Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick spoke in an interview with Let There Be Talk and revealed how he got started playing guitar.

He said that ‘I was able to figure out Van Halen licks I have never been able to play before. Here’s the full of statement:

“I started out checking out different music and the electric Miles stuff. I couldn’t figure out what these guys were doing, and at that point, I was able to figure out Van Halen licks I have never been able to play before – all this fast complicated stuff…

I studied with some jazz teachers in the Bay Area. They were telling me, ‘In order to do this, you have to study traditional jazz.’ All these guys, they could play in any jazz combo, with a piano player – it was all built on jazz foundation. I started learning traditional jazz out of necessity, ad then I found out I really like it.”

Interviewer asked:

“Before you joined Testament, were you a fan of thrash metal, speed metal? What were you listening to?”

Alex mentioned about the importance of Randy Rhoads and Van Halen styles. He said:

I was a guitar guy, so my thing was the first Van Halen record [1978’s ‘Van Halen]. Pre-Sammy Hagar. Anybody who was influenced by it. Randy Roads was the next guy to come along, so it’s really Ozzy records he did with Randy Roads, Dio with Vivian Campbell…

My first unchaperoned concert was Dio – it was awesome. I was really coming from that place, more sort of melodic hard-rock guitar – I liked the heavy stuff, I would go to speed-metal concerts.

I saw the first Slayer concert, I think it was at the Keystone, Berkeley. I dug the music, but I always thought that as a player, I related more to the power metal, old stuff. But, I kept thinking that it might be fun to be in one of these thrash bands, maybe try to bring that Randy Rhoads and Van Halen style into that. It was always more about the riffs in speed metal.”

You can listen to entire interview from below. Source of the statement, here.