TESTAMENT’S CHUCK BILLY DISCUSSES NEW ALBUM ‘DARK ROOTS OF EARTH’ + RANDY BLYTHE SITUATION...
Testament front-man Chuck Billy was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Billy spoke all about the band’s 10th studio album ‘Dark Roots of Earth’ as well as touring Europe and America for the rest of the year. He also shared his view on the current situation with Lamb of God’s front-man Randy Blythe being incarcerated. Check out the interview with Chuck Billy below:
Happy to have you on the show and really excited about this new album ‘Dark Roots of Earth’
Yeah it’s going good, we’re all really excited with everything that’s been happening. It’s always exciting when you get a new record goin’ and all the hard work is behind you and you’re like, “Alright, now we just get to play.”
’Dark Roots of Earth’ is the name of the new record and I was actually lucky enough to get to hear some tracks in the early stage when you guys were working on some stuff in Los Angeles. Is a lot of what happened during that time what ended up being on the record?
Yeah, I mean I was working lyrically, I re-wrote a bunch of stuff. I think at that point re-wrote three times, I really wanted to make it right instead of just settling. I waited until everybody in the band was happy with the lyrics, melodies and everything.
Chuck, ‘Formation of Damnation’ kind of set the bar high since it was such an awesome record. Are great expectations a good creative fuel or just a lot of stress?
It’s stress [laughs] but I think it really makes you work harder and definitely like ‘Formation’ it was going to be a hard one to top but it really did make us work harder. I think out of this record we’re pretty confident and comfortable as band members and friends at this point with Testament having Alex [Skolnick] and Greg [Christian] back in the fold and we’re seven years back into the reunion now so I think a lot of that really shows in the songwriting. We worked so long together we know what our limits are what we can do and what we expect of each other so it kind of fell into place. It was real natural.
Following up such a well received album, do you search for inspiration that becomes a starting point or it is as simple as just writing more songs?
At this point about writing more songs, like I said the task is more focused on this being a concept record but I think we found our self, where we’re at writing and I think the title ‘Dark Roots of Earth’ was kind of perfect when Eric [Peterson] came up with the title because to me it represented a reunion and us grounding our self with the earth because we’ve always been a planet conscious band. The title was pretty appropriate and like always each song usually stands on their own there’s nothing that feels like it’s been done before by us.
I want us to talk about this contest that you guys are running because I want us to win. So could you talk about this free Testament show that you’re offering to fans pre-ordering the record?
Nuclear Blast has been doing an awesome campaign on the record and we just wanted to keep it rollin’ and keep the more cool things and ideas going and we were like “What better reward than to have a free concert by us?” It’s just as simple as having the advanced record, which has three cover songs on there, there’s a Spanish version of ‘Native Blood,’ so we thought “Let’s see if we could really push and get that sold” so whatever station gets the word out and the kids by it and request it at their local station, heck we’ll come out and play a free concert and let it rip.
Most fans know Alex Skolnick has an ear for music beyond the metal genre. What about you, what non-metal music impacts the metal music you write and sing?
I don’t know, I’m pretty metal but I think it’s just what I enjoy listening to. When I was younger bands like UFO and Thin Lizzy I was drawn to the melody of the vocals and I think that’s where its inspired me no matter how hard or fast the guys will write something. I always try to infuse a little bit of melody in something and that’s the part that I’ve always focused on trying to bring to Testament without trying to do what is expected or what some of these stereotypical heavy metal bands – you say you play heavy metal – and right away they think growling and grunts right away. Then when someone hears you and hears a little melody it’s like “Oh wait, that’s not what I expected.”
Do you like surprising people like that?
Well I do because I think over the years I’ve gotten better and I’m more focused on singing and what I do. Yeah I enjoy it, like on this record I sing a song called ‘Cold Embrace’ and it’s a ballad. We haven’t done a ballad in 15 years and I actually found a new tone of my voice that I haven’t really used on a record before so I’m even surprised at myself finding things. You just got to keep pushing it and see what happens.
Tell us what we can expect in terms of touring.
