DATE OF INTERVIEW:
11th August 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: So do you think there should be a Big Five with Testament in there as well?
ALEX: I don’t know…
(Alex Skolnick on his current mindset with Testament)
"It feels new still in a weird way. Maybe because I was gone for a long time; maybe because, during that time, there have been so many different lineups…I don’t know, everything feels new."
Alex Skolnick backstage at Bloodstock Open Air, UK, 11th August 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Testament Official Website:
The Legacy (1987)
Thanks to Jaap Wagemaker at Nuclear Blast for arranging the interview
The New Order (1988)
Practice What You Preach (1989)
Testament Official Facebook:
Souls of Black (1990)
Live at the Fillmore (1995)
The Best of Testament (1996)
The Gathering (1999)
The Very Best of Testament (2001)
First Strike Still Deadly (2001)
Live in London (2005)
The Ritual (1992)
Signs of Chaos (1997)
The Formation of Damnation (2008)
Dark Roots of Earth (2012)
MD: Some people say that.
ALEX: I mean, we wouldn’t turn that down if the opportunity for a show came up but I look at it as a seniority thing. I was in high school and I had all the albums by every one of the Big Four.
MD: Okay, so you think because they were there first…
ALEX: Yeah, they were pioneers and they were out there first and deserve all the credit.
MD: That’s a good answer, I guess. There are a couple of interesting covers you’ve recorded for bonus content – Queen’s ‘Dragon Attack’ and Scorpions’ ‘Animal Magnetism’ as well – were those choices unanimous amongst band members or was there a certain band member who wanted to do each of those?
MD: Whose choice was ‘Dragon Attack’?
ALEX: That actually came from Chuck’s wife, Tiffany. It’s a great choice, I think. I was pushing to do a cover that wasn’t a metal cover. I was okay with…right away, Scorpions and Iron Maiden came up and I felt we had to do something different and I had a couple of others but I’m not gonna say what they are because, who knows, maybe we’ll do ‘em in the future. But when that came up, immediately it made sense. That was like a perfect choice.
MD: Yeah, it’s an interesting Queen song to cover, it’s quite flexible and lot can be done with it I think. Obviously you had Gene Hoglan on drums for the album to fill in for Paul Bostaph and now he’s back on the road with you. So with Paul leaving now, has Gene permanently joined Testament or is he still just the session guy?
ALEX: As far as we’re concerned, he’s on the album, he’s doing the whole album cycle with us so…
MD: …temporarily permanent!
ALEX: Yeah, Paul’s off doing his own thing with our blessing but, obviously, the record seems to be working, so…
MD: Definitely. I read a statement you released recently about the Randy Blythe situation as I gather you two are good buddies…has that whole incident made Testament any more wary when you play club shows now and do you think it’s changed the whole picture of security in venues, crowd surfers etc.?
ALEX: I think so, I’m afraid. It’s too bad. And not just that but what happened with Dimebag Darrell…it’s scary out there. I try not to think about it too much. This is what we do and you don’t want to get too affected by it but, at the same time, anything’s possible. But I’m just glad Randy’s out.
MD: Yeah, and free of all charges soon hopefully. I have to ask about the Alex Skolnick Trio as well – what’s happening with this right now? I love all that jazz fusion stuff.
ALEX: Thank you. Well, that’s another side of me, obviously, and I figured when I came back to this band a few years ago I only wanna do it if I can keep my different sides. And it’s great because I’m doing both and I have an acoustic project I’m planning as well. The Trio just came back from Mexico where we played the National Centre for the Arts…and it was packed, and we were all over the city, massively promoted. I just think people seem to have more of an appreciation for really artistic music outside of the United States. Yeah, so there’s a lot of activity planned for that and we’re gonna work around the Testament schedule.
MD: More UK touring hopefully with the Alex Skolnick Trio.
ALEX: I hope so.
MD: The final thing – it’ll be thirty years next year since Testament formed so do you have any special plans to celebrate in any special way or are you just gonna carry on doing what you’re doing, business as usual?
ALEX: We haven’t thought about it. I think we’ll probably just carry on. It feels new still in a weird way. Maybe because I was gone for a long time; maybe because, during that time, there have been so many different lineups…I don’t know, everything feels new.
MD: And the fact you’re still going is a special occasion!
ALEX: Yeah, that’s special enough!
MD: And still making very good music, of course.
ALEX: Thank you.
MD: That’s the important thing.
ALEX: That’s what matters, yeah. I don’t think it makes the focus on us as a classic act because it actually feels like a new beginning.
MD: Absolutely. Good final words!
ALEX: Thank you!
MD: Okay, thank you so much for your time.
ALEX: My pleasure, thank you.