Nearly forty years ago now one of the most influential bands in the thrash metal genre started up in Berkeley, California. It was 1983 when a small band called Legacy started out. That band became Testament -a band that today finds themselves in a group called The Big 8 – a group that are considered the most influential thrash metal bands in the world and also contains bands such as Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.
One of the founding members of Testament, guitarist Eric Peterson, recently sat down with me and chatted to me about the band returning to Australia for Download Festival.
“Oh yeah, it has been a while,” says Peterson as we begin to talk about the last time that they visited Australia. “What was it, back in ’13? Yeah, it must have been because it was when Steve (Di Giorgio) came back to the band. Now here we are in 2020 and we are just about to release a brand new album called Titans Of Creation. The new single hits tomorrow, the album comes out April 3rd so we will probably be playing that new track when we come down.”
Our discussion about the mighty Testament returning back to our fair shores leads us to further discuss Download as a festival and is clear that Peterson is excited that they are on the bill. “Download in Australia sounds awesome,” he says with a huge laugh. “And I am very excited about being able to play alongside My Chemical Romance. I was a big fan of theirs a while back and then they hung everything up. It is so cool that they are back, and I found out they were playing awhile after we said yes so I was like ‘woah that is a trip.’ I have to say that is pretty cool.”
Peterson’s love for My Chemical Romance runs pretty deep as well. “I think I first heard them when their third album came out,” he says. “I remember I saw the video for ‘I’m Not Okay’ and was like ‘hey that’s cool.’ I’m not normally into that whole emo band thing, but to me they were more than just your average emo band. I took the chance and bought their record and when I heard stuff like ‘Helena’ I was like ‘man.’ And my kids were in grade school at the time and normally I listened to much scarier stuff but when I listened to these guys my kids got into as well and I was able to share it with them. We were even able to go to live shows together to see them.”
We then start to talk about how important festivals like Download are and Peterson says their importance is not something that should be under-played. “They are extremely important,” he says with a more serious tone returning to his voice. “They give a band a chance to come and showcase for people. It is cool for bands to come and play with other bands that they normally wouldn’t play with, so it is just a good time and it is like going camping or going to a party or something.”
It also seems that Peterson is not against going out there and supporting the other bands that are on the bill either. “I do like to have a few hours to myself before we go on,” he explains. “But if one of my favourite bands is playing I will definitely go and see them, but normally about an hour before we go on I need to chill, warm up and try to escape all the hoopla.”
As we talk more Peterson tells me that Testament’s set at Download will be more than just a best of set as well. “We have a bunch of new songs that we are working on right now,” he tells me. “When I say new I mean the new singles that we are going to put out but also some songs that we have never played live before, some of the deeper cuts.”
“We have been touring a lot so we have just been playing the title tracks from some of the records,” he explains. “So we would like to mix it up a little bit, so I think for Download we are going to have a very strong set… with a lot of good stuff to pick from. We will definitely play our big tracks but we’ll put some new stuff in there, and we get the chance to try them out on Europe first so we’ll have a good idea of what is going to work.”
With Testament so well rehearsed before they hit our shores it is easy to see that these are going to be some amazing shows. They certainly will be if the band’s excitement are anything to go by. “We are super excited about heading back to Australia because it has been awhile,” says Peterson as we begin to wrap up the interview. “It is super awesome that we get to play Download and we have a couple of shows that we are doing on our own so we will be able to be more upfront with our fans. But Download is cool because people will be able to check us out that have never seen us before. And we have our new album so if you are a Testament fan you will not be disappointed.”
Testament plays at Download and their new album hits on April 3rd.