Testament: 'There Is Ten Years Worth Of Writing On New Album'

During the recording sessions for the new album, Joe Matera spoke to an enthused Eric Peterson about the band's new album and plans.

Testament: 'There Is Ten Years Worth Of Writing On New Album'
0
Testament was one of the first thrash metal bands to emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980's. Their unique powerful sound, influence, and longevity also saw them ranked as one of the Top 5 All-Time Legendary Thrash Metal Bands, putting them in the company of Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, and Anthrax. This year Testament signed a new record deal with Nuclear Blast and began working on a new studio album that also sees the long awaited return of guitarist Alex Skolnick to the fold. The band are once again ready to attack the music world with their trademark brand of thrash metal, while at the same time, very optimistic about their future together. During the recording sessions for the new album, Joe Matera spoke to an enthused Eric Peterson, the band's founding guitarist, about the band's new album and plans. Ultimate-Guitar: You're currently in the studio with Testament working on the band's upcoming new studio album, how is it all coming along thus far? Eric Peterson: We've been recording at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California and just finished the drums there recently. We flew in Andy Sneap, the producer who is also mixing the record as well for the sessions. We finished up the drum tracks about two weeks ago, and then I started doing my tracks and I have like one more song to record. And it is coming out really good and we are really happy with it all. I am also happy because I am using this new Eddie Van Halen amp, the 5150 III. That thing is just killer and I am getting a really great tone out of it. It sounds very much like the tone on the first Van Halen record. It's got that nice chugg-y mid-range and that total modified Marshall sound. It kind of sounds like it's got the Boogie saturation, but with the kick of a Marshall with that mid-range tone. Will you be including the Mark III as part of your new live set-up? I don't know yet as they're pretty expensive but I'm liking it a lot. As of right now though, I'm still thinking about that decision. Inside sources have revealed that the new Testament album is sounding like a cross between Practice What Your Preach and The Gathering, any truth to those claims? It is its own beast. It just sounds like Testament. It takes you back to a lot of the formulas of the old Testament ways but it has also got the technology of today like what we did with The Gathering. I would say it sounds more like The Legacy meets The Gathering. We do lot of cool harmonies and stuff like that so it is very cool. This upcoming new album will be the first with Alex Skolnick since 1992's The Ritual, how does it feel to have him back in the line-up again? It's been great. I just recorded with him over the weekend, I flew to New York to record with him and it went really well. We got half the record done, his leads, just over the weekend. His shredding on this record is killer. People are going to be really excited to hear his input. It's timely having Alex back since guitar solos are now back in fashion compared to when he originally left the band back in 1992 when guitar solos in music were no longer popular. Yeah it had reached its level and everybody was over soloing and over shredding, and I suppose you really needed a break from that. But now that there is not much shredding happening and there is interest in it again, we're going to deliver. I'm pretty excited because I'm playing leads on this record as well.
"Now that there is not much shredding happening and there is interest in it again, we're going to deliver."
How do you decide who plays what when it comes to guitar solos, is it something that you and Alex talk about and discuss first? Yeah, we go over it and we talk about it. And I basically give him the first option, like 'where do you want to put a solo in?' There is so much stuff to play over and a lot of stuff that I've written has got a lot of different textures and rhythms so I could solo over a lot of the stuff as well. The album's initial recording sessions were done with drummer Nick Barker but Paul Bostaph was later brought into the fold. Yeah Nick was originally recording the record with us as he was doing all the touring too. But we had some problems with immigration and stuff like that with him and so we had to make a choice. And because Paul Bostaph was available and was able to commit to the whole record cycle, we went that route. And I feel sorry for Nick as he was a great drummer, and is a great drummer and a good friend of ours. But it only made more sense to call Paul since he was in the same area and in the same scene, so it made a lot of sense. When it comes to the songwriting process within the framework of the band, how has it evolved over the years? I would say now, it is more about me and Chuck. I write like 99% of the music and Chuck comes up with the vocal patterns. And then we kind of just agree on what we're doing and will talk about what kind of sound we want to have. When I start writing, we will talk about what direction and what styles of metal and what old songs we like and what new songs we likewe talk about a lot of different things. And what about the recording process, how is it approached today? In the early days we used to have either the whole band or one of the guitar players or both of the guitar players out there with the drummer with headphones. And you'd sit there all day and you all had to go through helping the drummer get his drum tracks done. Now with Pro Tools and click tracks, I will make a tempo map of the song and we'll play to it before we start recording. We rehearse to the tempo and the drummer does too until we get something we're happy with and that will sound like its pushing and pulling like a real band. Then once we get that down, I play a couple of guitar tracks to the click. Then when the drummer comes in to record, he'll play to that so he'll have perfecting sounding guitars in the headphones. In the old days, we'd just put a guide track together, but the guitar would sound like shit, as I'd do it real sloppy. But now I really try to focus and try to make it sound almost like a keeper. What has producer Andy Sneap brought to the recording sessions? Just his confidence, his knowledge of recording and his quickness where we are not having to wait around for somebody to do something. And he really makes it comfortable for us to record. He's really good at getting sounds right a way, to the point where we look at each other and go, 'it sounds so good' instead of like searching for three days to get drums tone or to get a snare tone. We have had days like that in the past where it took a week just to get the drums to sound right. Paul got a brand new set of drums a week before we went into the studio, and surprisingly when we miked it up, it sounded killer right away.
