DAVE LOMBARDO INTERVIEW

A CURA DI R&MIMB

05/10/2014

Rock & Metal In My Blood has recently had the pleasure to hook up with "The" drummer, Mr. DAVE LOMBARDO, former drummer of thrash gods Slayer, for a leisurely Skype talk about his current project PHILM and their latest album, Fire From The Evening Sun, the Slayer years, past collaborations and his (many) plans for the future. If you don't want to miss a beat, read on folks.

R&MIMB: Hello Dave!! My name's Lucia and I write for the Italian Heavy Metal webzine "Rock & Metal In My Blood". On behalf of the whole staff I'd like to say we are very honored to be interviewing you!
Dave Lombardo: Thanks! Happy to be here with you!

R&MIMB: Same here! First of all, what is the meaning of the moniker "Philm"?
Dave Lombardo: Dave Lombardo: Well, I guess I have to start with how the band came up with the name. The band has a very unique sound, style, and when we were first trying to think of a name, the one thing that kept going through my mind was the music, it was very cinematic, it had a very deep sound, something that could be placed on a television score, a movie score. So we said, man! This music is like film music, music for television, for movies! So we looked at each other and thought that would be a good name for the band. But we spelt it "P-H-I-L-M", instead of an "f" we used the "ph", just to make it a little bit different. We feel the music has a lot of pictures to it, if you close your eyes and listen to the music it has a lot of images.

R&MIMB: I agree Dave! PHILM are Gerry Nestler on vocals and guitar, Francisco "Pancho" Tomaselli on bass, and you on drums of course! How did you guys get together?
Dave Lombardo: Dave Lombardo: I met Gerry back in 1995, around that time I was starting my other band, Grip Inc., so we played some shows out and around Los Angeles. I needed to work hard with the band, but I had other projects, I was working with Fantomas, I was working with Grip Inc. and I was doing all these other projects, I couldn't pay much attention to Philm, so we disbanded for a while, probably eight years. I was on tour with Slayer, and around 2010 Tom Araya was sick, Jeff was sick, and I thought these guys are not doing well, their health wasn't very good?I felt I needed to stay creative, I needed to continue working and writing music, so I called Gerry up, we basically got together again, decided to put the band together. I couldn't find the original bass player, so I started researching bass players. I remembered there was a bass player who came up to me at a drum clinic in Los Angeles and told me he was a big fan, but he also played in the band War, which is a funk band, a very popular funk band with a lot of hits they had in the late 70s and 80s, but he's only been in the band for ten years. So I saved his card and called him about a year later, asked him if he would like to meet and discuss this new band, and he agreed! So we've been working ever since, we have a great friendship, a great relationship. It's really exciting, it's been a long time since I've felt this kind of comradery, when you're happy to see your bandmates, to go to band practice. Tomorrow for example we're going to practice, we have a concert in Bogotą, Colombia, so we're really looking forward to it!

R&MIMB: Well good luck with your concert in Bogotą! Now let's talk about your new album with Philm, Fire from the Evening Sun. Some music critics have said it's "less experimental" compared to your previous album, Harmonic. What's your opinion?
Dave Lombardo: Dave Lombardo: This is very true! It's something we intentionally wanted to create, we wanted to create an album more focused and a bit more concise, where there are completed songs, it's not like Harmonic. Harmonic had a lot of improvisations, it was a bit more avant-garde, this album is more directed towards the listener, the metal listener.

R&MIMB: How did you come up with the ideas that helped you create the sound we hear on Fire from the Evening Sun?
Dave Lombardo: Dave Lombardo: Gerry has a lot of imput in sound, he's very creative with his guitar, and that's one thing I love about his style, his playing. The music is deep, it's not monotone, it's not just one sound and all you hear is drums! This is very organic, this is very real. I recorded all the drum tracks in one day, because we had a recording studio for just one day! So that was pretty exciting, I think the album captures a good feeling amongst the band members, and I think you can hear it in the music too?

R&MIMB: How did you go about writing the lyrics for the new album? Is there a main songwriter in the band, or do you all "pitch in"?
Dave Lombardo: Dave Lombardo: We all write together, we write collectively. What we do is we go into a rehearsal, like tomorrow, and we record our sessions, not the songs that we wrote, but the music, we improvise, and we jam! We just go in there and start creating, and later when we create these pieces, we refine them, we create songs. After that we record them again, maybe a month later, and then we give them to Gerry, and he'll create the melodies and the lyrics for the songs. He sometimes asks me, what should I put here, what kind of line, what kind of singing pattern. So we ask each other for an opinion, it's collective.

R&MIMB: The album was released with a new Label, UDR. Why did you decide on a Label change?
Dave Lombardo: Dave Lombardo: What happened was that Mike (Mike Patton, CEO at Ipecac Recordings, former frontman of Faith No More and current vocalist of Dave's other band, Fantomas, Edit.) had released a lot of albums the past couple of years and this year he only wanted to release a couple, he couldn't release this album, and I can totally understand. So we went ahead and signed with another friend of ours, Jay Lansford, over at UDR.

