Chuck Billy: Testament’s New Album Will ‘Hopefully’ Be Out in April of 2019
Testament's Chuck Billy was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. He spoke about his influence for lyrics, including the television show Ancient Aliens, the difference in the interpersonal dynamic in the band in the '80s compared to now, supporting Slayer on their farewell tour and the next Testament record.
Following the latest run of touring with this massive tour that you guys are on, Testament are going to turn their attention to making a new album. What's on your mind that you'll want to say with the lyrics?
Well we don't know yet but I know on Brotherhood [of the Snake] I definitely ventured out and went to secret societies, alien creating mankind. It was really cool, a lot of the stuff - I research all that, so I don’t know. I still maybe might lean a little towards that. I mean, before you arrived I had Ancient Aliens on. I was watching it here, so I mean, I don’t know. I'm still intrigued by that. It still fascinates me. When it comes time to write, I really write off what Eric gives me — the vibe of the song has a feel of the title, the whole thing for me has to come together in that.
Chuck, the last two albums were very good; arguably your best. Does following up so much good work give you extra confidence or create more pressure?
It's more pressure and I think the pressure is good. Since The Gathering we've been kinda picking up momentum on our honing in our technique on what Testament is - and especially trying to sound more current than established back in the '80s or whatever. I think now it's definitely different.
Testament are supporting Slayer on their final tour. What will no more Slayer mean for other bands of their generation?
Well for the metal generation definitely what Slayer has done and started from and where they're at today and if you really were [there] from the beginning seeing how they stood strong and stuck to their guns and all the way from the beginning to the end, a lot of bands don't do that or they jump the ship and follow the bandwagon. The word Slayer - you have to scream it back. I don’t know man, I think it's a sad time, but I'm definitely happy to be a part of it. I have a lot of history with the guys and it'd mean a lot to us and it's awesome to be here with them.
Testament started as kids and grew up together. What's still the same about you, Eric and Alex and what is different?
Well I think we still think we're 21, [laughs]. Seeing from the outside in seeing what those guys wrote when they were 15 and 17 years old — the stuff of The Legacy to where they are today, they're a team, definitely. From day one when Alex came back in to the reunion in '05, Testament has been a totally different band with Alex back in it — the sense of confidence of having your team back together and see it through the end.
That keeps us young too. When we were younger, when we split apart, it was because we were young and probably didn't know how to respect each other's space or whatever. Here we are doing it again and it's a totally different way of life living together - we're mature. [laughs]
You have to learn how to live together. That's why a lot of bands don't make it. Hanging out with anybody 24/7 for more than the better part of a year, it's hard.
It is. And especially if an argument goes down, then you're living in close quarters with - it just really creates bad tension. So, fortunately, we don't have that now so that's why I think we're touring more because we're all having fun. We enjoy our company and we're doing it together.
Chuck, your voice and style are pretty distinctive in the heavy metal community. What other styles of music are you able to sing that might surprise people?
That's a tough question, but I think now, it's more different music I listen to. I'm into more bluesy stuff than [I was] growing up. I'd really like to try a crack at singing a bluesier thing without having to sing so fast tempo. That'd be more challenging because I don't get to really do that.
Chuck we've been reading a little bit about new Testament music and sort of a timeline. What can you tell us about your plans beyond this tour to get back in the studio?
After this tour we're going to do the second leg and once that's done the plan is to get a lot of riffs and stuff going out on this tour because we do have a lot of time on our hands. So by the time we finish this, we'll go home and me and Eric will really get together and really try to chop out a bunch of music because the goal is to get in the studio hopefully by January and have a record out hopefully by April. That's the goal.
I think it's healthy what you guys do. It's not like year after year. You do a record when you're ready to do a record.
Yeah, I mean I wish we could do it year after year. We talk about that because in our early years when we first came out we did five records in a row year after year and I think about it back going, man - we wrote a record and toured, [then went] right back in the studio, wrote a record, toured... there was no time off. But we had a lot of momentum going. So, you gotta think of that - you don't want to lose the momentum when you got something going, so it's a tough balance. But if you're prepared, we go for it.
Thanks to Chuck Billy for the interview. Get your copy of Testament's latest album, 'Brotherhood of the Snake,' here and follow the band on Facebook. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
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