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Gene Hoglan talks Testament Australian Tour 2020

Interview by Jordan Sibberas

Tickets to Download festival can be purchased from: https://www.downloadfestival.com.au/tickets

2020 will be the third running of the Australian iteration of Download festival. This year, flying the flag for thrash will be the iconic Testament. Alongside their festival shows, they will also be playing a number of club shows. Jordan sat down with the Atomic Clock himself, Gene Hoglan, to discuss Testament, touring Australia, and shoes.

Jordan: What does it mean for Testament to be part of something like Download Festival Australia?

Gene Hoglan: Well, I tell ya, getting to be who I am and who I get to play with, it’s all really exciting. You know, Testament, obviously is a legendary band and very proud flag bearers of thrash metal, and I try to bring my own credibility to every project that I’m involved in. I think I’ve got some pretty decent metal cred! So it all works out really well. Testament has such monster musicians where you’ve got one of the best guitarists in metal, Alex Skolnick, with one of the best vocalists, Chuck Billy. Also Eric Peterson is one of the best writers in the metal and Steve DiGiorgio is the best basis in all of metal, in my opinion! So that’s just some serious musicianship that we’re all really excited to come down there and show people what we can do!

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JS: Is it exciting for you to be involved in Download considering its role in a “rebirth” of sorts of metal festivals in Australia?
GH: Oh, absolutely. I think we last came out for Soundwave, and that was a bit of a tragedy, but yeah, we’re stoked being part of Download. We’re still getting to come back to Australia. We don’t get to go to Australia nearly enough. So the band is super excited and we’re just going to try to bring a real ripping show down there. And I know we’ve got a couple of headliners as well, so you know, those shows will be a little longer. I know that we’re meeting up next week and we are completely overhauling our set list. So we’re gonna play a whole bunch of songs over in Europe that we just don’t play. And that’s, that’s gonna be really cool. Since we don’t get to go down to Australia as much as we can Europe, I would imagine Testament might kind of lean back towards, a more classic set. But hey, we’ll see. You know, we got, we’re going to have a whole bunch of songs in our our homeless holster that we can play at any moment. So that’s pretty cool.

JS: That’s super exciting. That nicely leads into the next thing I’d like to ask, which is, when you’re doing something like Download festival, you know, it’s not uncommon to do a sideshow like you’re doing in Brisbane and Adelaide, but I think it also might just be Brisbane, is it difficult switching between a festival mindset and then a club headlining show mindset?

GH: Nah, not at all, you know. We get the longer set for the club show, and I imagine we probably get an hour for festivals. So, you know, we’re used to playing an hour and 40 minutes, no problem. So playing an hour at a festival and coming into the club the next day, as long as we get some sleep, we’ll be fine. You know, we’ll kick ass. We love doing both! Myself, I am totally cool playing a packed, sweaty club where everybody’s having a great time and I’m also fine playing to the festival crowd. I do find that there’s sometimes a much better connection at a club because everybody’s there to see me. Everybody’s there to have a good time and they know what they’re getting themselves into. But a lot of times at a festival we’ve got a crowd in front, and then the people in the back, they might be waiting for My Chemical Romance or something, and we can show ourselves off to them. So it’s a win-win for us.

JS: Yeah, well exactly. You know, particularly in Brisbane, the Triffid is such a good venue, both sound-wise and audience engagement wise. And then, perhaps in Melbourne and Sydney, you’ve got a shot at maybe a younger generation of fans that you can pull to the thrash side.

GH: I’m all down for that! Come to the dark side little ones! We’re here to rip your heads off, to show you how it’s done. *laughs*. At the end of the day, festival or club, it’s all metal.

JS: I’ve got to make that one my motto! I love that so much. Speaking of it all being metal, we had a brief chat for the Dark Angel tour you were just over here, how did that finish up?

