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Testament Frontman Recalls Best Moments of 2009

For many musicians, 2009 wasn’t a banner year. The economy took a nosedive, which affected ticket and merch sales. Plus fans continued to embrace file sharing with impunity, dramatically impacting the number of albums that were Soundscanned each week. Still, there are a few rockers that will look at back 2009 as a stellar year, including Testament frontman Chuck Billy.

Since the band’s last album, ‘The Formation of Damnation,’ came out in 2008, Testament have experienced the type of career resurrection usually reserved for actors who land a part in a Quentin Tarantino film. And Billy enjoyed every minute of it. Here are five of the vocalist’s biggest highlights.

Clean bill of health: “I just wrapped up my annual physical with my cancer doctor, and it was my last year to see him. I’m cancer free, and I don’t need to see him anymore. That was a big highlight for me — and a big sigh of relief. Recovering from something like that and getting a second chance is something not everyone gets, so I’m eternally grateful.”

Touring with Judas Priest: “We toured for four or five months with Judas Priest, who are one of my favorite bands. The shows were awesome, and their fans were really receptive to us. But the coolest thing about touring with Priest is being with the guys in the band. They’re just genuine, wonderful people. They were always concerned that we had whatever we needed, and they’ve been like that even when we toured with them in the early ’90s. So, to get back again and see them still kicking ass and have the opportunity to play with them again with ‘The Formation of Damnation’ was awesome. It’s not every day you get to sit at a table and have lunch with Glenn Tipton and Rob Halford.”

Winning the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Award for best album: “That was really amazing. It’s funny because my first reaction when people asked us if we were surprised when we won that award was ‘no,’ because man, we’ve been around so long and worked so hard to get some recognition for our craft and our work. Before 2008, we were a band that wasn’t hitting the road really hard. We kind of did some shows here and there and went to Europe most of the time. So to do ‘Formation’ and have the fans digging it and getting some good reviews was really rewarding. And that’s when we decided ‘OK, we’re gonna hit the road hard.’ So we decided to play as much as we could in 2008 and 2009. Since ‘Formation’ has been out, we’ve done almost 200 shows. We worked our asses off.”

No rest till Budapest: “We had three days off in Budapest, and we were there with our families. It was wonderful weather and we rented bicycles for three days. We were right on the rivers and rode around the castles and all around the towns. There were tons of outdoor bars, and it was really beautiful. It was a great little break in Europe with the band and our families. It was probably one of the best times off we’ve ever had.”

Return to the studio: “It was really exciting to get back in the studio to start working on our next album. There are a lot of eyes watching us to see what we do, but you know what? I like the challenge, and I know we’re going to write something good. We started working on it in November, and there are some good things out there. I’m definitely excited about it.”

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