Interview: Eric Peterson Of Testament On Download Festival + Brisbane Sideshow

Interview by Carly Gibbs

With a career spanning over nearly 40 years, Testament are a household name in metal circles and have built themselves a loyal legion of fans who are frothing over their return to our shores this March.  Often cited as one of the most popular and influential bands of the thrash scene, they are an absolute powerhouse that you really shouldn’t miss if you are at Download this year.

I had just surprised my partner with tickets to their sideshow in Brisbane for his birthday when this interview came up.  So, of course, I jumped at the chance to have a chat to Testament‘s longest standing member and guitarist, Eric Peterson, about it .  

It’s been a little while since you’ve been here Down Under and metalheads all over Australia are pumped for your spot at Download in March.  How are you feeling about being back in Australia again soon?    

“Yeah, we are super excited!  Especially to play the Download Festival and I think we get to do one of our own shows whilst we are there as well.  We haven’t been there since 2014 and it was super hot.” 

It’s pretty hot and horrible right now again too so hopefully it cools down for you before March.

“So, I should bring shorts then, yeah?” 

Oh yeah, definitely! Make sure you bring short shorts, cut off shirts, flip flops, all of that!

“Haha, yeah, alright.”

You’ve played Download in the UK a couple of times now, 2008 and in 2015, but this will be your first time at download in Australia.  Given the structure of the festival is a little different and that it is only 2 years old here, how do you think the Aussie Download will compare for you?     

“It’s definitely a start being a one day festival.  It’s kind of cool though to have it over the two cities, you know, for the fans.  It should be a lot of fun for them, get there early, get trashed, watch a bunch of good bands.”

I guess the bonus of having Download as a one day event but over two cities is that you get to play twice which is an awesome way of getting your music out to more punters.  Perhaps, younger ones who have heard of Testament, but haven’t really had the chance to check you out yet or maybe even those who are just walking past and had never heard you play.   When you are playing are you thinking about blowing those new heads away or are you out there just thrashing for all of the long-term fans?

“Yeah, it is a really good way to promote yourself.  As far as what I’m thinking when I’m on stage, I’m just up there enjoying the music I wrote, watching people get off on it.  I mean, you might think about that stuff when you are off the stage but when I am on the stage, I’m just thinking about communicating with the audience and getting that feeling together with everybody.”

Yeah definitely, that’s what is so amazing about music, bringing so many different people together to enjoy that one moment. 

“Yeah it would be kind of weird being up there having a conversation with yourself going ‘hmmm I wonder how many people have never seen us before’ and ‘those people at the back have probably seen us’ you know?” 

Yeah totally, that makes sense. 

“I’m just teasing you, but you know what I mean.” 

So, is there anyone on the Download line up that you are looking forward to catching up with or any new bands you are keen to check out over the festival?  

“I saw that Carcass were on there, I’d really like to see them if I have time.  I definitely want to see My Chemical Romance.  They were one of my favourite bands when I was younger.  I mean, they were even younger than me but I was listening to them when I was younger.  But it was something that I shared with my kids when they were growing up so it’s nice.  I’ve seen them before but it’s been a while.  I’m excited that they’ve come back because I was really sad when they called it a day.  I was like ‘man, they are on fire, why would they quit?’   Maybe they planned it, I don’t know.” 

I mean, yeah, maybe!  Everyone is going pretty crazy about their return so maybe it was planned, it’s working for them. 

On the 31st of January you released Night of the Witch the first track from your new album that’s set to be released in April and it’s an absolute belter!  Are you planning on throwing it into your set at Download?   

“Yeah, we’ll be playing that one and then there’ll probably be another single out by the time we get down there so we’ll be playing that one as well.   We’ll be playing a couple of new tracks to promote the record.   Everybody is going kind of nuts for it.  I knew people would like it but I didn’t think it was going to be so well received.  It’s gone crazy. ”

I was playing it on repeat last night and absolutely love it!  We can’t make it to Download this year but have tickets for the Brisbane sideshow so will be looking forward to hearing it live there. 

“Yeah, great!  Festivals are fun but maybe the concert where we headline in a smaller atmosphere will be a little more intimate. ”

So, as we were just discussing you do also have a sideshow apart from the two dates for Download.   It’s on Sunday March the 22nd at The Triffid in Brisbane.  The last I checked it was still ‘to be confirmed’ but do you know who’s supporting you on this show yet?  

“No, not yet.  We’ve been so busy with rehearsing and doing so much to get the record finished that I’ve kind of been in a bubble for a little bit.  I kind of don’t pay attention anymore to what I’m doing until I get there.  When I get there, I’ll just live it.” 

(Since recording this interview, it has been confirmed that the mighty Meshiaak will be playing alongside Testament at the Brisbane sideshow.)

Your tour schedule looks quite tight but you have a couple of days between the Brisbane sideshow and Singapore.  Do you get much time to hang around and do any of those fun cliché Aussie things like hug a koala or do you pretty much play and then head off straight away?  

“In the past we’ve had some time, I remember maybe a couple years before we did Soundwave festival, we came and did a 4 or 5 city club tour.  We had 2 or 3 days off between shows.  We had a lot of fun, did a little barbecuing, a little out-backing and going out, it was fun.  Good people, the people are really nice down there.”  

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me for Good Call Live today, Eric.  Australia is looking forward to seeing you all in March for Download and I am especially looking forward to seeing you at the sideshow in Brisbane.  Also, can’t wait for the album! 

“Alright!  The album is out April 3rd.”

Excellent!  Looking forward to it! 

If Night of the Witch is anything to go by then the album ‘Titans of Creation’ is going to be a dead set heater!  

Testament are set to unleash their thirteenth studio album ‘Titans Of Creation’ which will be released April 3rd via Nuclear Blast. iTunes pre sale link HERE.

Buy tickets to the Sydney and Melbourne Download Festival HERE.

And to their sideshow with Meshiaak supporting at The Triffid HERE.

Australian Tour
20th March 2020 – Melbourne Showgrounds – Download Festival
21st March 2020 – Parramatta Park – Download Festival
22nd March 2020 – Brisbane – The Triffid

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