We’re going to be leaving [in late July] for Europe. The first stop is in Italy and once we get back the record will be out in America and we start the third leg of the Anthrax, Death Angel tour in the U.S. and Canada and then right away we go back to Europe to fill out the rest of the year and by that time hopefully by that time all the promoters and everybody will want to have us around to come place. So next year’s calendar should be busy, I hope.
Looking forward to checking you out again, I feel like it’s been a minute.
Yeah it has. We’ve toured three years on that ‘Formation’ record and it took maybe a year to write this one so it’s well overdue, get some new songs out there and start the process again.
I want to talk to you a second about the Randy [Blythe] situation. The metal community is closely following Randy from Lamb of God’s detainment. You kind of wear the same boots, you’re the frontman of a metal band, you’ve seen a fair share of stage diving, what’s most unsettling to you about the situation?
Well about that situation, I mean when you’re onstage – in Randy’s situation he’s a guy that wears glasses and I’ve read that it’s hard to really see especially in the dark when things are going crazy and you’re banging your head. I’ve had guys come up, banging my head and next thing you know they’re almost tackling me. It’s surprising and you can handle it different ways. In my young years, there’s forty people offstage onto the top of the crowd and you don’t really think about that, about the impact.
In Randy’s case it’s unfortunate because you really don’t know what happened beyond that stage, you don’t know what happened after the kid was off the stage, something else could have happened or involved in the end result. It’s just a really bad situation, even thought the parents are maybe lookin’ for justice but to bring it onto the band like that, it’s not like Randy assaulted somebody or was purposely coming after someone.
It was almost kind of just protecting himself from being either pushed out into the crowd or somebody actually really up there to hurt him so you’re put in a weird situation and it’s happened to us before. I’ve gotten sued for hitting someone with my mic stand and made it through it but it makes you think “Wow, what kind of protection do you have up here?” Ever since those day I’ve told promoters, we got to have a barricade, we got to have security. We’re not playing unless we have it because it’s so out of control. It’s just a sad situation.
Do you feel like there’s going to be big changes due to what’s been going on?
I hope. It’s just a shame when you go buy a ticket for this concert that there’s not some sort of clause or something at the back of the ticket and you’re buying the ticket at your own risk. There needs to be something like that, some sort of protection, if there was something like that and someone who violated who came up and been approached three times it’d be pretty cut and dry but there doesn’t seem to be anything that protects the musician, artist, or venue order of that kind of situation.
Yeah, it’s pretty scary.
It’s like me up there getting up there saying “Okay I want everybody in the pit or do the Wall of Death” and somebody gets hurt. It’s the old saying “If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you jump?” So it’s a really tough spot to be in.
VOLBEAT’S MICHAEL POULSEN CRASHES ICED EARTH PERFORMANCE DRESSED AS GUITARIST JON SCHAFFER...
Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer has a distinct and very metal look. When a fan pictures Schaffer, they see a black shirt or tank top, a denim or leather vest, a bandana and an angry metal face. In a hilarious doppleganger moment, Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen joined Iced Earth onstage dressed exactly like Schaffer as the band played their classic namesake track, ‘Iced Earth.’
As Iced Earth frontman Stu Block introduced the track ‘Iced Earth,’ Poulsen snuck up on Schaffer and took his place on the stage while the Iced Earth guitarist laughed in disbelief. Poulsen even began the opening riff of the track as Schaffer allowed his twin to take the lead, as Schaffer joined in to create a three-guitar metal attack shortly after.
The Iced Earth guitarist proclaimed his fandom of Volbeat in a September 2011 interview with Aux Portes Du Metal. “Volbeat is a really cool band,” begins Schaffer. “I wish I had discovered them earlier… But they’re really excellent. It’s really fresh and inspiring to see a band that has so many different influences and still make their own thing.
He continues, “Michael [Poulsen] and I are actually good friends now, we met at the Graspop [Metal Meeting] festival [in Belgium]. We had a blast, drank a bottle of whisky each that night. This guy has followed Iced Earth since the beginning. He told me this story how the day our first album came out, he just had enough money to go the store by bus, buy the CD and go back home. He’s a great guy, and his music is really cool… This band is getting bigger and bigger and they totally deserve it.”
