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Testament Rock Sirius/XM With ‘Artist Confidential’ Performance

It took them nine years to release last year’s comeback album, ‘The Formation of Damnation,’ and 16 months later, Bay Area thrash legends Testament wound down the album cycle on Aug. 10 in style, with a special performance at the Sirius/XM studios in New York, N.Y. as part of their ‘Artist Confidential‘ series. Prior shows have featured acts such as Phil Collins, Willie Nelson and Sting, but Testament was by far the heaviest act to grace the recording room.

The show was recorded in a soundproofed room to the left of the company’s 36th floor lobby, and about 30 journalists and fans watched in the lobby, transformed into an intimate performance space. While some Sirius/XM staff, such as the Howard Stern show’s Richard Christy, stuck around for the performance, others quickly darted through the lobby once the music started.

Hosted by Sirius/XM Senior Director of Rock Programming Lou Brutus, the hour-long program was half interview and half performance. With such a long time between albums and the reunion of Testament’s classic lineup — founder Eric Peterson, vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarist Alex Skolnick, bassist Greg Christian and returning drummer Paul Bostaph — the story surrounding how things came together again took up the early part of the discussion, with Billy and Skolnick doing most of the talking.

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Testament at Sirius/XM
Testament perform at Sirius/XM, New York City, on August 10th, 2009.
Bill Shouldis

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They also addressed the recording of their new album, and whether they knew that it was going to be as well-received as it had been (short answer, they did). Among other topics discussed was the most “Spinal Tap-ian” moment of their career — it involved the band’s money being driven to a bank, a show runner who turned out to be a pot dealer, Chuck Billy and a policeman. When asked about the most inspirational moment, Billy mentioned speaking to a class of college students about being a musician, then seeing the “diverse” group, many of whom had been scared to go see the band, out in the audience at a show later. Skolnick mentioned seeing the movie ‘Heavy Metal in Baghdad,’ about Iraqi band Acrassicauda. After realizing how much the band, ultimately smuggled to Turkey, had been through, he made sure to invite them to come see Testament. In fact, he’s now working on some music with the band, who are now living in New Jersey.

Ultimately, Testament let the music do the talking, ripping through ‘Over the Wall,’ ‘The New Order’ and ‘Practice What You Preach’ from their first three albums, respectively. They also played ‘More Than Meets the Eye,’ ‘The Persecuted Won’t Forget’ and ‘Into the Pit.’

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