TESTAMENT's CHUCK BILLY On His Upcoming Debut Solo Album: 'I Wanna Be Challenged'
March 29, 2022
TESTAMENT singer Chuck Billy spoke to the "Let There Be Talk" podcast with rock and roll comedian Dean Delray about his upcoming first-ever solo album. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I started talking about it and recruiting guitar players to write songs for me, to put together a record. And the first thing I tell 'em is I don't want it to be a TESTAMENT record; I don't want it to be heavy and thrash. I wanna do something that has the vibe of the old vinyl records, when you're doing it the one take, the big, clean, dry rock sound, where you can hear every instrument and not have sampled kicks and sampled everything under the sun and just have it real raw. I wanna do that. I wanna put it on and [have it] sound like an old UFO record or THIN LIZZY record or something."
He continued: "I think I have about six guitar players I spoke to so far to [help me] write — anywhere from Gary Holt [EXODUS, SLAYER] to Mark Morton from LAMB OF GOD. I even chatted with Joe Bonamassa. Just all kinds of different guys. And it's always just, 'Just write something that's not me.' I wanna be challenged. I want it to rock. I want it just to have that old feel."
Billy previously discussed his plans for a solo album during a summer 2021 appearance on the "Not These Two Fucking Guys" podcast. At the time, he said: "Well, it started [to be] in the works, but then things just kind of got held up. I was recruiting some guitar players over the last six months to write a record with me, and I was gonna use a different guitar player on every song to help me write songs. Mark Morton, I've talked to him; he wants to work [with me]. I also want Gary Holt to write some songs with me. Glen Drover [ex-MEGADETH] is gonna write some songs… I haven't approached my cousin Stef [Stephen Carpenter] from the DEFTONES yet, but I'm gonna see if he'll wanna write a song with me. I tried to reach out to Joe Bonamassa [to see if he wants to] write a song with me."
As for the musical direction of his solo LP, Billy said: "I want it to be different. And what I've told all these guys [is] that I wanna do a solo record, but I don't want it to resemble TESTAMENT; I wanna do something different. And the direction I wanna go is the old classic vinyl-sounding records — just real, clean and dry and big. Real tones — not compressed digital stuff. I want it to be classic sounding, but have it rock, have it bluesy. Have some metal, but just have it where [it doesn't sound like what people are used to hearing from me]."
He continued: "I've done these compilation records for this Cleopatra label, and I've done anything from Michael Jackson to Christmas songs. And every time people hear it, they go, 'Man, that's kind of cool.' And I was thinking about it — it's fun to do, and it's challenging and different. So when I think of a solo record, I want it to be different — I want every song to kind of have its own personality and stand on their own. So that was kind of my goal. If I do a solo record — maybe I'll do a few, but if I do one solo record, I want it to really be something that [is] challenging to me, different for me and different from [people's] expectations, when somebody puts it on, [but] that they'll enjoy it still.
"So that's what I wanted to do," Chuck added. "So I've been telling [the various guitar players], 'Just start writing. Put the song together for me. But don't think metal. Don't think TESTAMENT. Don't think the bands you're in. Just write something cool that's got a vibe. And give it to me. Let me do my thing on it.'"
Earlier this month, TESTAMENT announced the return of drummer Dave Lombardo to the group's ranks.
An original member of thrash metal legends SLAYER, Lombardo was the guest drummer on TESTAMENT's 1999 studio album "The Gathering", which also marked the first time the band worked with then-up-and-coming British producer/engineer Andy Sneap. "The Gathering" was widely considered to be an improvement over 1997's "Demonic", an album that saw Billy employ a more guttural style of vocals and was released at a time when thrash acts as TESTAMENT had fallen out of favor.
In January, TESTAMENT parted ways with its longtime drummer Gene Hoglan. Hoglan originally played drums on "Demonic", but didn't stick around long enough to do any touring with the band. He officially joined TESTAMENT in 2011 and played on the group's last three albums: 2012's "Dark Roots Of Earth", 2016's "Brotherhood Of The Snake" and 2020's "Titans Of Creation".
TESTAMENT, EXODUS and DEATH ANGEL played the sole 2021 date of "The Bay Strikes Back Tour" last November at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California. The gig took place less than two months after the three bands shared the stage at the Aftershock festival in Sacramento.
"The Bay Strikes Back Tour" was originally scheduled to kick off on October 6 at the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, California and make stops in Austin, New York, and Detroit before concluding in Oakland. The tour has since been rescheduled to take place in April and May 2022.