R&MIMB: The title track has a haunting and evocative sound to it, while being catchy at the same time. Is there a story behind the song?
Dave Lombardo: Dave Lombardo: That's more of a question for Gerry! I think the lyrics have a very deep meaning, and you can make it anyway you want, you can interpret certain lines your own way. I think Gerry can only explain the deep meaning of the song. I think the song Fire from the Evening Sun has to do with rejuvenation, it has to do with change, recreation.

R&MIMB: Do you have a favorite song from the album, something you like to play live?
Dave Lombardo: I like Omniscience, I like Corner Girl, Fire from the Evening Sun and Train. I really like that one because it has a really bluesy vibe to it!

R&MIMB: You are a self-taught drummer and you started out drumming at a very early age?How do you feel now that you've become one of the most influential drummers in music history?
Dave Lombardo: Well, it's something I don't pay much attention to!! The fans tell me of course and it's an honor to be such an influence to fans. I sometimes don't know what to say when somebody tells me these kind words! What I feel like I need to do is to continue to create music and play more drums, because that's what seems to make everyone happy!!

R&MIMB: Since you are a big influence on others, who was your main inspiration as a drummer?
Dave Lombardo: My main inspirations were John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, Mitch Mitchell from Jimi Hendrix, that's when I was really young. Then later I got into different drummers, I got into Bill Ward from Black Sabbath, later I got into punk music and was very much influenced by Larry Lehrer of Circle Jerks and D. H. Peligro from Dead Kennedys?Those drummers were some of the original punk drummers that helped me develop my thrash style

R&MIMB: One of the most important experiences in your life is surely playing with Slayer. Do you have a particularly fond memory or anecdote related to this period of your career and to your fellow band member, the late Hanneman?
Dave Lombardo: I always have fond memories, I always think about the times we had together, and there are definitely a lot of good times I spent with the band! Slayer was for me a launching pad, and a very big part of my career, but right now I'm on to something new, it's very exciting for me to play music under my own terms, how I want to play it, what I want to do, I'm in control of my creativity. So although I had some great memories and good times with my former bandmates, I'm really looking forward to the future!

R&MIMB: 2009 was the year you released World Painted Blood and went on a massive world tour. During the tour Jeff Hanneman contracted a terrible illness. How did the fans react to the new "line up change", with Gary Holt (Exodus) filling in on guitar?
Dave Lombardo: They accepted him very positively! Jeff and Gary have known each other for many years, Jeff really liked Gary's guitar playing, he thought he was a great player. It was very positive because of course it had Jeff's approval.

R&MIMB: You've played in several bands with different styles. What does it mean for a musician to play genres that are so different one from the other?
Dave Lombardo: I think it shows growth in a musician, it shows a musician that is open-minded to creativity, not just to a certain style or to a certain genre of music. I think it shows maturity, it shows that you're very open and creative. I just don't see how you can be creative without using all of the different genres and elements that the world has to offer as far as music is concerned, there's music from all different parts of the world, and I feel that to create your own signature sound and your own style and to find yourself musically, you'd have to take from all these elements and all these genres from different parts of the world. So it's very difficult for me to understand musicians that don't take that direction.

R&MIMB: You were born in Cuba?Did your country of origin and Latino music in general have a strong influence on you as a musician?
Dave Lombardo: Yes, it did!! When my parents came to this country, they obviously brought the Cuban heritage.

R&MIMB: Let's talk about your experience with Grip Inc. How did that project come to life?
Dave Lombardo: Well that was a long time ago! When I left Slayer in '92, I received an offer from a German pop artist, named Phillip Boa, and he offered me to record an album with him and I agreed. I found myself recording alongside this producer, Dave Waldemar Sorychta, and Waldemar was also a guitar player, and whenever I play with certain guitar players, if they have magic, something that I find in their ability, I quickly ask them if they would like to put a band together! So I did, and I contacted Gus Chambers, the singer, we quickly formed a band, wrote some music and put it out! That band was amazing, and I still listen to that music today.

R&MIMB: Do you collaborate with them anymore?
Dave Lombardo: No, I'm just focusing on Philm and Fantomas

R&MIMB: Your drumming is multifaceted, versatile?you manage to combine different styles all together while you play: you play fast, loud, with groove, yet never missing out on skill and technique. How do you manage to do that?
Dave Lombardo: Well, it's difficult to explain!! I don't know where this energy, this ability comes from. I can't explain it! The only thing I can say is that it's something I've developed through the years, but what's strange to me is that I've always played like this, ever since I was young, ever since Show No Mercy, the first album I recorded! So I honestly don't know where it came from, unless it came from me watching, observing and learning from the musicians I was exposed to at a very early age, and those were the Cuban musicians! Of course they played timbales, congas, they played drums?drums are a big part of our culture, of our lives. And to some of us it's part of a religion! I would say it came from seeing these musicians perform and watching them play with passion? If you were a child and you saw a drummer play and he's playing scared, he's playing like he doesn't know what he's doing, when you're a child you think that growing up and playing drums like that guy is the right way to play; but when you're a child and you watch drummers play with passion, and they're hitting hard, and they're sweating, you can tell that they love what they're doing! And when the music's good and people are dancing, you know you're going to play drums that way!!

