Testament interview

Originally published in ‘zine issue #1, 1991

I had to cruise out to Greenbelt, Maryland, to the Marriott Hotel there to meet Louie Clemente, the drummer of Testament. The band was touring for the new album Souls of Black at the time, which was December of 1990. Anyway, we sat down on the ground floor of the extravagant hotel on a couch, next to some guy in a tux loudly playing boring songs on a piano. There were people in nice clothes everywhere for an expensive banquet nearby.

D.U.: Question number one—

Louie: Is that [tape recorder] gonna pick it up?

Yeah, it’s okay. The Live at Eindhoven EP, it sounds like you did a lot of overdubs in the studio on that.

No way, man, that’s fuckin’ pure live. It sounds like shit. I dunno. It was good. I mean, you can hear the energy and stuff on it. I wish we did overdubs on it.

So you don’t dig it that much?

I like it, but it’s not good at all. You can tell it’s live, totally.

If you could think back to when Steve Sousa got in the band, was he one of the original members when you first formed?

Not really. Me and Eric [Peterson, rhythm guitar] started the band, and Steve came into it about a year later.

Did he leave because Exodus asked him to come in or what?

Yeah, he left to join Exodus.

How did you find Chuck Billy on vocals?

We just practiced at this studio, and Chuck was trying out for another band. And we knew Chuck through some people. We just tried him out and he sounded good, so we kept him.

Why did you change the name from Legacy back then?

‘Cause there were other bands with the name Legacy, and at the time we didn’t have the money to go into any kind of legal battle or anything, so we just decided to change the name.

Photo of Testament from the "Practice What You Preach" album

How come Alex Perialas didn’t produce the new album?

It was time for a change. It was time to move on. I mean, we can’t sound the same all the time. Michael Rosen, who produced it this time, engineered on the last record, Practice What You Preach, so we just decided to use him.

How do you like it? Do you think it turned out cool?

Yeah, it’s the best Testament album ever.

You like this one the best?

Yeah, everybody does.

Did you do the new record live in the studio again?

No, me and Eric did all the tracks this time. All the basic tracks we did live. And then Alex [Skolnick, lead guitar] and Greg [Christian, bass] and Chuck came in and did their tracks. But me and Eric did ours together.

If you run into fans from the first record, do they tell you that you’ve sold out? Do you get a lot of that?

I never met anybody that said we sold out, ever.

Why don’t you tell me about the European Clash of the Titans.

Oh, it was cool. We played in front of about 10 or 15,000 people a night. And Slayer and Megadeth and Suicidal [Tendencies] were really cool, and it was just a good, fun tour.

When you hook up with Slayer for the U.S. version of the tour, are you looking forward to it, or is it gonna be the same old thing, ‘cause you did it already?

No way. We’re looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a lot better in the States, I think. A better tour.

That’s weird, because I hear the fans in Europe are a lot more into it.

I know it’s gonna be better in the U.S. This music’s getting more popular in the United States. It’s getting big.

“We do what the fuck we want. Nobody influences us.”

How is it for you that you’re playing all these big arenas and the kids can’t dive anymore? Do you feel diving’s a big part of the show?

I mean, people diving and stuff, you know, that interferes a lot with the band playing most of the time. They get up and kick all the guitar stuff.

Do you miss playing the little clubs?

We play little places all the time. I mean, when Judas Priest takes a day off, we don’t take a day off. We go play a club. So does Megadeth.

What’s your opinion of the parental advisory stickers they put on the albums?

I think they should be on there if the album needs it.

You don’t have any problem with it?

We never had a problem with it. We’ve never been stickered. But, I mean, I don’t believe in censorship of any kind, but a sticker is not censorship. A sticker is just like rating a movie R or PG, y’know, so that’s cool.

How did you get the Megaforce Records deal? Did you send it a demo and it liked it?

They just heard of us through the demo and wanted to sign us.

What’s the deal with the different logo on the new album cover?

Just fit the album cover better.

Was that you guys’ idea?

Oh yeah. Everything’s our idea.

So then, you don’t get any pressure from the label telling you to do this or do that?

We do what the fuck we want. Nobody influences us.

I know that’s a big worry with bands, that their record company will push them around.

Yeah, we don’t worry about it. Megaforce and Atlantic, they’re not like that towards us. They give us freedom. That’s important.

What advice would you give an up-and-coming demo band on getting a label?

Just try and do something different than everybody else. And just work really hard and never give up. Always practice.

That’s all the questions I have. Do you have anything to say to the fans, like to sign off with?

Yeah, thanks for supporting us, and buy our fuckin’ record. ■

Photo: Testament (courtesy Atlantic)


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