Written by Ken Simmons
Feb 06, 2013 at 12:00 PM
HMR: Chuck, I want to thank you for your time and let you know it’s an honor and privilege to interview the Leader of the Legions and one of the best frontmen ever.

Chuck: Thanks man, I appreciate it.

HMR: First of all, I want to ask you about your health. You were diagnosed with cancer in 2001 & have been in remission for over 10 years. At 50 years young, how ya holding up now?

Chuck: Good. I get my checkups once a year. So far so good. Feeling good.

HMR: Great news. Guitarists last forever. Drummers & vocalist don’t. 30 years into this, can we get another 10 years out of you?

Chuck: I think so (laughs). You know I think I’ve gotten better with the years and the longer I’ve been doing it I think I’ve honed in my voice and you know it’s like anything you do in life. If you lift weights for 30 years you’re probably going to be pretty strong, you know. So I think being a singer and doing it as long as I have, I’ve kind of learned my limits and learned where I can go and how to keep pace. I think I can keep going on & on.

HMR: Good news. There have been many stories about the Medicine Men that helped you beat cancer and helped you reconnect to your heritage. Did these experiences help you write some of the lyrics to Native Blood?

Chuck: I don’t know if they helped me write them for particular songs. I think that whole experience was just helping me personally, you know, overcome what was going on in my life. You really don’t know what’s going on, what the outcome is going to be and where it’s going to lead to. It definitely made your mind work because I think your mind is a very powerful tool. There are people that can slow down their breathing or control a lot of things just using their mind control. I think just having them help me be stronger and be confident and be positive in what I was trying to accomplish helped me keep in that phase. I don’t think I really try write to the song writing. It was two different things. When I create songs it’s a whole different mindset. I was creating something.

HMR: Are you a sports fan? Do you think that the 49ers are going to win the Super Bowl?

Chuck: I hope not. I’ve been a 49er hater for my life and I hope they get their ass kicked. (laughs)

HMR:  So who is your football team?

Chuck: The Raiders of course. I’ve been a season ticket holder for a long time. It’s been rough the last 3 or 4 years. It’s been really bad.

HMR: Do you follow baseball. Are you a Giants fan?

Chuck: I’m more of an Oakland A’s fan. Since the Giants moved out of Candlestick and got the new field, I tend to like the Giants as well now. I didn’t like them when they shared the stadium with the 9’ers. I had a problem with that.

HMR: Well it all starts tonight at the Fillmore in Frisco. Testament is headlining this leg of the tour with 4Arm and Overkill opening up. Flotsam & Jetsam are going to join you in a couple of days. Are you amped up & ready?

Chuck: Totally. We’ve been working for the last couple of days in the studio getting prepared and getting the show done and going through a lot of songs to see what’s feeling good and I think we’ve come up with a great set. We’re all fired up. Everyone’s ready to go.

HMR: Well Testament Nation is fired up too. For a metal head, the only thing that could be better than Testamant & Overkill would be Testament, Overkill & Slayer.

Chuck: Oh yea (laughs).

HMR: It’s been 26 years since you’ve worked with Overkill. Overkills continues to put out skull crushing albums at a record pace. It’s been impressive for Overkill hasn’t it?

Chuck: Yea, I think it’s great that they’re still doing it and it’s funny because we haven’t seen each other probably in 25 years since we toured with them the first time around in the US. We’ve played a lot of festivals but we’ve never ran into them anywhere out on the road in 20 plus years. So it’s going to be interesting to see them again for the first time it’s gonna be like déjà vu all over again.

HMR: Before The Gathering album, Testament was putting out albums at the same break neck pace. We’ve only waited 4 years this time for Dark Roots of Earth & it was well worth the wait. Dark Roots debuted a number 12 on billboard in August selling more than 20K copies in the first week. Do you think that Dark roots will surpass Practice What You Preach in record sales?

Chuck: I think so but it’s so different now than when Practice came out. When Practice What You Preach came out there were so many record stores in every city where now you got Best Buy or Wal-Mart or the small Ma & Pa’s that are surviving. It’s really tough. So it’s a different time for selling records than it was then.

HMR: It sure is. Speaking of which, it’s good to see the younger faces in the crowd. What are some of the younger bands that you like?

Chuck: I like a lot of them, The Haunted, Soilwork, Shadows Fall, Lamb of God, In Flames you know I still tend to lean towards that style of music. There’s a lot of newer type of bands out there and I give them all props. They all are great bands and I’m sure they follow a lot of the older bands but I just wish that they had a little more of their own identities. I listen to some Sirius Radio and there are a lot of bands that sound like it’s the same album, the same band because the vocals or the music tend to almost be the same. So I like bands that have their own identities, definitely.

