Interview by: Marianne Jacobsen
Photos by: Bill Hale
As we all know, Testament is fucking awesome. On that same note, we also can concur that Slayer is just as amazing.
Put these two bands together and add a Carcass to boot – you get a 6 week jaunt of some of the best self administered whiplash to a live soundtrack you can find.
Kicking off in February 19, 2016 in Chicago and even dipping their toe into Canadian snow country by making a stop in Calgary and Edmonton (lucky bastards!) I have a feeling that an avalanche may ensue.
I had a chance to talk to Chuck Billy about the upcoming tour, new music; Lemmy and extracurricular activities via messed up phone connection recently.
…This is what Chuck had to say:
MGM: Hello is this Chuck Billy?
CB: Yes it is!
MGM: Hey Mr. Billy! It’s a pleasure finally getting to speak to you. Congratulations on the upcoming tour even though you are coming nowhere near me…
CB: Yeah it’s a great way to start off the year isn’t it?
MGM: Not only is it a great way to start off the year. I also think that this is a Thrash Royalty tour.
CB: (laughing) Well thanks for that comment. It’s going to be great to play with Slayer because we have a lot of history together and it’s like getting together with old friends. We have done quite a few tours together so it is definitely going to be one of those enjoyable tours. Of course, we get to see Slayer every night (bonus). We also get to hang out with everyone every night after the shows. Like the crew and everyone – It’s like getting together with old friends. It’s going to be super.
MGM: Being a Metal Elder – what words of wisdom do you have for the music scene out there right now? I personally feel that there are a lot of bands that were underappreciated the first time round that are getting their second go with record companies like Nuclear Blast.
CB: Yeah well Nuclear Blast has pretty much signed…everybody. Which is great, Nuclear Blast is a great label. They know how and what to do with the metal.
The music business comes in waves. You know, things kind of trended down and now record sales are picking up like they were.
MGM: The music collector is coming back now I believe.
CB: Yeah. And you have to come up with more unique packaging and get more tangible products out there.
MGM: So cut to the chase. When is the new Testament album coming out?
CB: Well the new album should be out this year. We have a single coming out for the tour coming up.
CB: The release of that single will either be right before or right at the beginning of the tour.
MGM: Super excited for new music. I actually had the pleasure of seeing you at Heavy T.0. and then actually watching Slayer with you from the crowd as you and Death Angel were side stage. Pretty awesome moment for me.
CB: Yeah those festivals are the best. We didn’t get to hang out with Slayer that day either.
MGM: Slayer was really good and so we’re you guys. However, if I smell one more male sweaty armpit after that weekend I think I’ll barf.
CB: Those festivals are always good fun. There are quite a few coming up and we pretty much have most of our summer booked now.
We have a great trip planned over to Europe this summer and somewhere in between there we plan to record this record and try and get it done.
MGM: We are all looking forward to it that’s for sure!
CB: Well that’s the window now that we have to do it before June. You know, so March April, May the real focus is to get it done and get in the studio and record it.
MGM: This six week tour must be a bit of inspiration for you right?
CB: Well it’s a short set on the tour. We plan on working on the lyrics. All the music is pretty much done and in it. It’s just the vocals we have to work on.
MGM: Well that’s your department right?
CB: Yeah well actually it works out really well for me because when I’m on tour my voice is warmed up and strong so my voice feels good and ready to lay down some tracks.
MGM: GOOD! Overall though, I have to say Mr. Billy, vocally you have always been a force to be reckoned with.
CB: Well thank you. Hopefully we get some work done out there. That’s the window we have because after that – we pretty much have the rest of the year planned out so we are going to be really busy.
MGM: So your whole year is planned? Because I don’t see Toronto on the itinerary yet. You going to book that one for me?
CB: Well that might be another tour. Hopefully a headline tour before the end of the year.
MGM: The last time I saw Testament – you came with Anthrax and Death Angel and it was fantastic! What a great night!
CB: Yeah that was a really fun tour!
MGM: As is appropriate I thought I would ask if you had a Lemmy story to share.
CB: Yeah – my story with Lemmy always leads me to the best prank in the world when Testament was on the Metal Masters Tour. They (Lemmy & Co.) had the promoter rent a horse. It was actually on the rider – $15,000.00!
Phil Campbell came riding out on the horse with Ronnie Dio on behind him and here’s Lemmy in behind the horse cleaning up poop.
So every time after that when I saw Lemmy he always says to me right away, “That was the best prank ever and will never ever be topped! As long as there is rock and roll it will never be topped!”
Lemmy actually had the rider request and he showed us – it’s the funniest thing if you had seen it.
CB: After that tour and after that last show no one has ever topped it.
MGM: One of the things I wanted to say was – I live up near First Nation Ojibwa and I want to thank you for all the representation you have brought to the Aboriginal people.
CB: Remind those folks that they have a voice too. The Elders of the community have such wisdom. It’s just incredible.
MGM: What is the most significant change you have seen or experienced being in Testament over the last 30+ years?
CB: I think after the original breakup when you hear The Gathering record you can really hear that this is where we shifted gears and really found something that was so total thrash with vocal topping but also with some melodic melodies that I think really turned what for us was the missing part of Testament and the progression from that point on, you know, the formation that is Dark Roots. So you know I really think that we found our stride from that point (The Gathering) on.
MGM: Dark Roots had the best album cover of ever!
CB: Well thank you.
MGM: I got a tshirt of the design and actually thought “That would make a great back tattoo (although my mom would cry so…)
CB: Yeah it would! It’s a really nice piece and at the same time there is a real meaningful connection to the earth you know?
MGM: So there is no Toronto date so far. Does that mean you might come up here and play my backyard?
CB: (laughs) Yeah man right on!
MGM: OK and I’m thinking about getting your Vape.
CB: Yeah man you got to pick one of them up. It’s not a novelty it really works well. There are so many vaporizers out there so this one is really nice.
It’s very discreet. I take mine to the movie theatre.
MGM: My friend Bill Hale has provided me with some old shots of Testament back in the 80s when you guys were just starting out to add to this article. Wait until you see them!
CB: Oh man, that will be awesome.
MGM: Well Mr. Billy it’s been a pleasure and a honor and I look forward to seeing you on the road and listening for new music!
If you live close to any of the venues indicated in the list below don’t miss these shows!
Check out Testament with Slayer and Carcass rip it live starting this February!!!
SLAYER, TESTAMENT, CARCASS
2/19 Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL
2/22 War Memorial, Nashville, TN
2/24 The National, Richmond, VA
2/26 House of Blues, Myrtle Beach, SC
2/27 The Ritz, Raleigh, NC
2/29 The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC
3/2 Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY
3/3 The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA
3/ 5 The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD
3/6 The House of Blues, Boston, MA
3/ 8 LC Pavilion, Columbus, OH
3/ 9 The Orpheum, Madison, WI
3/11 Myth, St. Paul, MN
3/12 Civic Auditorium, Fargo, ND
3/14 MacEwan Hall, Calgary, AB
3/15 Shaw Centre, Edmonton, AB
3/17 Revolution Event Center, Boise, ID
3/19 The Paramount, Seattle, WA
3/20 Roseland Ballroom, Portland, OR
3/22 Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA
3/26 The Joint, Las Vegas, NV