1. The latest Testament album, “The Formation Of Damnation”, landed on the US Billboard Charts in the Top 60, received rave reviews and several awards. Would you consider it the band’s most successful album?
ERIC: It’s a great album for a band that has been making music for 25 years to come out with. Look, if you look at the history of bands that have been around for 25 years, they have good records but they don’t have records that have that feeling like its their first record. I think that’s what made “Formation” so great. “Formation” captures Testament when we were at our peek in the late 80s into early 90s. “The Gathering”, to me is a personal favorite because its more brutal, but “Formation” is great for what it is. Chuck is great vocally on “Formation” and Paul’s drumming is absolutely incredible. Paul’s work on the first Forbidden record is great, love his drumming. But everything about “Formation” is killer. I go back and listen to the album and still pick up on little things and think “wow…did I write that riff, haha”.
2. Do you have any songs left over from the recording of “The Formation Of Damnation” and will they show up on the next album?
ERIC: Yes. We have a lot of riffs left over, songs…maybe one or two ready to go. After the touring is done in Sept/Oct I will start putting stuff together and hopefully the album will be out in 2010. A couple songs are complete, just not vocally. One song is a ballad and we haven’t had a slow one since “Low” (‘Trail Of Tears’), and this one is incredible, I love it. It reminds me of something off Scorpions “Lovedrive”. It has a very festive feel, very wintery European feel.
I came up with some new riffs recently, one after I saw the new Underworld prequel Rise of the Lycans, couple chords progressions. No lyrics yet for the new stuff.
3. Do you have a direction for the new songs?
ERIC: Probably more melodic and more heavy, the best of both worlds like “The Formation of Damnation”. Lookin at more thrash on the new record, but yet there will a ballad, haha. More of everything, less of nothing, haha.
4. Looking to try anything new with the music on the new album?
ERIC: You know for the slower song I am lookin to get some strings (violins, cellos) on it instead of like the black metal keyboard thing. Actually getting a real symphony on the slow song and I tried it out with my Drangonlord keyboard player and it worked. He actually thought it was for a Dragonlord. I think it could be really cool and I wouldn’t let it take over the song, more of an atmosphere thing.
5. Do you see orchestral sounds in a Testament thrash song or do you think it may take away from the power and intensity?
ERIC: That’s more Dragonlord’s thing, that’s Black Metal territory. The closest we got to that was “Demonic” but that was with a death vocal.
6. Do you and Alex (Skolnick) sit down and write/work together on Testament music?
ERIC: We have, on this latest record he wrote the lyrics and music for ‘Fear’, we co wrote ‘Dangers of the Faithless’. For the next record if time permits we will work together. See its hard sometimes because he is also busy with the Trans Siberian Orchestra and when he is doing that I will work on music regardless. But it is important to Testament’s sound that we work together so even if I write a lot of the music we still collaborate at some point.
7. Testament recently played “The Legacy” and “The New Order” in their entirety. Were those shows professionally video taped?
ERIC: They were recorded but not professionally, unfortunately. See that whole thing was done accidentally because our label kind a let the cat out of the bag that we were planning to do that but it wasn’t set up to record them professionally. It was like a spur of the moment idea so a professional taping was not in the plans. Would love to have recorded something like that but maybe in the future we can do it again with better planning. But we have some other cool things happening for this current run, like we have three different sets that the fans can vote on and each city will get the set with the most votes. This is also our first headlining tour in a couple years and we are bringing out some decent bands, Unearth and Lazarus A.D. We also are offering these VIP packs, they are a bit of money but they go a long way I think. Like you get to see our sound check which is cool because we play some different songs not in the live set.
8. Plans to film another show for DVD?
ERIC: Yeah definitely. You know that first DVD (Live in London) we did in 2005 when the band go back together was cool but now we have been out touring and really are in our groove. We have a great set now with some more variety so I would really like to do one.
9. You said that as part of these VIP packages the fans get to sit in on the sound checks, and what makes that cool is you play some different songs not in the setlist. Have you considered taping these sound checks and including the footage on the next DVD?
ERIC: You know it wasn’t considered but that is a good idea, haha.
10. How often does Testament change the setlist?
ERIC: You know we do that rather often. Like right now we have three sets, one is “The Legacy” plus a best of, one is “The New Order” plus a best of, then one is just a variety of songs new and old.
11. Here are some songs I would like to hear in the set. What do you think?
ERIC: Yeah I definitely want to put that one back in there. That would definitely be a song I want on the next DVD.
Trial By Fire:
ERIC: No. We tried it in the past but it just didn’t work out.
Face the Sky:
ERIC: That one we haven’t played in a while. I like that song, man we haven’t played it since that tour. That’s a good idea.
Seven Days of May:
ERIC: You know, that’s a song I got the band to play a rehearsals, definitely one of my favorite songs, I love the music it reminds me of something off “In Justice For All” (Metallica), the lead section reminds me of something off Maiden’s “Powerslave”. It’s a very unique song. Alex wrote those lyrics and they mean so much, its fucking amazing. Its so Metal. Problem is the way Chuck has been singing it he’s not happy with it. If I had to put my foot down on one song and be a baby about it, hahaha, that may be the one. I know the guys like to play it but Chuck isn’t feeling it yet.
ERIC: That’s a great song as well, Greg has also brought that one up. Its got a great groove and I love the lead section, I do the first one which is more like a theme and then James Murphy (former Testament guitarist) comes in and its pretty killer. Yeah, those are some good song ideas.
12. Which songs would you like to add?
ERIC: I like ‘Leave Me Forever’, I think live it would be pretty fun. It has a lot of air to it, its bass and drums, the guitars swell in and then the middle part with those stabs, I can see it live being pretty heavy. ‘Urotsukidoji’, the instrumental off “Low” would be fun. ‘Low’ was in for a while recently. ‘Dog Faced Gods’ has made its way in recently a few times. ‘The Persecuted Won’t Forget’ is really epic. ‘Sins of Omission’ we put back in. You know there is one song I’ve always wanted to play was ‘The Ballad’, its not mirrored, its starts slows but does not go back to that, it starts slow and ends fast. Its different.
13. Testament’s plans for the rest of 09 into 2010?
ERIC: We are finishing this tour then home for a few weeks. Once home I will be doing this Rock House DVD for rhythm guitar. After, we go to Europe July 2 to August 10th doing the festivals and some headlining shows. After that, back home for a month then we go to Mexico, South America, and Japan, then that’s it.
Alex will do Trans Siberian Orchestra for a few months, Paul, Greg, Chuck and myself will work on some stuff and that will be it until 2010 when we will continue work on the new album.
14. What’s going on with your other project Dragonlord?
ERIC: In the winter we will do some shows, gonna hit the east coast for a few dates. Maybe put out a new record too.
Dragonlord is more of a side project, those songs for Dragonlord didn’t get to live before they were born, if that makes sense?
15. Being Dragonlord is Black Metal, who are some of your favorite Black Metal bands?
ERIC: There are three of old; Bathory, Venom, and Mercyful Fate. More modern influences are Emperor, Dimmu Borgir (“Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” is great), and Old Man’s Child.
Official website: http://www.testamentlegions.com