Former Exodus Singer Rob Dukes Testament’s Chuck Billy is “Responsible” for His Firing
I suspect most fans don’t realize that Testament vocalist Chuck Billy is one Exodus’ managers these days (which is fair, because I suspect most bands could give a fuck who manages the bands they like — at the end of the day, they’re gonna be loyal to the band, not management or the label or anyone else). But he is! And according to now-former Exodus vocalist Rob Dukes, Billy played a large role in his getting sacked last year.
“I think Chuck’s responsible for [my being fired]. I think Chuck and their management, Metal Maria [Ferrero], I think they were looking at [Exodus’] record sales from the ’80s and they were baiting them into, ‘Look, if you do this, you’re gonna get this.’ I mean, I was there for it. I even spoke up. I even said it in front of Chuck to his face. I said, ‘Gary, I think it’s a conflict of interest having the singer of Testament be your fucking manager. Because, what makes you think that he’s not gonna put his own band ahead of you every single fucking time? It’s a conflict of interest, Gary. This is not a good thing to happen.’ And they were, like, ‘No, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. I think it’s fine.’ And I’m, like, ‘Ah, okay.’ And you know what? That’s kind of what they did… Let me give you a scenario. Metallica calls [Exodus’] management, and they say, ‘Hey, man, we want Exodus on this tour.’ What’s gonna keep Chuck Billy from going, ‘Well, I don’t know if Exodus will work out, but I know Testament can do it.’ Do you know what I mean? Why wouldn’t he do that? I’ll tell you this: I would do it. I would fucking do it in a fucking second. ‘Cause I’m fucking honest. But nobody there in that whole world is honest.”
Which may or may not be true, but even if we take Dukes at his word, it has nothing to do with why he got fired. Think about it for an eighth of a second: the possibility that allowing Billy to manage Exodus is a conflict of interest because Billy might put Testament’s career ahead of his clients’ does nothing to explain why Billy would argue for Dukes to be let go. In fact, if Billy argued that Exodus would make more money with Steve Souza, that would be the very definition of “a manager doing his job.”
Any by the way: Billy would be right! In its first week of release, Exodus’ reunion album with Souza, Blood In Blood Out, did indeed sell more than twice as many copies as their last album with Dukes, Exhibit B: The Human Condition.
So it seems unlikely that Billy was in the corner, twirling his chin pubes, being all, “Bwa-ha-ha! With Souza on vocals, Exodus will NEVER open for Metallica!” Because there’s absolutely no evidence that with Souza on vocals, Exodus will never open for Metallica. Kirk Hammett and Gary Holt are obviously old pals. Holt is in Slayer. No one in the Metallica camp, or any other metal band’s camp, is thinking “Let’s get Exodus oh wait no they’re back with Souza let’s get Testament instead.” That’s ridiculous.
I guess what I’m saying is: Chuck Billy may very well have argued for Dukes to be fired, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Chuck Billy is a bad guy. And since Dukes is so big on the concept of honesty, he probably should have been more honest with himself: as we’ve seen time and time again, every band will reunite sooner or later. Rob Dukes’ days in Exodus were numbered the day he joined Exodus. In a situation like that, you should just try to enjoy your time in the band an make whatever money you can, right?
One other, unrelated part of the interview I’d like to include, just because I think it’s amusing: Dukes’ description of the songwriting process in Exodus. Says the vocalist:
“Honestly, let me tell you how much it’s Gary’s band. I have… Somewhere out there, Andy [Sneap, producer] has it, or some other producer has ’em… I never sang… I sang over a scratch track of Gary. Gary would write all the music, do everything, and then he would come in and he would go, ‘I want it sung like this.’ And he would actually go in and sing it in his voice. He wouldn’t scream it, ’cause he can’t scream, but he would say, ‘This is the melody and this is the way it goes.’ And, basically, all I had to do is just go in and copy exactly what Gary told me to do. I did that on every song that I ever recorded with them. The only time I ever got to do my own thing was when he said, ‘Hey, man, you can write the lyrics,’ which I wrote a handful of songs… All those songs, I wrote the melody and all the words, so I actually got to sing them the way I wanted them done. Even then, Gary would be, like, ‘No, I really don’t like that. Can you make it a little more blah blah blah’ — whatever idea he had at the time.”
Holy crap do I ever wanna hear those scratch tracks of Gary Holt. That would be a laugh riot!