The Great Southern Brainfart recently conducted an interview with guitarist Eric Peterson of San Francisco Bay Area metallers TESTAMENT. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Great Southern Brainfart: I have to congratulate you on “Dark Roots Of Earth”. What a fucking masterpiece. You guys clearly aren’t out of ideas but you have captured this kind of youthful. Where did that come from?
Eric: For me, that second wind all started with [1999’s] “The Gathering”. It’s been so long between records but “The Gathering” was the fire for me. It was fast stuff mixed with modern sounds. Definitely with [2008’s] “The Formation Of Damnation”, we came back strong and with the original lineup and “Dark Roots Of Earth” as well, I feel, was really strong. I think, in a way, we’ve come full circle with our sound and going back to our roots but not copying it. I also feel like technology has gotten so much better, you know? It’s easier to record now and things like Pro Tools have made things a bit more simpler.
The Great Southern Brainfart: TESTAMENT seems to have really found a good place to be musically and, as you said earlier, have come full circle. Is this a place where you’re happy and how do you see TESTAMENT progressing from here?
Eric: Well, we know what we want now. When we were younger, we just kind of went into the studio and let the producer get the sounds and we just played the songs. Of course, we gave our opinions but I don’t think we knew then what we wanted as much as we do now. Now we know exactly what we want. Chuck [Billy; vocals] knows exactly how he wants to sound and I know how I want to sound. I know what I want the drums to do and everything.
The Great Southern Brainfart: TESTAMENT has 25 years behind them now. Is it weird to look at yourself and say, “I’m a classic metal act now”?
Eric: [laughs] Yeah, definitely. We both think that, don’t we? [laughs] I think it’s weird that time flies. When we were kids, we looked up to JUDAS PRIEST and BLACK SABBATH and those guys who are older, seasoned rock guys. Well, that’s us now. [laughs]
The Great Southern Brainfart: Looking back on TESTAMENT‘s 26-year career, is there anything you look back on and think, “I wish we would’ve done that differently”?
Eric: Yeah, definitely. I think the production and some of the mixing on our past albums. I also wouldn’t have rushed out “Souls Of Black” like we did. That album could’ve been something different. It is a classic record now, but it was just thrown together so quickly.
The Great Southern Brainfart: You’ve said before that seeing METALLICA for the first time was what really drove you to put TESTAMENT (back then LEGACY) together and start doing this kind of music. What is your opinion on METALLICA‘s change in approach and sound over the years?
Eric: Um, I don’t know. METALLICA‘s like a whole new band with all the singing and the playing. It works but I’m just a fan of the older METALLICA. They still play that well, though. I wish they’d write something like “Master Of Puppets” again. Their last one with the coffin on the cover (“Death Magnetic”) was closer to the heart. Hey, but they’re having fun doing what they’re doing. I just don’t hear the metal in METALLICA as much as I would like to hear.
The Great Southern Brainfart: At what point did you know that you wanted to be a musician?
Eric: Probably around seventh or eigth grade is when I started getting into music. My older cousin got a stereo and he was always playing RUSH, EARTH WIND & FIRE, and KISS “Alive”. I just kind of adopted that music and just got into it but it was definitely AEROSMITH‘s “Rocks” and KISS “Alive” and “Destroyer” is what got me jumping around in front of a mirror with a guitar.
Read the entire interview from The Great Southern Brainfart.