New TESTAMENT Drummer CHRIS DOVAS: 'I Just Wanna Keep Making The Band Sound Good'
August 21, 2023
In an interview with Pod Scum, new TESTAMENT drummer Chris Dovas was asked if it was "unnerving" to step into a group whose list of previous drummers includes such heavyweights as Dave Lombardo and Gene Hoglan. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It was, especially at first because I knew that a lot of eyes were on me, and also I looked up to the band since I was a kid. Especially Lombardo and Gene — those are two of my favorite drummers right there. So to be put in that situation of taking over for them, I felt like I had a lot of responsibility and a lot of… I felt like I had something to prove a little bit, and I'm still practicing a lot and I just wanna do the best that I can do. Right now I'm not really nervous anymore because I've done two full tours with them now and we're working on the [new TESTAMENT] album and the friendship has been developing now and we all get along super well. They've welcomed me with open arms and it's been great and the fans have been great. I've been putting hours and hours of practice into it to make sure that I can do the best that I could do. And I look up to Dave and I look up to Gene as well, so, yeah, I just wanna play the songs well live and keep making the band sound good."
Asked what his role has been so far in the creative process for TESTAMENT's next album, Chris said: "I don't know exactly what I'm allowed and what I'm not allowed to share yet, but what you've seen publicly, though, right now is that Eric [Peterson, TESTAMENT guitarist] and I have been working on a lot of stuff together. And so it's been really cool to get into their brains, in a way, and how they write stuff. I'm used to people sending me tracks with scratch MIDI drums or programmed drums or something, and I've gotta put my drums to them and then hop on a Zoom call and we can edit things and move stuff around. But with them, Eric and I, he set a timer at one point for, like, 20 minutes and we would just jam random ideas. And then sometimes we'd make mistakes and stuff and that would be cool, and we could take that… It's very organic, though, and it's very involved, I guess. It's a different way of writing and I'm super excited to be a part of that method of writing. And I could see why they're so successful for all these years, now finally being a part of this current writing cycle, I guess."
Last month, Peterson revealed that he and Dovas spent a few days working on material for TESTAMENT's next studio album. Eric shared a few photos on his Instagram and wrote in an accompanying message: "Had a very productive week with the kid! Mr. @chrisdovas and I worked up new 7 jam ideas ranging from thrash to nwobhm mixed in w/ black thrash to dark heavy hard rock blues…let's see what happens! super stoked so far!"
Dovas shared the same pictures on his social media and he added: "New TESTAMENT material in the works! Eric and I have been working hard all week on new ideas. Stoked so far!"
In June, TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick told Chaoszine about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's next LP: "There are a few songs, a few ideas. We haven't gotten to the vocals yet, but I would say there's close to half an album's worth of music that is pretty close to having vocals. We still need to write the other half and then get into that process. But it's coming together. We can never rush it. It always takes time."
As for when TESTAMENT fans can expect to see the new LP released, Alex said: "We don't a lot of shows after this tour until September. We're gonna go to Asia, where we haven't been in a long time. And then in between now and then, we're just gonna try to complete the writing, at least as far as the music goes. And then I think by next year, we should be able to go in the studio early in the year and have the record recorded and have it come out next year."
Alex's latest comments were similar to those made by Peterson, who told Loud TV about the group's plans for a new album: "There was a big gap because of COVID. But now we're getting ready — probably after this [European] tour to go start working on new material. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to that. We have about five, six songs written already, and [I'll] probably try to finish it up when I get home. And then hopefully record right after we go on tour to Japan. So '24 should look like a release for TESTAMENT."
Peterson went on to say that the new TESTAMENT material is shaping up to be "fucking killer." He added: "I'm a fan. For me, I wouldn't release anything unless I'm a fan of what I'm doing. I have to get goosebumps. When I hear it, I'm, like, 'Yeah.' And then, of course, I play it for friends. A few of them go, 'Ehh.' But most of them go, 'Fuuuck!' Except Chuck [Billy, TESTAMENT singer] — Chuck goes, 'Eh.' And then four years later, [he goes], 'That's the best song ever. Write more shit like that.' I'm, like, 'Yeah, but four years ago you said that sucked.'"
As for when TESTAMENT will record the new album, Eric said: "Hopefully maybe October, November. If not, probably January, February. But we're shooting for this year — at the end of the year. I think I'll be done writing in September. So we just have to wait for vocals. Which can take a while. But we'll see what happens."
Peterson was also full of praise for Dovas, who officially joined the band earlier this year as the replacement for Lombardo.
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.
Prior to joining TESTAMENT as a full-time member, Dovas 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.
Peterson told Loud TV about Dovas: "When we were auditioning for new drummers, his video tape was the number one for me. And then, of course, Dave Lombardo called us, so we just kind of pushed everything aside; we said, 'Okay, we'll try Dave.' And when Dave was, like, 'Oh, I've got this show coming up. I've got this show coming up,' I went back to my [videos], [and I said], 'Oh, yeah, this guy.' I remember the other guys going, 'Let's call Paul Bostaph.' 'Let's call John Tempesta.' And, of course, they would probably do it, but with the stipulation of, like, 'I can only do this date,' 'I can only do this date.' I called Chris. He was, like, 'I'm in. I'll do everything.' And so we tried him, and were just, like, 'What?!' Perfect tempo. Everything correct — bam, bam. Very polite. Really nice guy. I can't say enough good things about him. He's just a really good drummer. He's 24; he's my son's age. Young blood back in TESTAMENT. For me, too, he loves black metal, so he was, like, [into] blast beats. But he also graduated from a school called Berklee. So jazz… He's very fluent. He's not, like, 'Oh, I only know blast beats.' He knows blues… TESTAMENT's really diverse — we have ballads, we have rock songs, we have blast beats. That's just it — when he came to visit me before this tour, we were rehearsing for the tour but we would go back to my house at night, do some Jager really late at night and just start jamming at my house. And the next morning we were, like, 'Woah!' Really cool shit. So I'm excited for the next record. It's gonna be killer."
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