Poulsen and Schaffer are also reportedly planning to work on a side project together. Although there is no name or further information on the upcoming project, we’ll be sure to bring you the news as it is revealed. In the meantime, check out Michael Poulsen doing his best Jon Schaffer impersonation below:
GODSMACK ALLOW LOOK INSIDE THE STUDIO FOR ‘COME TOGETHER’ VIDEO...
One of the more fun and interesting parts of Godsmack‘s ‘Live & Inspired‘ disc has been the cover songs they took on for the studio portion of the release. Having already shot up the charts with their take on Joe Walsh‘s ‘Rocky Mountain Way,’ the group is now moving on to their Beatles cover, ‘Come Together.’
For the video for the track, the band let director Ian Barrett have access to the actual recording sessions for the song. With some artistic additions, Barrett features quick-hitting shots of the band members with some shaky looking camera work and a few video scratches in the visuals to give it that film quality. Plus, to add a little atmosphere, the video also takes the viewer out of the darkly lit studio into the daylight and surroundings of the area where they recorded.
Whereas a lot of videos focus solely on the lead singer, Sully Erna shares plenty of screen time with drummer Shannon Larkin, guitarist Tony Rombola, and bassist Robbie Merrill during the clip.
Larkin says in a new interview with the Rockstar Uproar Festival site that there’s no video trickery in this clip, adding, “Normally the song will be recorded and then the band will go back in the studio, put their headphones on, and pretend they’re recording for the music video. This was real. It wasn’t staged or anything. It’s really cool.”
The drummer adds that it’s also pure coincidence that he’s wearing a Beatles shirt in the clip, adding, “I had no idea we were doing the video that day. Sully had it all hooked up and didn’t tell us [laughs].” The drummer says that he figured wearing the Beatles shirt would give him a little extra mojo while recording the song, but the intent wasn’t to have it for the video at all.
The timing of the Beatles cover couldn’t be more perfect, as there’s been renewed interest thanks to Paul McCartney‘s appearance at the Olympics, the recent ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ iTunes compilation, and even the Arctic Monkeys cover of ‘Come Together‘ during the Olympic ceremonies helping pave the way.
Godsmack’s ‘Live & Inspired’ disc is in stores now. The band is heading up the Uproar Festival beginning Aug. 17.
SHINEDOWN RACK UP 16TH NO. 1 ACTIVE ROCK SINGLE WITH ‘UNITY’...
Shinedown promised a rock n’ roll revolution with the release of their latest disc ‘Amaryllis’ and that’s exactly what they delivered.
Released back in March, ‘Amaryllis’ marks Shinedown’s biggest chart debut to date clocking it at the top of Billboard’s ‘Rock Albums’ chart and No. 4 overall on the Billboard 200. It has since spawned three singles with the anthemic, all for one and one for all rocker ‘Bully,’ followed by ‘Unity,’ and the newest one – ‘Enemies.’
Following in the footsteps of their first single ‘Bully,’ just this week ‘Unity’ made its way to the top of the Active Rock chart, marking the band’s sixteenth No. 1 single on that tally. In addition, it also marks the band’s eighth consecutive No. 1 Active Rock hit.
Shinedown debuted the official video for ‘Unity’ earlier this month, check it out below. The band also performed the tune acoustically on the ‘Conan’ show, adding a new dimension to the song.
Let’s see if their latest single ‘Enemies’ can follow in the larger than life footsteps of its predecessors and ascend to the No. 1 position on the charts. Watch the video for their latest smash-up single here.
Fans can catch up with Shinedown this summer as part of the Rockstar Energy Drunk Uproar Festival; check out all of the dates here.
EVANS BLUE BRING ‘GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES’ TO THE EMPIRE STATE...
There was a whole lot of energy packed into the Studio at Webster Hall on Wednesday, July 25, where rock band Evans Blue lit up the stage along with State Your Cause, Jolly, Ascending From Ashes and the Latanza Heist.
