DAVE LOMBARDO Reflects On His Final Stint With SLAYER: 'We Had A Good Run'
May 1, 2023
During an appearance on a recent episode of the "Conan Neutron's Protonic Reversal" podcast, Dave Lombardo reflected on his final stint with SLAYER, which lasted from 2001 until his dismissal in 2013. Asked how it felt to be coming back to the band after being gone for so long, the now-58-year-old drummer said: "It made sense. I was out of the band for 10 years — 10 [or] 11 years. And they decided to bring me back in. And everything was good. Everything felt fine. We had a good run. I was able to bring my own creativity or at least…
"It was difficult to change the SLAYER path," he continued. "They really liked their niche market, and they didn't wanna stray too much. But in a live sense, I was able to be free when it came to some of the drum rolls and some of the changes. I used to throw the guys in the band for a loop when I would create a really bizarre drum roll. And it makes them turn around [and go], 'What the fuck is that?' And then I land on the 'one.' It's, like, 'There it is.' But I was getting creative, I think, because I knew the music so well. And so there was room for me to fuck around. It's, like, 'Why didn't I play this drum part when I recorded the album? It would have been so much better.' After you played something for so long…
"I read once that Mick Jagger said, 'God, I wish we would have written that song 'Satisfaction' a little better if I knew we were gonna play it for [almost 60] years.' I was going through a little bit of the same thing with my own drum parts," Dave admitted. "'Ah, I'm gonna do this.' 'Oh, that double-bass section in 'Angel Of Death'. You know what? I'm gonna extend it a little longer.' Or 'I'm gonna add a snare roll in the middle of it.' So I was just having fun with it. And it was because I was, I guess, seasoned from the musicians I was working with in the past. And that kind of helped, I think — helped me personally — to enjoy the moments on stage. Because when you are on tour and playing the same songs month after month, year after year, it becomes a little redundant. So that kind of helped me entertain myself on stage, to see if I could stump the guitar players, if I could mess with them."
Lombardo, who has spent most of the recent years between crossover pioneers SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, horror-punk icons MISFITS, hardcore supergroup DEAD CROSS and MR. BUNGLE, was effectively fired from SLAYER after sitting out the group's Australian tour in February/March 2013 due to a contract dispute with the other bandmembers. He was later replaced by Paul Bostaph, who was previously SLAYER's drummer from 1992 until 2001.
Shortly after his dismissal, Lombardo said that he discovered that 90 percent of SLAYER's tour income was being deducted as expenses, including fees to management, costing the band millions and leaving them with about 10 percent to split four ways. While he and bassist/vocalist Tom Araya hired auditors to figure out what had happened, Lombardo said he was never allowed to see any of the information obtained.
Lombardo released a statement in February 2013 saying he "was denied access to detailed information and the necessary backup documents." He added: "I was told that I would not be paid until I signed a longform contract which gave me no written assurance of how much or on what basis management would deduct commissions, nor did it provide me access to the financial budgets or records for review. It also forbade me to do interviews or make statements having to do with the band, in effect a gagging order."
Dave previously opened about his departure from SLAYER while taking questions from the audience in March 2014 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
"I did my best to try to keep it together, but I couldn't go on, man," Dave said. "I had to step out, because you can't be shackled like that; nobody can take advantage of another person like that anymore. I did it for too many years, and I held my breath. Red flags kept going on in my books. It's, like, 'Really? I'm supposed to make more money? Why am I on the same salary? I'm making the exact same thing I've been making the past two years. And this is back in 2004. So I knew something was up. And I tried my best to work it out with the guys. I brought Tom into the picture. I had Tom in a hotel room with me talking to my attorney, and my attorney was telling him everything their management company had been doing to them for the past 30 freakin' years. And we had an accountant, a forensic accountant, ready to go in there and look at the stuff."
