||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2015)|
Lombardo in 2009
|Birth name||David Lombardo|
February 16, 1965 |
|Genres||Thrash metal, speed metal, heavy metal, death metal, groove metal, avant-garde metal|
|Associated acts||Slayer, PHILM, Grip Inc., Fantômas, Testament, Apocalyptica, Voodoocult|
David "Dave" Lombardo (born February 16, 1965, in Havana, Cuba) is a Cuban American drummer and a co-founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer. He performed with Slayer on seven albums, including their groundbreaking 1986 release Reign in Blood and their 2006 release Christ Illusion, for which he received critical praise. Lombardo's music career has spanned more than 30 years, during which he has been involved in the production of 35 commercial recordings extending over a number of genres with bands such as Grip Inc., Fantômas, Philm, and Testament in addition to Slayer.
Lombardo is most widely known as a very aggressive, phenomenal and exceptionally skilled heavy metal drummer. His use of the drums have been called "astonishingly innovative" and earned him the title "the godfather of double bass" from Drummer World. Over his career, he has had a significant influence on the metal scene and has inspired many modern metal drummers, particularly within both thrash metal and death metal.
Lombardo was born in Havana, Cuba on February 16, 1965 (Lombardo has two older brothers and an older sister, and his father owned three meat markets in Havana at the time). When he was two years old, his family moved to South Gate, California, although his brothers had arrived to the US early, via Operation Peter Pan. His musical interest was fueled immediately following his first musical performance at the age of 8; playing bongos to Santana's, "Everybody's Everything". He then joined the school band where he played the marching drum. Lombardo's father noticed his persistent interest in music at age ten and bought him a five-piece Maxwin drum set for $350. Immediately following Lombardo purchased his first record, Alive! by Kiss, to play along to. He taught himself the song "100,000 Years" by listening to the record repeatedly until he was able to play the drum solo perfectly.
With his newly discovered hobby, Lombardo asked his parents for drum lessons. His parents consented, however, the lessons lasted only one week. Lombardo quickly bored of the repetitiveness, the lessons not progressing fast enough to challenge his already unique capabilities. After leaving music lessons, Lombardo's friends exposed him to the disco genre, which appealed to his affinity for Funk, Latin and Soul. He soon became a temporary DJ for a mobile disc jockey under the name of, A Touch of Class. Not impressed with his arriving home at 4:00am most nights, his parents threatened to put him in a military school if he didn't quit. The transitory gig ceased soon after.
In 1978, Lombardo returned to playing rock music, soon befriending several like minded musicians around South Gate. Graduating from private school in eighth grade, Lombardo moved to Pius X High School. He signed up to the school talent show and performed Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" with a guitarist named Peter Fashing. "I'll never forget the roar of the crowd during the drum solo. We brought the house down," states Lombardo, who became known as "David the drummer" the following day. Soon after, Lombardo formed a band (Escape) with two guitarists. Transferring to South Gate High School in 1979, he found a vocalist to join the band. The band performed at several events under the name Sabotage, but were unsuccessful in making an impact.
Lombardo's parents, noticing his withdrawal from everything except music, convinced him to quit the band, focus on school and find a job. Knowing her son was set on pursuing a life on the stage rather than college, Mrs. Lombardo requested that at the very least, he should complete high school. Lombardo honored his mother's wish, graduating from South Gate High School in June 1983. Immediately following, Lombardo was recommended by his Technical Drafting teacher to Diesel Energy Systems Company. Impressed with his skill, they hired him on the spot. However, by this time the young Lombardo's musical career was about to take off irreversibly and lead him to leave an indelible mark on the history books of heavy metal drumming.
At the age of 16, Lombardo's friends from the Huntington Park, California based band Sinister told him about a guitar player who lived a few blocks away. Lombardo dropped by Kerry King's house to meet him. He introduced himself, mentioned he played drums and that he wanted to start a band. The pair agreed to jam and King proceeded to show Lombardo his guitar collection later that night. The two quickly realized they shared some of the same musical interests. King and Lombardo rehearsed in Lombardo's garage several times. King then introduced the drummer to another guitarist named Jeff Hanneman. The three rehearsed several times and soon decided they needed a singer and bass player. King had earlier played with Tom Araya in a band called Quits and decided to introduce Lombardo and Hanneman to him.
