TESTAMENT’S Brotherhood of the Snake Tour (with special guests SEPULTURA and PRONG) is currently underway and yours truly will be taking in the show tomorrow night as part of my 44th birthday festivities. As I’m sure you are all aware, Brotherhood was one of my Top Albums of 2016, so to get to hear some of these crushing new tracks live has me geared up like a madman. I recently spoke with guitarist Eric Peterson by phone about the tour and all things TESTAMENT. Check it:
Amps: Last time we spoke I hadn’t heard the album yet. Now that I have….OH MY MOTHER OF GOD, Eric, it is PHENOMENAL!!
Eric: Oh thank you. I think it’s really sinking in. When it first came out and we opened up with “Brotherhood of the Snake” and people really didn’t know it yet. So Chuck (Billy, vocals) was like, “We shouldn’t open with this. They don’t know it!” And I was like, “We just have to stay the course, stay steady.” And slowly they started getting it. We just played japan, and in that mid-section where it breaks down they were singing louder than the band! So I was like, “Okay, it’s on. It’s hitting!”
Amps: This package of you guys, SEPULTURA, and PRONG, this is a fan’s dream come true. How cool was that to put together?
Eric: The bands all have new records out now, and all three records are killer so it made perfect sense. What fan wouldn’t wanna go see this?
Amps: How many new songs do you plan on doing? or is that top secret?
Eric: We plan on doing as many as possible. That’s the argument, “I wanna play this one!”, “No, I wanna play this one!” (laughs) and it’s a good argument to have. So we agreed on five or six.
Amps: Okay, so you drop an album like this on our heads. It must be a nightmare putting together that setlist, I imagine.
Eric: It really is. I think the big confrontation is between Chuck and the band (laughs). In all fairness, his instrument is his voice. So it’s more physically demanding. If I say, “Fuck, I wanna open up with ‘Demonic’!” He’ll be like, “Dude, I can’t open with that, you nuts?” I remember when Alex Bent (drums, TRIVIUM, DRAGONLORD) filled in with us for a couple of festivals. Me, him, and Chuck were rehearsing some stuff and Alex is kind of shy so he says to Chuck, “Uhhh, Mr. Billy? I got the setlist and I’m kind of confused…how come we’re not opening with ‘Demonic’?” (Both of us laughing) And the way he said it, it was just too funny.
We have plenty of songs to choose from, but it does get really tough. We manage to find the right songs that we’re all happy with. Right now we have a couple of challenging ones but we’re pushing ourselves and hopefully it works out and we’ll be able to play some stuff that people have on their Spotify playlists, songs that need to be played that we’ve never done.
Amps: It’s in my phone, and it will not leave there EVER!!
Eric: Well you’re a true fan. And that’s not to say our other fans aren’t. But not everyone has $100 a month in their budget or whatever to spend on records and we understand that. I’m blown away by how much money I spend on CD’s, you know? If I go into a store to buy one I come out with a bunch!
Amps: And you also have the sickest merch. Every time I’m at a TESTAMENT show my wallet cries when I leave.
Eric: And now we’ve got the credit card machine, so you’re not REALLY spending money, right (laughs)?
Amps: Brotherhood is just riffs on top of riffs on top of riffs. This is such an all-out attack, and I think you did a brilliant job on this one.
Eric: Oh thanks a lot, man. Even though it takes us a little bit longer to get a record out, time really does help. Because writing a record within a year, yeah you can do it and it might be great, but the next year you might be onto something else. Just like our first two records and coming back with The Formation of Damnation, those three are the pinnacle of a good record because of time, different influences, and chapters of your life that go into the songs. It’s the same way with this one. One riff is back from The Gathering sessions, I think. I forgot about it and just found it.
Amps: Well, all my friends and I are in agreement that it feels like you’re getting the shit beat out of you for an hour, but it feels great.
Eric: (Laughs) that’s awesome. And that’s what we went for, for sure. No compromising on it. My forte, my contribution is brutal riffs. Then when Alex (Skolnick, guitars) comes in it gets more melodic. He’s stamped all over this thing, all his solos are killer. But the riffs are my main contribution. I’m being The President right now and patting myself on the back (both of us laughing)!
Amps: If you had to pick a favorite track or two, what are they?
Eric: Hmmm…tough question. I like ’em all for different reasons. The more obscure one, and I also have a one minute guitar solo on it, is “Black Jack.” That one’s a lot of fun, and I love the way Chuck’s voice sounds on it. But I would have to say “Seven Seals” and “The Pale King” are my favorites. Those represent. Represent TESTAMENT for President (laughs)!
Amps: What do you want to say to all the fans out there who are coming to see you blow shit up?
Eric: First of all, it’s our 30th anniversary, 30 strong years of TESTAMENT never surrendering, never compromising, as our fans know. It’s just humbling all the way through. And if you haven’t heard Brotherhood of the Snake all the way through, listen to it and you will know exactly why the snake is eating its tail.
30 years is a long time to be thrashing it up and busting heads in city after city, but Eric Peterson and all the guys in TESTAMENT make it look easy, even though it clearly isn’t. The Brotherhood of the Snake Tour is almost halfway through, with 23 more dates remaining. Get your tickets HERE. Whatever you do, don’t miss this fucking show, people!! And if you’re in Philly tomorrow night, come say hey!