Evans Blue played a pretty packed show for a Wednesday night, as they performed a wide variety of tracks such as their new tunes ‘Halo’ and ‘This Time It’s Different’ off of their latest disc ‘Graveyard of Empires’ to older favorites like ‘Erase My Scars’ and ‘Cold (But I’m Still Here).’ Frontman Dan Chandler’s vocals were on point and the band’s chemistry onstage was a pleasure to see in such an intimate setting.
Direct support State Your Cause gave one helluva performance, as well, as frontman James Scott’s sweat and vigor filled the entire venue. The band even performed a cover of Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer.’ State Your Cause are a band with lots of force onstage and will be headlining shows soon enough.
The band Jolly didn’t seem that jovial while performing their set, but the crowd seemed to dig the New Jersians of Ascending From Ashes, who deliverd a solid rendition of Linkin Park’s ‘One Step Closer.’
Fellow New Jersey band the Latanza Heist kicked off the night with a performance that was too big for the tiny stage of Webster Hall.
For a full list of dates on where you can catch Evans Blue’s ‘Graveyard of Empires’ 2012 North American tour, go here.
MARILYN MANSON TALKS ABSINTHE, JOHNNY DEPP BROMANCE + ‘BORN VILLAIN’...
There’s never a dull moment in the world of Marilyn Manson and in a new interview the ‘Born Villain’ talks intimately about the creative process for his new disc, his love of absinthe, and his ‘bromance’ with Johnny Depp.
As Manson prepares to embark on the co-headlining ‘Twins of Evil’ tour with Rob Zombie in September, he settled in with Vice’s music channel Noisey for a video interview to talk about his latest disc. He kicked it off by discussing the origin of the album’s name. “I called the record ‘Born Villain’ because coming from a Christian school upbringing you’re taught that you’re born a sinner,” explains Manson. “So you’re a kid, I don’t know really what the sin is unless you’re just covered in blood and you also made your mothers lady parts not the same, potentially, maybe that’s a sin.”
Manson also talked about having his own brand of absinthe now, “mostly because he was drinking so much of it they said why don’t you just make your own label.” However, according to Manson he barely ever drinks his own brand. “Strangely I don’t drink mine too much because it’s too strong,” admits Manson. “That’s a good advertisement – even Marilyn Manson doesn’t drink his own absinthe because it’s too strong.”
Manson reminisced about stocking up on absinthe with Johnny Depp as they prepared for the end of the world in the interview, saying, “Johnny Depp and I, on Y2K when I went there because I thought the world was going to come to an end, just in case, I went to the south of France and we bought every case of absinthe they had in Prague.” He continued, “It was just the burgeoning of our bromance, of our brotherly love for each other. He doesn’t drink that much right now because he’s focusing on other things. I will say that he introduced me to Hunter S. Thompson, and Hunter S. Thompson said he was the only person he was afraid of that could take him down.”
And in what may be the closest thing to a public service announcement that the world will ever get from Marilyn Manson, he advised viewers, “What I’ve learned, here’s my advice over the ages – drink and do drugs when you’re in a good mood, not when you’re in a bad mood.”
GREEN DAY’S ‘OH, LOVE’ SINGLE HIGHLIGHTS NEW WALMART EP...
Green Day are doing pretty well with their single, ‘Oh, Love,’ as evidenced by the fact that it became only the third song ever to debut atop the Billboard Rock Songs Chart, but it never hurts to have all the support you can get.
As such, the band’s website reveals that the current hit single will lead a new Green Day EP that’s being sold exclusively via Walmart outlets. The ‘Oh, Love’ EP is a five-track set that arrives in stores Aug. 14.
In addition to the ‘Oh, Love,’ the rest of the set consists of live versions of popular tracks. ‘American Idiot,’ ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams,’ ’21 Guns,’ and ‘Know Your Enemy’ all appear in their concert form.
Pre-orders are currently being taken here for five dollars.
‘Oh, Love’ is the lead single from the ‘¡Uno!’ album, which is due Sept. 25. A lyric video for the track recently debuted online.
In other Green Day news, singer Billie Joe Armstrong, who just last year enjoyed a guest appearance on Showtime’s ‘Nurse Jackie,’ will return to TV this fall as a mentor for Christina Aguilera’s team on the NBC singing competition show ‘The Voice.’
