Dr. Abner Mality of Wormwood Chronicles recently conducted an interview with SLAYER drummer Dave Lombardo. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Wormwood Chronicles: Even in the late '80s, did you think that you'd still be going so strong in 2009?
Lombardo: No way, that was never a thought. I was the youngest guy in the band when it started, like 17 or 18. Tom [Araya, bass/vocals] was already in college. I got together with SLAYER when I was in the 11th grade and my parents were saying, "You gotta get a job! A rock band isn't gonna lead you anywhere!" Then I'm 20, 21 years old after my third or fourth record with the band and they're saying "you still gotta get a job, that band isn't gonna last too long!" (chuckles) Then I got to 30 and they asked, "What are you going to do when you're 40? You'll need a job!" And here I am! (laughter) The years are just ticking by! This band is my life, it's not going away!
Wormwood Chronicles: I could tell on your last album "Christ Illusion" that there was a lot of fire coming back into the band. Now it sounds like "World Painted Blood" is even more so. What was it that injected this new level of passion for the music?
Lombardo: You know, I think it's the passion that we create on stage. The love of playing, the magic that's on stage between all the performances...the drumming, the guitar playing, Tom on vocals....there's a kind of invisible square connecting us four. We feed off each other. Kerry's [King, guitar] jamming drives me to another level of intensity on the drums. Jeff's [Hanneman] leads drive Tom on the vocals. There's another level of excitement on stage. I think that's what creates the enthusiasm to create more songs and get another record out. We feel very much on top of our game, we feel almost unstoppable...and we are! We have come up with a new record in the least amount of time ever between SLAYER records.
Wormwood Chronicles: You worked with a new producer, Greg Fidelman. How did he push you on this record differently than you've been pushed before? Did he get you out of your comfort zone...or did he put you into it?
Lombardo: What he did was bring out the best of us musically. Now I can only speak for myself, but let me try to describe how he worked with me. Let's say I play a particular drumbeat on the record. Now I can make four or five variations of that same drumbeat. Greg would sit there and listen and sift through my brain to find the best possible matching beat for the song. Then we'd discuss, should I hit the crash cymbal, should I hit the high hat or should I go to the ride? We would fine-tune things and go through a bunch of ideas. Other producers wouldn't give me the kind of ideas and feedback that Greg does. I think that's the magic of a good producer. A good producer will make you sound good in a studio and great afterwards. He will give you lessons or different ways to approach yourself. Those ideas and tools will last you forever, so you become a better musician.
Wormwood Chronicles: He just didn't produce the optimum record, he helped to create the optimum band.
Lombardo: Absolutely! What Rick Rubin used to do for us back in the "Reign In Blood" and "South of Heaven" days, Greg did for us on this album. And you can totally tell! Of all the things I loved about his work, I love that he kept the purity of my drums. I love my drums to be resonant, warm, real...not this bullshit clicky, computer generated drumming from guys who think they are great and then when you put them on stage at a live show, they can't pull it off. Greg really, really captured the drums how I like them and kept them that way. He didn't make them sound different at the end of the day. That's not cool, I don't like that.
Wormwood Chronicles: You've been the one member of SLAYER who dabbles in other projects outside of the band. Are you still involved with Mike Patton [FAITH NO MORE]?
Lombardo: No, but that door has never completely shut. Me and Mike will work together in the future, I believe, if schedules permit. He's great, I love his music, all of the stuff that we've done. There's always a chance. Right now, I'm focusing on trying to find a band that I could share my production experience with. Going to the studio with them and working with them in the same way producers have worked with me. I want to take my knowledge and apply it to bands that are up and coming.
Wormwood Chronicles: One band that was a special project of yours was GRIP INC. When you look back at that now, are you satisfied with how it turned out?
Lombardo: Yes. Now everybody looks back and says we were ahead of our time. Those songs and that music... people weren't ready for that then. When I came out with that in 1995, it was the peak of the KORN style and the grunge thing. The world was not really ready for our style of metal at that time. There was no interest in it then. Now looking back, people can see, man, that was some heavy stuff!
Wormwood Chronicles: In the long history of SLAYER, there has to be a "Spinal Tap" moment where things went really haywire. Are there any of those you want to share with our readers?
Lombardo: Our very first time in Europe, we had all our gear in our van and were ready to go. There were just six of us in the whole crew then and we were supposed to have this guy drive us. We're on our first European tour! We've got all our amps, got all our gear! Cool, we're gonna hit England first! And then the driver pulls over. Hey, where are you going? "I'm getting out," he says. "This is where I live." Hey, wait a minute! Aren't you driving?! "No, I'm not," he says. You mean WE have to do all the driving? "Yeah!" he says. So one of us had to jump in the front seat and start driving. Whether it was me or the T-shirt salesman, I don't know. The T-shirt guy was Phil Goodman, who's the tour manager for GREEN DAY now. So we wind up driving our own van through England! For a bunch of kids being in a car where the steering wheel is on the opposite side and on a road where you have to drive on the opposite side....it was like, oh my God, which way do we go?
Read the entire interview from Wormwood Chronicles.