Dave Lombardo – “It’s sickening… I wasn’t asking for anything other than to be treated equally.”

It’s been almost a year since drummer Dave Lombardo was unceremoniously dumped by Slayer, on the eve of an Australian tour.  As he prepares to return to the UK for the first time since that ignominious day, PlanetMosh took the opportunity to chat with him about said visit – and, of course, his ‘departure’ from the band he helped to form…

In our hard-hitting UK exclusive interview, which also touches on his current Philm project, as well as his ongoing relationships with the likes of Testament and The Fantomas, Lombardo gives us a no-holds-barred insight into where he’s at….

First of all, the reason for our chat is because he’s holding a drum clinic in this interviewer’s hometown of Belfast next month:  so, I wonder, what for him the merit of events such as this and what does he hope that those who attend gain from them?

Dave Lombardo Facebook photo“For me, the point of clinics is to gain insight into the musician of your choice.  In my clinics, fans/people get the opportunity to hear me play a few of the songs they’ve listened to throughout the years, up close and personal.  I also do a question and answer period where you can ask me anything.  Hopefully, whoever attends feels inspired and driven when they leave. 

“My life, being autodidact (self-taught) and also achieving such success so young is not that common.  I feel I have a lot of insight to offer…”

Events such as clinics strike me as a very immediate way for fans to interact with musicians – especially as, even with the accessibility of Facebook, Twitter, etc. artists are often cocooned and kept isolated from their fans:  is this sort of one-to-one relationship with fans important to you?

“I believe it is important to a certain extent.  They have given me this life.  I want them to know me…  my work ethic, interests etc.  But, I like my personal life to be private.  A little mystery is always good.”

We can’t really conduct an interview such as this without talking about Slayer, and especially Lombardo’s sudden ‘departure’ from the band last year… now that the dust has settled somewhat, how does he look back on what happened and how it was handled?

“This could have been an easy fix,” he responds.

“I wasn’t asking for anything other than to be treated equally.  I’m sure I’ve made mistakes along the way, but my intention was never to leave.  Who would do that in the golden years of a band?  Where we stand now disgusts me.   Jeff didn’t want this – and neither did I.” 

In a recent interview, Tom Araya (http://www.metalhammer.co.uk/news/slayer-tom-araya-reveals-why-dave-lombardo-left/) described you as “a working member of the band” and said you weren’t a partner:  how do comments like that sit with you, when you were a founding member of the band?

“It’s sickening.  I left the band in ’92 to be at home for the birth of my son, period.  One show changed the course of this band.  Tom has forgotten history… swallowed the stories that have been created throughout the years to sell tickets.  If it weren’t for me, Slayer would not exist.  I approached Kerry to start this band. Somehow they have forgotten that.”

Later in the same interview, he accuses you of ‘ranting’ on Facebook, and says you published stuff which was “legally binding and private”:  do you regret any of what you said at the time?

“No.  My ‘ranting’ on Facebook still stands because it’s accurate.”

How would you describe your relationship with Tom and Kerry these days?

“Sadly, non-existent.”

The death of Jeff Hanneman obviously hit you very hard:  did you see him before he passed away, and, if you can, could you shed some light on what your relationship with him was like?

“I didn’t see Jeff for a few months before he passed, but we had many texts and ‘phone calls right up until [then].  He really didn’t let anyone too close to his everyday life.  But, when we spoke it was like no time had passed, a lot of laughter.  I couldn’t ask for anything more than what my relationship was with Jeff.  It was amazing.”

Were you surprised by the apparent coldness which your former bandmates, and especially Kerry, showed after Jeff’s death?

“I was shocked that Tom didn’t show up to the memorial.  It was uncomfortable for me to be there, given what was going on with the band, but I still showed up.  I was equally shocked at Kerry’s self-centred stories.  None of his stories described the kind of human being Jeff was…”

Dave Lombardo profile photoOK, let’s move forward and talk about Philm, possibly one of the most experimental projects you have been involved with… what’s the state of play regarding the second album?  I understand it’s virtually ready for release?

“It is ready for release.  I can’t wait to get it out there.  It’s heavy as fuck.  Obviously, due to the many changes in the music industry there are several ways of getting your music to the masses. We are exploring the different options now.  Independent, distribution deal etc…  We hope to get it out soon.”

Did I read somewhere that the third album is already partially written?

“Yes it is!  We have five songs completed now.”

How does playing in a band such as Philm differ from previous projects you’ve been involved in, and are there any particular challenges which a project of this nature presents to you?

“I play on a four piece drum set, which obviously limits me in a number of ways from the nine piece I used to use in Slayer.  It limits me, but it challenges me.  It oddly feels heavier at times.” 

And what are the rewards?

“Musical growth.  We all share the same enthusiasm.  We are very productive and always excited to collaborate.   We all share the same passion.  It’s refreshing.”

My colleague in Dublin, Steve, wants to know if, now that Steve DiGiorgio has rejoined Testament, would you be tempted to revisit a tour of ‘The Gathering’, if they came calling?

“Yes, I would be tempted…”

Another colleague, David, wants to know:  what is the status of The Fantomas and your relationship with Mike Patton and Buzz Osborne?

“My relationship Mike, Buzz (and Trevor)  is always good!  I love those guys.  Fantomas is an amazing band.  I am up for a new album or tour any day!”

Many very talented musicians – I’m thinking of the likes of Trent Reznor – have moved into the world of movie scores:  with your interest in metal, jazz and classical music, is this an avenue you would be interested in travelling down in the future?

“I have worked on [a few]: [such as] Dawn of the Dead (2004) and I have performed on one of Christopher Young’s scores, ‘Ghost Rider’, and I recently recorded drums on the soundtrack for Season 7 of Californication…. so  absolutely, yes!”

Finally, what is the likelihood of ‘Dave Lombardo: The Autobiography’?

“It could happen… Stay tuned!”

Thank you very much for your time.  Hopefully, we’ll get to meet up when you’re in Belfast…

“Thank you, I’m looking forward to my time there.”


EDITORIAL NOTE:  This interview was conducted via email.  Apart from a few grammatical corrections, Dave Lombardo’s responses have not been edited in any way.

His exclusive UK drum clinic at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, understandably has been sold out for weeks in advance.


About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff