Chuck Billy - Testament

May 27, 2005

To kick things off, you guys have been delivering over 20 years of metal to the masses. How did you guys manage to hang on so long with all the different trends in music?

I guess it was just the main thing is the music. We've never really tried to jump on bandwagons so we've just been playing what we know how to do and it got us to where we're at now. We just stuck with it. I know that it was hard with all the different lineup changes we've had over the years but we've been fortunate enough to have some really amazing players play with us.

Sometimes it's kind of difficult to keep a band together especially when people are young and maybe a little bit hotheaded and don't want to be around each other.

Yeah, but we've had so many calibers of people going on tour with us or playing on records with us. We've never really had that situation. Everything is pretty friendly when we go on the road. We pick people that we enjoy being around and could have fun with it as well.

You guys just released a DVD called Between The Lines which is basically re-mastered from the 1991 edition of it.

Yeah, we re-released that on Atlantic Records and basically there was a limited press. It was only VHS and basically it was sitting on a shelf over at Atlantic. We told them we are still a band out there performing and why don't they just get that off the shelf and put it on sale. They finally went along with it and decided that okay they'll do it. We re-released it just because I thought it was a pretty fun video when we did it and like I said, it was a limited pressing of it. Now it's available to everybody.

You can't watch something if it sits on a shelf.

Exactly. They wanted us to put some new stuff on it but we didn't really want to do that. We wanted to sell that product for that product and leave it at that. We just shot a new DVD in London last week that we're actually working on right now editing.

When do we get to see that?

The release date is in September. It's with the original lineup and it's got some really cool interviews and hanging out with us in Europe. Some really neat stuff and it focuses on just the original band.

I was talking with Alex Skolnick not too long ago about his part in the Rush tribute album and we touched on the reunion a little bit. He was really excited about that. How has that been going?

It went good. Alex had a really good time. I think we all had a good time. Once we started performing on stage, it felt really comfortable and it felt like old times again. Everybody I think had a really good time with each other on stage. It was a good short 10 days. It wasn't too much for us all to hang out with each other. Ten days went by pretty quick. We all had a really good time, covered a lot of territory, and it was fun. Now we're talking about doing some more stuff together.

Like maybe some U.S. dates?

Yeah, we're going to be doing these three U.S. dates coming up in June. We're doing one in Virginia and one festival in Allentown, PA. That will be it so far that we've got planned for this lineup.

Have you guys been thinking of maybe working on a studio CD or anything?

Yeah, we've been working on one. Me and Eric over the last couple of years. We've got 25 songs but we want to maybe see if we can write a record with this lineup. The original lineup. After we do these U.S. dates, we just have to sit down and figure out how and when and where we're going to do it.

That will be absolutely cool. I'm glad you managed to fight your battle with cancer and I know you guys are doing a benefit for Cole's Cure in July.

Yeah, it's not quite Cole's Cure. It's Cole's parents. Cole actually passed away but his parents, we said we were going to help them in the past and the show just never came about. Now it is. Since Cole's passing, they've actually had another child and there are still outstanding medical expenses and other things that have come up over the past year. We decided this is a good time to do this because we're getting ready to go to Europe in July so let's do a warm up show in the Bay area because we haven't played the Bay area for so long. We can try to do two things. Get a warm up show in the Bay area plus raise money for a good cause.

I think it's absolutely horrific at how your kid can wind up sick with a terrible illness and these hospitals just run you into poverty.

If you had an 18 month old baby that was ill, I'm sure you'd be at that child's bedside 24/7. It's just like your life changes, their lives change, and their jobs are put on hold. Everything starts to add up.

I know. It's the hospitals I'm pissed off at. They're more interested in their profit margin than anything else and that's what pisses me off.

Right. It's a big game. Once you get your medical work, then it's the insurance companies playing games and trying to get reductions and breaks so they don't have to pay out as much money. It's crazy.

I get so irate when I think about things like that. Medicine is just one big scam.

U.S. health care sucks. You go to Europe and everybody is covered. If we were to go to Europe and we were to get injured, we'd go to the hospital and get attention and not have to pay anything.

They spend their tax money more wisely.

They definitely pay a higher tax. For them to drive, my friends in Holland have to pay thousands of dollars just to get the privilege to drive. It's really crazy.

Yeah, but at the same time that money goes towards the people when it comes to health care and other shit. You might have to pay thousands of dollars to drive but you don't have to pay thousands of dollars to go to the doctor. It all evens out in the end.

Yeah, that would be nice for the U.S. to learn something from that.

Once you get your studio CD nailed down, are there any other future plans?

Yeah, we have an offer to play some U.S. dates on a pretty big tour but we're still right now in negotiation with that. It's too early to say anything but if we do get it, we'll be on a six week U.S. tour playing everywhere. It'll be something that Testament hasn't really done in a while. Just a real proper U.S. tour. We'll know by the end of this weekend.

I was also delighted to find out you're an Oakland Raiders fan. So am I.

Oh yeah, a seasoned ticket holder.

Those guys are the metal of football teams.

That's right, they are.

That's the only team I know that can get shitloads of penalties and still make good.

Right, true.

Any other thoughts or comments?

We're working on getting the new record out. We'll get it out there and hopefully if we get this U.S. tour, we'll see a lot of people at the shows.

Testament