It was great. We played a coliseum actually. We were very surprised that we were playing something that big. It was like 10,000 people but there were a lot of good bands playing with us. Destruction, My Dying Bride, Kreator, Paradise Lost, Entombed.
Oh my God.
That was really cool and it was in Poland. The weather was pretty nice.
We also played Hungary the night before which was more like a place like this, like a theater. That was pretty cool.
Yeah, I bet it was. How long have you guys been out on tour?
Well, we do a week here and a week there. One month weíll do three shows in Europe and weíll come back and do four in the States and then weíll take off because everybody has a lot of shit going on in their lives. Itís actually a lot better for us because it keeps us really fresh I think on the music.
Yeah, youíre not stuck on a bus.
Yeah, weíre not stuck. Weíve been there and done it and we enjoy it more this way.
Right, I can understand that.
Now weíre here. We havenít played Texas in I donít remember when. Itís been a long time so weíre pretty excited to be here. Just when we landed when we got outside, it was like this is Texas. This is the feeling youíre feeling like when you go to Hawaii, you can feel this is Hawaii or Seattle. Itís a good feeling.
Yeah, every place definitely has its vibe.
Yeah, so itís cool. Itís good to be here.
I am fucking excited to have you guys here. This is incredible. Itís my first time seeing you guys live. I cannot wait.
We have a good set. Itís a good time to see us I think.
Well, you guys have been together for over 20 years.
Well, this lineup was together for about 12 or 13 years. Then three of the original guys left. Chuck our singer and I carried on and got other people and kept the name out there and did a lot of touring but now itís come full circle. Weíve got all the original guys back.
Youíve got all the boys back again except for the drummer.
Yeah, except for Louie. We got Nick Barker who needs no introduction. Heís bigger in the black metal scene but itís cool to have him with us and heís a big fan. Weíve known him through the last five or six years playing with Dimmu Borgir at festivals and heíd always come hang out with us and tell us heís a big fan. Of course Iím a fan of their music too so itís cool how it all worked out.
I absolutely love black metal. The sound of that music is so fucking huge.
Have you heard my other band, Dragonlord?
No, I havenít actually.
Weíre pretty close to Dimmu Borgir. Kind of a Dimmu/Naglfar/Anorexia Nervosa, really European sound. You would go ďthatís who?Ē
What? Theyíre not from Norway?
You can check us out at www.myspace.com/dragonlord.
I will definitely do that.
Iím singing on that and thereís keyboards. Iíll say no more.
Youíre doing the singing? Thatís cool. Absolutely awesome. You have pretty much all the original dudes back together. How has that been going so far?
Itís going great. As I said earlier, itís been a while since weíve all been together and metal is at a point now where itís popular again. When they came back, they came back at a good time. We were already doing really good but we pushed it to the top bringing the original guys back. Weíve always done great but I think the difference now is especially for the leads. Itís like somebody trying to copy Michael Schenker. There are people who can copy it and play it but Alex has his own feel.
That guy is fucking incredible. Heís absolutely incredible. I know he did a lot of jazz fusion stuff for a while.
He still does that. Heís actually going on tour very soon. I think heís going to be in Texas too. Thatís a totally different thing.
I think itís totally cool when people branch out and do other types of music as well as the type that they like. You donít get so burned out on shit.
That was the problem before. His heart was there and he was in Testament. We were always touring and he was fighting it. He felt like he didnít like Testament and he didnít like metal. He liked jazz. Now heís a jazz player but he also respects Testament because this is who he is and this is what heís done. A lot of people respect him. I canít say 100% that what Iím saying is right but I get the feeling that Iím right.
Yeah, you get that impression. Unbeknownst to usÖ
See, heís smiling. Heís happy.
Alex: I always smile. Hi.
Hi, how are you doing? Actually I interviewed you a while back about some kind of compilation.
Alex: Oh, yeah. How are you doing?
Alex: Yeah, I know I talked to you. That sounds familiar.
Yeah, it was some compilation CD.
Alex: Somewhere along the way.
Itís nice to see you.
Alex: Itís nice to see you.
Youíre going to be back in Texas soon with your jazz trio.
Alex: Yeah, I believe in May.
I overheard you talking about it so I told her.
Alex: Yeah, yeah. Dealing with routing issues.
Thatís always fun. You guys got to play in the Middle East for the first time back in May of 2006. What was that like?
That was really cool. I mean just going to Turkey, that alone is pretty crazy. Turkey for me was just to see how beautiful people there are and to hear the prayers in the middle of the city. Totally different vibe in just the way they think and the way they do things but theyíre still humans like us.
You listen to these fucking politicians and they tell you how theyíre all bad people and they all want to kill us. Iím like uh, whatever.
Theyíve got some pretty Third World rules. Like when we went to Dubai, I was blown away because people there are so beautiful. The men and the women. They werenít what I thought they would look like. Even the men were good looking and the women were like wow. The air was clean and the food was good and everybody was hospitable. The one thing that blew me away was the headline in the paper. I donít know if it was in Dubai but it was in one of the neighboring countries. There was a couple that had met each other out of wedlock. They were about to get married but I guess they went ahead and consummated it and they got caught and they got stoned to death by their families. The paper was talking about how the man was in critical condition and then the next day the paper said he died. I thought that was so sad. They were going to be together anyway. What the fuck?