"We'll be done mixing and everything and it will come out on April 29th."
Let's talk gear you mentioned the new Mark III, what about guitars, you still using Deans? Yes, I've been playing Dean guitars for ten years now. I first started playing Deans on the Demonic record. Then when we toured the record, I looked them up and Dean [Zelinsky] wasn't back with the company at the time. But when The Gathering came out around 99/2000, Dean had come back and so I started dealing with him directly and have ever since. The guitars that Dean produces are absolutely top notch. What are you using, guitar wise, for the record? I'm playing a Dean ML that is fitted with DiMarzio pickups and a custom Michael Schenker V though you can't tell it's a Michael Schenker model as its been painted in black for me. The V has EMGs in it and it sounds great. Those are the two guitars I used for the record. Do you like to experiment with effect pedals? Yes. I used the Eddie Van Halen Flanger for a couple of the rhythms on the record to get that nice old school, Judas Priest kind of sound. Many bands seem to be documenting their recording processes and later releasing them as a bonus disc with a new album, will you be going down the same route? Yes, we filmed some stuff with the drums and we filmed some pieces of each of us recording. We filmed some of the process of it all but it is not as in-depth as I would have liked it to be but we definitely got footage of each of us recording. We're going to take it to a pro company that will put it together and make it look really good and that will probably be included on the record. So when can fans expect the new record to surface? We'll be turning the record in to our label on January 30th, as we'll be done mixing and everything and it will come out on April 29th. Testament are part of what are considered to be the top five influential thrash metal bands of all time alongside Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer Yeah and it feels great. We started around the same time as those bands were kind of like the baby brother of those four bands. We were like the fresh mans and while were like the seniors (laughs). But they better watch out because our new one is going to fuckin' rule! So this could be Testament's very own Black album? Musically, absolutely yes. It's going to be one of our best. Depending on how many units it sells is up to the public but if they're looking for the best Testament record ever with great tone, and heaviness then it has got it all. There is ten years worth of writing on it. It wasn't written in a year so it has got all these influences of our last solid seven years. Finally what is the status with your black-metal side project Dragonlord? As far as being out in the public eye, we put a record out back in 2005 and we were going to follow it up with a live DVD from Japan which came out really fuckin' killer. But the label has kind of taken its time to get it together to put it out. Hopefully we'll have it out by March. And there is talk of us, of course after the Testament record is done, to be focusing new material for a new Dragonlord record. And that should be out in the Fall some time. It's going to be great year ahead 2007 Joe Matera

95 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    JoelCMJ
    Thrash metal is coming back yes... my band have had intrests from record comapanies and its proper old school thrash like Evile and all the upcoming UK bands in thrash.
    The Novice
    I've been and still is very much into thrash and the likes of it but I've never ever cared for these guys. I've heard a few songs and all of them were just a bit "meh". And from the interviews I've read the guys don't seem too friendly. I may be wrong about the last statement but that's the impressions I've gotten. And if adding them and making it the "Big 5" then it would have no meaning. Not because it's just Testament that "gets added to the list". (to ensure of that, I don't like Megadeth nor do I care for Anthrax that much..) Point is, if the public add them then we just gotta add every new good thrash band that may show up. And therefore the meaning of the big 4 would loose it's meaning. Now as always no one will agree with me, beacuse pretty much everyone on this site seem to hate me.. Ahh well.. flame away.
    KingSquall802
    ok. another upcoming album. but for now, lets wait for the New Metallica Album. hope they're back!
    metal Lover
    EnterIbanez wrote: Chuck billy totally ripp's off james hetfields vocal style and sound. He even admitted james is a major influence on him...
    bull.....shit. He may be an influence but in no way did he rip off James. And if he did, Chuck does it better.
