On April 1, Testament and Exodus will tour together for the first time on the “Dark Roots of Thrash 2” tour. It’s a dream come true for longtime fans of the bands, both of which began in the ’80s. The bands will also be playing the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival on April 18. We caught up with vocalist Chuck Billy to discuss touring with Exodus, the status of their next album, and what he looks for in bands when deciding to manage them.
Tell me a little bit about the Dark Roots of Thrash 2 tour.
It’s a tour that we have been talking about doing together for a long time. We’ve never toured over the years but been friends for so many years and we are still intertwined with, Zetro being in Legacy, and than going into Exodus. It’s kind of wild that we haven’t. Finally, we are fired up because it’s good to see Zet back in the group, and the Blood In, Blood Out record is killing it. We are looking forward to it. We haven’t got back out on the road in full tour in a little bit, so it’s always fun to get back out on the road.
When you did the first Dark Roots of Thrash tour, where you like, “You know what, we could do this again?”
Yeah, it was the same with our agent, he was like “Yeah, why not?” Especially with having Exodus on it, it just made perfect sense.
What about your decision to perform the first two albums in their entirety and and a little stuff from Practice What you Preach. Had you gotten requests to do that before?
We did that in the past, we did that in London before, and a few specialty shows. It was fun. It brings back memories when you play songs that you don’t get to play on your set, ever. It was fun to re-hash them out and re-work them out with the guys and play them. They actually ended up being some really memorable shows. We looked forward to doing it. I think these two will probably be one of the last times we do the Legacy and New Order combo. Because it would be nice to do some of the new records in their entirety. That would be the next option if we were to do something special. This might be some of the last of these types of shows, The Legacy and New Order.
It seems like, there are a lot of bands that will play one album from start to finish and you are doing two in the same night.
Well because then three would be too short of a show (laughter). The records aren’t very long, so we figured why not just give two records, and we will probably give two records in their entirety, walk off, and then come back and play a couple off Practice and call it a night.
So, nothing from the newer albums at all?
No, nothing. It’s all going to be all Legacy and New Order and a couple off Practice. Like stepping back to where we started. We’re actually writing a new record right now. We don’t have the opportunity to work together as a band, Me and Eric are doing a lot of the writing and demoing ourselves. It is actually an opportunity for us to get us all together, with a lot of soundchecks and time on the bus to work out some parts and go over things. I think we will probably get a lot of it hashed out on tour, and hopefully playing some of the old classic stuff that we grew up with hopefully gives them a little inspiration while working on the new stuff.
How much of the new record is written?
A lot, close to three quarters written but there’s a lot of parts, as a whole, none of the guys have heard it all, or have played all together. It’s me and Eric in the studio, drum machine or Gene [Hoglan], flies up and plays some drums, takes off and then we take it from there. It will be good, us all getting it all together, and really just getting it done.
The most recent two albums, it seems like they ushered in a new era for the band. It seemed like there was more excitement than maybe ten years ago. Did you feel that as well?
Yeah, it’s the record business, such a funny business, trying to come out with the right record at the right time, what’s out there at the same time as your release, I mean there are so many variables, but I think as a band, we wrote some of the best material in a long time with those records, and I think it’s because everybody has a little contribution in it.
Between you, Anthrax and Death Ange and now Exodus, it seemed like some ’80s thrash bands were putting out some of the best albums of their careers. Do you think that you’re getting younger fans?
Totally, over the years, there have definitely been a lot more younger fans. Especially, I think we do a Lamb of God tour and Killswitch , Engage, we’ve seen a lot of younger fans come out the next time we came out to that market. It is definitely growing younger crowds and think you are going to see that. Young rebellious kids and heavy metal go hand in hand (laughs).
For sure. You have also jumped into the management game, managing Exodus and a couple of other bands. How has that been going so far, and how did you wind up doing it?
Well, it’s me, [publicist] Maria Ferrero, and Johnny Z, who of course owns Megaforce Records. Maria worked for Megaforce and signed Testament back in the 80’s, we’ve been friends for years and it was a discussion, just saying ‘we should do this,’ and that’s kind of where it started. Maria started working with Exodus, and at that point she talked to me and Johnny and we said ‘lets really do this,’ so we decided at that point and we started. Breaking Bands began, and I had Exodus right away and another band Forrest Day. We also picked up Shattered Sun, so we had three right away, we jumped right in.
Who’s involved in choosing the bands to manage?
All of us. All of us get it through the Breaking Bands website and email and we send it around to each other and we all have to be into something for us to work with it. We all kind of just pass it around and say ‘yay’ or ‘nay.’
Other than the fact that it’s a democracy, is there something you personally look for, when you see a band that you would might potentially manage?
First of all, music. I like to hear the music. What they’ve done, if they have other albums, or are they signed, I have to hear the song first, and if that moves me, I’ll dive into it a little more.
You are one of the headliners of the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. Have you done that before?
No, this is the first time we’ve done this.
But you have played Worcester before?
Yeah, I’ve played the Palladium many times.
Do you have anything to say about it?
Well, I think it’s going to be fun, and Worcester has always a great metal place and it’s never a failed as far as a good crowd getting into it, but this is our first festival so I think it’s going to be a little bit crazy, we are looking forward to it, its going to be good!
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