the majority of these kids have just been raised to hate? It struck me as a little odd. There’s a song called “Cold Embrace”, which we kinda hoped we’d be able to pitch the song into one of the Twilight series movies; it’s a song about a girl becoming a vampire and never being able to see the sun again. “The Dark Roots of Earth” is kind of a play on the band we have together, just like a metaphor, like Testament is a tree and all of us in this group are really embedded in the planet, in the earth, the environment and our surroundings. It was kind of a play on that. “Rise Up for War” is more of a war song, like you’re preparing yourself for war, going into battle. There is a lot of cool stuff there.”
Congratulations go out to Chuck Billy – He is the first Native American entertainer to be permanently displayed at the Hard Rock Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico! Chuck made an appearance last Jan. . There was a special unveiling ceremony and autograph session that followed.
*Excerpt Deciblog by permission
Enjoy this live in studio performance until the new album drops!