Interview: Testament’s Chuck Billy on vaporizer line The Chief, Cryptocurrency, and more

Posted by on September 6, 2018

Testament recently completed their North American run in support of Slayer’s farewell tour. While the group were on the road, frontman Chuck Billy managed to find some time to talk to us about his signature vaporizer line, The Chief, as well as other products with Lord Vaper Pens. He explained in detail about the herbal pen, cryptocurrency, as well as keeping up with today’s technology and of course provided an update on Testament.

Can you explain how your Vape line, The Chief started?

Well, it started in 2014 when I was approached by the owner of Lord Vaper Pens, which was a Bay Area friend and a metal head. He started the company. So he approached me first and asked if I wanted to do a vaporizer signature line. And, of course, you know, yes into doing that. Of course that’s when a lot of the vaporizers in the industry was pretty new. Technology was pretty new in the vape world. There was only a couple that were really outstanding at that time. So I got in, but Lord Vaper kind of went downhill, so they sold the company about a year and a half ago, and the new owner approached me, cause he still was interested in The Chief line. So he approached me and really discussed what needed to be improved from the first series was the mouthpiece. On the first additions they tend to break, so we fixed the mouthpiece and put a ceramic mouthpiece on this with a magnetic lid so it’s easier to take off and on.

​It also has a replaceable battery so you can interchange the batteries. That was a big problem with the early generations. The battery life wasn’t very good, and we put a cool graphic on it, and it’s just much more inconspicuous. It just fits in the palm of your hands. It’s a different shape than the first series. So that was kind of the … what we went for to re-introduce the first chief line vaporizer, but the new one you can burn wax or weed in it, either one, which the first edition didn’t. It was only for weed, not wax. And then Lord Vaper decided to take it a step further and come out with a few different products.

​The second product we came up with is called the Dream Catcher, which is a cartridge vaporizer that can vaporize THC cartridges or CBD oil cartridges, and the great thing about this unit, which I haven’t seen out there anywhere else, is that it’s shaped like a zippo lighter. So it really protects the cartridge. Most cartridge vaporizers, you put them in your pocket, they’ll either fall out, leak, or break. So that’s kind of unique about the Dream Catcher. It has a zippo lid, so you get to shut it, put it in your pocket and not worry about it, and the battery life again, is incredible on these. You can go at least ten days without charging it. It has a digital readout on it, so it constantly tells you how much battery life you have.

It also tells you how big of a cartridge it is. If it’s a quarter gram, half gram, or full gram. It comes in three temperature settings –  3.0, 3.4, and 3.8, which is about 380 degrees, and that one right now. I’m on tour now, and I’ve been letting people passing out some samples, and that seems to be the hit right now on the tour is the cartridges, and it’s real convenient, so that’s pretty cool.

​And then the third product is basically like a pipe. It’s called the Tomahawk, and it’s a one piece pipe with a built-in lighter, and you can just refill it with butane when it runs out of butane, and it comes in these five little cartridges that you can preload with a half a gram of weed before you leave the house. It has a smell-proof little container you can carry them in, and as you go through the day you just pop these little cartridges inside and use them throughout the day as you like. It’s pretty inconspicuous, because most pipes you have two hands and it’s pretty obvious what you’re doing, where this is just one hand. It has the lighter all built in in one dose. So he’s come up some really cool products. He really did his homework on what we don’t see out there, and some little unique for the line that we have, and then he also … cause he really loves the artwork for the product, so we decided that we’re gonna do a Chief of thrash merchandise line, which will consist of shirts and hats, and coffee cups, and just a bunch of whatever you really like. You know there’s mouth pads to pens to a lot of different options.

So the new Lord Vaper USA really took a big step and believed in the product, and went for it. It’s kind of only been out there about three weeks right now, the product. When the Slayer tour started, we decided let’s go. We have a truck that’s hauling our gear. Let’s put a big advertisement with the product on the side of the truck, and let’s go. So it’s been going well. Like I said, it’s just the beginning. We’re kind of spreading the word, talking to people about the product, and the most important thing about this product, it’s not a novelty product. This is the real deal. The product really works great, and it’s not just a novelty people thinking, “Oh! It’s Chuck putting out something…” that’s just probably not as quality, but this is quality stuff.

It’s crazy how fast vaping has grown over the last three to five years alone. Very creative what you can do now.

There’s options. I still enjoy, rolling up a joint and smoking a joint, but there’s times when I can’t just smoke a joint. The perfect place is the movie theater. I can smoke in the movies, in a two hour movie, so I’m vaping in there, or a Raider game, or a basketball game, just sneak a quick puff, and that’s the beauty of the vaporizers, but it’s also really beneficial for medicinal use as well.

