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Dave Lombardo | Interview Part 2

The legendary Dave Lombardo was in Dublin’s Button Factory with his experimental power trio Philm, and MI’s Dee Cleland had a chance to have quick chat with him.

We have to be up front here – he just wasn’t interested in talking Slayer. But with his exit from the band 2 years ago there’s no doubt he’s sick to death with many of the questions surrounding the issue. You can only try.

So with that in mind we tried to get a brief overview of Dave’s career to date, covering everything from Testament to his more recent movie score work, but also managed to shoehorn some Slayer stuff in there too.

Dee’s transcript is as follows, with pics by Claire Reid.


“I’m not discussing anymore Slayer” (says Dave).

I understand that completely, I watched VH1’s that Metal show at the weekend, and I think it’s all been covered. (on the show Dave intimated that a return to Slayer wouldn’t be out of the question, provided the “conditions” were right.)

“Good. Right, that’s it. I just laid it out, no more.”

That’s cool man, I don’t think there’s anything new to say…

“Jeffs been covered, Slayers been covered, the whole thing… There’s history and people want to know about the history, and that’s OK. But when you are talking about any of the taboo issues – those need put in a closet and put away.”

I understand, So Testament, you were involved with them for a very important album in the late 90’s.

“Yeah I just did one record and one tour with them, but I guess that album was big in the mind of metal heads ”

Yes, it was a lot different than much of what was popular around that time – very ferocious, intense and heavy. How do you reflect upon that time and collaboration?

“I love Eric and Chuck, great guys. I remember driving up to San Francisco and meeting up with them. Getting together in the morning, Eric would pick me up form the hotel, we would go have some coffee & breakfast, smoke a little bit and then go to the studio to start playing, jamming and creating music. It was very… it was a good time.”

I think it is an important record, with a unique chemistry and some very influential players – James Murphy, Steve DiGorgio & yourself.

“Yeah, but the majority of the writing took place between Eric and I, together. ”

That would explain the intensity!

“Yes that and a lot of coffee!”

90s Redux – Grip Inc

Your other Metal band from the 90s, Grip Inc., has been on hiatus for a while – you previously mentioned there could be new material at some stage – any word on that?

“I changed my mind, ‘cause I feel that Gus Chambers is irreplaceable. Unfortunately he passed away several years ago and to me there is nobody that could sing like Gus. I like to surround myself with very unique musicians, like Gerry and Pancho (from Philm), and the thing is they are irreplaceable musicians… to me. It’s unfortunate, but that where it stands.”

At one stage was Bobby Gustafason (former Overkill guitarist) attached to the project, he was a fantastic player and I’ve always been disappointed I hadn’t heard more from him?

“Yeah, some of these killer players don’t continue on with their careers or create more music. I don’t know what he’s doing now, but he was playing with us in the embryonic period of the band, but it was very short-lived.”

You also talked about working with Chasey Chaos and Amen?

“Arghh… eh, that just didn’t… Work out. However I did record the drum tracks for him, but y’know I just gave those to him.”

Who Were Pap Smear?

OK, so lets talk about Pap Smear – your 1980s side project with Jeff Hanneman & Rocky George from Suicidal Tendencies…

“and Joey Fukes.”

So what was the motivation, an excuse for another outlet from Slayer?

“It was an idea that Jeff had, and he wanted to play with Rocky George. He really liked Rocky’s playing and just wanted to put a punk band together. It was awesome and I thought it was a great idea. There were some songs recorded, not in a studio, just garage tapes but nothing really came out of it. Of course the focus was on Slayer though.”

With Mike Patton involved with Faith No More again, does that put off any plans for more Fantomas material?

“I’m not gonna hold my breath for anything, because Mike is obviously occupied, if there is anything it’s likely to just be a show here and there. But for now, Philm is my priority. I can’t wait for other musicians. I wanna do what I wanna do, and this is what I’m focusing on”

You’ve spoken of a very diverse set of influences, even mentioning that you’re a fan of Patsy Cline..


Do you feel that stepping outside Metal like that has helped you stay passionate and creative all these years?

Yeah, passionate and grounded. Pancho made a perfect analogy – when you stay in one genre, and you try to create in that one genre, and you’re not into another music – it’s like a dog chasing it’s tail. It just goes round and round, and goes nowhere.

So being open minded and listening to many different styles of music, it’s like diving into an encyclopaedia. Do people know what encyclopaedias are these days?! *Laughs* It’s like the wikipedia of music… That I think for a musician is important.

Did the limited creative environment of Slayer encourage that for you?

“Yes. But I always have listened to different styles of music. I remember buying 45s of Stevie Wonder, Doobie Brothers… I bought Aretha Franklin, Bachman Turner Overdrive and then I got into Kiss, The Who, Zeppelin and it just went on from there.

I just love different styles, everything from billie holiday to… everything! There’s only good music and bad music. If I heard it already ill just put it to the side, y’know I’ve heard this style of music before and it’s not helping me creatively.

So like a lot of Metal music… I receive a lot of CDs on the road, and what I hear … a lot of it is good, a lot of it is just OK, but it’s a lot of the same. They’re not pursuing… they’re not opening doors or introducing new ideas and concepts. Maybe I’m somewhere else musically, but every now and then I do come across some good heavy bands.”

You’ve been working on some film scores, the new Insidious movie?

“That was just one session, I went in and worked with Joseph Bishara, we set up some drums and I worked with some Cellos violins and chamber instruments. We created a lot of textures, moods, but with heavy drums.”

