Ready to hit this year’s Download Festival in Australia are thrash gods, thrash legends, thrash mentors, Testament. Whether you like the old Testament or the new Testament (and we’re not talking fictitious books ladies and gentleman), they’ll be a little of everything it seems for punters at this year’s Festival, and with a new album out in April, the band should be in fine form as they hit Australia. We caught up with O.G Testament guitarist Eric Petersen for a chat, talking Download, new album and even a bit of Dragonlord goss. Enjoy….
Eric, thanks for your time, Download Festival, Australia, finally we get to see Testament back down under. It’s been over 6 years I think since your last appearance in this country, as part of Soundwave Festival and the Dark Roots tour cycle. It’s great you’ll be here again, albeit a brief one as part of Download Festival 2020 in Melbourne & Sydney as well as one off headline show in Brisbane.
Yea, we’re pretty excited. As you said like 6 years. Soundwave went away now it’s Download. We’ve done Download in England before so looking forward to playing again in Australia.
I recall the shows from 2014 being very well received, a lot of old school fans throwing on their old battle jackets as well as the kids into thrash metal wanting to see some true thrash legends. they were some great shows. What were your memories from that Festival?
The crowd was great. That’s the main thing about Australia, the fans were really into it. I think when there’s a lot of bands playing it makes everyone play better and we feed off of each other’s energy. We’ll have a tour under our belt by the time we hit Download, so we should be ready to go by the time we land.
You’re also playing a one off sideshow at The Triffid in Brisbane, so a little holiday for you guys too up north. Do you get a little time to yourselves this trip or is it a fly in fly out business gig for you guys?
Well I don’t know what the days off are in-between shows. Hopefully there is a day off somewhere, that’d be nice but I’m also not sure how hot it’s going to be down there. I don’t know if we’re big fans of the heat right now ha-ha. We’ll be coming from places where it’s snowing.
And what can fans expect this time around? A bit from Brotherhood of the Snake album and some old tracks?
For sure. We don’t play there (Australia) a lot so we’ll do a lot of classic stuff and some new stuff. We’ll play a song off the new record, ‘Night of the Witch’, which we just released. It’s been well received, everyone’s digging it, so we’ll play that one live.
Killer track by the way, ‘Night of the Witch’. A real heavy, dark, thrashy track.
We picked one of the darker tracks from the new album. Actually the label picked it and we were questioning it as its kind of evil, but they were like, “no, it’s killer”, so alright. The one I picked was ‘Dream Deceiver’, which is more, you know, I don’t want to say safe, it’s still fucking heavy, but yea, they went with Witch.
The Download line up, have you had a chance to glance over who is coming etc.? I imagine you’re mates with Carcass, maybe Al from Ministry. Have you seen The Hu play live? It’s a bit of everything this line up, will be an interesting crowd.
I’ve seen the flyer one time and I pictured all these logos, I remember seeing Carcass on there. I don’t know The Hu. But I was blown away by My Chemical Romance. I was like, “What the fuck”! To tell you the truth I’m super exited. I’m a huge MCR fan. I was really sad when they broke up. For that kind of music, they were one of my favourite bands, for a hard rock band. Their killer, and I’m super exited to see their show.
It’s a different kind of line up this year at Download, a bit of everything. It’ll be a diverse crowd, that’s for sure, and I think that’s what makes it a great day out.
Definitely. I mean My Chemical Romance will bring the kids, and we’ll bring the heavy. I think its a good marriage, it’ll be cool. Introduce the kids to some classic thrash and let the old school metalheads check out My Chemical Romance. I mean they’ll probably have mixed opinions. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a MCR fan and I’ve always got a little heat from people, but I doubt they’ve even listened to them before. Their records are really good. They are really good songwriters.
New album, Titans of Creation out April 3rd. I read somewhere recently Chuck saying about the new record, of how Eric came up with a way to make Testament feel fresh and new but still Testament. He went onto say some tracks have a Mercyful Fate element to them. Was he right and what can we expect?
I think Chuck and I have learnt to work with each other in a way that (especially with him ha-ha), where he listens to me more. Just making the right elements and what the song is trying to say and that kind of thing. In the past he was probably not wanting to talk about witches and shit, I think he thought that was probably more like when we were younger or whatever, but a lot of people like dark movies and books and themes. We’re not evil, but I think it just goes hand in hand with the music.
Of course, Slayer has called it a day, but bands like yourselves, Overkill, Exodus, Death Angel, Kreator are still holding the torch high heading into the future for the thrash metal lovers around the world. You’ve even got a run of shows coming up with Exodus and Death Angel prior to Download. The old brigade are still going strong despite Slayer’s departure, what up and coming thrash bands have you excited about maintaining this genre into the future?
The band Power Trip are cool and there’s the band from New Zealand, Alien Weaponry. I really dig those two bands.
Do you get asked to mentor or give advice to any of these bands or do they feel intimidated coming up to you guys?
I mean I have conversations with younger musicians, asking how that or this or whatever did. It’s just cool, you can see the excitement, and them trying to strive for our level, so that’s cool.
Finally, is Dragonlord back on the back burner again after Dominion or will it again see the light of the day down the track?
It’s not on the back burner as such, but right now we have three good records, I think Dominion is a really strong one. We’re already working on some more cool stuff, so hopefully end of 2020, 2021 we’ll get in the studio and maybe try do some shows with it. I think Dragonlord influenced me to write heavier stuff for Testament. I even do some singing on the new Testament album which was cool and sing with Chuck on the track, ‘Curse Of Osiris’, so that’s a little different for Testament, but I enjoyed that.
Well, we look forward to hearing that. See you at Download.
Yea it’s going to be great.
Interview by James Birkin
Testament play Download Festival + their Brisbane sideshow in March
Download Festival Australia
Friday March 20th @ Melbourne Showgrounds, Melb
Saturday March 21 @ Parramatta Park, Sydney
Sunday, March 22 at The Triffid, Brisbane QLD