The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Dave Lombardo Philm Fantomas Slayer Grip Inc - Interview
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Dave Lombardo

Since Dave Lombardo's publicised departure from Slayer a couple of years ago, the focus on Dave seems to be all about Slayer and the reasons why he left the band. While all that is somewhat interesting, it's also a little tiresome at this point and judging by Dave's busy schedule these days, an issue that seems to be in the past and to be honest, there's nothing about Slayer that we don't already know anyway. So when I spoke to Dave, I decided I really wanted to ask him about his current projects including his upcoming drum clinic in Australia and his involvement in an art project but also in particular, one of the most underrated metal bands that he was a part of, Grip. Inc.



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Andrew: Thanks for the chat today, I guess we will talk about your upcoming tour to Australia first with the drum clinic. Good to see you in Australia again so what can we expect?

Dave: Well drumming obviously! Some drum solos, examples of what I do and my approach, my philosophy about music. And I talk about song structuring whether it's proper to do a drum roll in one section or it's not, and there's other times where I'll do a question and answer thing with the fans and everyone that's there. Questions that they might have, curiosity about my playing they get to ask that kinda sets things straight and they can come and and see how I do these things.

Andrew: What is the most common question that you get from the fans?

Dave: I think the questions I get are requests that I play certain parts of the songs that I have recorded in the past. Some I do remember but some I don't because I've never played them live so I would have to listen to it which sometimes I do to refresh my memory and listen back as I have all the music on my ipod. So I think requests are what people ask of me the most.

Andrew: Do you get a lot of requests for Grip Inc. stuff at all?

Dave: Yes some Grip Inc. stuff, everything.

Andrew: I love the stuff you did with Grip Inc. and funnily enough, I had just read recently that there was a 4 track E.P. released called "Hostage To Heaven".

Dave: Yeah that was released several months ago and they are not remixes but we took an existing song which was "Hostage To Heaven" off the first album and we played it half time and just played it a little different. Gus (Chambers, vocals) sang the melody a lot slower and it turned out great. It's a fantastic piece including a couple of other unreleased songs that are on there, then there is an instrumental.

Andrew: OK cool well obviously you can't do that band anymore because of the loss of Gus but what do you remember the most about Grip Inc. and was there something in particular that you were most proud of with that band?

Dave: We're proud of the work that we did with the music that we released, all those albums I think are masterpieces. There is some great music on there, the songwriting and the melodies and Gus's voice was fantastic, it's on point. There's no other singer out there at least that I know of...actually there is, Bruce Dickinson has a voice that's similar to Gus's where he projects his voice pretty aggressive. It's almost effortless for guys like Bruce Dickinson and Gus.

Andrew: The drum sound was quite different to what you did with Slayer. What was the major difference as far as recording techniques and drum set? Or was there much difference at all?

Dave: No there was just different engineers and different recording techniques. In Germany where we recorded all those albums was different to the U.S. and California.

Andrew: Maybe it's just my perspective but there seemed to be a much bigger drum sound and there was more reverb in there I suppose or?

Dave: No I don't think so, there was no reverb on there. When I recorded that, those drums were probably in a small 12 by 12 room with the title floor and wooden walls. It was quite interesting, it was a really nice room so that's how we got that drum sound but there was no reverb added to it or anything. They're just in your face.

Andrew: You got a lot of stuff going on, the other thing that's quite interesting is you got this thing called the Rhythm Mysterium art collection. Tell me a little bit about what that's about and how it came together.

Dave: Well a company called Scene Four has been contacting different drummers and asking them to do this photo session where the drummers are using LED lights on the drumsticks and they perform solos and they play these grooves and they're photographed in the park while they are doing it. So you capture the trails of the sticks, you kinda see the drumrolls and the performance captured on film but I took it a step further. I was a little more involved with the production of these pictures, I would take a look at the shot that the photographer had taken and then I would see how I can improve that shot. I would solo using the same ideas using more of a swing in my arms so that way you see a little bit more to the performance. Also the colors, I was able to choose the colors and the direction of the prints that were going to be made and also the titling of individual pieces, so it was a lot of fun to do. I think in the future there could be more artwork, it may not be in that medium. It could be in a whole other medium but I'm sure there could be something that could definitely spark interest and it's definitely a different outlet for creativity, one that I still need to pursue.