With Slayer's line-up now complete, Lombardo stabbed out the now iconic logo and the band began to develop their groundbreaking sound. Soon after, Slayer recorded their debut album Show No Mercy. In an effort to take the band to another level, Lombardo enlisted legendary producer Rick Rubin for their sophomore album which resulted in one of the best metal albums of our time. During the tour to promote their 1986 album Reign in Blood, Lombardo left the band stating "I wasn't making any money. I figured if we were gonna be doing this professionally, on a major label, I wanted my rent and utilities paid." The band enlisted Tony Scaglione of Whiplash as his replacement. Unhappy with the change, producer Rick Rubin repeatedly called Lombardo asking him to return. After refusing several times, he finally relented and decided to return in 1987. Lombardo recorded drums on the Slayer albums South of Heaven (1988) and Seasons in the Abyss (1990), then parted ways with the band again in 1992. Lombardo's decision to leave Slayer was due to his desire to witness the birth of his first child. The drummer gave the band members the full nine months notice of the pregnancy, stating he would be unable to tour the last two weeks of September. He soon received a phone call from manager, Rick Sales, stating that they were booking a festival in September regardless. Lombardo stood firm in his decision, reiterating he would not miss this paramount moment in his life.
In 2001, ten years after departing from Slayer, Lombardo received a phone call from the band asking if he would like to perform a few shows. While Slayer guitarist Hanneman was eager for him to return, King did not think of Lombardo as a candidate and believed Lombardo would not be able to perform to a satisfactory level. However, King was "blown away" by Lombardo's performance in rehearsals, stating "he's got the feet and he's got the hands, he's not missing a step." Slayer needed a drummer to replace Paul Bostaph, who left the band because of a chronic elbow injury.
Lombardo decided to resume drumming duties. His first show was at Toad's Place in New Haven, Connecticut on January 24, 2002. At the beginning of the band's show at The 7 Flags Event Center near Des Moines, Iowa on February 2, 2002, vocalist Tom Araya welcomed the return of Dave Lombardo, as well as dedicating the show to Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff, who had died earlier that day. Lombardo toured with Slayer as part of Ozzfest, H82k2, Summer Tour, and the 2004 Download Festival. While preparing for the Download Festival in England, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was hospitalized for a mysterious illness. Metallica's vocalist James Hetfield searched for volunteers to replace Ulrich; Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison and Lombardo volunteered. Lombardo performed the songs "Battery" and "The Four Horsemen", while Jordison performed the rest of the songs.
Lombardo recorded drums on Slayer's 2006 release Christ Illusion, promoting the album on The Unholy Alliance tour. King asserted that Lombardo was a major attraction for the fans, and one of the reasons for their surge in popularity. King said he preferred Lombardo as the band's drummer, as did the other band members. Slayer bassist Tom Araya said, "It's kind of right back where we started. He's an amazing performer. We took off right where we left off, you know? It's like he was never gone. He's working with Kerry on his tunes. He's helped out a lot actually!"
Christ Illusion received generally favorable reviews and Lombardo's return was praised by critics. Chris Steffen of Rolling Stone asserted "Christ Illusion is God Hates Us All without the memorable riffs, at least their awesome drummer Dave Lombardo shows off some chops, particularly on the raging 'Supremist.'" Don Kaye of Blabbermouth gave the album a favorable review and praised Lombardo. Kaye wrote, "One thing's for sure: Lombardo's influence on this band is absolutely undeniable. He is simply essential to the Slayer sound. He is one of metal's all-around best drummers, perhaps the very best in the field of thrash/speed metal, and his power, style, and chops – not to mention his intangible chemistry with the rest of the group and those amazing flying feet – bring Slayer's overall performance, intensity and music to a higher level."
Following the birth of his first child in 1993, Lombardo formed Grip Inc. with Voodoocult guitarist Waldemar Sorychta. The pair recruited bassist Jason Viebrooks and vocalist Gus Chambers to complete the line-up, releasing their debut record in 1995. Entitled Power of Inner Strength, the album was distributed via California-based label Metal Blade Records. Prior to the album's release Lombardo described leaving Slayer as a career low, because he did not know what type of music to play. Allmusic reviewer Vincent Jeffries singled out Lombardo for praise on the album, remarking that Slayer fans "will enjoy the drummer's double bass work and overall aggression throughout the disc." Sorychta asserts critics and music fans always spot mistakes in their music, because of Lombardo's popularity with Slayer—they expect the band to sound like Slayer and complain. However, when Lombardo uses the double bass drum, Sorychta asserted people complain "now Grip Inc. sound exactly like Slayer."
