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Eric Peterson – Guitars for Testament and Dragonlord

Date: 02/27/07
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. So are you in the middle of working on the new record?

ERIC: Yeah actually we are doing some tracking and pre production for the record.

2. The last Testament record of new music was “The Gathering” in 1999. You must have written a considerable amount of songs since then. What do you do with all that material now that Alex is back in the band?

ERIC: Well its still all Testament stuff, its not like we are conforming to jazz or anything you know. I am just all the more ahead of the game and if anything we are just picking the really good good stuff out of that batch, which to me all of it is really good but people are a little more picky. First we make sure everybody really likes what they hear in the song. With Alex on board again when it comes time for the lead section its just a matter of showing him where the spots are, see what his ideas are to see if he wants to add another riff or whatever put, he is pretty on when it comes to that stuff you know. That’s the way we have always done it.

3. So as far as writing the basic structure of a song you are the guy that does it?

ERIC: Well I have about six songs down on tape with our new drummer Nick Barker and then I have about five or six more left to record. In between that we have written a couple new new ones like within this month.

4. What’s going to be different about the songs that you write by yourself and the ones you collaborate on with the other guys in the band?

ERIC: So far we are using all the ones I have done on my own and then I pretty much have a basic structure of what I want it be like. Then when I am working with the drummer, depending on who it is, they will put their own style on it. Working with Nick you know he is filling it out but he is also putting his own little Nick Barker tricks in it. Its cool man its sounding really good.

5. Was there a lot of stuff recorded already before Nick Barker started working with the band?

ERIC: Yeah there was a lot actually and we re recorded that stuff with him.

6. And what has he brought to Testament’s music?

ERIC: A lot actually just listen to the last couple Dimmu Borgir records that he played on. To me that’s like the best stuff he has done and he has to top that (laughs) or be up to par with it. I mean its sounding really good so far, the riffs are really strong and him coming in with his style is helping the music a lot.

7. Will Nick do the tour also?

ERIC: Yes.

8. What previous records can you compare the new Testament music to?

ERIC: I think it has the power and heaviness of “The Gathering”, overall meets “The Legacy” “New Order” vibe but a little more modern maybe like “The Gathering”. Whatever comes out of the speakers that sounds good there you have it and this ones gonna be good too, its slammin. Its like “Over the Wall” meets “Damage Inc” but I don’t want to give too much away. When people hear it so far, I am very interested in people’s reaction, and people are just like “Fuck”. And Nick’s rolls are just crazy you know (as Eric does some air drums over the phone for me), and we are pushing him too.

9. Can you tell us a title for the disc or songs?

ERIC: Well we have a couple working titles but nothing I want to reveal yet. Songs titles right now are just working titles after the months of the year. Like we have one called “March”, just certain things that represent the way the songs sounds you know. There’s one I got that’s pretty close to being finished called “The Great Revenge”, that’s pretty cool. I’m just waiting for Chuck to get some lyrics for it.

10. Speaking of that’s what I was going to ask next. Does Chuck Billy write just the lyrics?

ERIC: Yeah pretty much, we rock out together once I get my ideas down with the drummer and he figures out what he wants to write, and you know he’s real hard on me too as far as what the music is sounding like, laughs. And I am hard on him as well. You know it makes for quality in the end.

11. Does the new record have the variety/dynamics of “The Ritual”, or is it more straight ahead thrash like “The Gathering”?

ERIC: You know this record is for us really. No record label is saying “You know this is your third or fourth record so this is it, make or break”. We are not looking at it like that you know. We are looking at it like we are Testament and its really about that we are a thrash band, melodic heavy thrash with songs that go over live and move people……”Into the Pit”, “The Preacher”, all the earlier heavy stuff you know…..”DNR”, “Three Days in Darkness”….that’s what we are really framing the new stuff around. That’s what we are all about.

12. How about the “Live in London” DVD with the reunited classic lineup. Are you happy with that and is there anything you would change?

ERIC: Well it captured a period when we got back together I mean we hadn’t played together with that lineup for over thirteen, fourteen years. It was like the fourth show of the tour so that was pretty cool. Would I want to do another recording now with “DNR”, “Burnet Offerings” and more songs yeah and I’m sure we will.

We are also bringing back Bill Benson the artist who did the covers for our first five covers, that being “The Legacy”, The New Order”, “Practice What You Preach”, “Souls of Black”, and we already got the cover and its awesome. When you see it you’ll go “Oohh that’s Testament”.

13. Will Louie Clemente play anything on the new record or will it be all Nick Barker?

ERIC: At this point no. I mean he is a brother and a great friend, we all talk to him. He came back for a little while, it was a lot of fun and then the pressure got put on and there was a lot of questions regarding his playing, introducing him to “D.N.R.” and stuff like that. The double bass stuff was a little ruff for him. You know I mean “Over the Wall” was pretty crazy for the drums but that stuff is embedded in his brain you know. That’s one thing Testament never really did in the past, all the double bass you know, although “Over the Wall” is…I don’t know I can’t figure it out Hahaha. All I know is that the new stuff is really slammin and I think its gonna be worth the wait.

I’ve been really excited over the last five years working with different drummers and then that falling apart but this time around its going to pay off I think.

