TESTAMENT, EXODUS and DEATH ANGEL kicked off the 2022 edition of “The Bay Strikes Back Tour” on April 9 at the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, California. The show marked TESTAMENT’s first appearance with drummer Dave Lombardo since he rejoined the group earlier this year. Fan-filmed video of TESTAMENT’s entire sixth performance of the tour, which took place on April 16 at Sunshine Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can be seen below.
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.
The members of TESTAMENT discussed Lombardo’s return to the band during a March 1 appearance on SiriusXM’s Liquid Metal with host Jose Mangin. Asked if he had to physically audition for the drummer spot in TESTAMENT this time around, Dave quipped: “I just sent them a link to my Wikipedia. ‘I’ve done these records, including one of yours. Can I come back?’ [Laughs]”
Lombardo said 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 always been telling me, ‘Man, I can’t wait for you guys to get together for that ‘Gathering’ reunion.’ ‘Cause we had been talking about these 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 [TESTAMENT singer] Chuck [Billy]. 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] what 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.