Dave Lombardo

The Exclaim! Questionnaire

BY Cam LindsayPublished Aug 1, 2006

What are you up to?
Outside from being on tour with Slayer, that’s pretty much it. Right now we’re in Canada and we’re about to wrap up our tour in Denver. In between now and Denver we have a video shoot planned for our Unholy Alliance DVD. And I just got a call saying that one of my songs with DJ Spooky is going to be used in a new film called Code Name: The Cleaner.

What are your current fixations?
Right now it’s music and it’s been that for a while: rhythm and music, immersing myself in as much good stuff as possible. There’s a Bulgarian band Taraf De Haidouks and their album Band of Gypsies. Their music is fast and resembles the intensity and the speed of Slayer. It’s a whole different genre, gypsy folk music. But let me tell you, it’s some of the fastest stuff that I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m just intrigued by these guys who enjoy playing fast like we do, so there’s a common thread there. It gives you a good rush.

Why do you live where you do?
In Southern California, up in the high desert — about an hour and 20 minutes from northeast L.A. My wife’s family first moved there, her grandmother, and we used to go visit her all the time. The area was growing and it was a good investment so we decided to purchase a house and move there.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
Body Worlds. That guy who skinned the bodies so you could see the muscles. Now that to me is really something that makes you think. It takes you inside of what you’re living in.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
In Paris at a jazz festival. I played there with John Zorn and Bill Laswell, the dub producer, and Fred Frith, the guitar player/sound effects guy. We did an improv there that brought the people to their feet — it was just amazing. We clicked so well that night that I don’t think it was ever recreated again. That showed what could come out from your inside naturally — a musical experience that only happens not very often.

What have been your career highs and lows?
Career lows would probably be leaving Slayer and starting my next band [Grip Inc.]. When I was trying to think of what kind of music I was going to do. I didn’t know, so it took four or five years till I released Power of Inner Strength. I think I’ve been consistently at a high point since 1999, at least personally I feel like I’ve been up there since then, when Fantômas started. The one year [1999] that I did Vivaldi: The Meeting, which was me playing drums to some chamber instruments and soprano singers, I did Fantômas, Testament, Grip Inc. and I released my drum methods book. Ever since that point I got to a certain height and I think I’m still up there, which is kind of cool.

What’s the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
The meanest thing that was done to me was being tackled by security guards at L’Amours in Brooklyn in, I don’t know what year, 1985 or ’86? I was with the crowd, throwing my sticks and pretending I was going to jump in the crowd, and the security guys came up and just grabbed me. I kept fighting them away, we knocked down these Marshall stacks and we got down to the floor and he let me go. I said, "You son of a bitch, I’m in the band!” and he turned around and punched me in the face. That’s the worst situation that ever happened to me.

What should everyone shut up about?
I’m trying to watch my words; this is a hard one. Jason Bittner. Shadows Fall. Sorry, I just have two drum magazines here and I guess he’s getting a good profile. I’ve known him for years, ever since he was a little kid. But come on!

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I drink a lot of coffee and Red Bull so I’m bubbly. I like that trait. I hate when I have bad days. I don’t react well.

What advice should you have taken, but did not?
To stay in technical drafting. No, probably to learn the piano when I was a kid. I don’t know it fluently, but I can play it and make up my own stuff. When you’re a child you’ve learned all the hard stuff that you don’t want to remember now. At that time, you’re like a sponge so you remember everything that you’re taught. And then it becomes second nature when you’re an adult.

What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Just not generally getting along with the guy — if he crosses the line. I don’t know what that line is, but it’s just something that doesn’t sit well with you.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of the Maple Leaf. The cold — Montreal and Winnipeg in the winter are brutal. Junos. The great crowds — amazing. Montreal and Quebec City, and Winnipeg were really good, although we did have problems getting into the country. You know it’s really sad, we cooperated and everything. We went up through Winnipeg from North Dakota and crossed. It was really rough. But we had a good show.

What is your vital daily ritual?
To have my caffeine — my coffee and Red Bull. I gotta have some kind of breakfast too.

What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise?
It sucks if you don’t write any of the music because those musicians get royalties from the whole record being sold. So, I think downloads do suck.

What was your most memorable day job?
When I was working at K-Mart, when I was a young kid out of high school. Showing up there after playing in Slayer the night before with eyeliner under my eyes, looking all dead and shit.

How do you spoil yourself?
Eating well. Sometimes these hotels we stay at make some of the juiciest, greasiest burgers like you wouldn’t believe. So, I enjoy that.

If I wasn’t playing music I would be…
Playing music. I think I would have to be a part of something in music. Ever since a kid it’s been in my blood. I’ve longed for being a musician and a rock star, like Kiss and all the bands I was into as a kid.

What do you fear most?
I’ve never given it a thought. I’m not a fearful person. I guess life, and God itself. That’s some scary stuff.

What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
My wife does, man. My wife Theresa, man, she really makes me want to take it off and get it on. I’ll see her up in Vancouver and I already have a boner.

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
There was a time where I met Bono that was really funny; he was with Gwen Stefani. I walked up to him and said, "Hey, I’m Dave Lombardo from Slayer.” And he goes, "You’re the drummer, right?” I go, "Yeah.” Then he just says, "Oh…” And that was it.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
It’d be cool to meet Al Pacino. He’s a great actor; I love his old stuff. He portrayed a Cuban and I’m a Cuban, so he portrayed my people and did it really well in Scarface. I’d serve him some kind of shrimp fettuccine.

Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
In my sleep.

For the last 24 years, Slayer has been the most dependable name in metal. While they haven’t been the most prolific or consistent band — the better part of the ’90s found them in a rut — Slayer have never fallen out of fashion or lost their direction the way peers like Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth did.

Produced by Josh Abraham with Rick Rubin, Christ Illusion, their ninth original studio full-length, finds them back in their groove with an even stronger effort than 2001’s excellent comeback, God Hates Us All. It also reunites the band with drummer Dave Lombardo and artist Larry Carroll for the first time since 1990’s Seasons in the Abyss.

With Lombardo’s expert pounding and Carroll’s infamously sacrilegious artwork back in the fold, it feels like the last 16 years never happened. According to Lombardo, the album’s classic Slayer sound was just the original line-up gelling again. "We just went for what we felt at the moment,” says Lombardo. "[Josh] recommended that we do go back and listen to what we were doing. But we thought we’d just continue from where we were and start fresh with new ideas.”

Slayer are back and Christ Illusion is as heavy and angry as you want it to be. Listen to it at full blast.

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