Chuck Billy Talks Breaking Bands Management + Testament’s Future Plans
Testament frontman Chuck Billy was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. The rocker recently launched a new management company, Breaking Bands, and he discusses the challenges of taking on a different side of the music industry. Billy also offered an update on Testament's next album. Check out Full Metal Jackie’s interview with Testament's Chuck Billy below:
It's Full Metal Jackie, bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. On the show with us this week, we've got the one and only Chuck Billy from Testament. How are you?
Good, how are you doing, Jackie?
We're here to talk about not just Testament, but Chuck Billy the businessman. Part of a new management team, Breaking Bands, LLC, who have recently signed two bands: Forrest Day and Shattered Sun. Chuck, you bring unique experience to band management with Breaking Bands, knowing what it's like to actually be in a band. What aspect of all your years on tour and in the studio with Testament will serve you best when it comes to managing other bands?
Well, you know, being in the business for so many years, and, you know, being in Testament, and going through the climate changes of music and industry and production aspects of where it's started, and where we've started, where it's at today. I think we've gotten just a lot of insight on things, I guess, what to do, and what not to do.
I think with Breaking Bands with me and Jonny [Zazula] and Maria [Ferrero], I think it's kind of a collectively a cool team that we have, because Jonny being, you know, owning Megaforce records for so many years and signing a lot of bands and cutting deals and Maria having her PR firm and me just being on the road, we kind of all have our little area of knowledge that we put together with the acts we're signing.
You know, Exodus was actually the first band that we have and you know, we're doing some really good things with Exodus right now, and their new record's coming up soon and there's a lot of exciting things in the works, you know. But we're also trying to really look for new bands. There's so much to offer out there that's so new in the industry right now and that's what we're kind of looking for.
Chuck, being a great band these days seems like it's not enough. It seems like there's so many factors involved when it comes to breaking an artist. What intangible factors did you hear and see that made you think Forrest Day and Shattered Sun would be good bands to represent?
Well, first of all, Forrest Day, that was kind of, they're, I mean, when you think of our team, the first thing you think is oh, they're just going to look for metal bands. And that's definitely not the case, we're just looking for talented people and I think when I'd first seen Forrest, I'd seen him perform at Jason Becker Benefit Show. And they just blew me away. The sound was so new and fresh and the singer's really talented and he plays the saxophone and it was just really different and I really talked about them for about three weeks and when I finally seen them at the Testament studio we just happened to rehearse at the same place.
I started talking to him and got some more of his music because it was like two or three songs that really stood out to me. And it just, I don't know, tweaked my ear just the sound and the horn section and his great vocals, and to me, I thought, that was, he was just a great talent, first of all, before thinking about anything else. So I think with Forrest, really like, shined for me.
Shattered Sun was another act that was some kids from Texas, and they're more metal. I think they have a little more of what's going on today with newer metal acts that's just real brutal and really melodic and they're just a bunch of good young kids that are really hungry and really willing to learn and I thought it would be a great project for us to kind of like, you know what, we could really help guide these guys to do some good things.
Chuck, your partners in Breaking Bands, LLC had a hand in breaking Testament. Jon and Marsha Zazula and Maria Ferrero were the Megaforce Records team that released the first four Testament albums. How did the four of you balance each other to make a well rounded management team?
Well, you know, I mean, since it's the first for me in management, I think all of us, I think definitely everybody's individual experience come in. We all have our little area, like for me I'm the road dog, I know, I do a lot of the touring stuff, and production stuff and touring expenses and stuff like that. Maria, she's handles a lot of the promotions, marketing and Jon and Marsha really are into more deals, arts and contracts and stuff and it's nice.
It's kind of unique because we all are kind of learning from each other, their little areas of what we have to offer which is kind of cool and it's, you know, I could go way back with those guys and I've always had a good relationship with them and it's just a really good thing. Like, you know, I talk to Jonny and Maria like every day now and we're having a really good time with it, but it is a lot of work, you know. When we first decided, let's do this, you know, it's always easy in thought but till you actually get it running, it's a lot of work.
Oh I do, [laughs].
You should know.
Chuck, the last few years have been really productive for Testament, the last two albums, 'The Formation of Damnation' and 'Dark Roots of Earth' were strong and really well received. What's made Testament even more of a force now compared to when you were a bunch of kids in the bay area thrash scene?
We finally grew up. [laughs] At times when you're younger, it's kind of a competition. I think from 'Formation' to 'Dark Roots,' we kind of, especially in having the original lineup back together, something about that kind of put our minds at ease. We're playing for ourselves. We're trying to write music that makes us feel good and happy, and be proud of. I think people get it.
I think it makes us be better artists and songwriters. We're just writing with a little more confidence. It's proven. Something about that is the right thing for us. It's great, we're touring harder than we have in a long time. It's been great. We're getting along, there are no issues [laughs]. I think it's working again.
Chuck, anything you can tell us about what's happening with Testament?
We're working on a new record right now. Me and Eric [Peterson] are getting together, coming up with new ideas and riffs. I think within the next few months we're going to all get together, Gene [Hoglan] and Alex [Skolnick] are busy right now so me and Eric are doing most of the work right now.
Looking forward to it. Thank you so much for taking the time. Wish you the best of luck with these two bands and Breaking Bands, LLC.
Our thanks to Testament's Chuck Billy for the interview. Learn more about Breaking Bands LLC here. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.