And you worked on the Dawn Of The Dead remake?

“Yeah, that was in 2004. I also did Californication and I did another series…. Gerry, what was the series you sand on?

Gerry replies: “Kingdom!”

“Kingdom, have you heard of it?”

Our photographer Claire has.

“I did drums tracks for that and Gerry did vocals for one of the pieces.”

Is that something your trying to pursue more of now?

“It’s nice I would love to. I’ve made several friends in the movie industry and it’s like – “Hey Dave, wanna come over and lay down some drums for me?” and it like Lets do it! And I’m right down the street, so I just show up… great people, it’s a great side of music and I like working in that environment.”

The Cuba Connection

How to you feel about the current period of détente between the United States and your home country of Cuba?

“So happy. Finally I get to go to my home country… hopefully this year, I said when I turn 50 I’m going to Cuba”

To perform?

“I hope so, that’d be great. I’d like to take Philm over there.”

I think they would love it…

“Yeah, I think they would too, they’re starving for music over there. Well at least like Western music.”

Drum Talk

After a brief stint with Ludwig and DDRUM your now back with TAMA…

“Forever now, I’ve shut that door I’m not going anywhere else. I don’t care what happens. So happy. I’m not too happy with the drum kit tonight though, it’s not a TAMA kit but I’m gonna make it work! I’m not gonna mention the name” *Laughs*

You switch between a 9 piece and 4 piece depending on what your doing, how easy is that cognitive adaptation?

“Well see what happened when I get to Belfast at the end of the Philm tour! *Laughs* I’ve been playing a 4 piece drum set this entire time and I’m gonna have to play the big double-bass in Belfast, and I can’t remember the time I played a double bass kit… well see!”

Care to tell us about your art collaboration with Scene4?

“It’s called “Rhythm Mysterium”… That was interesting and a lot of fun, what they do is they work with drummers and they photograph them under now light, while they’re playing drums and they’re using sticks that have lights in them. And they leave the aperture open – long exposure right, and you see the trails of the drum sticks. It’s really interesting, an interesting process and they print the photos on to canvas and then people buy them.”

OK Then, Some Slayer

Thanks for talking to us today, it’s really appreciated, we appreciate the fact that you’re back Ireland so soon after last time. But before I we go, I just wanna get a few short Slayer questions in if that’s ok?

“Yeah that’s ok.”

Much of the stuff I’d planned to ask, Eddie Trunk already covered on VH1 at the weekend…

So, you returned to Slayer in 2002 they’d recorded a couple of albums in your absence, how did you feel about playing this material?

“No comment”

With Jeff’s tragic passing, and Kerry coming out with statement like “It’s business as usual” and the Heineken styled Hanneman stage banner do you feel it’s maybe in poor taste given the circumstances?

“It’s none of my business. I have an opinion, but I’d rather keep it to myself.”

I think every band has a golden era, and for Slayer that’s the first 5 albums…

“Absolutely, I agree. However, I do really love World Painted Blood.”

You’ve said that’s your favourite Slayer album

“Yes, that’s because it’s the last album the Jeff really participated on, and was a big part in its creation. He was very much involved and I like that one a lot.”

Anthrax’s Scott Ian recently claimed in his book that Metallica were going to replace Lars Ulrich sometime in 1986, before Cliff Burton’s death. It has been rumoured elsewhere that you were to be his replacement, where you ever approached regarding this? It almost dovetails quite well with your exit from Slayer at the time…

“That’s news to me I never heard about that. I never heard they were gonna get rid of Lars.”

It had been included in an earlier Metallica biography, before being “confirmed” by Scott Ian and there’s been a bit of speculation…

“Could it have been, at that time? No, in ’86 I was looking to join Megadeth, to replace Gar. I met all of them sometime in ’86, but they were heavily into drugs and I really wasn’t into that. They really didn’t look to healthy either – they looked pretty bad.”

Megadeth are currently looking for a drummer and it’s something I’m sure many fans would like to see it, but realistically could you ever see yourself playing with them?

“Megadeth has its own style. I’m really busy with my own music and new band. I’ve been getting phone calls like – “are you gonna join this band? Are you joint this band?” No, no. I refuse to be someone’s employee. I want to work on something I’m a part of, not just a guy that receives a pay check. I want to be part of the artist development… an artist, not just a hired gun, I’ve had enough of that, I need that freedom. ”


Mr Lombardo is a very affable, honest and down to earth guy with more to offer than just being “the Slayer drummer”. It’s understandable that he wants to look to the future and attempt to put the controversial Slayer issues to rest.

He may have accomplished a huge amount in music over the last 3 decades but there’s little doubt that he has plenty of enthusiasm to pursue more creative endeavours, and accomplish even more.

The Philm gig itself was low-key but intense. The band come across much heavier live – mixing their very unique brand of off kilter jazzy sludge with occasional subtle atmosphere, it’s the kind of gig that you could appreciate down the front, jumping around like a maniac, as much as standing to the side, arms folded, critiquing every nuanced note and time change.

The crowd was relatively small, but faithful & eclectic – a mix of die hard Slayer fans, musos and rock fans in the know. It’s a million miles away from Slayer and that’s the point – it’s pushing the envelope and trying something new.

Dave has an upcoming clinic in Voodoo, Belfast on April 2, it’s sure to be a rare and unmissable opportunity to both chat and watch one of Metal’s greatest drummers in a very intimate environment – don’t miss it!

Dee Cleland ::: 16/03/15

  1. Shame the Amen collaboration has hit the shitter 🙁

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