Dave Lombardo says he will sit out the remainder of TESTAMENT's 2023 shows, with no guarantee that he will return to the band.
Lombardo, who was the guest drummer on TESTAMENT's 1999 studio album "The Gathering", formally joined the long-running San Francisco Bay Area act last year. The former SLAYER drummer is currently a member of the MISFITS, MR. BUNGLE, EMPIRE STATE BASTARD and SATANIC PLANET, among others. He also played with SUICIDAL TENDENCIES from 2016 up until 2020.
In a brand new interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NET, Lombardo was asked to detail his 2023 plans and priorities. "Let's start with SUICIDAL," he said. "I haven't been able to play with SUICIDAL because he [frontman Mike Muir] is not on tour as often or as much as I'd like. When I joined them in 2016, man, it was on. But then the pandemic [happened], and I believe he has [health] issues. I think he's had a couple of surgeries on his back. It's limited the amount of shows he does a year. I haven't played with them in a while."
He continued: "I'm focusing on the MISFITS, MR. BUNGLE, EMPIRE STATE BASTARD, and in 2022, when I was on tour with TESTAMENT, I had stuff lined up that was starting to build for 2023. With TESTAMENT, we were having several scheduling conflicts. I couldn't back out of them. I won't be joining them on their upcoming tours for 2023. My focus is on BUNGLE, who I've recorded an album with back in 2019 and we did a live album. EMPIRE STATE BASTARD, I recorded an album for them in 2020. That's going to finally see the light of day later this year. We've already released a single. I'm not doing the [upcoming] shows with SATANIC PLANET… I won't be performing with them. Instead of doing live shows [with SATANIC PLANET], I really like to just be more on the production and songwriting side. It's very industrial, very dark. It's got a very evil vibe, but great guys nonetheless. Some of the most kindest people I've met in my life, which contrasts with the music."
Lombardo was then pressed about whether he will be playing with TESTAMENT in the foreseeable future, including performing on the band's next studio album. "I don't know, because everything is starting to snowball with MR. BUNGLE and EMPIRE STATE BASTARD and the MISFITS," he said. "I've been with the MISFITS since 2016. TESTAMENT is a well-oiled machine. They're always touring and releasing albums. To try to find that space or that time to release something… I don't know."
When asked whether this meant his status with TESTAMENT was "uncertain," Lombardo replied, "Yes. It's wait-and-see. I can't guarantee anything because of my commitments. I did fulfill my contractual commitment for 2022, which was quite extensive. We did one of the longest tours I have done. It was like seven weeks in Europe, which was great. I really needed to get out there and build my chops after the pandemic. That was a lifesaver. We'll see. The relationship is good. The doors are open. The communication is there. I told them that I was seeing some clashes coming up. This was in the first week of January when I reached out to Eric [Peterson, guitar] and told him. This has been brewing for a while. Actually, I saw it in November/December of last year. I started seeing, 'Oh no. This is going to happen. This is not going to happen.' It's very tricky."
Recent photos posted by TESTAMENT bassist Steve DiGiorgio on his Instagram show that the band has been rehearsing for its upcoming South American tour with drummer Chris Dovas (SEVEN SPIRES),who previously filled in for Lombardo on the first six dates of TESTAMENT's summer/fall 2022 leg of "The Bay Strikes Back Tour". Lombardo was unable to make those gigs due to a scheduling conflict with the MISFITS.
TESTAMENT's "Klash Of The Titans" tour of Latin America with KREATOR is scheduled to kick off on April 19 in Lima, Peru and run through May 9 in San Salvador, El Salvador.
In a new interview with Chile's iRock.CL, TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy was asked what it was like to play with Lombardo again last year. Chuck said: "Well, it was like old friends meeting together again, when we got to get back on the road together. It was really like old times. It felt like a normal family, I guess. It was great having him back. He came at a right time when Gene [Hoglan, longtime TESTAMENT drummer] wasn't available due to scheduling problems, and Dave had a lot of open time. So the timing worked. I know Dave's a busy man, so he has other projects too, and it's not TESTAMENT. So I imagine that'll… We can't really control all that. But it was very fun, those tours we did. He added his Lombardo-isms to the old TESTAMENT songs. So it was good."
In March 2022, Billy told the WSOU 89.5 FM radio station that he didn't expect Lombardo to focus only on TESTAMENT in the ensuing months. "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," he said. "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."