TESTAMENT manager Phil Arnold of Thrill Entertainment has issued the following update on the band's current and upcoming activities:
"In prepping for the next studio album, TESTAMENT re-opened its Driftwood Studios at a new location. They had shut down the Oakland industrial-area site when Chuck Billy [vocals] was going through his eventually-successful cancer treatments. With state-of-the-art HD ProTools upgrades installed, Driftwood continues an aggressive cutting edge approach that TESTAMENT embarked upon in Oakland with 'Demonic', its 1997 #1 Metal Album. The prior Oakland location was also the recording home of their 1999 #1 Metal Album, 'The Gathering'.
"The new site, in downtown Pittsburg, CA, is an older cement-brick & mortar building with previous recording-studio history, a fact unknown until recently to Peterson [Eric, guitar] and Billy. The new installation has an eerie-inhabitant vibe, because the deep-in-the-catacombs control-room motion detectors frequently go off at late-night/pre-dawn hours — while no access to the building interior is possible without triggering the perimeter security systems, which remain silent. Oddly, the interior motion detectors never go off in daytime hours; and each time the late-night activity is investigated, no evidence of entry is detected and nothing is disturbed. No mice droppings — no nothing.
"A retired local resident, who identified himself only as 'Frank' — a cousin of Kris Kristofferson and a former bass-player of WILLIE NELSON — stopped by recently to nose around the boarded-up studio spot while it was under reconstruction by some new faces. The Pittsburg downtown area, on the Sacramento River delta, was once a thriving boomtown whose heyday was during WWII and the years following. Now mostly a bedroom community for commuters who work in or near San Francisco Bay, it is a last stop for them on one leg of the Bay Area BART train system.
"Frank, both friendly and curious, had a disarming demeanor and elicited some cordial dialogue about Driftwood being a private recording studio. The location looks like a no-name warehouse and except for the now-obvious security gates, you'd think it was vacant. Perfect for a private studio and the lair for the next spawning from TESTAMENT.
"His eyes lit up when Billy mentioned 'recording studio'. He said that previously this location had been occupied by the prestigious, yet underground, Norman Abercrombie Studios, a noted Bay Area jazz and blues recording spot for many years. It closed in the early '80s when Abercrombie retired. Billy laughed, and said it looked and felt like it had been vacant since the '80s, too.
"Norman Sr. had passed away not long after he closed up shop. Frank also said that his son was somewhat of a local gangster type who had been shot and killed under mysterious circumstances. With a history of music and a backdrop of murder, the late night haunting of the inner sanctum suddenly took on a different glow.
"Frank said he had done many a bass session there himself. He beamed with local pride that Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and countless blues and jazz greats had recorded there when touring through the Bay Area over the years, often under assumed names as he put it 'to avoid record label conflicts.' No doubt.
"'Abercrombie's was the real deal, and everybody who was anybody came through. I played many a bass session there myself.'
"Since opening in 1996, Driftwood Studios has had a 'legacy' of its own with so many metal greats appearing on TESTAMENT records. So, it is only fitting the new spot is a former haunt of all-American music greats of the last century — with a ghostly, unexplained night-shift visitor who haunts the sealed inner sanctum with no visible evidence of entry or exit.
"Who knows what gnashing spirits lurk in the shadows of the next set of tales from TESTAMENT."
TESTAMENT are expected to enter the studio in the spring to begin recording the follow-up to 1999's "The Gathering", tentatively due later in the year.