Marko Syrjala and Arto Lehtinen of Metal-Rules.com recently conducted an interview with drummer Jon Dette (TESTAMENT, SLAYER, ANTHRAX, ICED EARTH). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal-Rules.com: Let's start with this most current thing, the ICED EARTH tour. This was another last-minute call tour for you, right?
Jon Dette: Definitely last call. It's just kind of been the theme of my year, it seems like. But it's great. ICED EARTH contacted me. I believe it was about two weeks before this run started and asked me if I could do this arena run with VOLBEAT. And I was introduced to them through our mutual friend Rob Caggiano, who is now playing guitar for VOLBEAT. And so that's how that connection started. So, yeah. They contacted me. I spoke to [ICED EARTH mainman] Jon Schaffer and they gave me 12 songs to learn on a very short amount of time. So, it's where you get into a room you start woodshedding and go, "Okay. Just take a song a day or two songs a day burn it into my brain." It's memory retention, really. And it's been going great. Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves and having a great time; we are definitely drinking buddies. But I think for the fans that are watching ICED EARTH on stage, the reaction I get is that and just from the reaction also from the crew and people that are also watching from the side of the stage that they seem to think that it feels like a unit and it seems very solid. So, the response that I've gotten has been really positive. So I guess that means I'm doing my job.
Metal-Rules.com: You said that you made a deal with the band to make this tour but do you have plans to carry on with the band in the future?
Jon Dette: Well, that's being discussed right now. Right now the band is set up to… They've got a lot of touring ahead of them. Their record is going to be released in January; I think it's going to the first or second week of January, depending on what country you are in. So the next step from here is actually ICED EARTH is coming back to do their own tour in Europe, January and February. I believe that ends in Moscow, March and then they go to Australia, in New Zealand, then head down to South America and then straight to the States. I believe then it will be the festival runs in summer of 2014. So we are discussing that right now and my [schedule] is open right now. So, as I said I'm getting along, great with the guys and we seem to be enjoying ourselves on stage. So, if it's something that they want to move forward with, then I would definitely do it for them.
Metal-Rules.com: Yeah, it is funny that it was Dave Lombardo [SLAYER] who finished [TESTAMENT's] "The Gathering" album. So it seems that there are always the same names popping up everywhere?
Jon Dette: Well, it's like the little… I don't know. I think because those bands have toured together for so long over the years that they know each other. They know each other's skills; they know each other's people. So, things happen in bands as they normally do. And they are looking for somebody. You have to feel comfortable with someone; it's not just the skill. A lot of people, it's really easy for the public to make that assumption. Like, get this person to play for your band, this person. Because all they know is they skill, and they don't realize, like, you guys are traveling on a bus together. It's not a 9-to-5 job; you don't see this person for four hours in the morning and go to lunch, and then four hours later. And then everybody leaves for the weekend. You are with people constantly. It's like a relationship. And it's a very important factor when bands are looking for people or artists are coming together to do this. I always tell people, it's about who is the best person for that particular thing and it's like having a relationship with the girl. You could see the most physically beautiful woman with the biggest tits and the nicest ass. But somebody that's married could look at that woman and think of his wife as physically beautiful. But there is something more way beyond. What I'm getting there is a lot of things involved to make it work in a band rather, not just the skill set. Bad analogy, big tits and ass. [laughs] Sorry.
Metal-Rules.com: Right, many guys who we have interviewed have said that being in band is like a marriage.
Jon Dette: Absolutely, and it can be the littlest things. You could have four guys in a band that are chain smokers, and one guy who has the most amazing skill set in the world, but he hates cigarettes. Or vice versa, you've got four guys that don't smoke or don't drink and then you got one guy that just loves to party his ass off. Who is right and who is wrong? There is no right and there is no wrong, it's only what's right for that situation. But if you have people that have habits that are conflicting each other, social habits, whatever it is. It's not going to work out in the long term.
Metal-Rules.com: The year has been really hectic for you; first you toured with ANTHRAX, then SLAYER, then HEATHEN and now ICED EARTH. But you also have your own things, music and bands, going on at the same time.
Jon Dette: Well, as you said, this last year has been… This is my fourth time to Europe in one year. I was here this time last year with ANTHRAX. And then I was back here again with HEATHEN in May and June, then I was back here with ANTHRAX in July and August and now I'm here with ICED EARTH. I really, honestly I haven't had time to do anything else, it just been those bands have been keeping me pretty busy. And I actually started working with SLAYER after we had gotten back from Australia. We started working for demo and music for their new record. And then obviously what happened with Jeff [Hanneman, guitar] passing away, that changed some things. But it was definitely moving in that direction for me to be working with SLAYER. But as I said there are just some things that changed with that once Jeff passed away, and I think ultimately they felt more comfortable with Paul Bostaph, just because Paul had been in the band for longer. I think it was not going to be as much of a shock to their fans, because first Dave is gone, and now Jeff is gone, the band, it's now down to two original members. So if Paul makes them feel more comfortable and at home, then more respect to him and I wish them the best with that. But that's the only other thing that I was potentially moving forward to working on, aside from the ANIMETAL USA project, which I have been involved with Chris Impelitteri, Rudy Sarzo and Mike Vescera. So, they've been talking about doing a record and they are wrapping up a deal now with Warner Brothers. So, if I'm available to do that, then I'll do it. But as I said, it's if I'm doing the ICED EARTH things then I'm going to commit to them. Then it's just going to be keeping me busy for quite some time now.
Read the entire interview at Metal-Rules.com.