TESTAMENT Guitarist: ‘When You’re A Thrash Band, It’s Not A Good Idea To Add Rap’
November 29, 2012
Matthew Parker of MusicRadar.com recently conducted an interview with guitarist Eric Peterson of San Francisco Bay Area metallers TESTAMENT. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
MusicRadar.com: 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of TESTAMENT‘s debut album, “The Legacy”. What were your initial expectations of the band?
Eric: “[Initially], none. I just wanted to put a record out. Then when [second album, 1988’s] ‘The New Order’, came out, we had a seven record deal with Atlantic Records and we just thought, ‘If we can live out that term, that would be awesome. We were watching a lot bands around us fold on their second or third album. We realized how hard it was. The playing is the easy part, it’s just everything in between — that’s what breaks bands up. I don’t think it’s the music at all, it’s the chemistry. It’s dealing with all of the downtime in between the two hours you’re onstage.”
MusicRadar.com: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your years as a musician?
Eric: “Just being consistent and sticking to your blueprint. It’s easy when other bands come into the scene that are like a whole new different style to go, ‘I wanna be like that now!’ But we have a following and we’ve got to be like, ‘This is how we are!’ It’s very important that you stick to your guns. When you’re a thrash band, it’s not a good idea to add rap, or start wearing trippy clothes — the fans can see right through that crap.”
MusicRadar.com: Alex Skolnick has been back with the band since 2005. Has the way you divide guitar duties changed over the years?
Eric: “The duties have changed a little bit. Alex is still the lead guitarist, but I’m starting to do a little more soloing now. As players, we’ve all grown a lot. Alex has got a lot of influences and it really, really shows in his playing. When you hear his leads, you know it’s him. But when Alex left the band I started taking on more. The other guitar players that I jammed with, first Glenn Alvelais and then James Murphy, were all like, ‘Dude! How come you don’t play leads? You’re killer!'”
MusicRadar.com: So that gave you the impetus to start developing your leads…
Eric: “It wasn’t like that before. No one said to me, ‘Play leads!’ It was just ‘Alex is the lead guitar player, you’re the rhythm. This is how we’re doing it.’ When Alex came back I said, ‘I’m not going to step on your toes — we’re not going to fight for solos here — but it’s just going to add more to it.’ And he was like, ‘Totally, dude! You should totally do that.’ That was a real breathe of fresh air, because the old way would have been, ‘Well, I’m the lead guitar player.’ We’ve all grown up now and it’s such a better band [for it].”
Studied Business Administration, Panagiotis is Metalpaths' founder and co-editor-in-chief. He still believes that can be the... guiding light to extreme music (NOT!) and he would die to see a Pantera reunion show.
Tate: Ah, yeah, of course. It’s not really a matter of losing from my perspective, it’s just being done with it. I definitely just want to be done with it, I’m already emotionally done with it, I’ve ripped off the rearview mirror and I ain’t looking back. I don’t want to look back. The court date in November is to settle what we have, which is a corporate dispute and corporate disputes have a set formula that’s regulated by the state and the government to how the case is settled and really when it all comes down to it, it’s just a matter of compensation and that’s what it’ll be.
EzineArticles.com: I remember in the 1980s the David Lee Roth/VAN HALEN split and the METALLICA/Dave Mustaine feud, both got pretty ugly at times, do you see the same thing happening between yourself and your former band?
Tate: Well, I hope not. Yeah I hope not, I hope it’s all settled peacefully and civilly and we can go on our merry way, you know.
As part of this year’s Record Store Day on April 19, San Francisco Bay Area metallers MACHINE HEAD will release a 10-inch vinyl single, with the A-side containing the “demo” version of a new song, “Killers & Kings”. The B-side will be a cover version of the track “Our Darkest Days” from one of MACHINE HEAD’s favorite bands, IGNITE.
The cover artwork for the “Killers & Kings” single can be seen below. Also available is video footage of MACHINE HEAD members Phil Demmel (guitar), Dave McClain (drums) and Jared MacEachern (bass) laying down backing vocals on the “Our Darkest Days” cover version.
Says MACHINE HEAD guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn: “I remember growing up in the thrash scene and always wanting to hear the demo version of songs. You searched them out. Thankfully, my buddy Jim was a big ‘tape trader,’ and through trading, we had both METALLICA demos, EXODUS demos, bootlegs of songs sometimes ‘years’ before they came out.
“I knew how to play every note of ‘Pleasure Of The Flesh’ by EXODUS easily two years before the record was out. I had SLAYER’s ‘Reign In Blood’ three months before it came out. I remember it still had the hi-hat counts starting the songs!!
“My friends and I would debate the merits of each (the demo was always better, LOL!).
“It’s so much cooler to hear it BEFORE the album is out!
“So we’re gonna do that for you.
“I can’t wait for you guys to hear this stuff. Then you can debate it, haha!”
MACHINE HEAD will enter the studio in February to begin recording its new album for a late summer release via the band’s new label, Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Other tentative songtitles set to appear on the CD include “Beneath The Silt”, “Ojos De La Muerte”, “Sail Into The Black” and “Night Of The Long Knives”.
Says Flynn: “The new stuff is turning out better than anyone expected.
“We had THE breakthrough with the song formerly known as ‘Back From The Grave’.
“I’d been working with the string section that played on ‘Locust’, Quartet Rogue, as well as multi-instrumentalist / keyboardist Rhys Fulber, and to quote [METALLICA drummer] Lars Ulrich (who was actually quoting Robert Trujillo), ‘We’re on some NEXT-LEVEL shit!!!’
“With that one song getting finished, I could totally see where the whole record is going. It opened up before my eyes.
“Nothing short of exciting!!!”
Speaking to U.K.’s Metal Hammer magazine, Flynn stated about the band’s new material: “It sounds like MACHINE HEAD! It’s definitely moving forward, which I feel like we’re probably always gonna do.
“We’re not a band that ever looks back. We do our thing and try to take the life experiences that we have and the musicianship that we’ve evolved and try to use it. Obviously, we have our sound and we have the MACHINE HEAD patented harmonics, the downtuned riffs and I sing the way I sing.
“I think Bob Dylan said it best: ‘You just find new ways to say the same thing.'”
Speaking about some of the specific tracks and the lyrical themes covered on the new album, Flynn said: “I’ve got some pretty cool lyrics ready. There’s a song called ‘Night Of The Long Knives’, and it’s pretty fucked! It’s about the Manson murders, and the lyrics are really dark and vicious.
“We’ve found some new twists to give to the MACHINE HEAD sound and some new fire and excitement.”
Asked what the band’s main aims were when they started composing music for the new CD, Flynn said: “Well, it’s nice to try and have a plan, but music has a way of unravelling over time! [Laughs] You’ve just got to roll with it.
“With [2007’s] ‘The Blackening’, I’d love to say I had this grand vision of nine- and 10-minute songs, but the first four songs we wrote were the four shorter songs on the record. For months, there was no indication whatsoever that we’d have 10-minute songs. That stuff came later.
“Human nature wants to control and dictate where things will go, but you can’t. It won’t let you! The more you try, the more it goes, ‘Fuck you.’ It’s going some other way!”