Testament's Chuck Billy talks about upcoming album
After touring the world for three years in support of the band's highest-charting album, "The Formation of Damnation," Testament is tighter than ever -- personally and professionally.
That feeling is shared in the title of Testament's forthcoming record, "Dark Roots of Earth," according to lead singer Chuck Billy.
"We've always been a planet-conscious band," Billy told SoundSpike. "Now that we have pretty close to the original line-up -- with Alex [Skolnick, lead guitarist] and Greg [Christian, bassist] back in it -- it's almost like going back to our roots. It's like all of us connecting, joining as one to the planet."
The album, expected to be released on April 27, offers a "true Testament sound," Billy explained.
"It's kind of like where we left off with the last record, except I think there are some more songs that aren't as thrashy," he said.
"But they're definitely metal. I don't know how to describe it. I keep saying you don't really have to be a metalhead to enjoy some of these songs that we got. There's just really good songs on the record. It's a little different."
The writing of the album was different than "the old days," he said, because the band members live throughout the United States. Basically, Skolnick and rhythm/lead guitarist Eric Peterson write the riffs and then bring them to the rest of the group.
"We're not just a band that comes down to the studio and just practices every day like the old days," Billy said. "It takes some coordinating of everybody's time and schedules to get together.
"But we've been playing together for 25 years. We all know what works and what doesn't, the limits and the ranges."
The last 25 years have gone quickly for Billy, whose Native American heritage was honored with a musical display at the Hard Rock Cafe in Albuquerque. He finds it amazing that he's spent more than half his life in Testament.
"Back in like 1988, 1987 when we were writing songs about the new order, a lot of stuff with Nostradamus predictions and all the end of the world and 2012, here we are in 2012," Billy said.
"We've lived all the way up to the songs we wrote. It's kind of trippy. Wow, we wrote some stuff over 20-some years ago about some stories, and there's a lot of those things that fell into place over those 20-some years. [I saw] a good special on Nostradamus this last month. They were going through a lot of his predictions and piecing it together. A lot of the predictions he's had over the last 20, 25 years. It's just kind of trippy to see how close he was to the truth. Then it makes you think on the other hand, he was so dead on with a lot of his stuff, what about the big ones? The 2012, the end of the world kind of stuff? Is there really some truth to that some way? Is something major going to happen by the end of this year? We've lived it, now we got a big thing coming. It makes you think for a minute."
The band is continuing its tour behind "The Formation of Damnation" with Anthrax and Death Angel. Billy said these shows resemble those of earlier tours. He added that fans should not expect songs from "Dark Roots of Earth" because he would prefer that fans hear the tunes first on CD, rather than YouTube.
"I don't think we're pulling out any other surprises," he said. "I think we're changing one song. I think everybody's going right back and starting where they left off -- same set, same shows, same set ups, same time that we play on stage every night. Everything's kind of the same. That's kind of a nice thing. It's going to feel like just continuing on."
1 - Tampa, FL - Green Iguana - Stadium
2 - Atlanta, GA - The Tabernacle
3 - Columbus, OH - Lifestyle Communities Pavilion
4 - Cincinnati, OH - Bogart's
6 - Allentown, PA - Crocodile Rock Cafe
7 - Baltimore, MD - Rams Head Live!
8 - New York City, NY - Best Buy Theater
10 - Libertyville, IL - Austin's Fuel Room
11 - Traverse City, MI - Ground Zero
13 - Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
15 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot
17 - Sacramento, CA - Ace of Spades
18 - Reno, NV - Knitting Factory Concert House