In a new interview with MACHINE HEAD‘s Robb Flynn‘s “No F*ckin’ Regrets With Robb Flynn” podcast, TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy reflected on his band’s first-ever U.S. arena tour, which took place in 1990, with JUDAS PRIEST as the headliner and MEGADETH as additional support.
“For the PRIEST tour, we decided we were gonna spend some time on production,” Chuck said. “We bought a big, fancy Voelker Rack drum set. We bought two new scrims, full-on backline — the whole deal. Nice-looking show. And we get to the first show, and [MEGADETH frontman] Dave Mustaine sees us have it up, and he says we can’t use it. [So] we had a little problem the first week of the tour.”
“I was pissed, because we just spent all this money, and those were the days when they were hand-painted backdrops — these backdrops were 15, 20 grand; they weren’t cheap then,” he continued. “So we were, like, ‘We’re coming out to represent. PRIEST tour in arenas, man. We’re coming out.’ But Dave threw his weight around and said we can’t use all of our new stuff. So for the first week, we were, like, tails between our legs, playing.
“And all the guys in our band said, ‘Chuck, you seem to be friends with [JUDAS PRIEST singer] Rob [Halford]. Go in there and tell him. He keeps telling you guys, ‘If you guys need anything, just ask.’ Go in there.’ And I’d had it. And I said, ‘You know what? I’m gonna.’ So, I went in there. It was, like, three or four days into the tour.
“I go in the dressing room. I said, ‘Hey, Rob. You got a minute? I need to talk to you.’ I go, ‘I don’t know who to talk to, but I’m gonna come to you. And if it’s your guys’ decision, hey, I’m down with it, but I thought I would just bring it up.
“We bought all this stuff for this tour to put on a nice show, and the MEGADETH guy says we can’t play, ’cause they said you guys wouldn’t let us use it.’ And he was, like, ‘What? Who said that?’ Right there, he went and got his tour manager and said, ‘Get in here.’ [Rob] said, ‘Do you know anything about this? Them not letting TESTAMENT not use their gear?’ [The tour manager] says, ‘No.’ And [Rob] goes, ‘You make sure tonight they get the damn gear up there.’
“So we had a full-blown show,” Chuck added. “And who comes sidestage to watch the show? There goes Mr. Mustaine. Mr. Mustaine is standing there, just pissed off — he just had that look. And we were looking over just, like, ‘Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, Dave.’ We were putting it on, throwing it down. And that’s how that tour started. This was, like, our first step into an arena: ‘Oh, man. Maybe we’re making it. We’re doing it.’ And to get shut down the first time, we weren’t having it.”
TESTAMENT released their new album, Titans Of Creation, on April 3 via Nuclear Blast. You can get the album here.