In light of the announcement that Testament will be playing at the 2014 Soundwave Festival and ahead of the release of 'Dark Roots of Thrash' Testament's latest live DVD Undercover FM got to have a chat with the bands very own Eric Peterson!
(It was late overseas – so we cut straight to the chase!)
Undercover Fm: What can you tell us about ‘Dark Roots of Thrash’?
Eric Peterson: Dark Roots of Thrash is the name of the tour we did, which was the last States Tour we did. On that particular tour we decided half way through the tour, at the last minute that we wanted to film it. So within eight days we had it all ready to go, we had a club in mind that would work for it. It could have been any club, if we actually sat and thought hard about this and planned it, me personally I probably would have picked somewhere else in the world like Chile or Spain or somewhere that the crowd is a little more crazy – not taking anything away from New York though it ended up being a great show. It was put together last minute and it ended up good. It was one of those things that was thrown together really quick and it did something really cool.
It captured us in the glory of all the last four years of touring and all the work that we’ve done and the set list is on the heavier side of what we normally do. It’s basically a collaboration of songs from the first record all the way up to Dark Roots of Earth. Unlike the previous DVD in 2005 ‘Live In London’ which was more of a reunion show and those songs were more old school songs that were the era of the original line up. This new DVD is pretty much Testament and where we’re at right now and seeing us at our peak. Peaking meaning this is as good, not as it’s gonna get but we’re pretty much on our second wind and everything is killer right now!
Undercover FM: What made you decide you wanted to do another DVD?
Eric Peterson: Chuck, he just pushed and pushed it. I remember telling him “let’s plan it” and we ended up talking to the productions company and I was like “wait a minute, wait a minute, what?” it was really, really quick the way it happened. He just really wanted it to happen so there was a lot of I’s dotted and T’s that were crossed to get to it but we made it happen.
Undercover FM: Why do you think this DVD was so important to Testament?
I think it’s good, it came out really good. Sometimes things that aren’t planned and properly set up and all that good stuff, sometimes the things that are just done sporadically and quickly and thrown at you are some of the better things. It is probably out of all the live stuff we’ve done, this is more on the heavy side and the tempos everything I think we got right. I think it’s a very good representation of the fans knowing they’re going to get a great show especially on Blu Ray. This is going to be awesome to watch on a good system if you like watching a concert.
Also I think people that have never gotten to see us yet even though we travel all over the place – if you’ve missed us after this we will be doing only a couple of tours after this for this record. We are going to be doing a States Tour for five weeks with Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage and then from there as you know we will be heading over there to your neck of the woods and finally doing the Soundwave Touring Festival which we’re really excited to do by the way!
Undercover FM: Is this the first Soundwave Festival Testament has ever played?
Eric Peterson: This is the first Soundwave that we are a part of yes.
Undercover FM: How did that come about?
Eric Peterson: 25 years later!
Undercover FM: What can we Aussies expect to see at Soundwave?
Eric Peterson: Hopefully proper sound.
We’re not the opener but we’re not the headliner. We’ll see where we fall in the category of where we’re at on the bill.
In the early days I remember seeing Iron Maiden for the first time at A Day On The Green which was like a Soundwave kind of thing but when I was a kid we had A Day On The Green. It was basically an outdoor show on the Oakland Coliseum with bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, ACDC and Aerosmith. This was like the 78’, 79’, 80’s when I was in the 8th grade. I remember Iron Maiden I was there to see them, Number Of The Beast had just come out, they had just gotten Bruce and they came out and they sounded crap. I was so mad, I didn’t understand like “why don’t they sound good?” and later after I started to become a musician I started to understand the whole politics of the soundman you have and the crew and the politics of the bigger bands against the smaller bands and all that stuff. With all the put aside we are just going to put on the best show we have ever done.
We will be doing some of the more exciting stuff I would imagine. You will get the true essence of Testament.
We will be playing a lot of stuff off Dark Roots of Earth which is our newest record – it came out in 2012. We will be doing some classics. I would imagine we’re going to get 7-8 songs so it’s going to be hard to pick them, so we probably alter sets for each Soundwave show because I’m sure that there are some fans that go to all of them, so those people will get to see a different show every night.
Undercover FM: Why are you so excited to come to Australia?
Eric Peterson: Most bands don’t go there, or when they do they go once every record. I think we’ve gone like twice on each record. Australia is one of our favourite places to play ever since we went there the first time. It’s a great crowd, great food, great people and it’s just really exciting.
To be on a festival reaching way more people then we could have on our whole tour in one show – it’s just awesome.
Undercover FM: What are you most excited about this time?
Eric Peterson: Is there a Soundwave show in Perth?
Undercover FM: Yes I believe there is!
Eric Peterson: I really, really want to go and see Bon Scott.
He was a big idol of mine when I was growing up. AC/DC was the first concert I ever saw when I was growing up as a kid in 1979 and I got to go and see them at the first Day On The Green that I went to and I took a train there by myself and I met my girlfriend there and I got there and I pushed my way up to the front and AC/DC came on and you could hear the music and up comes Malcolm and I could see Cliff on the other side and then when Bon Scott came to the edge and I just looked up and saw him it was like, I can’t even explain the feeling that he gave me. Just the look on his face, the confidence he was just like ‘I got this’. He controlled just by standing there, his stance, that Kung Fu/Karate stance he had – he was just awesome. He was so larger than life and so cool – that was a really good show and it’s still embedded in my brain now.
Undercover FM: Do you think that Testament makes people feel like that?
Eric Peterson: In my opinion we have a lot of live qualities, a lot of the band members have some charisma. For rock and roll to have a singer that is larger than life and Chuck Billy is. When we first got him in the band it was one of those moments where his name was notorious for “this guy will kick your ass” like “watch out” and if you saw him at a party you would maybe turn and go the other way but then if you would get face to face with him, he would look at you with his green eyes and his American Indian features and physique and he would be like “sup” he was a man of few words but kind of had this grin on his face.
He is the kind of person that anywhere you go people are going to stop and look at you. When I’m walking around people kind of stop and look at me like “are you in a band?” but with Chuck they’re like “are you a movie star? What are you?”
Undercover FM: After you finish touring – what is next for Testament?
Eric Peterson: After we finish with Soundwave – usually we would tour for another year on this record but the live DVD will be out and that’s going to be something for the fans to trip on and listen to and watch and make that part of their heavy metal arsenal. We will be working on a new record actually, hopefully to have it out ASAP. We have a lot of ideas floating around. Chuck and I both have said to each other kind of at the same time but not knowing that we were going to say it to each other was I wanna write a record like how Led Zeppelin did like how they rented a house in the wilderness, like a haunted cottage and turn the house into a studio and record the drums in entryway. So that’s something we really want to do in our career. We’re not sure where we want to do it but somewhere by a lake and in a cabin. I’m into archery and Chuck is into shooting and hunting – who knows what kind of record it will turn out to be.
That will be the ‘Last Will and Testament’ – no I am joking but it will be a special one because it will be the last time that we wrote a record in those surroundings.
Undercover FM: Thank you so much for your time, I know it is late over there!
Eric Peterson: I was watching The Hobbit! I came home, put on The Hobbit and waited for your call. I love it. I love the song they sing in Bilbo’s house right before they leave on the voyage.
I’ve heard that you can go and visit the set in New Zealand is that true? I would love to do that. I might have to look into that after the tour is done.
I could see how much it costs to rent a Hobbit Hole!