Former TESTAMENT Guitarist Comments On The Group's Early Albums

Former TESTAMENT/SAVATAGE guitarist Alex Skolnick recently gave an interview to JamBands.com in which he discussed his time in TESTAMENT and his progression away from the heavy music scene into a more jazz/fusion-influenced approach. Asked if playing in front of large crowds during TESTAMENT's early days was a strange experience for him at such a young age, Skolnick said, "Yes, it was very strange. I was very young and very shy. I was not very outgoing in school. So to be suddenly thrust on stage surrounded by big crowds. It was the really best education I could have had and I certainly did grow up very fast. It was definitely a whirlwind."

With regards to whether he misses playing and touring in a band like TESTAMENT, Alex said, "No, I don't miss it. Any parts of it that I miss I feel are still going on today. I love being in the studio. Sometimes I like being on the road especially when the focus is on the music, then it's great. I felt that a couple of years into working with TESTAMENT that the focus was lost. Everybody was depressed because we weren't selling as well as ANTHRAX. Although we were still doing great, the music scene was changing and as you know in the music business, it's the survival of the fittest. I was also growing and I didn't want to be just some guy in a band. I wanted to do other music and I had seen Miles Davis on TV and decided that one day I would like to play that kind of music. That's sort of what led to what I am doing now. To me, progressing to this new music was a logical path, but for the guys in the band, it was rough because we all had the fantasy of the band becoming an overnight sensation and then we are all set. It was actually very hard work. There are always a lot of personality issues that come up, like any relationship. There are now mini series on VH1 about the interacting of personalities in a band. It's not just the music."

Asked which of the five TESTAMENT albums was his favorite, Skolnick said, "I think the third one, 'Practice What You Preach' [1989], was my favorite. If I had to point to my best guitar playing, the next two records have better guitar playing by me. I think I improved greatly. But as a band, we most came together on that album and truly found an identity. It was still thrash metal, but with other influences. On the next record, there was a collective feeling that I didn't necessarily agree with that we needed to be more heavy, darker, to be more like SLAYER. But let's face it, SLAYER is SLAYER. The next record, 'Souls of Black' [1990], was an attempt to go in that direction, but I think it was mistake and it was the first record that sold less than our previous record. On the last record [I appeared on], 'The Ritual' [1992], I had a lot to do with the writing and I feel is a very good album. I had felt alienated from the band and they came to me and said we feel like we made a mistake with the last record and let's go back to the style on the 'Preach' record. Let's pick up where we left off from that album. Unfortunately that record did not do well. I have since made up with band and we get along fine. But there were a slew of interviews after 'Ritual' came out and said that was their least favorite album and it was my fault. It was a behind the music kind of situation that all bands seem to experience. I think 'Practice What You Preach' was our peak. That's where it all came together." Read the rest of the interview here.

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