As a member of one of the most legendary metal bands of the past few decades, Dave Lombardo
's trademark drum work has become permanently engrained in many a Reign In Blood
It's not surprising that his era with Slayer
is considered to be the band's heyday, and the most recent releases Chris Illusion
and World Painted Blood
(the two records released since his return) have been heralded as the best material in years.
Fans have had plenty on which to feast in terms of tours as well, with The Big Four (a veritable nirvana for thrash junkies) and more recently The American Carnage Tour
reaffirming that Slayer is still a powerhouse live.
Vocalist/bassist Tom Araya
was sidelined to undergo back surgery back in January, but Slayer's aggressive touring schedule with The American Carnage Tour has proven that the band is back in full gear. Lombardo has stated that he's never been more satisfied with the quartet's musical output, either a bold statement given the fact that he is a continuous dabbler and experimenter with various musical genres. In a recent interview with Ultimate-Guitar.com
discussed how the latest Slayer
record took shape, his current musical influences, and the guitar legend that is his dream collaborator.
UG: You recently started The American Carnage Tour with Megadeth and Testament. How has it been going so far?
Really good. We've got an amazing crowd. And what more could want? It's four hours of metal.
How would you describe the audience demographic on this tour?
It's young and old and female, believe it or not! There was a time when it was just guys out there.
I definitely remember seeing all of the old videos and you'd be hard-pressed to find one female.
Everybody's loving it. It's really fun.
And how about the The Big Four (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Metallica)?
It was great. Kirk, I never really had gotten to know. Now it's like everybody gets along really well. I'm hoping that might come to the States. That would be amazing.
Is it feasible that those four groups will share the stage again?
We leave that up to the agents and the managers to coordinate with our schedules. I'm sure they'll find a way to work it out.
I'd like to take a look at the latest album World Painted Blood. How would you describe the songwriting process for that record versus, for example, Reign in Blood or South of Heaven?
"We've got an amazing crowd. And what more could want? It's four hours of metal."
There were a lot of different variables and things that went on. My mindset was very, very different for this record than any of the others. I was going through some big changes. The songwriting for this one, half of it we did in a rehearsal room. Then we had to write five or six songs in the studio. That was a challenge. We had our producer at rehearsal every day that we rehearsed. He was really grasping what the band sounded like in a small room instead of doing big shows. He was able to capture that sound and everything on this record. That was a change, in that he captured what was Slayer. For the drum set, I removed two of my toms. It gave me a different approach to my kit and the way I did drum rolls.
Was that decision made before you went into the studio or did it happen through trial and error?
That was purposely done. This percussionist or a guy who works for a percussion company asked me if I changed the configuration of my kit. He said a lot of jazz drummers were doing it. It kind of stuck in the back of my mind. When the guys called and said we were going to rehearse, I told my drum tech to remove two of my toms. It was the greatest thing I ever did.
Are you currently inspired by Latin percussionists? Are those the drummers that inspire you to take your own playing to the next level?
Yes, absolutely. I was born in Cuba. I came to the States when I was two years old. I love that style. I used that as an influence on my drum style.
What is your take on the current metal scene?
To me, there is metal and then there are all these other subcategories. You have to find these little subcategories. To me, metal usually comes from like Black Sabbath. A lot of bands now that fall from the Sabbath block are really more heavy rock. I think there are some great drummers in metal. Edgar Livengood from Jucifer, Dale Crover from The Melvins. Those are guys that I think are great.
Is there a genre of music that you could see yourself experimenting with in the near future?
I would think of doing something a little country and western with a little edge. Country music really swings, so I could adapt a heavy style of playing to country. You could play everything at a high volume, like the fiddle player! The wheels are turning!
Have you looked into this?
No, I have far too many other little projects. That's something way out in left field. Right now there is nothing planned.
Is Slayer currently in the songwriting process?
Jeff, I'll see him in the front lounge of the bus coming up with riffs. Nothing has caught my ear to be functional, but he's writing.
At this point I assume you wouldn't hesitate to record another album with Slayer.
Absolutely. If it does come to an end one day, I'll still keep on going.
You always do have extremely interesting projects in the works. Recently you recorded Stand By Me with Lemmy. How did that come about?
Volcom Clothing and Volcom Entertainment, they have more surfer and skateboarder-geared clothing. They were doing a soundtrack and a guy named Geoff Roley said that one of his favorite bands was Slayer. He contacted me to do some drum solos and collaborations for this video called Extremely Sorry. Lemmy and I spoke about it and had quite a laugh about doing that song. He's never sounded better. I think it's fantastic.
Is it faithful to the original Ben E. King version?
Yeah. It doesn't have an edge or anything.
Is there one particular song that you consider your crowning achievement with Slayer? Perhaps one that you believe to be the pinnacle of your creativity together?
"My mindset was very, very different for this record than any of the others. I was going through some big changes."
I'm not sure if there's one song, but there is a period. Of course, it would be the Reign in Blood period without a doubt. I see that period re-emerging again with World Painted Blood. I'm very happy with every second.
Not so many years back, Slayer might be considered too dangerous to be an act on a late-night talk show. But only recently you had the opportunity to perform on Jimmy Fallon. What was that like?
I think it's great. I'm 45 and the other guys are 46 and Tom's 49. Jimmy Fallon requested us to do Dead Skin Mask! Those guys and me also grew up listening to Slayer. We all grew up around the same time. We all have different jobs now. It kind of makes sense. It's very cool to be on a late-night talk show and be requested by the host.
You received another nomination at the latest Grammys as well.
Judas Priest won on a song that was over 20-something years old! It was ridiculous. It's the Grammys. But they had never won one. It's okay we have two.
Who is your dream collaborator at this point?
Have you talked with him?
No. I have never met him. I've never spoke to him. It would be amazing to sit in a room and jam one day. I would play a four-piece, a small drum set.
Hopefully that will come to fruition.
Yeah, you never know.
The industry has become somewhat of a machine these days. What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
To answer that, I have to tell you what I did on the time off that I had when Tom had to go into surgery and those shows were postponed. I was thinking, What am I going to do? What am I going to occupy myself with during this time off? So I got myself an old band started again that I had in the late 90's, early 2000's. I got in touch with the guys, we got together, and we started playing around L.A. I was playing in front of 20 people. So many weeks or months later, I was playing in front of a crowd of 81,000. So here's my advice. It doesn't matter what you play or who you play in front of in terms of the amount of people. It's the enjoyment of playing. You don't need to reach a certain status that you expect yourself to be. Just play. There's nothing wrong with that.
How is Tom doing these days? Has he fully recovered?
He's doing great. He's playing great and feeling really good.
Interview by Amy Kelly