The band released Nemesis in 1997; Jeffries praised Lombardo's "crushing drum work" which takes center stage on the album. Bassist Viebrooks left the band and was replaced by Stuart Carruthers in 1999. With a new bassist, the band released Solidify that same year, which was described as a step towards "progressive and exotic rhythms, structures, and instrumentations, while never compromising intensity" by Jeffries. Lombardo was once again praised for his drumming on the album by Jeffries, who stated his style is "expressive and technically excellent tom work on cuts like 'Bug Juice' and 'Lockdown.'" Lombardo is proud of Grip Inc. and believes it made him more creative as a musician.
In 1998, Lombardo joined a side project called Fantômas with Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton and Melvins' guitarist Buzz Osborne. The band formed when Lombardo attended a Faith No More concert and was approached by Patton concerning his "fusion" project (Grip Inc.). Several months later following the break-up of Faith No More, Lombardo received a phone call from Patton who asked if Lombardo would like to join his fusion project. Lombardo accepted and replied "Fuck yeah!"
Lombardo asserted it was the hardest music he has played, saying "Slayer doesn't even come close. Slayer was hard in a physical way, this is physically demanding and requires 'feeling'. (The kind of connectedness that demands) no clicking of sticks." The drummer described the sound of Fantômas by stating "if Picasso was a musician, this would be his music." Lombardo recorded four albums with the band.
It was announced in August 2014 that Fantômas was reuniting.
In 1999, on his constant quest to expand his horizon as a drummer, Lombardo collaborated with Italian classical musician Lorenzo Arruga to record Vivaldi – The Meeting. The seven-track album had drum improvisations on Vivaldi's work including two pieces from The Four Seasons composition. In 2000, Lombardo released a book titled Dave Lombardo:Power Grooves. The book and video contained warm ups, eight, sixteen, and double bass grooves, riding the toms and more.
The year 1999 also saw Lombardo perform drumwork on the Testament album The Gathering, rounding off a veritable "supergroup" with Steve DiGiorgio and James Murphy. He has appeared on two albums by John Zorn: Taboo and Exile (1999) and Xu Feng (2000) performing with Zorn, Bill Laswell, Fred Frith, William Winant and others. He also played in Paris with Zorn, Laswell and Frith in an improvisatonal quartet project called Blade Runner.
In 2005, Lombardo recorded Drums of Death with DJ Spooky. Spooky played some records with Lombardo playing along and interpreting his own rhythms. Spooky recorded the session and took the tapes to his New York recording studio, downloaded it onto his computer, and mixed the beats and drums incorporating scratching and other DJ techniques. Scott Peace-Miller of Glide Magazine noted, "Lombardo's influence is front and center in the driving, up tempo "Quantum Cyborg Drum Machine," and the almost straight-up thrash of Kultur Krieg."
Lombardo recorded six tracks with the Finnish cello metal group Apocalyptica on their 2003 album Reflections. Members of Apocalyptica had approached Lombardo in 1998 at a drum clinic in the Netherlands titled "Headbangers fest", and asked if Lombardo would like to do a duo with the band, which he agreed to. Both Lombardo and Apocalyptica enjoyed playing a duo and Lombardo said to Apocalyptica : "Whenever you need a drummer, call me!". The band sent the recording tapes of Reflections to his home studio in California where he recorded the drums. Lombardo's later Apocalyptica contributions have consisted of playing the drums for the track "Betrayal/Forgiveness" on the 2005 album Apocalyptica for the track "Last Hope" on the 2007 album Worlds Collide and for the track "2010" on the 2010 album 7th Symphony.
In October 2009, it was announced that he had recorded a cover of "Stand by Me", featuring Lemmy on vocals and bass, and produced by DJ and producer Baron. The song was made for legendary pro skateboarder Geoff Rowley.