14. What is the projected time frame for the new records release?

ERIC: I would say this fall. Definitely right after the summer and it will be recorded in the summer.

15. The official Testament website has made several official bootleg concerts available to the fans. Are you happy with those and are there any pro shot shows that will see an official release on DVD?

ERIC: We have the Wacken show from 2003 recorded with Steve Digiorgio on bass and Steve Smyth on guitar, that’s something in the vault that was a pro shoot but I don’t think that is something we would release now that the original lineup is back together. Maybe later down the line like old guys with classic old shit (laughs). The bootlegs I think are cool and they are great for the fans, I think all bands should do it man. It brings in a little extra cash and helps pay for things (laughs), fans get to see different times and lineups in the band. Its not always the best quality but they still have menus, you can skip from track to track, backstage extras sometimes, even easter eggs.

16. The “Seen Between the Lines” VHS home video was recently released on DVD. Do you know why the videos for “Over the Wall”, “Trial By Fire”, “The Ballad”, and “The Greenhouse Effect” were not then included for the DVD since they were also left off the original release?

ERIC: O yeah that’s right they were left off, man we have done eleven videos all together including “Return to Serenity”, “Electric Crown” off “The Ritual” and the title track off “Low”. We did contact Atlantic about putting all that out, 2007 is here and we have been together for twenty years. I mean its something we are going to look into just right now we have so much going on with recording the new album, tour dates in the summer. I think once all that happens we will look into that.

We did videos for “Wall” from "Legacy", “Trial” and “Nobody’s Fault” off “The New Order”, title track for “Practice” along with “Greenhouse” and “The Ballad”, “Souls of Black” and “The Legacy”, “Return to Serenity” and “Electric” off “The Ritual”, and “Low”…Wow no wonder why we are in dept (laughs). Man videos back then were so expensive, record companies would charge like a hundred grand to make a video depending. They were like movie sets sometimes you know.

I remember, funny story, we did a video for the title track of “Souls of Black” with this guy I think it was Mark Rensner, and he built this set with the flames and car crashes, this whole set up. And after he’s like “Yeah this is gonna be a great video for MTV” and we spent all this money on it and then about a month later this band called Firehouse came out with a video and they had our exact same set. The same one we had first and we were just like fuckin Uugghh. There’s more to it but that’s the gist. We haven’t done a video in a while so I imagine we will do something for this record.

17. Just to go back to “Demonic” for a second. What was the reason for Chuck’s more death metal vocal style? Was that something you were trying to do for your other band Dragonlord or something that just happened for that record?

ERIC: Well at the time Dragonlord didn’t happen for another five years. But after Alex and Louie left at that point we had done “The Ritual” and we wanted to go in a heavier direction so we did “Low” and on that record I wrote a song called “Dog Faced Gods”. When Chuck started out singing the song he was doing it in his regular voice so I asked him to do the lower end growls, which he only did from time to time till now, for the whole track. So it turned out just killer, I mean he always had that voice but only used it here and there on songs. So we ended up liking it so much that on “Demonic” we just went nuts (laughs).

Looking back on that record I love it, it slams. It made us a heavier band and it took us out of the commercial vein and it brought back some more respect to the band from the more heavier scene I think.

18. And are you working on new Dragonlord material and when do you see that coming out?

ERIC: Actually right now I am editing some stuff from Japan where we played the “Thrash Domination” festival. We had a six camera shoot the audios great and right now we are editing the film and its looking killer. Some cool special effects, we are looking to get it out in June. We have the guitar player Gian from Cradle of Filth, he played on the DVD. So its basically the “Black Wings of Destiny” lineup with Gian. I better get the Testament stuff done first before I handle the Dragonlord thing though.

19. Touring plans for 2007/08?

ERIC: We have a lot of festivals coming up this summer over seas and a few with Dragonlord as well. Also trying to get Dragonlord to get over to the east coast by you sometime soon, maybe in May or June I hope. I’m sure Testament will do some dates in the States in the fall. Wherever we play we get good sized crowds, good people. The European countries do get all the cool festivals.

20. Any plans for the Testament back catalogue to be reissued and remastered with bonus tracks?

ERIC: I think Atlantic just released them in Europe, maybe remastered or something. We may do a box set but that wont be planned out until after the new record. We had “Reign of Terror” which was a left over from “The legacy” but that has been included on a couple compilations already. Pretty much everything we ever put down was a keeper. I mean that would be cool to do that, probably just bring up the levels on the original mix and make it sound a little more slamming.

When we did the re recordings for “First Strike Still Deadly” that songs were recorded at a little slower pace but heavier. Those sound really good in the car, that’s where we actually do our listening back when we record, in our cars. I mean that’s where people mostly listen to music anyway. People think we are nuts but if it sounds all wuffy and weird then we say fuck it. When we were working on the Dragonlord in Europe they kept playing back on the big expensive speakers and I was like “You got a boom box”?

21. Closing thoughts?

ERIC: Just be patient the new Testament will be out soon, Nick’s here with me, its gonna happen. The new Dragonlord DVD is sounding great also, even sounds better than our records, got it down a lot better. We will see you over the summer.

Official website: www.testamentlegions.com

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