    Stringz of Fury
    Nespithe wrote: scottishmob wrote: Testament are ok, but if this album is really good I'll buy it. Otherwise their albums are kind of bland. Big four are waaaaay better. Big four my ass,Metallica's not Thrash Metal or metal anymore,Megadeth's just plain shit now etc.,Testament have gone Death Metal but that doesnt mean that they cant play thrash anymore heh.
    Megadeth definately has a right to remain in the big 4 but metallica are sellouts and they only want money and dont care about fans
    thisHATEinside
    TESTAMENT is hands-down my favorite band, EVER. I believe that they should actually replace Metallica, Anthrax AND Slayer for the Big Four, because not only have all those bands' most recent albums sucked, but Testament is THAT GOOD. I love every single album of theirs, even The Ritual, because that one has "ELECTRIC CROWN" on it, my favorite song. FUCK YEAH I can't wait for this new album!!!
    Nespithe
    scottishmob wrote: Testament are ok, but if this album is really good I'll buy it. Otherwise their albums are kind of bland. Big four are waaaaay better.
    Big four my ass,Metallica's not Thrash Metal or metal anymore,Megadeth's just plain shit now etc.,Testament have gone Death Metal but that doesnt mean that they cant play thrash anymore heh.
    scottishmob
    Testament are ok, but if this album is really good I'll buy it. Otherwise their albums are kind of bland. Big four are waaaaay better.
    SeanHart213
    dragonlord dvd is gonna be insane. so is the new testament album. i wish they still had james murphy and steve digiorgio though
    ranbat
    AJFA was as far as Metallica could go in the thrash realm, they had to do something different. Otherwise they would have fallen into the pit of obscurity Testament has been on the verge of. I hope the new album brings them back to the forefront.
    Axeman25
    2mins2midnite wrote: testament should replace metallica now, becasue the only REAL thrash albums they made was kill em all and ride the lightning
    what because master of puppets wasn't thrash?...you ****in gaylord!
    sjaxemaster07
    i liked a few testament albums, they went pretty damn heavy in the mid 90's though,starting with "low"(i think) but if their new album kicks arse ill buy it,i have "The Gathering" and i liked that one.
    Altered_Carbon
    What's with all the Anthrax hate? They're the only band in the big four that don't take themselves seriously, and that's refreshing as hell. Slayer should be punted and replaced with Testament as far as the big four goes. Anyway, this new album is pretty much destined to kick everyone's ass. This and the new 'Tallica (fingers crossed) could very well rekindle thrash.
    WCS_Is_Worse1
    I mean it's been about 7 years I think and Nothing good I think has been out since The Ritual. Personal opinion of course
    theshroomman
    Thrash Metal wrote: SLAAAAAYYYYYERRRRR!!! I mean... TESTAAAAAMEEEEENNNNNTTTTT!!!
    lolol.
    WCS_Is_Worse1
    KingSquall802 : ok. another upcoming album. but for now, lets wait for the New Metallica Album. hope they're back!
    Another St. Anger ???? =)
    BlakeWilde
    good call PeterGreen. Why in the hell is Metallica called a thrash band? They USED to be a thrash band...20 years ago. People have to realize that Metallica let their egos go to their heads- they've sucked ever since 91'. They haven't been musicians..they've been loudmouth celebrities playing shit music that pop star wannabe country listeners could "dig".
    petergreen
    Five best thrash bands: 1.Testament 2.Slayer(only because of their first two albums) 3.Exodus 4.Megadeth 5.Overkill
    The_Vinson
    Nespithe wrote: scottishmob wrote: Testament are ok, but if this album is really good I'll buy it. Otherwise their albums are kind of bland. Big four are waaaaay better. Big four my ass,Metallica's not Thrash Metal or metal anymore,Megadeth's just plain shit now etc.,Testament have gone Death Metal but that doesnt mean that they cant play thrash anymore heh.
    Megadeth plain shit?! god you missed united abominations. At least Dave can still play the guitar *cough*Hammet*cough*
    Axeman25
    Is anybody else getting really sick and tired of any event or news realted to thrash metal turning into a big argument about metallica and megadeth?
    pewp_on_you
    ScreamBloodyGor wrote: awesome. in my opinion, testament should be in the big four, replacing anthrax
    achaneygtp
    petergreen : Five best thrash bands: 1.Testament 2.Slayer(only because of their first two albums) 3.Exodus
    4.Megadeth 5.Overkill AGREED BUT ID CHANGE Megadeth to Metal church haha 100% thrash!
    scawti
    Seen them live for Souls of Black tour. Amazing band and the coolest guys. Chuck and Alex hung out signing autographs till there was no one left wanting one. Can't wait for the new album!!!
    The_Vinson
    sleepwalker16 wrote: 10 years of material.. literally Anyway, Testament should replace Slayer in the big four. All the other 3 don't make idientical or boring music with bad lyrics.
