Dave Lombardo must have given about a million interviews during the course of SLAYER‘s American Carnage Tour in 2010. At least that’s what it looks like on the internet, when almost every day there’s a new interview with Dave popping up here and there. While most of these interviews concentrate mainly on SLAYER‘s activities, such as the latest album, the current tour, the Big Four shows, and so on, so we decided to take our questions in a different direction.
We had the chance to meet Dave at Sonisphere in Pori, Finland, on August 8th, to talk about his life away from the SLAYER drum throne: side projects, his children’s music taste, he collaboration with Mike Patton, Lombardo Spinal Tap moments, and much more. Naturally we couldn’t completely omit the obligatory SLAYER part and tapped into some moments from the band’s history as well.
SLAYER has gone from no recognition at all to playing live performances at talk shows on the national TV in America. Do you think it’s something you have earned by working hard or is it something you could have done without?
I think it’s earned, because [we] have worked hard. [We] have not gone away, we have not been lazy. We’ve always kept doing what we liked to do, we felt that was right.
A lot of people work better under the pressure of a deadline. You actually wrote most of “World Painted Blood” album in the studio. Did it put any of that sort of pressure on the band, thus affecting the band’s creativity?
I think it improved the creativity of the band. It didn’t put any pressure on anybody. I think what it did – it just made us work harder together, instead of, you know, knowing that there was enough time and you argue and you know, things break down, whatever, musically. But [it] didn’t happen this time, this time we all worked together.
What about the visual concept of the album? When I saw the promo video about the guy killing women to create a copy of his mother from their body parts, I was a little shocked.
I don’t like it at all, but that is the part of the art of SLAYER. But it is not something I would like too much. I think it could have been done in a different way.
A lot of drummers constantly practice to progress professionally. I’ve heard that you don’t practice at home and you also don’t warm up before the shows. How do you manage to stay at such a high level if that’s the case?
Well, I have a different kind of philosophy. When I go to practice with the band, let’s say a week before we go on tour, every day that I practice is a day that I’m warmed up. So if I played yesterday, why do I need to warm up today when I’m already strong from the day before? I think sometimes you tire yourself out. I tire myself out, why would I do this? I’ll sit like this before I go on stage, maybe I’ll stretch a little bit, but just stretching, not doing any kind of drumming.
How has your approach to drumming changed; for example from the beginning of SLAYER’s history to when you came back after being away for 10 years?
I feel like the stuff I did before “Decade of Aggression” was very immature. I think the stuff that I’m playing now is more mature, it’s a little better, it’s structured better. The drum rolls have a little more flavor than before. [Back then] they were cut up, thoughtless. But some [people] don’t think that. They think that those old records are good, which I agree, they are good, but it could’ve been better.
What’s the difference between playing with SLAYER and playing with other bands?
SLAYER’s music is more physical, it’s more like I’m going to the gym. With other bands, if we take Fantômas, which is very different – it’s Mike Patton’s band that I play in – that music is very thought-processed. You have to really think about what you’re gonna do.
Speaking of Fantômas, my next question was actually, how did that come about and how does it feel to work with Mike Patton?
Mike Patton is great, he is a genius. I love working with that guy! We’ve always known of each other. Me and Mike Bordin, the drummer, we’re fans of each other’s work, so we always said hi to each other, we knew each other. Patton was a SLAYER fan, well, still is into SLAYER. FAITH NO MORE played their last show in Los Angeles and I went [there] and [Patton] approached me like 3 months later after I’d met him at that show. He approached me and asked me if I wanted to play in a band that he was putting together. He explained the music and I said “I understand what you want.”
So of all the projects and bands that you have played with, what was the most interesting one?
Well, that’s quite understandable. I’ve heard that you were doing a solo percussion album, so how is that going now?
Slow [laughs]. I can’t finish it. It’s like I want to finish it so bad, but I can’t for some reason. I have all my stuff with me, my little studio travels with me, but I just can’t. When I’m flying almost every other day, I’m playing a show every day, it’s very difficult to get into that mood.
Is it just the drums and nothing else? Or is there some accompanying music?
I call it drum music; to me it’s like almost world music, a little bit like that. A little bit strange, it’s more ambient, it’s more soundtrack kind of music.
What do your kids listen to?
MUSE, CIRCA SURVIVE, THE FALL OF TROY, and more modern metal.
Are they into the music you are doing?
I don’t know. I played our CDs for them, but they are more into newer stuff that is coming out. And they introduced me to an awesome band by the way. You probably gonna laugh, but do you know that “Black Parade” album?
The one by MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE?
Yes. But it is a fantastic album! Ok the band… it is not really metal. But the album is really good. “American Idiot” by GREEN DAY – this one is also a fantastic album. My kids all love their music. So I really got into some of those albums. To me they were really good because of their structure, their songs, and their music of course.
Is there any work that you have done in the past which you could redo if you had a chance?
Yeah, the DJ Spooky album, that rap record I did. I wasn’t satisfied with it then. Maybe some of the playing could’ve been better.
Many musicians – especially vocalists and guitarists – occasionally admit that they got into music mostly to get laid and to score chicks. So what’s the deal for drummers, because nobody can see them usually?
I know that’s true. I think initially I got into music, because, of course, I wanted to be a rock star and it had to do with chicks…
So you can say the same?
So yeah, I have that too.
Isn’t it much easier for a vocalist to score chicks than a drummer?
Oh yeah, for a vocalist it’s easy. He could be 4 feet tall and not a great singer and he’d get all the chicks. But are you asking if it is easier for me? Sometimes.
Well, I don’t mean for you, but for drummers in general.
Yeah… once they find out that that’s the drummer, then something happens.
SLAYER has the image of such a cool tough band, but have you ever had any Spinal Tap moments?
All the time, like getting lost while getting off-stage. You know, it’s like, “where do I go?” and I can’t find my way to the dressing room. That’s happened to me. I started the wrong song, like we’re playing a set on stage and I start the wrong song. One time with Fantômas I fell off my drum riser. Things like that happen all the time.
Interview by Tanja Caciur