MEGADETH's JAMES LOMENZO Doesn't Get Nervous Before Performing Live: 'Playing The Shows, It's The Way I Breathe'

June 21, 2024

In a new interview Belgium's Graspop Metal Meeting, MEGADETH bassist James LoMenzo was asked if he still gets nervous before performing at huge festivals like the Belgian annual event. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): " I hate to disappoint you, but no, I don't get [nervous]. I love doing this. You love seeing the shows. I love seeing the shows, right? So playing the shows, it's the way I breathe, you know? So to me, the funny thing is, like, before I go on stage, I look at the stage, I look at the people, get a little excited. That little butterfly comes up, maybe a little nervous, but then right away, it's just like when you see a beautiful pool — it might be cold, but you know you're gonna jump in and for a moment, you're gonna have that moment of, like, 'This is not gonna…' And then you sit in there and you go, 'No, this is great.'"

Asked if he still, after all these years, sometimes misses his family while he is on the road, James said: "Oh, very much so. Yeah. But it's part of — it's the job. I mean, everybody's, like, 'I wanna be a rock star. Wooh,' all that stuff. And I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a rock star, but I know I wanted to be a musician. In order to be a musician, you have to travel, you have to go to where the people wanna see the music and live the music. So it's kind of that weird deal that you make. So that's the downside of it. But the upside of it is seeing all the people in the crowd who see their music come to life. And I have the privilege of bringing that to them."

Last year, LoMenzo spoke to Australia's Wall Of Sound about his return to MEGADETH as a permanent member of the band. LoMenzo was MEGADETH's bass player in the mid-2000s and stepped back in as a touring member for the 2021 leg of "The Metal Tour Of The Year". In May 2022, it was announced that Lomenzo was officially rejoining the MEGADETH family.

LoMenzo joined MEGADETH in 2006 and appeared on two of the group's studio albums, 2007's "United Abominations" and 2009's "Endgame". He was fired from the band in 2010 and replaced with returning original MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson.

LoMenzo told Wall Of Sound: "The new band was mind-boggling to me, when I showed up. 'Cause last I left off, it was Chris Broderick, who's actually playing with IN FLAMES tonight [at Knotfest Australia] — a fantastic guitar player and a lovely fellow — and [drummer] Shawn Drover. And so this iteration just blew my socks off. I didn't know what to think when I was coming back. I knew Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH leader] would be there, I knew it would sound like MEGADETH, 'cause as long as Dave is singing and playing guitar, it isMEGADETH. But the new guys, I knew they were good, but when I got in the room and Dirk [Verbeuren] just started slamming his drums, I was just blown away. And then when I got to play with [guitarist] Kiko [Loureiro], who's massively deep musically… We spend a lot of time in our little rehearsal place; we always set up a little rehearsal room at all the gigs we play. Him and I will just go and jam, and he'll start showing me Brazilian rhythms that we can move over and play classical motifs and blues — I mean, anything; the sky's the limit."

In November 2022, LoMenzo reflected on his initial departure from MEGADETH in an interview with Ashdown Engineering. He said at the time: "After three or four years in MEGADETH, David Ellefson returned. And I, like you, was pretty excited about that, because I had always been a fan of MEGADETH anyway. I'm one of those crazy guys that's, like, I want it to be the original band. I always want it to be the original band; it's kind of the way I grew up. But in lieu of that, I had to take the charge of the bass spot when he couldn't be there. So when he came back, I was fine with it. I've done two great albums — 'United Abominations' and 'Endgame'; we've done two world tours, been all over the place. And so at that point, I was kind of excited to maybe try something new. And so I went back home. I started a video production company. I started doing these local jams where all my famous friends would come by and jam with me. It was great. And eventually I ended up in [rock legend] John Fogerty's band."

On the topic of how he rejoined MEGADETH, James said: "How do I end up back in MEGADETH? It's like that 'Godfather' movie — 'Just when I thought I got out, they pull me back in again.' No… But anyway… When they needed a bass player — it became apparent — I thought to myself, 'They'll probably call me up.' But I also thought to myself, 'It's been a while since I played that kind of music, so maybe it'll be great. It'll be all right. Maybe not.' Sure enough, the phone rings, and Dave [Mustaine] is, like, 'We've gotta do this 'Metal Tour Of The Year'. James, I know you're the guy who can do it. I would love to have you here. If you would just commit to just doing this tour, that would be great.' And I thought, 'Well, that's kind of weird. He doesn't want me to rejoin the band.' But then I thought about it. He knew I had another band, and he was telling me, 'I don't want you to screw up whatever you've got going.' I was being loyal to John. So we went out on the tour, and gosh, it was just the best time. I was so enamored with the band that he put together and with Kiko and with Dirk that I was blown away. And Dave, gosh, he's just delivering the goods every day. The great thing about Dave is he's been through a lot. He recovered from cancer. He's had problems with his back. Over the years, he's had more things than most professional wrestlers would have, and he shows no sign of it — he just gets up there and plays and just gives it his all. So after that tour, I was sitting there going, 'Man, I think I might like to stay here for a while.' And so, luckily, as luck would have it, not too long after that, Dave calls me up at home and he goes, 'You know, we would love to have you be part of the band officially if you wanna stay.' And I thought, 'That's exactly what I was thinking, man. Let's do it.'

In addition to MEGADETH and Fogerty, LoMenzo has played with Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and WHITE LION.

LoMenzo played his first show with MEGADETH in nearly 12 years in August 2021 in Austin, Texas. The concert took place three months following Ellefson's dismissal from MEGADETH after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving him were posted on Twitter.

During an appearance on a March 2022 episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", Mustaine discussed MEGADETH's reunion with LoMenzo, saying: "I'm thrilled. I think he's a really awesome person to have in MEGADETH. He was when we tried it the first time. And for whatever reason that things happen, things happened and we took a little sabbatical from playing [together]. And when things happened as they did, it was obvious to me that I needed to get a super kickass bass player to come in and cut all the tracks and learn 'em in relatively no time, because we were in the studio already, so I needed to get somebody that could really do all that stuff. And I hadn't made up my mind on James yet. So I ended up asking a super, super legendary bass player in the metal community, Steve DiGiorgio. I asked him if he would come in and guest on the [latest MEGADETH] record and help me to finish the record and cut bass parts. So he came out, and that was really wonderful to hear his interpretation of my songs and the stuff that Kiko and Dirk and I, the stuff that we're starting to write together; we're starting to really develop our chemistry."

Mustaine previously talked about LoMenzo's return to MEGADETH in an interview with Revolver in August 2022. He said at the time: "We welcomed James with open arms, and everybody loves him. He's just such a great, great guy. So it wasn't a hard decision at all to make. It was basically calling him, seeing what he was doing. Everybody is really, really happy with him. I haven't really seen that much pushback from the fans. I know that the two people that matter the most, besides me, Dirk and Kiko, love him. It's what I wanted. I wanted to have the four of us playing together and all being comfortable with one another and knowing that there was no weirdness going on or any double dealing or anything like that, because those are the things that always ruin bands. We've had this closeness, the four of us, since James came. They're always together somewhere — always, always. James is down at the bar having a glass of wine with Kiko, or James is in the gym working out with Dirk. They are always doing something wonderful together."

Loureiro left MEGADETH last fall and was replaced by Teemu Mäntysaari, who had previously played with WINTERSUN.

Image courtesy of MEGADETH's YouTube channel

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