    Wrong, they should replace metallica cuz they wrote the black album and everything after.
    The_Vinson
    Boooonnnggggg9 wrote: Cant wait for Testaments new album btw, Seems like Thrash is coming back slightly, but just watch Metallica will call there new album - Thrash and ruin the chances of true Thrash Metal coming back >
    HAHAHHAHAHHAHAH HAHHA SO FUCKING TRUE!!! HAHAHA
    Brad52
    slaygod wrote: the big 4,5? huh lol sounds like u need to do ur home work...it is slayer king diamond testament overkill...testament is a testament to true thrash as is the other three. as anthrax would say...over finished done gone out. so that sums them up lol. metallica fell long time ago an could not get back up...so to sum it up megadeth demands the 5th spot.
    king diamond in the big 5, u have to be joking. as much as i like mercyful fate, king diamond cant even touch tesement and megadeth
    klb93
    SpooneyMallard wrote: Or perhaps Metallica's recent albums have been them writing "whatever the hell they want", and you just don't like them?
    Stringz of Fury wrote: Nespithe wrote: Megadeth definately has a right to remain in the big 4 but metallica are sellouts and they only want money and dont care about fans
    listen to the spoony guy
    HammerForce
    Meh, IMHO Alex Skolnick and Marty Friedman are the 2 best guitarists in (or were in) thrash bands I've heard, can't wait to hear Skolnick again, even though his fusion stuff was kick ass as well
    Battery Chicken
    I used to be a huge testament fan in the 80's and early 90's, but after that rubbish souls of black album I lost interest in them and in thrash.
    Brad52
    JoelCMJ wrote: Thrash metal is coming back yes... my band have had intrests from record comapanies and its proper old school thrash like Evile and all the upcoming UK bands in thrash.
    Evile kicks ass!!!
    Sanitarium91
    Stringz of Fury wrote: Nespithe wrote: scottishmob wrote: Testament are ok, but if this album is really good I'll buy it. Otherwise their albums are kind of bland. Big four are waaaaay better. Big four my ass,Metallica's not Thrash Metal or metal anymore,Megadeth's just plain shit now etc.,Testament have gone Death Metal but that doesnt mean that they cant play thrash anymore heh. Megadeth definately has a right to remain in the big 4 but metallica are sellouts and they only want money and dont care about fans
    OK...
    ACDCRocksPM
    ranbat wrote: AJFA was as far as Metallica could go in the thrash realm, they had to do something different. Otherwise they would have fallen into the pit of obscurity Testament has been on the verge of. I hope the new album brings them back to the forefront.
    exactly, metallica has never made the same album twice, and have always evolved over time. Its just too moring as musicians to make the same stuff every couple years.
    Contraband
    Thrash has been dead for a while and there really hasn't been a need for all these new pseudo thrash revival bands in the last couple of years. We have heard thrash, we have loved it, and many have moved on and realized that there really isn't anything more you can do with it. It's a very one dimensional genre, however I feel that Testament were always a band that honed their talents to the point where they created a new sound in thrash, namely due to Alex Skolnick imo. The man's leads were genius and his leaving marked the demise of thrash metal as well. With the ending of this wavery decade for metal, maybe Alex and the crew can help bring back what has been lost and most importantly make something new out of it. Testament's last few albums weren't that bad in all reality because they didn't blatantly hop to any trend other than hopping off the thrash metal one due to the times. That made sense though. Now it makes sense to bring Skolnick back, and hopefully like I said, they can really put him to use. Not just for "that shredding thing", but his creativity and what he brought into Testament.
    postmortem2006
    I agree with the whole 'Metallica wrote whatever the hell they wanted to' thing, but lets not forget that the music they wanted to write has been nothing but piles of sh!t for the past decade. In my honets opinion, if they want to rekindle their flame then they better do it with this forthcoming album or else Metallica may as well call it quits.
    ChrissyChiChi
    'testament should replace metallica now, becasue the only REAL thrash albums they made was kill em all and ride the lightning' COUGH And Justice For All?? Dyers eve is thrash as ****. Really looking forward to this album, Testament are the balls, Billy has such a damn good vocal tone, not whiney singing, or over growling, great mixture.
    beau05
    Black Star wrote: And yes, Testament has earned their spot in the Big Four. Ever since I heard Anthrax, I could never understand what they were doing there. Testament > Anthrax.
    you ever heard fist full of metal, or armed and dangerous? thats prety thrashy sh*t thrash may have been born in the bay area, but it shouldnt be restricted to only bay area bands, so anthrax (new yorkers) deserve there spot this record sounds like it'll be f*ckin awesome