TESTAMENT singer Chuck Billy discussed the return of drummer Dave Lombardo to the group’s ranks during an interview earlier this week with the WSOU 89.5 FM radio station.
An original member of thrash metal legends SLAYER, Lombardo was the guest drummer on TESTAMENT‘s 1999 studio album “The Gathering”, which also marked the first time the band worked with then-up-and-coming British producer/engineer Andy Sneap.
Asked about the possibility of Lombardo being involved in the writing and recording of TESTAMENT‘s next studio album, Chuck said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “It all depends on Eric [Peterson, TESTAMENT guitarist]; he’s the starting point of what we do. So, talking to him, he’s, like, ‘Man, I’ve got so many riffs.’ He’s ready to write another record, which is good. And I think hopefully bringing Dave in and just some new blood and someone to push him a little bit… ‘Cause I think Dave, actually, when we did ‘The Gathering’ record… Eric‘s always been the one who’s programmed the drums on a drum machine and really worked out the songs and then presented them to the drummers, where I think on that particular record Dave just said, ‘Dude, just play.’ And he just jumped in and they just started jamming and started just creating like that. So there was something to that where Eric really focused on the guitar work instead of having to worry about the drums. And I think hopefully him and Dave can start creating some cool magic by just jamming again and see what happens.”
Chuck continued: “When we first got [Dave] back and talked about getting back on tour and blah blah blah, [we said] ‘What about doing another record?’ And the first thing, he’s, like, ‘Dude, could you imagine another record that we wrote together?’ And I’m, like, ‘Yeah.’ [Laughs] ‘So let’s do that.’
“I think [Dave is] down [for doing a studio album with TESTAMENT],” Billy added. “I’m not holding my breath that Dave just is in TESTAMENT only but we’re gonna have to kind of maneuver around what happens. But then again, this is the beginning of the relationship. We might be busy enough and he might just be happy enough just working with us and it works out. So we’re just kind of taking it one day at a time, one tour at a time. We know he’s gonna be with us for the next three tours — we know that for sure — so we’ll see what happens after that.”
Earlier this month, Lombardo told SiriusXM‘s Liquid Metal that he reached out to the TESTAMENT camp the same day that the band announced it was splitting with its longtime drummer Gene Hoglan.
“I was still asleep, and my wife, she just said, ‘Hey, Gene just left TESTAMENT,'” Dave recalled. “And she’s been always telling me, ‘Man, I can’t wait for you guys to get together for that ‘Gathering’ reunion.’ ‘Cause we had been talking about this two and a half, three years ago — before the pandemic. And so I immediately — I didn’t even get my other eye open and I was texting Chuck. I said, ‘Hey, man, what’s going on?’ I don’t know exactly what I mentioned in my text, but it was very simple, ‘Hey, what’s happening?’ And he immediately called me back. And I remember Tiffany [Chuck‘s wife] was on the phone; Chuck was on the phone. We were, like, ‘Hey.’ It was a great come-together moment, like, ‘Hey, here we go. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for.'”
Dave went on to say that the timing was right for his return to TESTAMENT.
“‘The Gathering’ reunion didn’t have to happen putting Gene out, separating Gene and saying, ‘Gene, we’re gonna go with Dave for a while now.’ Nothing like that happened,” he said. “This happened organically. And it happened at a time where my other bands, two of the bands that I have, MR. BUNGLE and DEAD CROSS, [Mike] Patton sings in them and he’s trying to get healthy and is taking a little hiatus. And SUICIDAL TENDENCIES hasn’t been touring much lately. So that leaves me with a lot of little odd projects here and there that I work on in my free time. So it just felt like the right moment.
“I know it can be deceiving because I am in so many different bands, but there’s 24 hours in a day and I only sleep eight hours, or seven to eight hours, so that leaves me 16 other hours,” he explained. “And I don’t take Saturdays and Sundays off. So it was a no-brainer.”
Chuck said that he was surprised to hear from Dave so quickly after TESTAMENT made the news of its split with Gene public.
“Right when it happened, it was within minutes after the announcement,” Billy recalled. “And Dave doesn’t remember, but [his text message to me was] simply ‘Lombardo?’ That was the text. I’m, like, ‘You’re shitting me. Tiffany, Lombardo just wrote me, ‘Lombardo?” I called him right away. I said, ‘Hey, dude, what’s happening?’ He was, like, ‘Dude, I heard the news.’ I’m, like, ‘Dude, I would have called you right away, but I just thought it was kind of far-fetched for you to kind of jam because I know you’re probably pretty busy with all the other projects going on.’ And he was, like, ‘No. I’ve got a big opening and I’d love to get back.’ And we talked about ‘The Gathering’, doing that again. And here we are — it could be a reality to get to play ‘The Gathering’ like we spoke of.”
“The Gathering” was widely considered to be an improvement over 1997’s “Demonic”, an album that saw Billy employ a more guttural style of vocals and was released at a time when thrash acts as TESTAMENT had fallen out of favor.
Hoglan originally played drums on “Demonic”, but didn’t stick around long enough to do any touring with the band. He officially joined TESTAMENT in 2011 and played on the group’s last three albums: 2012’s “Dark Roots Of Earth”, 2016’s “Brotherhood Of The Snake” and 2020’s “Titans Of Creation”.
TESTAMENT, EXODUS and DEATH ANGEL played the sole 2021 date of “The Bay Strikes Back Tour” last November at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California. The gig took place less than two months after the three bands shared the stage at the Aftershock festival in Sacramento.
“The Bay Strikes Back Tour” was originally scheduled to kick off on October 6 at the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, California and make stops in Austin, New York, and Detroit before concluding in Oakland. The tour has since been rescheduled to take place in April and May 2022.
Photo credit: Stephanie Cabral