R&MIMB: In 1999 you started a collaboration with the Italian conductor Lorenzo Arruga. The result of that collaboration is Vivaldi: The Meeting, a seven track album where "drums meet Vivaldi". Can you tell us more about this unique project?
Dave Lombardo: I was approached by a producer of a company in Italy. They put together classical records. He asked me if I was interested in doing this collaboration, bringing in musicians that played harpsichord, organ, flute, oboe and two soprano singers. I agreed, I found it to be a very interesting project, and he told me it was going to be directed by Lorenzo Arruga, who was a very popular name in Italy, especially at La Scala in Milan. I was intrigued, he sent me all the details and I signed the contract! What I found was some extremely talented musicians, so what I feel is that we should do something like that again!

R&MIMB: So are you thinking of repeating that experience?
Dave Lombardo: I would love to! If the opportunity arises it would be with a whole bunch of other artists, other composers, maybe Mozart, that would be a lot of fun!!

R&MIMB: Speaking about collaborations, the one with DJ Spooky was pretty cool?.
Dave Lombardo: That again was the idea of a record company owner. He had the idea of putting together my drumming with a DJ. Whenever I'm proposed an idea for a collaboration that is different and interesting, you can always count on me going for it! Because that's what inspires me, that's the root of inspiration when you collaborate with other musicians that are of different genres, and if they're open to do it, that's even greater!

R&MIMB: Speaking of collaborations, have you ever collaborated in a musical?
Dave Lombardo: Something like a Broadway musical? No, I haven't done anything like that?not yet!!

R&MIMB: Well, never say never! For every musician his instrument is something "sacred". How did your concept of the drum set change in time? That is, the different components, the way you position them, and so on.
Dave Lombardo: I change it pretty much!! For example when I first started, the first album I recorded, the drum set had a single bass, with four toms, one floor tom and a snare. And then I wanted to play double bass, so I bought an extra bass drum and some roto toms, they are like small tom toms. After time went on and I got an endorsement, my drum set got bigger, so I added two bass drums and nine toms and two floor toms?it was just too big!! I kept that drum set until 1992, and beyond, I had that drum kit for Grip Inc. But as time went on, after I met Gerry from Philm in 1995, I decided to play a four-piece drum set, a very small drum set, with Gerry and the new band because he had a very classic guitar, a 1969 Gibson Les Paul, and I felt that a big drum set like the one I had wasn't appropriate for that kind of guitar. So I scaled down to a four-piece. Then when I recorded World Painted Blood, I removed two or three of the toms, I just felt they weren't necessary, it was just more drums to carry around! So now I've stripped it down to a four-piece for Philm, but I jump around from a four-piece to a seven to nine-piece drum set.

R&MIMB: With an important career behind you and still a lot to give, you are without any doubt one of the major influences on today's young drummers. In your opinion who among them seem the most worthy of praise?
Dave Lombardo: There are a lot of new drummers, there are a lot of great drummers out there, but longevity is very important! You could be in the business five-ten years, then you disappear. There's Elroy Casagrande, the new drummer for Sepultura, he's great, he's young and he's got style. It just takes a lot of work, and a lot of patience!!!

R&MIMB: With all the bands you've played in you have toured the world, and have been to our country many times through the years. What is your opinion of Italy, your Italian fans and the Italian metal scene?
Dave Lombardo: Passion, pure PASSION!!! I think the word passion was born in Italy! I've had great experiences, I was there in March, I did a couple of drum clinics. In the south in Rome and in Montebelluna, which is up in the north near Venice. It was just amazing!! I love Italy, the history, the architecture, the cities, and the food of course!! The fans are very interested and excited to meet you and talk to you, it's really great!

R&MIMB: How about coming back to Italy with Philm? Are you planning any tour dates in Italy with the band?
Dave Lombardo: I sure hope so!! We just have to find the right promoter or agent to take us to Europe and book some shows for us! At the moment we're waiting for something to happen?all we want to do is play live!

R&MIMB: We all hope so! Ok now, how about a message from Dave Lombardo to all the fans of Rock & Metal in My Blood?
Dave Lombardo: I hope to be in your country very, very soon, I miss my "carbonara"!! I can't wait to play with my new band Philm for our Italian fans, and most of all for our fans out there at Rock & Metal In My Blood!!!

(Lucia Rossi with the collaboration of Marek Vladescu and Lorenzo Mortai)