Alex Haber of Heavy New York recently conducted an interview with guitarist Eric Peterson of San Francisco Bay Area metallers TESTAMENT. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On TESTAMENT's current support slot on SLAYER's "farewell" tour:
Eric: "It's going great. Well, BEHEMOTH was on the first run and now NAPALM DEATH is added on to this run. BEHEMOTH stepped off. We've had two shows so far, but the first leg went really awesome. We were a little concerned about, of course, we wanted to do the tour, but we were a little concerned about opening up and playing at five, as far as attendance. But, to my amazement, even our agent told us that, people will be there. So, by the second song, the place is packed, so we're just like, 'Okay, this is cool.' This is one of the first tours that I've got to eat dinner at a normal time. [Laughs] We come off stage at six or seven, so it's pretty cool."
On "Dominion", the third album from his black metal side project DRAGONLORD:
Eric: "This record is so long overdue. It's finally done, it's all turned in, everything is done. I'm super excited. There were so many hiccups along the way. This record took forever. This record took about four or five years to make, not so much making the record, but just getting in the studio at the right time and how picky I am about everything and the budget I had to work with. When you hear it, it sounds, to me, the production of TESTAMENT or any other bigger band with the larger production, so, what I'm trying to say is that I didn't have that much to work with. I had a decent budget, but for what I wanted, it was just… I had to pull some favors."
On whether he changed the material on "Dominion" over the course of five years:
Eric: "Oh my God, yes. So, I think '16, we had it mixed and I had two songs to sing. I came back at the end of '16 and heard it and my producer had some new mic pre's and some new this and that, learned some new tricks from doing the new MACHINE HEAD and he applied it toward the mix we had. It blew away the other mix. So, we were like, 'Oh my God, we have to remix it again.' It was one of the records you think, I think every musician when you hear a record, or maybe half, you always go, 'Man, I wish I could go back and tweak that one part or make that one part better.' I got to do all of that. It's not fun. [Laughs] But when I listen to it, I'm very happy with everything. There's so many, at one point, there's 50 things going on at once. Like, in the chorus, you should focus on the vocals and the main part, but there's violas, there's French horns, there's splishy-splashies, there's the bass licks. It's like, 'How do you do all that at once?' My producer was going, 'Dude, why did you do this?' I'm like, 'I don't know! Sorry!' I wrote the music first. I wrote the music first to be very epic and I do the vocals last because I'm a musician first. Once I got the storyboard and explained what the music is about through the lyrics, that became very important. Then, it was like, 'How do I fit all of that on top of that beautiful landscape I got?' I put it there, then everything else was gone. I'm like, 'You can't hear that.' He goes, 'Yeah, but you're doing this!' I was like 'Oh my God!' But, I think I got it right on this one."
On whether he tries to make every album he records a separate experience with TESTAMENT and DRAGONLORD:
Eric: "With TESTAMENT, I broke into a mode of how we do things. I do all the guitar rhythms, Alex [Skolnick] does all of the solos, so everybody got kind of labeled on what we're doing in TESTAMENT all the way up until when Alex left [in 1992]. When 'Low' came around, when [James] Murphy joined the band, it was more like me and Murphy kind of shared solos. It was the first time for me to do solos. That was a lot of fun. Everything started getting switched up a little bit. When Alex came back, he recognized that I actually can do solos, just everything changed a little bit. I think all of us grew as musicians. It's a good formula for TESTAMENT, how we do things. I applied that toward DRAGONLORD. For DRAGONLORD, on this record, on the last two previous records, Steve Smyth was the other guitar player and he played the other side of guitar. It was like, I did my bit, he did his bit, everybody played their part. On this record, it was more like an Eric Peterson project; it wasn't really a band. It was me, Lyle [Livingston] and myself, the keyboard player who I write with. I did the bass, all the guitars, all the solos. Then we added at the last minute, Leah, who's a Celtic singer from Vancouver. She's actually coming up right now — she's got our own stuff coming out. That's another thing that was a problem that was like later, wouldn't have happened unless there was a tardiness in the recording session. To get her to come in and re-do all the keyboard choirs and do the vocals, so she had to re-learn everything Lyle did on the keyboards with the choirs, but put all, change all that to human vocals and some of the stuff she's like 'What is he doing?' There's like five-part harmonies. I think I booked her for a weekend and she stayed for a week and she too left, with hair shibacled, left drained, like, 'Oh my God. This is crazy.' In the documentary, there's a little bit of stuff where you can see in there where we go a little bit nuts. It just made the record that much better and that was another thing by being late and getting her to come in, that wouldn't have happened. Like I said, there was always a problem, but there was something like, 'Here.' As fate would have it, here you go."
"Dominion" is due on September 21 via Spinefarm Records. The album will feature eight tracks of devastatingly unrelenting black and death metal assault. The album artwork was painted by artist Eliran Kantor (TESTAMENT, ICED EARTH, SODOM).
TESTAMENT's most recent album, 2016's "Brotherhood Of The Snake" was recorded under the watchful eyes of producer Juan Urteaga (EXODUS, HEATHEN, MACHINE HEAD), Peterson and Billy and was mixed and mastered by British metal producer Andy Sneap (ACCEPT, ARCH ENEMY, CRADLE OF FILTH, KREATOR, MACHINE HEAD, MEGADETH).