I lost my sister-in-law about a year and a half ago to cancer, and she never smoked weed in her life, and was raised … It was illegal and against the law, and just never wanted to try it, had no interest. Well, when she was ill, her doctor recommended cannabis. Her mother called me and asked if I could bring her a vaporizer over, with some weed. And I did, and she used it. It helped her, because she didn’t have an appetite.

It really did help, and I think as someone using a vaporizer in that situation, it’s probably a lot easier. If someone who had never smoked in their life, smoked a joint would probably cough their lungs up and just have a really horrible experience, and as high as hell. So vaping is just definitely an easier way to ease into it, and it’s actually more beneficial for medicinal uses. You have to get more of the THC, and you burn it at a lower temperature than you do if you light the end of a joint. It is for the stoner, but it is for the novice smoker or someone needing it for medicinal use that’s never smoked before.

Can you tell me more about the Cryptocurrency?

We’re promoting a contest with this company PRiVCY. It’s a new cryptocurrency coin that’s out, and we’re running a contest with Decibel Magazine for the heavy metal beer and metal festival in December, so it’s something cool. It’s something I’ve been into the cryptocurrency, and this new coin came out, and what I really liked about the coin was that the developers who developed another coin that had success with this other coin, it’s the same developers. So I really liked what they did with the other coin and the success they had, so I really believed in this coin just because of the developers, and we had the opportunity, cause it’s only about two months old. We had the opportunity to reach out to them and present them with a promotion plan to back the coin and work with them, and it’s been very cool, and it’s just something totally different, out of the ordinary for heavy metal.

Maybe, in a few years, cryptocurrency will be the way to purchase merch and more…

It is already. People have been using it. Bitcoin it, but this coin is number one. These are the number one coins, and everybody’s starting to take their coin, and I think once Bitcoin really gets in everywhere and everybody starts taking it, I think everybody else is gonna follow in as well. BitCoin has been out ten years, and at its high point last year it reached 20,000 dollars for a coin. Right now it’s at 6400 dollars a coin.

You don’t know what the market is going to do, but if Bitcoin does well, all the other coins seem to do well, and the contest we thought was a pretty cool deal, because it just introduced people to the cryptocurrency world, and it’s not like we’re only telling people if you spend ten bucks you’re entered in the contest, and you never know. That ten bucks could be ten bucks a year from now, or could be who knows what it could be, but the contest they’re running is pretty awesome. The first place prize, two fans are coming to the Beer and Metal fest, and they get to sample all the beers at the show, and get to come out and have dinner with me and Eric (Peterson) that evening before the show. That’s the main prize, and then the second prize is we’re giving away a formation of that damnation backdrop that we used on tour. And the third prize is a bunch of CD’s and DVD’s that are autographed by the band. So it’s not a lot of get into this contest, and it’s some pretty cool prizes.

With all of these technology changes, do you think are any disadvantages with the new trends?

​It moves and grows so fast that the downward part would just be the learning curve for people, or people not wanting to learn, I guess. And then once something’s implemented they’re behind. I think that’s probably one of the big problems. The older generation, they’re definitely old school. You know?

Everything has changed so fast and it can be difficult to follow each and every update.

Oh, it is. There’s a lot going on.

Have any of these new changes affect Testament?

Not really. I think musically, we’ve kind of always hung in there musically and kept our fan base, and kept us able to make a living and tour, sell t-shirts, and stuff, but we always love to work with new technologies and different ways to market, and we’re open to all that kind of stuff. I just see people … when I was going to school, the learning curriculum was much different than it is now for kids. The classes seem to be much more advanced math and computers, and way beyond than it was when we were growing up. So, it’s just the way it’s going, the next generation.

Are there any other products that you’re interested in being part of between the vape and cryptocurrency?

Just the music biz. I manage a few bands and that’s it, and I enjoy doing that and helping new bands. I think I’ve got my hands full with what I have, and always trying to keep testing it, working and moving, and writing music, so yeah. I keep busy.

You guys (Testament) always seem like you’re either on tour or headlining a festival, so definitely seen how busy you are.

Yeah, thank God after thirty something years that we still do that.

What are your plans after the Slayer tour?

Writing time. Right away me and Eric will hopefully get together and just start knocking our heads together and see what we can come up with.

Is there anything else you want to say or add to your fans?

Musically we’ll stick to our guns, and what we’ve done, and we’ve appreciated our fans for as many years that they’ve followed us, and we’ll keep trying not to let them down.

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