Interview conducted August 09 2012
Interview published September 09 2012
With a new, marvellous album just
out - Dark Roots Of Earth - thrash legends Testament was one of the big
attractions at the Swedish festival Skogsröjet. A day prior, they
were scheduled to play at a small club in Västerås - a rare
gig that was a must to attend. Some hours before the band's intimate,
awesome performance, full of thrash pearls new and old, Metal Covenant
was kindly welcomed onboard the tour bus for an interview with guitarist
and founder Eric Peterson. Despite being
a bit weary after a long travel, Testament's main writer and riff lord
was a chatty, funny and cool character.
Many thanks to Darren Edwards at
Warner Music for arranging the interview as well as access to this exclusive
event, a very special night of first-class thrash metal.
Mozzy: First of all, congratulations on
another great album!
Eric: Thank you. I guess now it really feels
like the best, but then I go back and listen to something, and I'm
like - ah, that was pretty cool! (laughs).
So how was it to do this album compared to the last one, now that you've
been reunited with Alex and Greg for a couple of years?
Eric: Well, this record feels more like a band.
Even though, you know, there is like a main writer, it feels like
everybody connects a little bit more. Rather than everybody just learns
their part and plays it, it feels like more of a band playing it.
And everybody's pretty good, so
There is that extra special
feeling I think; it's all on there.
Mozzy: Gene Hoglan came in for this album;
what happened really with Paul (Bostaph)? Did he quit, or?
Eric: Eh, all of the above. Nothing bad. It
was more of
he got injured. And here's the real story, cause
I actually watched the Youtube video with him: he was at his own studio,
and the lights went out. He fell, he hit his arm and he fucked it
up. He started playing again and he's got some problems with his bones
already. One of his bones started growing weird; like a spike, and
it was hitting like a nerve or something, so it was hurting. So the
it was either surgery, cut him open; or let it
heal. So he chose to let it heal, and the doctor said it would take
a month. Later: another month. And a month later: another month. And
it kept going: month, month, month
And at that time, I was like
(sighs). Paul actually called me and went "hey man, if you guys
wanna get someone to write with, that's cool. I'll meet you when it's
time to record." So I did that, and when it was time to record,
he was like "I'm still not ready". It was just kinda, one
thing let to another and
Mozzy: You got a good replacement for sure,
Eric: Yeah. I mean, Gene
I remember when
I said to Paul, "who do you think would be good?" He mentioned
Bittner (Jason, from Shadows Fall), Chris Adler (Lamb Of God)
And then I said "how about Gene Hoglan?", and he goes
I heard his throat go "gulp" (makes swallowing sound). "No,
don't get Gene, how am I gonna pull off that shit?" (Laughs)
I didn't even think he was gonna tour with us. We just
thought, he was gonna come in and 'bam' and leave. And then we would
pick up the pieces. But it worked out pretty good.
Mozzy: Well, it sounded good in there (at
the soundcheck) for sure.
Eric: I mean, basically two days before we
came to Europe, we had been rehearsing for a month with Mark Hernandez
from Forbidden (who have a new drummer now), cause Gene was going
on tour with Deathklok. And we're all like "fuck
The record just came out, and Gene's not coming with us. He was like
", everybody was like "fuck... oh well,
" And then two days before we left, he goes "my
tour got cancelled". So we called him up and asked him: "could
we make this happen?"
Mozzy: He's well-known as well for learning
things quickly, right?
Regarding Alex; during the years when he was out of the band, did you
think that he would come back one day, or?
Eric: I didn't really think about it too much.
I think when he was gone, I was more focused on rebuilding Testament
back up from
being stereotyped. I mean, I think that Practice
What You Preach, Souls Of Black, Ritual - it kinda kept leading up
. I mean, now that it's said and done, it's kind of legendary
I guess, whatever. But back then, to me, I was like "this is
not cutting it". I'm seeing other bands coming up and I'm like
Mozzy: Yeah, there was some new, different
and more brutal stuff back then, like Machine Head and so on
Eric: Yeah, and that's where I'm at. That's
where my head was at. You know, I think for Alex, he was getting into
jazz and he was like taken away from his metal creativity. Like, deep
in his mind, even without thinking about it, without going "hey,
why don't I do a side project", it was like "I can't do
a side project, I got to do Testament". "I don't want to
play heavy like that". And it just made everything fucked up.
Now, it's like "duh, do a side project!" And then you get
it out, you know. "Go fuck that other chick", you know (laughs).
It's as easy as that.
Mozzy: (Laughs) So maybe he needed those
years away, then.
Eric: Yeah. But it's kinda cool because now,
we got a second chance, kind of, in a weird way. And we're doing it
how we should have done it in the first place. These records right
here should have been... - even Low and The Gathering - should have
been records earlier, I think. It's so easy to say what it should
have been, afterwards. Cause now you see it clearly before your eyes.
Mozzy: How do feel about that second chance;
it feels like Testament is perhaps stronger than ever now.
Eric: Well, I think we're doing it right now.
The way we're supposed to do it. I'm sure there are always haters
out there, but I think for me, and the rest of the band, we can stand
by this without pointing fingers. Now it's like, it's our fault if
it doesn't turn out right. Well, I mean it was our fault before, but
now we're doing it the way we want to do it.
Mozzy: Cool. And you had some bad luck as
well, with Chuck's disease, member changes and so on
Mozzy: What about the business side?
Eric: Yeah, that's another point too. I mean,
it's one thing just to be in a band
There are so many aspects.
A lot of people get lucky. There is the whole business side of things
too, it's not just about being good at what we do - it's about making
the right choices.
Having the right people as well, I guess.
Eric: The right people behind you
It's like one big, you know, rolling ball effect. Right now I think
we got a good team behind us, it's working really good.
Mozzy: Nowadays, with the recent tours with
the Big Four (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax), you quite often hear
people saying that Testament really belong among those. What are your
feelings on that?
Eric: A lot of people say that. Well, I think
"The Big Four" is an old saying. It's more that those bands
were the first. I think people are referring to it as more of a heyday
thing, you know. Like, the Big Four were the bands that were the big
four that broke out in the genre. The ones that sold a lot of records.
Testament were like a day late but a dollar short, you know (laughs).
Not that we weren't good enough, but we just were
. They were
the first bands, they were touring and making it while we were still
playing clubs. We didn't have a record out. And there was a whole
breed of new bands.
Mozzy: But it must feel good to hear that,
to get that appreciation?
Mozzy: Either way, you have your own style.
Compared to those four, for example, I think you have a bit more groove
in your music, do you agree?
Eric: Well, I think
This is the brutal
truth: Testament was able to be influenced by all those bands. They
were the big four, they were first. Not that we copied them - we were
playing our music just like they were playing their music - but we
got to see what people said about them, how they portrayed themselves
and so on. I think that like any person in music, you learn from other
people and you're influenced by different things. So we kind of learned
from everybody, like "that's cool, and that's cool" and
"I don't like that". I think we kind of incorporated that
into what we do.
Mozzy: Will you be touring for as long for
this album as you did last time?
Eric: We'd like to. This autumn, we're going
out with Anthrax and Death Angel. We're doing Canada, a couple of
American shows but mostly Canada. We haven't been to Canada for a
while so it should be really good.
What about this gig in Västerås; how did you end up playing
this small venue? It's quite unexpected, but really cool.
Eric: Yeah! Well, first of all, we travelled
30 hours to get here. And when we got here, Chuck was like "what?!!"
(laughs). We're playing a festival tomorrow, and what I think happened
was, when they booked the festival, this was an off-date. So the agent
checked who was available. And you know what, the people who work
here are really nice, and I'm always the guy that says the glass is
half-full. You have to make the best of it. And I think tonight is
going to be like a party, you know.
Mozzy: I think so too.
Eric: You know, it's sold-out, and it's gonna
be hot, sweaty, and a lot of fun. This show is by no means judging
Testament. It's gonna be fun, you know.
Mozzy: Is it fun to vary things a bit; to
play some smaller shows as well?
Eric: Well, you know, when you're in a band
like Testament, there are a lot of expectations. "You're doing
that", "you have to play there"
You start thinking
it's a business. It's like, "slow down a bit!" Sometimes
you have to be punk rock (laughs). And this is good, it's cool.
Mozzy: I think this gig is going to be quite
special. Does it remind you of the old days too?
Mozzy: You're playing Bloodstock in England
on Saturday. Are you looking forward to that?
Eric: Yeah! I think we played the first Bloodstock
ever. I think when we did the first one there were like 10000 people
there and now it has moved up to like 30000, so it's growing. I remember
when Wacken first started, Hypocrisy was the headliner, which was
like "wow, this is cool!" And even like Earthshaker, another
German festival, that started in a club. And then it went on to be
huge. So Bloodstock is turning into a big thing.
Mozzy: Yeah. I went there two years ago.
It's a really cool festival, with proper metal heads, and a great atmosphere.
Mozzy: Well, that is all I think, thank
you. I'm going to let you rest some more and do your thing now.
of the album Dark Roots Of Earth