Andrew: Yeah it's an interesting idea. How did you get into it and was it something that you have always been interested in doing in the art world so to speak?

Dave: Well I've always been fascinated by the art world, I've been to museums around the world from the Louvre to the Rijksmuseum in Holland to museums here in Los Angeles to Christies in New York City and looked at some of the artwork there that's for sale. So there's always been this interest and when I was approached with this opportunity, I couldn't pass it up. I thought it was awesome because everything that was printed is on canvas and they're sold that way so it's really nice. It's not like a print on a paper, it's actual canvas.

Andrew: Yeah very cool idea! Now I wanted to ask you about your equipment setup as well, I know you were with Tama for a number of years and then you switched to ddrums. Are you with Tama again or what's your setup now?

Dave: Yeah I'm with Tama now and right now I'm using 2 different setups. Of course the traditional double bass drumkit, the 2 bass drums and 4 rack toms and 2 floor toms. That's when I do the drum clinics and play in metal bands and for my current band Philm, I play a 4 piece drumkit and I played the 4 piece with a single bass on the first 2 albums and now I have incorporated the double pedal so I'm actually playing a 4 piece kit with a double pedal setup. I'm really excited because I've taken the double bass out of my songwriting and approach to Philm's music and now I'm bringing it back and it's fresh and it's more exciting than redundant like, 'Here comes another double bass part'. And I'm a little more careful in where I apply the double bass and it's not in a typical form, I'm trying to recreate myself. I don't like repeating myself when it comes to being creative.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely because one of the most noteworthy things about your career is you have a very diverse range in musical styles and different ventures. I guess growing up when you first got into drums, you must have had a lot of different influences?

Dave: I grew up in a diverse home. My parents listened to Cuban music, where my older brother was into R&B and then my second oldest brother was into rock and my sister was all over the place, she liked all kinds of music. I think that's where the interest happened when I was exposed to all this different music when I was growing up and all these different albums. My older brother would have Chaka Khan and War, Tina Turner and all kinds of other compilations that I would go through as a kid and listen to and put them on the record player. My brother would have Cream, Led Zeppelin, Big Brother And The Holding Company, Blood, Sweat And Tears and so many different 60's bands so it's what I enjoy too, I just love all styles.

Andrew: What was it about the drums that got you interested in playing?

Dave: I don't know, maybe I felt that because I was Cuban that it was the thing I needed to do. Being a Cuban kid in America, what do I know how to do? I know how to play drums, at least that was part of my culture and upbringing in all of our music. Most of the music that I listened to as a kid especially the music my parents used to listened to so I think drums was a natural instrument for me to gravitate to. Who knows? I might have been a guitar player but the problem is I'm left handed so it was hard for me to acquire guitars that were left handed and I cannot play a right handed guitar but I could certainly pick up a left handed guitar or turn the guitar upside down and try to play it that way and it felt comfortable. So I quickly chose the drums when that happened.

Andrew: Yeah and there are left handed drummers who play drums the opposite way but you play the more conventional way. Was that something you picked up pretty quickly when you started playing the drums?

Dave: Well the change happened when I was in grade school. I was in fourth grade in a marching band at school and when my teacher saw me hold my sticks left handed, he made me switch and he told me that I'm going to learn the right way and that's where it changed. He quickly caught it in enough time where I was able to change with that without having any difficulty whatsoever, I hadn't gotten used to the drumset yet or the drums at that time, I was only playing the marching drum.

Andrew: There are some drummers out there like Gene Hoglan that do play the drums the more unconventional way but I suppose it doesn't really matter which way you play it I guess.

Dave: No it's just preference. It just makes it difficult if another drummer wants to play your drumkit, if it's not switched around you can't do it which is kinda cool.

Andrew: Well I better let you go, it will be fantastic seeing you in October when you do your drum clinic over here. So thanks for your time and we will see you in October!

Dave: Awesome man, looking forward to it! Take care


Tuesday, October 20: Melbourne
Wednesday, October 21: Adelaide
Thursday, October 22: Brisbane
Friday, October 23: Sydney

Tickets and tour details can be found HERE.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on September 5th 2015