I know they have some weird ideas over there but then you think about all the spousal abuse and shit that goes on over here. I think we have the same problems, itís just that they occur in a different manner. They have crazy people over there who commit suicide and blow people up but on the same token we have serial killers over here.
Yeah, the same people.
It seems to be the same sort of thing but done in a different way wherever you go.
With a twist on it. We like chicken and they like steaks. The food there was amazing.
Oh my God, I think Iranian food for example is awesome.
I eat humus and falafels here all the time but the humus there, I just wanted to lick my plate. It was so good. The people were great. I met a lot of kids at the airport. Long hair, Slayer shirts on, Testament shirts. Theyíre coming up to me and theyíre like ďyeah!Ē and theyíre hugging me. I asked them where they were from and they were from Iran and there were kids from Kuwait and Iraq but they were like ďdude, whatís up?Ē Like normal and Iím like ďyouíre from Iraq?Ē Heís like ďyeah, my mom let me fly here for the show.Ē Theyíre talking normal and our government just paints the wrong picture of people. It just really moved me.
Yeah, I guess you have to come across those people. You have to venture outside of the country and go around these people and see them for yourself.
And again weíre there to help them. Thatís the whole moral of our story I think. Weíre trying to help those people even though itís getting portrayed wrong.
Iíve had some friends who served over there and theyíve told me that weíve also hurt them a lot.
Yeah, we have.
Some of our soldiers have gone bad.
Oh yeah, big time.
Unfortunately thatís what people always remember.
Those people who have gone bad were already maybe a bad seed so to speak but theyíre there in the trenches getting spit on, getting bombed, so obviously theyíre going to go ďyou know what, fuck.Ē
Well, you guys did a DVD back in 2005 which was the Live In London DVD. There was some suggestion back then that you guys might be doing a new album again.
Yeah, weíre actually knee deep in production right now. So back then was talk and Iím like one of the main songwriters. Iíve had a lot of music but I never really got together with everybody yet but now I can honestly say that at our studio right now everything is miked up, Pro-Tools are hooked up, and in the Pro-Tools there are six new songs that IĎve written with our drummer Nick. Chuck and Alex have got another three. Greg has a bunch of ideas. So weíre basically done. We just need to get together and agree on what weíre doing. On what songs weíre going to pick. Weíre pretty excited. The stuff Iíve got is killer. Iím really excited about it. Especially working with Nick. It reminds me of when I worked with Dave Lombardo on the last record, The Gathering. It just put a new spark into me to have a good drummer.
I think you need to have a good drummer. Thatís the backbeat of the band.
Yeah, thatís the foundation. A good foundation is a good solid one.
Itís usually the drum tracks you lay down first.
Yeah, and then everything falls on top of that. If the drums suffer then the next part ends up suffering.
Iíve talked to a lot of bands who hate Pro-Tools and a lot who like Pro-Tools. How has Pro-Tools helped in the recording process for you guys?
Itís a lot quicker. You donít have to worry about tapes. If you have a crash on your computer thatís the downside of it but itís point and click. Thereís no rewinding a tape. Thereís no taking a tape off and putting it on. Basically you turn it on and everything is right there. You hit your program and it opens. You say okay, I want to work on song two. Click it and song two opens up. Bam. Thereís all the tracks. You push record on whatever youíre going to record like a part for me, record, push start, and start playing. You can loop stuff and just click. It enables the musician to have a fresh recording rather than having to deal with a bunch of crap. You have to know how to use it though. I took lessons and I would take classes. If you donít know what youíre doing, youíre like ďshit, what did I just do?Ē But you can always go back. If you fucked up you can go back and grab it. You can always go back and go ďoh, there it is.Ē
Yeah, I guess you can cue in to where you want to cue in without having to go all the way back.
Itís very military. Itís like Operation Testament. Itís pretty crazy.
How much longer is the tour?
Weíre booked through September now. Next Sunday weíll be in Fresno so weíre going from here all the way up to California. Then we go back into the studio and work on some more of the record. Then two weeks later weíre going to be in South America and thatís going to be for two weeks. We go to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile. Thatís a lot of fun. It sounds like fun but thereís a lot of traveling though.
I DJ on an Internet radio show and the guy who owns the station wanted to know you guys opinion on the RIAA basically wanting to shut down Internet radio and make it impossible for people to hear independent bands.
Things are changing. There are new things opening up. There are a lot of things that I donít even know about that are available that I actually see sometimes. Like ďwow, I didnít know that was there.Ē Or to hear things or download. I really wished that the industry would have grabbed on or when they had seen it coming, more or less indulged in it. And been a part of it rather than ignoring it. There are a lot of free downloads and there are a lot of things they could have done to prevent a lot of things. I donít know if Iím on the right track.
The thing that bothers me is that on corporate radio you donít really hear cool bands like Testament or Lamb Of God or Children Of Bodom. That kind of stuff does get played on Internet radio though. If they make it impossible for Internet radio to operate then you donít get to hear those bands anymore. Itís a form of censorship.
Yeah, thereís a downfall to it. Then there are things that make it more mysterious and more cooler I guess.
Any other thoughts or comments?
Weíre excited to work on a new record and get it done and itís going to be a good record. I think everybody will be really happy with it. Itís got all the spectrum of Testament but most of all, itís old school. Itís heavy.
When will we have that record in our hot little hands?
I would say that by the Fall it will be done.