In May 2012, Lombardo's new band, PHILM, released their debut album "Harmonic". Their highly anticipated second album, "Fire From The Evening Sun" was released in September 2014. "Fire From The Evening Sun" was met with critical praise, clearly illuminating Lombardo's fearless approach to innovation and exceptional affinity for genre-blurring. Both albums are produced by Lombardo.
In 2014, Lombardo firmly planted his feet in the world of television and film. Currently scoring a Disney pilot, his signature sound can also be found on many other recordings, such as the Season 7 soundtrack for Californication, Dawn of the Dead (2004), and Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015).
Style and legacy
Lombardo is known for his fast, aggressive style of play utilizing the double bass technique which has earned him the title "the godfather of double bass" by Drummerworld. Lombardo states his reasons for using two bass drums: "when you hit the bass drum the head is still resonating. When you hit it in the same place right after that you kinda get a 'slapback' from the bass drum head hitting the other pedal. You're not letting them breathe." And in his interview with guitar center in spring of 2012:"I don't like a double pedal because when the beater hits, I immediately come back with the other pedal. And that head is resonating, which creates a momentum that isn't helpful. It throws me off balance. With two bass drums, I don't have any problems. It's just a feel thing." When playing the double bass, Lombardo uses the 'heel-up' technique and places his pedals at an angle. As well as considering him an influence, Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson feels Lombardo is "really tasteful in his playing, and doesn't overplay. He's gifted with a groove that not many speed metal, or metal drummers generally, have."
In response to an interview question, "How talented is Dave Lombardo?" King responded, "Have you ever seen the movie The Natural? That's Dave. He doesn't have to try to be good. He comes into the venue 10 or 15 minutes before we hit the stage and he doesn't warm up. He just goes and does it, after me and Jeff [Hanneman, guitarist] have been warming up for like an hour." In an interview with Modern Drummer magazine, Lombardo has stated that when he plays drum beats on the bass drums, he always begins with his left foot.
Lombardo's work has been an influence on many rock and heavy metal drummers. Per Möller Jensen of The Haunted cites Lombardo as a major influence, having grown up listening to Slayer; the band was a big influence on his style and The Haunted's. Suffocation drummer Mike Smith also cites Lombardo as an influence. Rocky Gray, former member of the alternative metal band Evanescence was influenced by Lombardo's choice of equipment; "All those old school guys are all TAMA guys. Where I'm from, if you're in the big time, you get a TAMA drum set. You have to be good if you've got a TAMA set."
Richard Christy, former member of Death was "blown away" by Dave's performance and double bass on the album Reign in Blood, as was Cannibal Corpse drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz. Raymond Herrera of the band Fear Factory cites Lombardo as one of his major influences, as do Pete Sandoval (Morbid Angel), Igor Cavalera (Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy), Adrian Erlandsson (Paradise Lost, Cradle of Filth, Brujeria), Luke Cook (mortal sin, carbon black, killrazer), George Kollias (Nile, Nightfall), Joey Jordison (ex-Slipknot), Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork), Derek Roddy (Aurora Borealis, Nile, Hate Eternal), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob), James Sullivan (Avenged Sevenfold), Steve Asheim (Deicide), Michael "Moose" Thomas (Bullet for My Valentine), Tony Laureano (Dimmu Borgir, Nile, Angelcorpse, Malevolent Creation), Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, Burnt by the Sun, Black Army Jacket) and Max Kolesne (Krisiun). Patrick Grün of Caliban and Demonic GG Allin was inspired to play drums by Lombardo, while Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall was particularly inspired by Lombardo's double bass, utilizing double bass when starting his own music career.
Dave Lombardo is also a graphic artist, with his first "rhythm-on-canvas" collection available for audiences since November 2014. The first collection consists of thirteen works. They are released in cooperation with SceneFour.
Lombardo has been a user of Paiste cymbals since 1981, and has been an official endorsee since September 1987.
His current cymbal set-up, as of 2015, includes:
- 13" Signature Mega Cup Chime
- 18" 2002 Novo China
- 15" 2002 Sound Edge Hi-Hat
- 16" RUDE Crash/Ride
- 18" RUDE Crash/Ride
- 19" RUDE Crash/Ride
- 22" 2002 Power Ride
- 20" 2002 Novo China
- 18" Alpha Medium Swiss Crash
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- Dave Lombardo's art website
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