Testament were one of the first thrash metal bands to emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980’s. Over the last twenty-five years, the band have released ten studio albums and have just unveiled their latest release, ‘Dark Roots of Thrash‘ – a live release that documents the bands sold-out performance in New York earlier this year. Following the release, we sat down with Chuck Billy to chat about longevity, influencing the thrash scene and having no regrets.
By Meghan Player
Congratulations on the release of ‘Dark Roots of Thrash’ this last week – are you excited it has now been released? Are you excited for fans to see it?
Hell yes we’re excited! Our last live DVD was Live at The Fillmore in SF and there has been a lot of music written since then. We have now captured a good set of our song catalogue.
How important was it to the band to document such an epic live set?
It was important for the band to get in as much as we could of the massive song catalogue we have. We wanted all fans through the years, whenever they got turned on to Testament, to feel like they were walking into their first show again.
Having a career that spans 25 years is pretty impressive by today’s standards – is there a secret to the bands longevity?
Believing in what we do and never trying to jump on the bandwagon and change. Heavy metal has come full circle, and I believe it is on the upswing. Fans want more of it.
In 25 years, I’m sure there have been a lot of tour highlights/fan stories you’ve experienced – is there one that has stuck with you throughout the years?
Metal Masters a few years back with my all time heroes was an honor and pleasure. Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell, and Motorhead. Come on, that was killer!
The band formed during the legendary Bay-area thrash scene in the 80s – how much do you think the thrash culture has changed over the years in terms of music and attitudes? Do you think it’s changed for the better?
Testament didn’t form during the “Bay Area” thrash scene, I believe it was one of the bands that started the Bay Area thrash scene. All of us Bay Area bands have the common link that has been spoken about world-wide for over 25 years: being a part of the Bay Area. To this day we are all still friends, have respect for each other and great pride being a part of this. Exodus, Death Angel, Forbidden, Metallica – I think we still all show our pride.
Do you think the music still has the same impact as it did 20-25 years ago?
Yes it has the same impact and there are a lot more bands now to keep it going.
2012 was the last release from yourselves – are you working on a new album/anything new at the moment?
As we speak [there is an album in the works].
With the release of the DVD, it’s made us release how close it is to you heading to Australia for Soundwave – are you looking forward to the tour?
We are so looking forward to coming back to Australia and playing our first Soundwave. We’re fucking ready!
Will you be bringing any new material/tracks with you?
We are going to try.
Do you have a message for your Australian fans?
We have waited a long time to play Soundwave, to play in front of more fans and play what we all love, METAL!
Final question, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice about music/playing in a band/touring life – what would it be?
Maybe take it a little more serious in the beginning. You can have fun, but you also need to realize it’s a business and your career.
Many thanks to Chuck for taking the time to chat to us. ‘Dark Roots of Thrash’ is out now.