Once again, Thrash Metal legend Chuck Billy called in to A&GS HQ to talk all things TESTAMENT! There’s a new album, Brotherhood of the Snake, coming in five days via Nuclear Blast Records, and it will knock everyone on their asses, trust me. We talked a lot about it, and some other stuff. Have a look:
Amps: Brotherhood of the Snake absolutely DESTROYS! I have a CD copy and it’s on my phone. I am never more than two feet away from this disc. I think it will be one of THE best of 2016.
Chuck: Thank you very much. There was definitely a lot put into this record emotionally, for sure.
Amps: “The Pale King” into “Stronghold” may be one of the strongest left hook/body blow combinations I’ve ever heard on a record.
Chuck: (Laughs) right on, man. Yeah, we’re actually shooting a video for “The Pale King” in a few weeks.
Amps: Tell me about “Seven Seals”. What’s going on there as far as subject matter? Because right away the lyrics jumped out at me.
Chuck: Well, that song is a special song to me. It was more frustration on top of the pile. I got into the studio to start recording and found out there was an extra track, which I had no idea about. By the time I got the song I was a little frustrated, but I listened to it, found a pattern, wrote it that day, and came back the next day. And it turned out killer, so those are the songs that are special to me just because they come together so quick. They’re those things that just kind of happen. And “Seven Seals” is about the Book of Revelations, which is basically sealed in seven seals, and when those seals are broken it’s the end of the world. And as each seal is broken something catastrophic happens, either famine or war. So it’s the story of breaking all the seals until the end of the world.
Amps: I know that you wrote “The Number Game” with Steve “Zetro” Souza. Was that something that was laying around for years or did you just get together and do it recently?
Chuck: No, me and Zetro have been writing together since the DUBLIN DEATH PATROL days. He wrote on the last couple records with me. I think he wrote three or four on this one with me. “The Number Game”, I had that line “Fourteen days, fourteen lives” stuck in my head and when we sat down to write I just said, “Dude, I can’t get that line out of my head.” So he goes, “Alright, let’s keep that and let’s make that fourteen day trip about a serial killer who’s on a killing spree for fourteen days, and we count it down, till he goes from fourteen to one.” And as it turned out we didn’t have to add or subtract any music, because the countdown landed at :01 perfectly. So that worked out cool. It was a pretty cool idea. It’s weird the way things worked out on the record.
Amps: Four years between albums is a long time to wait. How happy are you with the way this album turned out?
Chuck: Oh, I’m very happy. When it’s said and done we were all kind of a little worried going into the process because we wanted to have this record out in 2016. We knew we had to have the recording done in June because we were going to Europe. There was a small window of two weeks that Gene (Hoglan, drums) had available, so we said, “Book it. Book the studio.” This was the first time we went and did a record without rehearsing all the songs together. So going in I was a little nervous and scared. It really started taking shape as we got into the studio and tracked it and started building on the lyrics and putting pieces and parts together.
And I think by pushing the recording process on us it really pushed our backs against the wall. It made us dig down, and made everybody get a little more creative. Pour out that anger and angst on the record. But I think that’s what had to happen to go in and make this record what it was.We didn’t have to overthink it. Maybe if we had too much time we would have polished it up too much instead of keeping it raw. I mean, goddamn this thing came together and it kicks ass! I’m proud of how it turned out.
Amps: How is life in the boating community these days?
Chuck: It’s great, but it’s coming to the end of the season. Gotta pull the boat out of the water before I go on the road and put it away till next summer.
Amps: I know you have a tour that you can’t announce yet. All I ask is that you PLEASE come to Philly again! And if we don’t get the announcement soon my head might explode!
Chuck: Oh, we’ll be in Philly for sure. We’ve got a great tour package coming, and we’ll announce it after the record release. And no, we don’t want your exploded head to happen (laughs).
Amps: I knew Brotherhood of the Snake was gonna be good. I didn’t know it was gonna be THIS good.
Chuck: Sweet. Well, everything we went through, the emotions and anger, the fighting and frustration, everything we had to experience is what needed to be put into ourselves to get what we did on this record to be like it is. I wouldn’t want to do a record again like this, and I’m glad it turned out as good as it did, but it was very emotional trying to get this thing done for two years.
Amps: What would you like the listener to take away from this record?
Chuck: I think we wanted to take it back and put the thrash elements back into this record, which I think we accomplished. I don’t think we’re gonna have to wait four years for another TESTAMENT record, I can say that. We’re not spring chickens, we can’t let the momentum die down, you know?
Amps: What do you want to say to all the TESTAMENT fans in the world?
Chuck: You definitely gotta pick up this record if you’re a TESTAMENT fan. It will not disappoint.
Truer words were never said. TESTAMENT have hit the mark and then some with Brotherhood of the Snake. Get your copy on October 28 and break everything in sight. Just don’t try to bill me, because I can’t afford to pay for whatever damage you do!