TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy has revealed to Kimberley Bulletin that the band's upcoming shows with SLAYER and ANTHRAX will mark "the final lap for us touring" in support of the group's latest album, 2016's "Brotherhood Of The Snake". "We want our focus, during this and after this, to dive back into the songwriting process," Billy said. "We want to release a new album in 2019, so we need to get started soon."
Chuck also talked about the TESTAMENT creative process, explaining that "Eric [Peterson, guitar] and I are still the main songwriting force within TESTAMENT, although, of course, we're wide open to whatever the other guys want to bring to the band as a whole. Eric will crank out all these amazing riffs and I'll write the lyrics. We fumble around until the main skeleton of the song comes together and then we'll flesh it out until it's complete. Alex [Skolnick, guitar] and Steve [DiGiorgio, bass] and Gene [Hoglan, drums] adding their talents? It's crazy!
"We wait until we're off the road to hone in on new songs, or tossing ideas around, or demoing song sketches and such," he continued. "When you're onstage under hot lights, blasting out high-intensity 100-minute sets, most nights of the week — we're just wiped. When it's time off — it's time off! There's usually not a lot of post-performance adrenaline left in the glands, so everyone usually relaxes in their hotel rooms. On this tour, on the times when we do link up with SLAYER, we end up playing a much shorter set. We then end up with more time on our hands."
Chuck's latest comments echo those made by Peterson, who recently told RockSverige that he has commenced the songwriting process for the follow-up to "Brotherhood Of The Snake". "It's kind of like the same thing we did last time," he said. "I'm librarying riffs right now and getting ideas. Some of the ideas are on my phone, some are on my Logic [Apple's recording studio software] and a lot of my ideas I have in my notes. I usually always go, 'Oh, I'll remember that,' and then the next day I go, 'Fuck! What the hell was that?' What I do now is if I have an idea, I'll just get my phone out and hit the voice memo and I'll write down what I thought and e-mail it. It seems to work pretty well, because when I go back to it a month later, it's, like, 'All right. That's where it was.' I'll look at my notes, and I hear, like, one little piece of a note somewhere. That's happened to me my whole life. There are so many riffs that have gone through my fingers that would've taken us to another level, but I forgot. I don't know that for sure, but I remember that they were really good. I used to have dreams of a song, with singing and everything, and when I wake up, I remember it, but then I get up and make coffee and it starts fading and it's, like, 'Oh, shit!'"
Peterson also expressed hope that TESTAMENT's next album could arrive in 2019. "This is [assuming] that we don't take every tour that comes our way, and Chuck seems to be on that page," he said. "Our plan was to end in August 2018 and maybe get into the studio by the end of 2018 and put the record out in 2019. But, you know, SLAYER's announced [their farewell tour] and they want us to be a part of it. I would imagine, if that stuff happens, then things will get pushed back a little bit, but the initial plan is to have it out in 2019. [We're] ready for summer to do all the A markets for festivals and stuff. This summer we're not doing a lot of festivals; we're actually talking about bowing out of a couple to make other things happen with the SLAYER farewell thing."
TESTAMENT will support SLAYER on the first two legs of the Tom Araya-fronted outfit's last-ever North American run of dates. Also scheduled appear on the bill are LAMB OF GOD, ANTHRAX and BEHEMOTH (with NAPALM DEATH replacing BEHEMOTH for the second leg).
"Brotherhood Of The Snake" was released in October 2016 via Nuclear Blast.