Thrash kings Testament are primed and ready to unleash Brotherhood of the Snake on the world. Ahead of the pummelling this punishing record is set to deliver, Jordan from Music Injection sat down to talk with guitarist Eric to get the inside scoop on the new album and their plans to tour it.
MI: How are you today?
Eric: I’m great thank you!
MI: You guys are just finishing up producing Brotherhood of The Snake, have you had the chance to listen to it and are you happy with how the recording process went?
Eric: Yeah, about a week ago we got the first pressing of the CD and I had a listen to it in my car, and I have to say it sounds better than when we got the WAV files! I mean, they sounded great too but to have the actual CD, Im glad people are going to hear it because it sounds even better. Regarding the process, I had a lot of fun. We did it a different way to how we normally do records but it was a pretty fun process.
MI: You were essentially there for the birth of the thrash scene in the 80’s, and since then the change from CDs to digital media is just one of the changes to the business, how have you as a band found the changes and adapted to them?
Eric: I think CDs hit around 1991, so we were on our third record and it was great. CDs last that little bit longer, tapes wear out and records break and scratch. But I think vinyls are back in now, and they’re making them in 18 gram how they used to make them in the olden days, and there’s a lot of cool turntable companies out there making them how they did in the 70’s. If you’re into vinyl, it’s a warmer sound than CD, but CD is a digital way of listening to it, and they’ve got the science down and it sounds great, so I guess that’s what everyone knows as the normal way of listening. Actually, what’s normal now is mp3, which is like shoving something that doesn’t quite fit into a tube. There’s a lot of definition that’s taken away. I mean for the most part you can still rock the song and it sounds okay, but if you’ve got a good pair of headphones and you’re listening to a record or cd you’re going to hear a lot you would’ve missed on an mp3.
MI: It’s been mentioned in previous interview that the title for the new album references an actual historical group, could you tell us a bit about them and what other lyrical influences were drawn on for this album?
Eric: I guess there is a real Brotherhood of the Snake, but I mean, ours is more based on… It’s more of a fantasy base. Obviously, there’s something real to it, but ours is more of a movie, it’s more for entertainment value and there’s not supposed to be a consequence. A lot of the research and stuff that we’ve done, and I mean you’ll never find the real nature of something like that, but as for what you can find by considering it, it’s more of a secret society type thing that’s pretty old. But as a fan, you’ll understand more once you’ve got the record and read the lyrics.
MI: And I suppose that’s another part of the mp3 change that you don’t quite get anymore?
Eric: Yeah, I mean, mp3 and spotify and all that is sort of a gateway to find out if you like the band. You can check stuff out and test it and if you really like the band you should buy the records and CDs and hear the rest of their material. In a way, spotify and those services aren’t great for bands but in a way they are because people can hear your stuff for free, but not as high quality as you intended it to be. If you’re a music lover, you can go out and buy twelve records and that’s a couple of hundred bucks. But I listen to stuff on the internet, and see if I want to buy it. Also, there’s stuff like iTunes “for you” and other services where you pay a certain amount per month and have access to basically anything.
MI: With Brotherhood of the Snake, you took some time out of the routine cycle you guys were in to record the record, do you plan on touring for the album differently too?
Eric: It’ll probably be business as usual, but we’re on our second wind I suppose with Testament, so we are trying to make our show a little more theatrical and have more for the fans. We’re trying to add props and better backdrops and stuff rather than just getting up and playing the music, just for the vibe you know? It’s like we want people to watch the band and watch the vibe onstage, and it’s an extension of our album covers, which are designed to be looked at. It kinda goes hand in hand with the whole shebang of everything.
MI: For the guitarists out there, could you indulge us a bit and tell us about the gear you used on this album?
Eric: Guitar wise, I’m a Dean endorser. I have a new signature model, an old school white Dean flying V, it’s got EMG 85 and 81 pickups in it, and I also have a custom Les Paul by Gibson. I have a Joe Bonamassa Gibson as well, and a Dean Explorer, called The V. I have different pickups in different things, y’know Joe Bonamassa has his signature pickups in there that are pretty cool and old school, like the ’57 or ’56, I’m not too sure what’s in it but its hand wound and it has that treble boost sound. I use the Dunlop Wah Wah, pretty much on solos on the whole record, and since Low I’ve kinda been slowly but surely building up each record, to now where I pretty much consider myself a lead guitarist as well in the band. It’s kinda evolved from a dual guitar band where Alex is the shredder and I’m the rhythm guy, to now where it’s kind of an [Iron] Maiden thing where we both just play guitar without any barriers, which is cool. Amplifier wise I use EVH, I use a 50 watt and a 100 watt, and some Engel gear as well, like a cabinet. I also blend that with EVH cabinets. To track the record, I used my Kemper profiling amp, which profiles my sounds and tones from the EVH. But that’s pretty much my tone, whether profiled or from the real deal EVH. I use D’Addario strings, 11 to 50 or 11-52, around there. I keep it pretty simple, and that’s pretty much it.
MI: I believe yourself and Chuck are the only members to have been in Testament continuously from the start, are you happy with where the group is at today?
Eric: Definitely! Musically for sure. Nothing’s perfect obviously, but the latest record, as in the music, and the art and the layout and how it turned out, I’d give it an A+. I’m very happy with that end, and I’m stoked with where we are at musically.
MI: Are there any plans to tour over here?
Eric: We are excited to come back to Australia! It’s been a while, the last time we were over was the Soundwave festival which was a lot of fun for us. We’ve been there a couple of times, and we’ve done the club circuit thing, so we’re potentially looking at February, to bring the new record over. Nothing’s set in stone yet, and it could be a bit but that’s what we’re looking to do.
Brotherhood of the Snake is out on the 28th of October and is available through Nuclear Blast records.
Interview by Jordan Sibberas.