TESTAMENT's CHUCK BILLY Says Playing With DAVE LOMBARDO Again Has Been 'Awesome'
September 26, 2022
TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy spoke to the WSOU 89.5 FM radio station about what it has been like playing with Dave Lombardo again after the drummer rejoined the San Francisco thrash metal outfit earlier this year. 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. Chuck said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's been awesome. It's like getting on and getting right back on that horse, because we have a lot of history, first of all. And when we toured 'The Gathering', we didn't get to tour a lot — it was kind of cut short by my illness and everything — so when we got back together, we all kind of said mutually, 'Hey, this feels right. This feels like it's the place where to be. We all feel like family.' And it didn't take many shows to really say, 'You know what? This feels good. We're having a great time.' And Dave just joined us — yesterday was his first show on the second leg [of 'The Bay Strikes Bay' tour], 'cause he missed the first, I believe, like, eight shows or so, six or eight shows, 'cause he had some MISFITS shows. And yesterday when he gets there, he said he was kind of nervous 'cause he's jumping right in on a tour — no rehearsals — and he said, 'As soon as I heard that intro tape, it was like right back where I was. It was like a time warp. I felt great. Got up there confident; knew the songs.' We finished the first show in St. Pete. It was a great show. We came off so fired up in the dressing room. He was, like, 'You know what? I don't know what I was tripping on. I know these songs. This feels great. The first one's down. Let's go, guys.' So it's been good."
As for what it has been like to play the songs from TESTAMENT's latest album, "Titans Of Creation", more than two years after the LP's release, Chuck said: "Well, it's totally different because, of course, we recorded the record with [former drummer] Gene [Hoglan], and Gene played when we first came out. We only could play, I believe, two songs before the pandemic hit. And with Dave, we threw in two more songs off of the record. And Dave just adds a different style. Him and Gene are two different players. And also just the way their drum tones are. Dave likes a real natural, big drum sound where Gene had more of triggered sounds, and it's just a tighter sound. So there's two different styles. I think they're both great. But the right now is looser, but it feels even different. He adds another dimension to the song, I guess another gear. Because we're used to the way they were written for the record and recorded and Gene playing 'em and now Dave does his Dave [thing] to those songs. So it's been cool."
Asked if it took some time to get used to playing with Dave again after sharing the stage with Gene for so long, Chuck said: "It sure did, 'cause we came right in… especially for the soundman. We've been using the same soundman for years, and he has a certain technique and style for mixing us. And when Dave had come in, Dave was, like, 'No. I'm not using triggers. And I tune my drums a lot deeper. I want a really raw, real drum sound.' So at first it was challenging for him to really find a good blend to make us sound like TESTAMENT. And it took a little time. I think now he's got it down. And it just sounds powerful because the drums are real and big where Gene's had, like I said, the triggers, so it was a lot tighter. So it just makes the songs even heavier, I think."
Earlier this month, TESTAMENT recruited drummer Chris Dovas (SEVEN SPIRES) to play the first six dates of the summer/fall leg of "The Bay Strikes Back Tour". He was filling in for Lombardo, who was unable to make the gigs due to a scheduling conflict with the MISFITS.
"The Bay Strikes Back Tour" will conclude on October 15 in San Jose, California.
Lombardo officially rejoined TESTAMENT in February following the departure of Hoglan.
"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 "Titans Of Creation".
TESTAMENT released a "Titans Of Creation" video album on September 9 via Nuclear Blast. The limited-edition collectible features performance videos of all the tracks on the record. The footage was compiled at a soundstage in San Francisco and was edited into music video-style clips that were made available on Blu-ray accompanying the CD with bonus photos and liner notes plus a button and sticker in a longbox. Staying true to the record, the performances feature Gene Hoglan behind the kit. This version is limited to 6,500 units worldwide.
"Titans Of Creation" was produced by Billy and Peterson while Juan Urteaga of Trident Studios handled co-producing, recording and engineering. Andy Sneap was responsible for the mixing and mastering of the album. Eliran Kantor stepped up once again to create a new masterpiece of artwork for the cover of this release.
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