When not fronting one of the greatest thrash bands ever, prepping for said band’s upcoming Decibel Metal & Beer Fest LA appearance or dabbling in cryptocurrency endeavors, Testament vocalist Chuck Billy has been keeping busy with his own line of vaporizers. It goes back to 2014, when he was approached by vaporizer company Lord Vaper; the then-owner wanted a metalhead to have his own signature line of vaporizers. Billy was asked and said sure, and so it began.
“I was a pothead myself,” says Billy. “I didn’t know much about the industry and products. I believe back in 2014 a lot of these vaporizers were fairly new and weren’t really fine tuned, and the battery life wasn’t really that good then.”
So The Chief, Billy’s own brand of vaporizers, was born. They went through a limited run and then the company “kinda dissolved,” says Billy; however, Lord Vaper is back at it with a new owner, and they approached Billy to see if he wanted to bring The Chief back.
“I said okay, and first thing we said is what do we need to improve from the one that you had? Of course the battery, and the mouthpiece was a little difficult to take off, and they would break after a while. So at that point, we said those were the two biggest concerns, so we addressed that and found a new vaporizer that had a ceramic mouthpiece that had a magnetic lid that was really easy to put off and on. They had a interchangeable battery that we really didn’t see on any other vaporizers, which is pretty cool. And it also burned wax and weed, where the first ones only burned weed. And it fits really nice in the palm of your hand.”
Billy says the product came out great, and Lord Vaper didn’t want to stop there. Now that oils and e-cigarettes are more popular, the company wanted to do a cartridge vaporizer, so the Dream Catcher was born.
“We came up with the Dream Catcher, which basically looks like a Zippo lighter and it can have anywhere from a quarter-gram up to a gram cartridge,” says Billy. “The beauty of this one, which I didn’t see in any other cartridge vaporizers, is that the Zippo lid protects the cartridge. All the other ones, if you throw it in your pocket, it’s either going to fall out or it’s going to break. So this was unique. Then the battery life is much improved; I think I go like 10 days with constant use of the thing and not have to recharge it. So that was great. That one burns THC oil or CBD oil.”
The third product Billy recently launched is “basically just for weed,” he says. It’s a cone-shaped pipe called the Tomahawk. (Pairs well with “The Chief Tomahawk Stash Tube,” one of a handful of related accessories Billy also has available through Lord Vaper, most of which are adorned with very metal art).
“It’s all built in to one unit, where when you’re smoking pot, you usually have two hands and it’s pretty obvious what you’re doing. This unit has a built-in lighter on the end, and it comes with these five little pods, and you pre-load with a half-gram of weed. When you pre-load it, it gives you this little tube, which is an odourless tube, that you can put on your keychain or whatever. As you go through your day, you just interchange the pods as you burn through them. The beauty is, it’s so inconspicuous, it just takes one hand, you click the button and it lights, and it’s all in one hand. You can refill the butane on it as well, so it’s not like when the battery dies, the lighter dies.”
But for Billy, beyond all the merchandising and ability for stoners to keep their activities on the down-low lies a more personal reason why he’s involved in the vape industry. He says it really came home to him about a year and a half ago, when he lost his sister-in-law.
“She had cancer and was having problems digesting food and her appetite was bad,” he says. “She was raised when weed was illegal and she never tried it, always thought bad about it, and looked down on it. When she had cancer, her doctor had recommended that maybe she try it, it might help. So my brother called me and said, hey, can you bring up one of the vaporizers and some weed and show her how to use it? So I did, and it helped. It gave her an appetite. That’s when it really hit home for me. It’s cool for the stoners trying to be inconspicuous, but this is great for people that need it for this medicinal kind of reason, because if you become ill and you’ve never smoked weed in your life and all of a sudden you just go smoke a joint, you’re probably going to cough your lungs out, you’re probably just going to have a terrible experience and just get too high. So it just hit me—this is so killer for someone that doesn’t ever use it who needs the medicine, it’s perfect. That’s when it really hit home for me that this is not just about selling to the stoners; this is beyond that.”
Billy says that despite what some people may think when they see products like this, “this stuff is the real deal.” (Find more information about Billy’s products here.)
“Some people might read up on this and go, oh that’s just Chuck promoting something just to sell,” he says. “Well, yeah, it is to sell, but the thing is, it’s not a novelty item… It’s quality equipment [laughs]. So, just to be clear, I love the product and I know from all the other stuff I’ve seen out there, this stuff does kick ass.”