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Eric Peterson Testament - Interview
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Bay Area veterans and one of the titans of thrash metal, Testament are about to release their latest offering in "Brotherhood Of The Snake", a 10 track album chock full of the very best that Testament has to offer. We caught up with founding member and guitarist Eric Peterson to discuss the new songs, working with the band on making the best record possible, tour plans for the future and we also ask about the hilarious promo video Eric and Chuck filmed for the promo of the album.



Andrew: Just been having a preview of the new album recently and it's killer stuff, love it! You guys must be super happy with how these songs have turned out. It has all the trademark signature sounds in there, it has an old school feel but with a modern fresh take on it. How's the feeling with the band at the moment, how do you feel about these new songs?

Eric: Yeah I've lived with it for a while now and of course when you're mixing it, you listen to it a lot so I stopped listening to it for a while and now that we're getting ready to go on tour, I've been listening to it in the car and pretty happy with it. I think it came out really clear and strong with modern production, it definitely sounds like Testament but it's got this new energy that I love and I just love everything that everybody did on it. The bass, the guitars, the solos, the vocals, the drums and there's nothing that I'm not happy with. I have to say that most of the records I'm definitely happy [with] but there's always something like, 'Oh we'll get that next time'. So on this one everything is there so I'm pretty stoked with it.

Andrew: Was that one of the main goals this time, making sure that you didn't leave anything out?

Eric: Ideally that would of been great [laughs]. But yeah the pressure was definitely on, we didn't have the luxury of second guessing anything. We had a very small window to make this happen and not everything was completed in that window so our backs were against the wall on some of the songs but through hard work and perseverance, we prevailed on making the songs come to life and doing it justice. There's definitely not a song on there that where, 'Man if we just had a little bit more time', or 'Why did we do that? Maybe we shouldn't of done that'. When I listen back to it, I definitely think 'Wow', I guess pressure sometimes is the key to making things right and not second guessing everything.

Andrew: You mentioned heading out on tour and playing these songs live, did you think about the live aspect of it when you were sitting down and recording them?

Eric: Yeah I mean most of the time for me I usually start off, as the main song writer of the band, which riffs and whatnot, I tend to definitely envision a crowd in front of me. I'm kinda silly like that, I'm kind of a fan that way, I want to be a fan of what I hear. When I listen to it, I'm like is this going to hit or not? I'm not trying to write a song that's going to be on the radio, it's gotta be coming from does it give me that metal feeling? Is it true metal? Just like I felt when I heard "Rapid Fire" by Judas Priest or "Neon Lights" by Black Sabbath, there's just certain songs that you've heard as a kid just like the way they hit. I always liked the more epic, obscure songs by bands whereas with Judas Priest for instance, a lot of people like "Living After Midnight" or "Breaking The Law". I preferred "Steeler" or "Rapid Fire", just the more darker songs I guess. So that's kind of on this record as I did most of the writing and I think the riffs kinda came out like that.

Andrew: Yeah I know what you mean by favoring more of the obscure songs as I kinda do the same thing as well, even with Testament. An album for example like "Low" is not an album a lot of people pay attention to when looking at your back catalogue but for me that was one of the best albums you ever did so I know what you mean by the more obscure kind of stuff.

Eric: Yeah the more you listen to it, the more you realize the little things you don't hear right away because it's not meant to sound like the super, catchiest riff ever because the super catchiest riff ever that you hear right away and you go, 'Yeah!', a week later you're bored with that. So the more obscure stuff it takes some warming up to, to getting into it but I think as far as this one, I think we got a little bit of both because it doesn't take so much to warm up to these songs but as I've listened to a lot of the over a hundred times just because of the writing process, the demoing process, the lyrical content, the mixing process, I'm not really sick of any of them. I listen to them and I'm like, 'Wow this is pretty awesome'. Actually I probably am a little sick of them but I can definitely appreciate how good they came out.

Andrew: Yeah and this album really does have a cool flow to it, from start to finish it's an album that never lets up at all. It's pretty much in your face right from the start.

Eric: I wouldn't say we focused on planning it to be like that but I think there was something planted in our head that we were going after something that was more closer to "The Gathering" out of all the records. "The Gathering" record is a record that when you put it on, you have to finish it because all the songs kind of join together in a weird way. This record, especially for people to hear "Brotherhood Of The Snake" only, a lot of people so far have liked it and I've seen some people say stuff like 'Really? It sounds like it's not finished". What they're not hearing is "The Pale King" coming next and then "Stronghold" and then "Born In A Rut" and "Seven Seals". The way they all go together when you hear it as a record, you're like, 'Wow'. And then maybe you can tear it apart and listen to your favorite song. For me when I want to play a song for someone, I tend to always play "The Pale King". That one has got a lot of cool riffs in it and just the vocals have a very cool story and just reminds me of some of the mid to late 80's when this genre of music was kind of born. I'm hearing a lot of that excitement but still not being rehashed, it still sounds very fresh to me. This is like the new Testament.