GH: Oh awesome! Everybody had a great time and had a bunch of people came out! The shows were really fun and cool. I’ve been there quite a few times, I just tried not to be the grizzled old veteran of our travels! *laughs* “It’ll be real tough guys!”, you know, stuff like that. I just let everybody do their thing, and everybody’s super excited. A couple of the guys stayed over for an extra two days or so to do some shark fishing after or some photography. That was good! I stayed behind and I did a couple of clinics after the tour which went really well. So all up we love coming to Australia. The fans are great, the people are nice and you know, we just have a really cool country down there, so anytime we get to be a part of it, we’re always, we’re super excited for that.

JS: Yeah. Very good. Um, a little bit of change of topic now. My partner and I got up really early to watch the Dethklok reunion show that was live streamed, and that looked like an absolute blast. So I was just wondering if you had as much fun behind the kit as you appeared to on the screen?

GH: I love Dethklok. I love playing in Dethklok. Any chance we can get to do Dethklok and I’m right there for it. I love working with Brendan and this show is a little extra special for me because Brendan asked my wife, Laura Christine, to play a couple songs and you know, she’s a chilling guitarist, she destroys, so that was really cool. Any chance I get to play Dethklok, I do. You know, as a matter of fact, I was just telling somebody last year, I still go down to go to my rehearsal studio and I still play through the Dethklok set a couple of times a week just to keep my chops together. And you know, it’s a real good cardio workout. So, you know, I’m playing to a click track and videos. There’s not even sheet music I’m playing to, just a click track, and we play the Dethklok set! You don’t have anything on the books where, you know, sometimes it’s so, so yeah. The show is so fun. It’s so killer. You know, everybody just gets all nice and sweaty and have a real huge smile on their face at the end of the night. How cool is that, you know, for some of the fans out there, hopefully, we changed their lives where they got to see that show.

JS: Hell yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Let’s bring it back to Testament now, one thing I’ve always been curious about is considering the absolute legacy Testament as a band has and both how long they’ve been around for, and the amount of lineup changes they’ve been through; what is it like being in a band like that today where you’ve had so many different member shifts and these songs that are so important to the history of the thrash scene?

 

GH: Absolutely. It’s pretty darn exciting. You know, Testament has a very vibrant catalogue. We know a lot of Testament songs right now. You know, if we were to have an audience call out the song, for the whole setlist, we could turn it over to you guys to call out a song and we’ll play it. I bet you we could do that. They have a very, very metallic legacy and one that Testament absolutely should be very, very proud of. And it’s really cool to be a part of all that, in the small way that I am. So, it’s totally cool.

JS: I have a bit of a strange question about drumming in general. When you’re drumming, what goes into a good pair of shoes that you like wearing for playing drums?

GH: Uh, one where the soles aren’t full of stuff. I’ll grind my sole down after wearing them for a while. But you know, if, if your sole has too much tread on it, it’s a little more challenging. It is pretty well known I played for about 20 years in Doc Marten boots, and that’s just what I wear. You know, I wore boots all the time, so I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to go “oh, these are my special drum shoes!”, it’s more like I go on stage in what I’m wearing. When the boots that I had for so many years, they finally fell apart, so I can’t play in those anymore. Now I wear tennis shoes, I’ll just jump off stage in tennis shoes, and that’s all good. So yeah, I do find that the less tread is on them, the slicker they are, and you can do a lot of movement around the bass pedals. So yeah, a good, lightweight pair of shoes that isn’t gonna fuck you up.

JS: And it probably helps with the heat factor when you’re touring somewhere like Australia in the summer as well, hey!

GH: Oh, I don’t mind sweating! *laughs* I like sweating, I’m okay with it. So bring on the heat, bring it on, we’re here to sweat some metal!

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Testament are preparing to drop album 13, Titans of Creation, on April 3rd through Nuclear Blast. Presale can be found at:

https://music.apple.com/au/album/titans-of-creation/1493544060

Tickets to Download festival can be purchased from: https://www.downloadfestival.com.au/tickets

Tickets to Testament side shows can be found at: https://www.livenation.com.au/artist/testament-tickets

 

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