Turn this sh*t up!

 Adelaide band TESTEAGLES performed on the local and national music scene for many years and certainly pushed the boundaries of genre as they toggled between metal, hip-hop, trip-hop and heavy alternative sounds. Many current Australian acts cite TESTEAGLES as an influence on their band and back when TESTEAGLES worked in Adelaide there was an exciting cult-feel at the time as Matty, Ady and D dominated the music scene with high-profile headline slots, festival appearances and heavy rotation on national radio. I caught up with Ady(drums) and he threw me some stories and a bit of an insight of where the band is up to now. 

Thanks for speaking to me, today! It’s an honor to catch up with such a band that influenced many acts such as The Butterfly Effect and Cog + more. How did the Testeagles form and what brought the band together in the early days of the Adelaide music scene.

We were almost forced together initially.  Matty and I being brothers were both very passionate and obsessed with music but as teenage siblings we kind of "hated" each other for a short period and didn't really want to be in a band together. We both had our own individual projects going on but turning up to rehearsal in our shed was a lot easier for us than other kids from school which means when others didn't show it was him and I sitting there waiting to jam out.

There was one weekend in particular when someone loaned us a 4-track tape recorder, we were so excited to try it out, no one else was around, it was just us two and we didn't have any songs together so we had to write some stuff for the purpose of just trying out this recorder. It was this day we put together songs like "get a life". I think we did three or four tracks over all and were pretty stoked how they sounded. Friends and family were encouraging and an old family friend said we should form a band and call it testeagles as a joke. As young teenagers we thought it was funny and went with it. A month or two later a girlfriend at the time was putting on a birthday party and somehow she had already organised "orgy of pigs" to play a set and she asked us to play. We weren't prepared but I think in the end we had three or four originals plus a couple of covers. From that point on it was all gas, no brakes and evolved through to non-comp.

At the time we started we had different tastes in music, I was obsessed with death metal and matty was more into Nirvana (who i hated at the time) and other grunge acts. We did connect on other music like rap and hip-hop and classics like black sabbath though. I think all of us in the end preferring different styles of music created something interesting with a lot of variety which I'm proud of but was possibly a bit of a curse.  

Tell the readers about the albums you recorded and what was your favorite to record?

This might be hard work to remember all this it's been so long haha

We firstly recorded a demo at Peel Street with Grant Sullivan who was a brilliant sound guy and a big part of the Adelaide scene at the time. I think we met him when he was mixing the Lizard Train, whom we loved.
That was done on an 8-track tape recorder and to be honest we had a lot of problems in the recording process and I was the problem. We were still very much kids and didn't really have any experience recording, especially with someone like Grant who we looked up to and respected. We ended up fighting a lot, again my fault and kind of finished something but we definitely learned so much from that experience and were 100x better off afterwards.

Then we had a run of EPs, CHUM, B-Sting and Friends. We were still growing up, evolving and experimenting with technology at this stage, so there is some very different stuff in there compared to Non-Comprehendus when we were a little more refined, toured a lot, had written a lot more and worked through some issues.

We recorded Non-Comprehendus with Paul McKercher who was a legend in the Australian recording industry for us and amazing to work with.  We were so excited to put down our first full length album and shared in that excitement and guided us perfectly. I'll never forget the moment Matty sang the chorus of non-comprehendus in the control room, he just took it to the next level and blew us all away we were all just standing there staring at him with our mouths open, I'd never heard anything like it.

We were also lucky enough to get Ulrich Wild over from the states to mix the album and that was an Amazing experience. We really hunted him down as he was involved in the Prong records which we were obsessed with and we also loved his work with White Zombie, deftones and Pantera etc.

The first day of mixing he said a quick hello and said "I want to kick you out of the studio for today, let me at this thing to do whatever I want to it, then come back tomorrow to tell me how you love or hate it". 

This was definitely a genius move on his part because he did do some things that we would have protested to at the time but it all came together into something beautiful, giving that little edge that we wouldn't have found on our own. I think that first track was Agent 99.

I'd rather pick a fave song or two and I think I'd go with Propaganda or Go get it.

Testeagles for me were monumental in the Australian Music Scene. I remember hearing ‘Turn that shit up’ on Triple J and the song started skipping it was thrashed that much. What was it like to experience that type of hype back then and how would you deal with it today?

Turn that shit up is an interesting story because I believe we had finished recording the album and we had planned to release "Underdog" as the first single. The record company sent us into the studio for a day to record a b-side for that single and we never really took b-sides, seriously, we just wrote them in the moment and put it down quickly and moved on. I remember turning up to the studio that day having no idea what we were going to do and moments later TTSU just flowed out of us and we had a pretty good rough mix of it at the end of the same day. Everyone was blown away by the track and quickly changed the plans of what was going to be the first single on the album. We had to go back in again to do more b-sides. 

I think the non-comp release was quite well planned timing wise, linking up with some big day out show etc. but I still never forget that first week. I think it had been out only for a few days and it was time for the charts to come out. We were desperately hoping for some kind of appearance in the top 100. I got a call early in the morning telling me it had gone number 1 in Adelaide and number 8 in Australia. I thought it was some kind of prank at first. We spent the whole day doing interviews with newspapers and even channel 7 news I think it was. No way in the world did we expect that and it was pretty crazy to see our name above Celine Dion etc. I thought it was hilarious.

 I know a lot of hearts were broken when Testeagles disappeared from the Adelaide and Australian music scene – What happened? And the future – Your music is timeless, it’s metal and it’s alternative state still gets played today. The songs are played with passion and I’ve never seen a moshpit like the Testeagles. Would you consider a comeback or maybe another project? & what are you and Matt up to these days...

Thanks for your kind words. It's insane to me that our music still seems to mean a lot to people all these years later. The whole situation was a mix of record company issues, leading to legal issues. We were essentially just kids who loved playing instruments and had no idea how to run a business and protect ourselves from people out to take advantage.  We actually did write and record some music that people never heard and I've always wondered what people would think of it. Some of the hardcore fans might know a couple of those songs from our later live shows but I'm not sure many people have heard the recordings. The future is always a mystery!

Give us your best rock star story! What did you witness and just thought ‘WTF’. 

There are so many!! The whole time was so surreal! Meeting our musical heroes like Trent Reznor and many others when playing support and festival tours was crazy at the time and even now it's hard to believe all that happened.  I'll give you two quick stories.  When we got home from the 2000 big day out tour we had a message on our answering machine (yes lol home phone answering machine) and it was blink 182 saying how much they loved us and wanted to organise a tour together etc.  I think they played right after us on our stage and I remember seeing them side of stage when we were playing but honestly didn't think they would give a shit and they were just prepping for their show.  

When we were proper kids all three of us were obsessed with Living Colour and somehow we ended up recording (and never releasing) a song with Vernon Reid, their guitarist. How we got there makes no sense to me.



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