DAVE LOMBARDO Looks Back On Filling In For METALLICA's LARS ULRICH At 2004 DOWNLOAD Festival: 'It Was A Moment In History'
January 17, 2021
Dave Lombardo was recently interviewed on "Speak N' Destroy", a podcast about all things METALLICA, hosted by longtime journalist and METALLICA fan Ryan J. Downey. During the lengthy chat, the former SLAYER drummer reflected on famously filling in for Lars Ulrich during METALLICA's performance at Download festival in England in June 2004.
He said (hear audio below): "I remember being approached by SLAYER's manager, and he just basically said, 'Hey, Dave, we have a bit of a crisis. Lars can't make the show.' And I was, like, 'Okay, what's going on?' And they asked if I'd be interested. I don't know if he said if I'm interested in doing the [full] set or a few songs — whatever — but I took one look at the setlist, and I wasn't very familiar with their later material, so I agreed to the two opening songs.
"I met up with the guys, and we hung out in their little rehearsal room, dressing room, and we jammed the two songs that I was familiar with, and then shortly after that, we went on stage," he continued. "We had a great time in the room. I love those guys. I've never had any beef with them or anything. It's always been amicable and kind. They've always been great towards me, and I have likewise. So we had a great time.
"And I've known [METALLICA bassist] Robert Trujillo since the SUICIDAL [TENDENCIES] days. And I actually performed with Trujillo on a cover of 'Battery' [for the 2001 album 'Metallic Assault: A Tribute To Metallica']. Yeah, that's out there. So we played that [at Download], and then, of course, 'The Four Horsemen' — we did that as well.
"It was a lot of fun," Dave added. "It was a moment in history, a moment in time, and I loved it — it was amazing. Especially when I went into the double-bass section in 'Battery', at the end, and James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] was, like, 'Fuck!'"
Back in 2014, Lombardo was asked during a clinic in Italy to comment on the fact that Ulrich's drumming skills are constantly questioned. He replied: "I think Lars is a good drummer. He's a good arranger. He arranges… Without Lars, there wouldn't be a METALLICA. So you have to give him credit for what he does for the band."
Lombardo continued: "It's very important... When you have a chemistry within a band. There's four members of the band. When there's chemistry, like a special interaction between musicians, if you take one musician out, it's not the same. If you take Lars out of the equation, it won't be the same."
While speaking with UK's Rhythm magazine back in 2009, Lombardo was a bit more critical of Lars's drumming abilities, saying that playing with METALLICA at Download in 2004 was a great experience, but adding that it was good to "show 'em how it's done!" Dave continued. "No disrespect to Lars, because Lars is great and he's a very nice guy, but he needs to spend a week at my house and we need to sit down and play. I could show him — 'No, Lars, like this!'… 'Let's chill, let's relax, have some coffee and let's play!' [Laughs]"
A few months later, Lombardo was asked by Noisecreep if Ulrich had ever accepted his offer of drum lessons. "Oh man, no, he hasn't," Lombardo said laughing. "Yeah, but that was all done as a joke. It's just me having fun."
Lombardo added: "Of course someone ask[ed] me about Download festival. It's like, 'Yeah, show him how it's done.' [But] I don't need to show him, he's amazing, but there's always that kind of rivalry, that fun rivalry."
Ulrich blamed his non-appearance at the 2004 Download on exhaustion, caused by an unrelenting tour schedule and the break-up of his seven-year marriage to Skylar Satenstein. He said in 2005 interview: "It was the first-ever METALLICA gig I'd ever missed."
He continued: "You wanna try laying in a hospital in Germany while Dave Lombardo — the greatest drummer on the planet — is playing with your band. That's not easy."
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