Andrew: I hear a little "Practice What You Preach" in there as well, it has a big groove aspect in there I think.

Eric: Yeah there's this groove that Testament has even though this is a lot darker than "Practice What You Preach" but there's definitely this groove that we have. Like "Centuries Of Suffering" there's a part where it might be out of place but if it wasn't there, it wouldn't give the uniqueness to the song and there's these little grooves that Testament has that just sets Testament apart I guess. And then of course I think Chuck's (Billy, vocals) vocal delivery is definitely more of his youth, more the higher register so when he does do the death stuff it really counts I think.

Andrew: Yeah it's amazing how many years you guys have been around and Chuck's voice still sounds amazing after all these years, he must have some kind of secret to keep his voice in shape like that!

Eric: Yeah it's called me pissing him off!

Andrew: [laughs].

Eric: Na Chuck definitely knows what to do but it takes a team to be a team, there's no 'I' in 'team' and Testament is a band and a band is a group of people and we all push each other in different ways. Maybe piss each other off here and there but at the ed of the day it's fr the betterment of the song.

Andrew: It's nice to see Steve (DiGiorgio, bass) and Gene (Hoglan, drums) in the band as well doing their stuff.

Eric: Oh definitely, those guys brought a lot to the table. Both of them, their playing really stands out on this record from the bass, just the tone of that Rickenbacker [which is] something that we don't usually have on our records. A Rickenbacker is more known I guess for a solo kind of sound, it doesn't have that real low and it's got more of that ganky sound like Rush, we're all big fans of the early Rush stuff. And just him finding his pockets where he can add his little bit of a bass solo kind of stuff in there that really - and I refer to Geddy Lee but it's a lot of cool stuff, almost like a drum roll. Everything is like drums to me, it's like everybody has their own drum rolls whether their notes or drums themselves, we all got the little hooks while everything is going a million miles an hour but it all comes together pretty nicely I think.

Andrew: So you were in Australia for Soundwave Festival a couple of years ago which I was lucky enough to catch you guys for the very first time after been a fan for a number of years. Are you coming back here again any time soon for this tour?

Eric: Yeah we're actually tentatively trying to put together a tour right now. It looks like - and I'll say tentatively, it's not booked yet - but we're looking at trying to get something together for a late January and February Japan and Australia. And even New Zealand, we're trying to get over to New Zealand.

Andrew: Is this a headlining run?

Eric: Yes

Andrew: Awesome! As I said we saw you at the festival and festivals are cool and everything but club shows in my opinion seem to be the better gig, I don't know what your take is between festivals and clubs?

Eric: Yeah it depends. We've definitely switched up a lot of personnel as far as our backline people, we've got a new crew. We have a new sound man who I think is going to give us a more closer sound to what we're looking for so we're pretty excited about that. Just having some new fresh blood behind us, that's always a good thing to switch things up a little bit and headlining shows are a lot of fun especially with a new record so should be pretty awesome.

Andrew: Yeah definitely looking forward to hearing these songs live. I do want to ask you before I let you go about this video on your facebook page I saw where you and Chuck were doing some promo stuff for the new album, outtakes and all that. I found it hilarious, how long did it take for you guys to get through that whole thing?

Eric: Well we went down to Nuclear Blast's headquarters and we had done a lot of interviews that day, I think that was at the end of the day and we might of had a couple of puffs of some smoke! That was definitely not planned, we were definitely busting each others chops on that and I think after we had seen it we were like, 'You know what? Just let it roll, who cares.' Because the reaction when we watched it, obviously we weren't going to put it out like that and everybody seemed to have a good laugh with it so we were like why not?

Andrew: Yeah and it kinda shows a human side instead of just being all serious all the time.

Eric: Yeah [puts on tough voice] 'Brotherhood Of The Snake, get it now!'

Andrew: [laughs].

Eric: I was having the hardest time saying album!

Andrew: Yeah that's right!

Eric: I know how to spell album but I do that with a lot of words, either I say things backwards or I add an extra syllable. It's just how I talk so sometimes, I've always said 'alblum'. That sounds right to me and of course being at the end of the day and telling me what happened and whatnot, it was pretty funny.

Andrew: Yeah great stuff! Well as I said, the new album is killer so congratulations on it and we look forward to seeing you in January or whenever you are planning to get here. Thanks for your time today, really appreciate it!

Eric: Yeah awesome, thank you!

Check out our interview with Alex Skolnick here
Check out our interview with Chuck Billy here

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on September 23rd 2016