He continued: "Tom got bought out. Management flipped him over a couple of hundred grand — who knows how much? — and Kerry as well, to keep quiet and go against Lombardo. So they turned their backs on me. And on the last day, when I'm at rehearsal with them — and I saved it all the way until the end — I said, 'Guys, we need a new business plan. You guys have been on the same business plan after 30 years. Now I'm an income participant. In other words, I 'm a percentage holder.' So if you're a percentage holder, you have the right, and you're contracted, as a percentage holder, you have the right to see where all the expenses are going. Because here you are getting paid off of net, and then out of 4.4 million dollars, the band gets 400 thousand dollars. Where's the four million? And that's just 2011. [The rest of the money went to] lawyers, accountant and the manager.
"For the past 30 years, they were doing that to the guys. And they took my information… I'll never forget the day…. I just said, 'Guys, look at this. This came from your accountant.' And it showed all the money. It wasn't showing where the money was going, it was just showing 'gross,' 'expenses,' 'net.' And out of that net, I made, on tour, in 2011, 67 thousand dollars. Kerry and Tom, that was about 114 thousand dollars they made on tour. So if you did about 60 shows, divide that up between 60 shows… Anybody have a calculator? No, not 60… Let's say about 90 shows per year: 30 in the spring, 30 in the summer and 30 shows in the winter, in the fall. So you break that up per show… Really? It's disgusting. I bust my ass up there playing drums. I mean, I am just sweating, I'm beat. And for the guy in the Hollywood Hills, for his facials, his manicures… No, I'm not gonna play for that. No."
In a November 2013 interview with Minneapolis City Pages, Araya stated about Lombardo: "Dave left the band originally in '91 or '92, After that, we brought in Jon Dette for two years and then we hooked up with Paul [Bostaph], who did four really great albums with us. Then he decided to move on. Our manager hooked us up with Dave again and when we were putting together [2006's] 'Christ Illusion', Dave offered to help out. We wanted to make things fair for him, so we offered him a contract with the band. Most recently, we were offered to tour Australia. When we were rehearsing, he seemed to do a 180 and said some things that kind of upset me and Kerry. Kerry just looked at him and said, 'If you feel that way, then why are we even rehearsing for this tour?' So we wrote him a letter and said, 'Listen, we need to know if you're going to do the shows in Australia. If you're not, we need to do something about that.' We didn't get a reply. We were put in a position where we had to do something, so we got Jon Dette to play with us again. After what happened with the Australia tour, we made the decision to move forward and make him aware that we no longer needed his services. He was really upset about that. He wrote a rant on Facebook. He said some things that he shouldn't have. It really upset us. And it upset me. I was fuming. I couldn't believe that he would throw that out in the court of public opinion. After that, Jeff [Hanneman, deceased SLAYER guitarist], me and Kerry all got on the phone and talked about it. And Paul's name came up. It was a sure thing with Paul. He'd been in the band for over 12 years. So we gave him a call to see if he was interested and he was more than happy to. It was a no-brainer. He's an amazing drummer."
A few years ago, King said that "when Dave was in [SLAYER] this last time, I figured I'd be on the stage with him until one of us fell off the stage, dead. Things change. He got some bad advice and listened to some bad advice, gave us an ultimatum ten days before we went to Australia [to do the Soundwave festival tour]. And I said, 'I can't have this over my head.' And I feel bad for Dave to this day; I really feel bad for him because he shot himself in the foot. Maybe he thought he had the upper hand, but you ain't gonna get me."
SLAYER played its last-ever show in November 2019 at The Forum in Los Angeles.
During a November 2022 question-and-answer session with the readers of U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine, Lombardo was asked if he would have joined King's new band had he been approached about it. He responded: "I knew that was coming. I am, right now, working on too many other projects and I wouldn't be able to accept. New DEAD CROSS, MR. BUNGLE… the pandemic put a lot of stuff on hold, so we need to play some catch-up there. Besides that, he's got Paul Bostaph [playing with him], and I don't think he would have the need to ask me."
Lombardo was also asked if he would play with SLAYER again if the band reunited and wanted him to be part of the lineup. He said: "I don't think that's ever going to happen. But, yeah, I'd listen to whatever it is they had to say. That's it. You can't go any further than that."
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