ADELITAS WAY HOST A GROUP DATE FOR ABC’S ‘BACHELOR PAD’...
Adelitas Way have taken part in several video shoots over the last few years, but for once they may not be the focal point of every camera at the shoot. That’s because their new video shoot is also serving as the backdrop for a date on Monday night’s episode of ‘Bachelor Pad’ on ABC.
As part of the reality series, former cast members of past seasons of the ‘Bachelor’ have returned to compete for a second chance at love as well as prizes. On Monday’s episode, which airs at 8:00PM ET/PT, there will be a group date in which the contestants get a chance to star in the music video for Adelitas Way’s song, ‘Alive.’
The track is the fourth single off the band’s ‘Home School Valedictorian’ album, and singer Rick DeJesus calls it a song that’s about “the positive moments.” He adds, “It’s about being in love and feeling great, having that feeling where everything feels right, you feel so invigorated. You’re enjoying life, you’re cruising with your windows down, driving to San Diego, getting ready to go to the beach, what’s not to like?” The vocalist says that if someone’s having a bad day, ‘Alive’ is the perfect song to pop in to turn their day around.
Adelitas Way are currently on tour, and will join the packed Uproar Festival with Godsmack, Shinedown, Staind and Papa Roach beginning Aug. 17 in Bonner Springs, Kansas. The tour will keep them on the road through the end of September.
THE VEER UNION’S CRISPIN EARL DISHES ON CURRENT MUSIC INDUSTRY, LOVE FOR DEF LEPPARD + MORE...
Vancouver, Canada-based hard rock quartet the Veer Union came on the national scene in 2009, when their track ‘Seasons’ shot to the upper echelon of the active rock chart. Now, the lads are wrapping up their latest touring cycle in support of 2012’s ‘Divide the Blackened Sky’ with a gig at Dirt Fest, a music gathering slated for Aug. 11 in Birch Run, Mich., that also features Clutch, In This Moment and more.
Loudwire recently swapped stories with Veer Union frontman Crispin Earl, and we covered everything from his musical idols to when to expect new music from the band.
You released your sophomore LP, ‘Divide the Blackened Sky,’ in March. I really dig the title of the album.
Well, the title speaks to the fact that it’s been dark times for us, personally, and dark times for a lot of new rock bands that are trying to make it right now. With downloads, people think music is free. Unfortunately, it’s making it 10 times harder for any new band to survive. We wanted to say that times are tough, but we love doing music, and we want to do it for as long as we can.
The Veer Union self-produced most of this record. Is that a new venture for you guys?
For our first record, ‘Time to Break the Spell,’ we produced ourselves. We only printed 1,000 copies, and it was our first indie record ever. Later on, we worked with a producer, but we were really hands-on, so not very much of the production really changed. For most part, always been a self-produced kind of band.
Do you have a favorite track on the album?
It changes from day to day! I would say right now, it’s “Buried in the Ground.” It’s heavier and has some unique textures that we’ve never used before.
Who are some of your musical idols who made you want to get into the music business?
Def Leppard kicked it off for me. They were a huge inspiration. As far as artists or bands still around today, Soundgarden is way up there for me. I’m a huge Pantera fan. There are lots of bands that are super underground that I’m a fan of, like Rival Schools. There are so many great artists out there, and not enough of them get as much recognition as they should.
One of the last gigs you have lined up for this summer is at Dirt First this August. Who are you most excited to see on the bill?
My Darkest Days have been management friends of ours, and we’ve toured with them a lot and those guys are always fun to hang out with. I recently started getting into In This Moment, and they have a really, really cool new record. It’s really heavy and different and refreshing. There are lots of bands, though. I’m a fan of music, first and foremost, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the bands.
What’s next for the Veer Union after this summer?
We’re going to start working on a new album. It’s just in writing stages, but we’re excited to try some new things. It took a long time for us to actually get our current record out, so it’s already old for us and we want to get back in studio and write a new record. We’re excited to get going on it and get it out next year!
