Dave Lombardo Unsure of Misfits Future Plans, Plots Dead Cross Release, Talks Challenging ‘Seth Meyers’ Gig [Interview]
Drum legend Dave Lombardo was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program. Always juggling a couple projects, he spoke about the Misfits, the surreal nature of being in Suicidal Tendencies, working with Mike Patton in Dead Cross and his recent sit-in gig behind the kit with the house band on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Check out the chat below.
You’re busy as always, you’re in two bands now.
Yeah three bands now. Kind of two and a half because I don’t know if Misfits are going to get together anytime soon. But definitely two, Suicidal [Tendencies] and Dead Cross.
Slayer was obviously a band that brought elements of punk to metal. How does that familiarity with punk benefit you now playing with Suicidal Tendencies and with what you did with Misfits?
Suicidal music wasn’t foreign to me. We were listening to Suicidal and going to their shows in ’82 when they were playing the Concert Factory out in Orange County. Being familiar with that kind of music and then of course, Slayer and the evolution of Slayer. I was still listening to punk at that time. Now I’m back with Suicidal now, it’s kind of weird. It’s surreal because of the music.
I remember listening to the music at a young age and singing along to it. Just that energy, I just fell in love with the energy that punk had. Now it’s just come full circle and it’s very comfortable. I feel at home. I sing along while I’m playing drums on stage. I’m singing along and sometimes my mind will travel and go to the past.
Let’s say I’m in a van traveling with Slayer going to San Fran or whatever and [Jeff] Hanneman is in the front seat. I’m driving and we’re listening to Suicidal and trading off lyrics. Those memories go through my mind. It’s a positive thing. I love it. I love being in the band. Mike [Muir] is amazing.
He’s very excited to have you.
He is and he’s definitely appreciative and I appreciate him asking me to be in the band. It was a no-brainer. It was, yes.
Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies sort of came up not far from each other, right around the same time. What parallels have you noticed about both bands now that you’re part of Suicidal Tendencies?
Well the drumming of course. The energy. The attitude is there. Those are the parallels. I learned from listening to those albums, so they’ve inspired me. And I’m sure visa versa, because they were listening to Slayer as well because Rocky George, the original guitar player, he was Jeff Hanneman’s best friend. So these two have admired each other’s playing as they were growing up, at least in the early days. It’s amazing, surreal. My life is really weird, it’s taken left turns, right turns … I’m on the roller coaster at times, don’t know what’s coming at me. But I’m really happy where I’m at now, especially with Suicidal.
Dave, the bands and projects that you’ve played in throughout your career have been pretty diverse. What’s constant about your playing no matter what type of music it is?
I’m eager to be as different as possible. I want to venture off in as many different styles of music as possible because my iPod is — it’s the genres. It’s like, “What kind of music do you listen to, Dave?” Well, why don’t you ask me what genres I listen to because there are so many and then so many bands that I listen to within those genres. So I think listening to many different styles of music has given me the drive or just this want of wanting to be different. Just wanting to do different music. I get bored sometimes doing the same thing. I get really impatient and I always want to challenge myself. So to create a balance, that’s why I’m in many different bands, because it kind of helps my music ventures.
Going back to your tastes in music. Tell us about those different genres that you’re into.
Wow, I’ll start with my iPod. It’ll start with — I’ll listen to R&B, soul, funk, that’s in that genre. Even some rap. Then I’ll go off into — obviously I have some metal. I like ambient music. I love electronic music. Electronica. It’s just wide. Latin jazz. I listen to a lot of jazz, I listen to classical. I was listening to [Sergei] Rachmaninoff the other day and I just sat there and was just engulfed by this pianist that was just blowing me away. The phrasing, the emotion and the music. It can be angry or it can be sad.
So many different styles of music, different genres of music have so much to offer, at least to me personally because I can pick up on these little nuances. And then I’ll express them through my drumming and even though a musician will say, “Well you really can’t express yourself through drums. It’s an instrument that you hit.”
So there’s really no musical quality or not quality or musical element in drumming, but I find musicality in drumming. So I think that It makes me a little different, is that I find these other styles of music and I incorporate them into my own and it just makes me, me. [laughs]
Recently you sat in with the house band at Late Night with Seth Meyers.
What’s similar about playing a TV residency and being on tour?