HMR: Well as a 6’5” Heavy Metal legend that cannot hide in public, when is the last time that you were Into The Pit?

Chuck: Shoot, it’s been awhile since I’ve been in the pit. I tend to stay on the outskirts or behind the stage or something (laughs). It’s been awhile. I mean I’ve come out into the crowds & surfed a little bit onto the crowds but not actually in the pit.

HMR: As a vocalist, what bands do you listen to? Is there anything outside of the metal genre that you listen to?

Chuck: Right now I’m digging the new Sound Garden. That’s kind of been stuck in my CD player for almost a month.

HMR: Speaking of Lamb of God, I wanted to touch on the false imprisonment of Randy Blythe last year & I believe he has a trial coming up next month. 9 years after the murder of Dimebag on stage, band security does not appear to be any better than it was. What are your thoughts on this & do you think that Testament’s management has put proper security into place?

Chuck: A lot of the responsibility has to do with the clubs. Bands can hire their own security force and do things like that. It’s a tough area. I think a lot of road crews kind of play that same role. They tend to keep more people off of the stage. Years back I used to invite people over the wall & even inside the wall of death. I kind of stay away from that because promoters don’t really want to be a part of that and get involved and you never know what’s going to happen so I kind of like say you know I can understand it and I don’t want to make it any harder work for the crew or security or even take a chance of someone finding an opportunity in that moment to do something stupid.

HMR: Absolutely. Well gun control is a raging topic in this country now. It’s another issue that the country is heavily divided on. It’s all part of the new order. In Texas, Gun Control means that you are in possession of your own gun. Are you a gun owner and do you believe in the 2nd Amendment?

Chuck: I am, very much. Me and Eric are. I’m a very big believer but I do back the idea of outlawing the high capacity clips. I definitely don’t think you need a high capacity clip to go deer hunting or something. That’s one thing that I definitely stand behind and I can understand that. Taking away guns and the right to bear arms, I’m definitely against. 

HMR: When can we expect the Biblical Tour with Testament, Death Angel, Exodus, Lamb of God & maybe Pestilence?

Chuck: Well hopefully there’s a promoter out there that has the idea to do that. I think something like that could happen. It happens like that in Europe in the festivals. If there was just somebody out here. Closest thing we had was Ozzfest and that’s no more. Mayhem is the next closest thing to doing things like that so that’s about all we’ve got but you see things like that all the time in Europe at those festivals.

HMR: It’s been almost 3 years since Ronnie James Dio lost his battle to cancer in MD Anderson in Houston. I wanted to touch on some of his song writing and how he got his inspirations and relate that to Testament. Holy Diver was one of the best songs ever written. He wrote some of the lyrics while watching the Celtics / Lakers NBA Finals which seemed very odd. Outside of Steven King books, and the normal gloom & doom, death & destruction what are some of odd inspirations that have helped you write lyrics?

Chuck: I think a lot of it is definitely what the human race is doing to the planet and doing to ourselves and how many Americans and young kids get put into worse situations, you know, being at that young of an age and possibly go out there and take a life or have you life taken. You know that pretty heavy duty subjects. So I think things like that definitely always spark a song in me.

HMR: Is it true that Zetro introduced you to the band upon his departure to Exodus?

Chuck: Un-huh. Yeah, Zet was actually best friends with my younger brother and when he left the band I was actually just finishing up taking private singing lessons and things like that. I was ready to pursue my own thing and that’s when he said Hey Man I’m leaving & why don’t you call Alex Skolnick go audition for this band. So I listened, got the demo and made a call and went out there, auditioned and got the gig. It definitely was because of Zet.

HMR: Very Interesting. Personally, The Afterlife is one of my favorite Testament songs lyrically. You co-wrote the lyrics with Zetro. Is there any personal relevance between that & your father?

Chuck: Well yeah, Eric at that time lost his father as well so that was just kind of the song and the topic and you know once you lose your parents it definitely sticks with you for a little while. You always think about it. So that was something that I wanted to express. My father made me. I am today because of the way that I was raised by my father. I really wanted to just capture that and make a tribute to our fathers. It’s also such a great topic everybody can relate to. It’s something that happens to everybody.

HMR: Well, Houston is the sixth show of this leg of the tour. Testament Nation is eagerly awaiting the show. We can’t wait. We appreciate your time. Thank you for the interview. Horns Up.

Chuck: Cool. We’ll see you six shows down the line.