10 YEARS UNCHAIN VIDEO FOR ‘BACKLASH’...
Knoxville, Tenn.-based 10 Years are gearing up to release their new musical brew, ‘Minus the Machine,’ on Aug. 7, and the guys have unleashed the music video for the first single, ‘Backlash‘ off the release. Watch the dark and creepy video — perfectly complimenting the track’s thick, shadowy sounds.
10 Years will release ‘Minus the Machine’ via their own label, Palehorse Records, with distribution through Warner Music Group’s Independent Label Group. ‘Minus the Machine’ debuted at No. 35 on the Active Rock radio chart and keeps mounting, reaching No. 27 this week. The band also produced the new album, which is available for pre-order at iTunes.
Vocalist Jesse Hasek recently commented about the upcoming album. “First and foremost, when it’s all said and done, we’re proud of this album in its entirety,” he said. “That speaks volumes to us because we’re our own worst critics. We pick everything apart. An album is your child, it’s your baby, and you know it better than anyone. To sit back and be 100 percent proud of what we’ve accomplished is so gratifying, and we think everything else will fall into place. We hope that everyone will enjoy what we’ve tried to do.”
In addition to the music video below, you can also watch Fuse TV’s video interview with 10 Years here.
BRET MICHAELS HOPES TO MAKE MOVIE ABOUT HIS LIFE...
While Bret Michaels may be most well-known for his close to three decade stint as the frontman for Poison, he also leads a jam-packed life full of many endeavors including the recent launch of his new pet products line for PetSmart in addition to a passion for acting and directing that spawned his own film-production company with Charlie Sheen several years ago.
Suffering last year from a brain hemorrhage and going through surgery for a hole in his heart, Michaels admits that he looks at life a whole new way these days. “I’ve always taken life day by day. Now, I just take it moment by moment,” said Michaels in a recent interview with the Columbus Dispatch. “A brain hemorrhage puts it all in a deeper perspective. I’m one of those guys hit by lightning. I see the big picture. Everything is in perspective now.”
Part of that new-found perspective is enjoying the moment and loving the work he does. In fact, Michaels feels he has a compelling life story worth telling on the big screen starting with his childhood and growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa., to becoming a mega music star with Poison and all the adversity he faced along the way. “I want to tell the story,” explains Michaels about his vision for the movie. “Mostly, when you see rock movies, it has to be this over-the-top thing. I want to give people a Bret Michaels movie where they see that my life is a comedy of errors. I also want to show my fans how to get through the kind of troubles that would leave most people flat on the floor.”
Overcoming the odds is something Michaels excels at from winning ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ to his upcoming disc ‘Get Your Rock On’ featuring the likes of Phil Collen, Jimmy Buffet and Loretta Lynn. He’s proven time and time again that his passion for life truly drives him. Michaels summed it up best, saying, “Let’s just say that I’m the kind of guy who knows how to enjoy the moment.”
THREE DAYS GRACE TO UNLEASH ‘CHALK OUTLINE’ AS FIRST SINGLE OFF NEW ALBUM ‘TRANSIT OF VENUS’...
Three Days Grace announced back at the beginning of June that their new disc ‘Transit of Venus’ will make its way into fans’ earthly hands on Oct. 2, and now the band is sharing that the first single will be a track called ‘Chalk Outline.’
With its seemingly foreboding title, ‘Chalk Outline’ will be available on Aug. 14, and will serve as the first listen to the new disc. Although the band has not commented on the single in much detail, they did talk about the sound of ‘Transit of Venus’ as a whole.
Drummer Neil Sanderson explained, “We went for a tighter, more articulated sound on this record. The music we were writing was a little more intricate than in the past, and we’ve been experimenting with new instruments.” He continued, “ We wanted to present these new ideas concisely without going over-the-top in ambiance and overall production.”
Three Days Grace tapped super-producer Don Gilmore to man their rock ‘n’ roll mothership while the band recorded at Revolution Studios in Toronto, Canada. Gilmore’s resume includes work with Linkin Park and Bullet for My Valentine.
‘Transit of Venus’ will be available for pre-order on iTunes the same day that the single hits, so looks like Aug. 14 is a good day to be a Three Days Grace fan.
For more on the new disc, check out the latest in the series of teaser trailers the band has been dropping over the past few months below or visit their newly relaunched website here.