Wow. What was cool about the whole Seth Meyers and NBC Studios was I got to sit — I mean I got to stay at The Hilton, which is down the street and every day at noon [it was] get up, get my coat, walk to NBC. I felt like a businessman. I show up there and we rehearsed some of the songs. We wrote all the music that afternoon and then performed it that evening, which was really challenging, it was awesome.
The most challenging part of being on that show were the cues. That’s why you saw me, if you saw the show, I was wearing my glasses because from a distance — I’m nearsighted. I can’t see. So I had to wear my glasses and I had to watch the stage manager to give me the cues. 5,4,3,2,1 and at the drop of his finger I had to close out the song. I had to cue the band.
Whenever a guest would walk out, let’s say Seth Meyers — he’ll introduce the guest, they’ll walk out so applause, applause, applause and they’re walking. And when they walk up on to the stage and sit down, I have to cue the outro as they’re sitting down because it has to end. So everything is on cue. I’m familiar with cues because I’ve worked with [Mike] Patton and Patton and I, we worked a lot with cues. He would cue me at some points with the Fantomas music that we had to perform. Also, working with John Zorn. So cues were familiar. It was easy and it was a lot of fun. I would probably do something like that later in life when maybe touring isn’t what I enjoy.
Go back for a second, you talked about working with Patton and John Zorn. I remember seeing a tour many years ago with those guys and I was like, oh maybe they’ll do Mr. Bungle or something.
I think it was just billed as John Zorn and they basically did like animal sounds.
Oh yeah. That’s common. Screetchy — Knitting Factory, right?
900 years ago or something like that.
I don’t want to say I was disappointed because it was definitely an interesting and fun show, I guess I just didn’t really know what — this was pre-Internet times.
It’s experimental, so you have to be really open to what’s going on. I love experimental music, avant-garde music. I’m fascinated with avant-garde, just do be able to express yourself, do whatever you want musically. Don’t fall into a genre. Don’t fall into a category. Venture out.
I sometimes see bands very loyal to their 10k followers. No, we don’t want to change our style. It’s like, “Dude, you can make yourself a little better. Make the band better if you just step out of the box a little bit.” That’s one of the things I really admire in a lot of musicians. For example, like Zorn and Patton that — actually I think, I can consider them some of my biggest inspirations in being who I am, is those guys because they taught me that there [are] no limitations. When I first met Patton and Zorn, they taught me that, “Hey, there’s no boundaries here.” It’s like, “Wow.” I’ve always felt that but I never had an outlet and they gave me that outlet.”
We were talking earlier about your new record with Dead Cross, where you’ve got Mike Patton singing. I was lucky enough to get to hear a song or two off the air, Dave tell us what it’s like working with Mike Patton?
Well we haven’t really worked together except through emails, [laughs]. What we did was, we had all the music recorded; we recorded it early last year and then of course the opportunity came up to look for a new singer. We really didn’t have to work together, we just sent Patton the music and he recorded everything himself. But there was a lot of emails going back and forth between us, a lot of communication.
That’s really exciting. Is there going to be touring with that band?
Yes. I am very excited. I didn’t know that that was going to happen. We didn’t know if we were going to do any touring or if it was just an album that we put out but no, Mike is into it. He’s really excited.
Your playing has influenced a lot of other drummers and inspired them to play. What’s the one thing you hope someone takes from studying the way you play?
The fearlessness. When I go up onstage, I just let it out and it’s coming from my soul. Instead of a drummer going out there and performing and being very … you have to really think about it and they’re focused on every single hit or every rhythm. Don’t think about it, just do it and just let it come from the inside instead of from your mind because sometimes when you play from the mind it’s very sterile and mechanical. When you play from the soul, you feel it more. It translates to the people, that’s what I feel. I feel like you translate it a little better.
You’ve got this Dead Cross record that’s coming. Tell us about a timeline with your upcoming projects.
I’m touring with Suicidal throughout the summer and then I hope to release the Dead Cross album. We’ll have a date very soon. It’s gonna be maybe some time between July and September and then possibly some shows with Dead Cross late, very late summer into fall. That’s pretty much it and some sporadic tours here and there. Sparse, different areas for the rest of the year. We’re gonna be working loose, Dead Cross will be working close with Suicidal in working out schedules so there won’t be any conflicts.
Thanks to Dave Lombardo for the interview. Follow Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Cross and the Misfits all on Facebook to stay up to date with each group. And find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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