Slayer: An Interview with Dave Lombardo

So I decided to pull this little gem out of the antique interviews bag in honor of all the sweet metal tours taking place this summer, including Dethklok playing SD this Sunday (Mike Keneally has a rad blog about playing with my favorite cartoon death metal b(r)and from the future on his myspace).

This is also one of my most favorite interviews, which is almost always the case with drummers, who are the most interesting people to interview in the band.  Lombardo is a legend and a cool MFR he even told the labels publicity chick to shut up when she interrupted our phone interview, granting me another few minutes.

Slayer of course, will be spending the summer abroad, touring places that make our little summer festivals look like bitches. They’re doing a co-headlining gig at Hellfest with Motorhead!

Summer is the season for metal \m/\m/

Check out the ridiculous drum solo at the end of the article.



dave lombardo

Slayer’s Dave Lombardo 20 Years of Innovation

Dave Lombardo was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1965, then moved to America several years later and settled in Los Angeles, CA. He was the youngest of four children, and his siblings were part of some of his earliest memories of music: “I remember sitting in front of the TV watching a Tarzan movie, and there was a lot of percussion in the soundtrack, and I remember getting my toy drum and cymbal, one of those Toys ‘R’ Us drum sets that had the spring lugs, you know? And I had put the symbol on top of the drums, kind of improvising-like. I don’t know what I was doing then. Then there is also my brother listening to music when he came home from work. He would listen to Cream and Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin, and this was probably when I was in kindergarten or first grade. Those are my first recollections of music.”

Dave’s love affair with percussion began in his formative years as a student at a Catholic school in Southgate, CA. In third grade, he had brought in a set of bongos and a Santana record and played along with the record during in front of the whole class for show and tell. His father noticed his sons persistent interest in the drums and, according to Dave, “Around fifth grade I got my first kit. It was a little five-piece Maxwin by Pearl Drums. I think I bought it for about $350 and then sold it for about $300 when I got into ninth grade. Then I bought a bigger kit.”

Dave taught himself how to play “100,000 Years” from the KISS Alive record and impressed his peers by knowing the solo to the song. Dave was always a fan of Led Zeppelin and says, “I was very aware of Led Zeppelin but exposing myself to the record Led Zeppelin II showed me a side of music that I wasn’t too familiar with-The Blues. John Bonham played with so much emotion that I felt I learned that element and took it with me through my career. Later I learned this was crescendos and decrescendos.”

He added, “My brother played drums, there was music in the house, and my parents were socialites. So I was kind of exposed to the social aspects of music. Cuban music has a lot of percussion and a lot of very bizarre rhythms and stuff that most musicians these days would not be able to comprehend, but I understood it at a young age, and I watched bands play those rhythms-the conga players and timbale players. So I kind of thrived on watching these musicians play, and they were sweating and really getting into it. The passion they played with is what intrigued me.”

Passion in life and music is a trait that pours out of Dave. Contrary to what many of the cognoscente might think, his taste in music is broad. As a youngster, Dave not only listened to rock music, he also listened to disco, buying 45 singles and listening to The King Biscuit Flower Hour on the radio. He was even a part of the “A Touch of Class” mobile disc jockey team. Dave is a worldly player, so it’s no coincidence he was intrigued by Ry Cooder’s CD, The Buena Vista Social Club, and Wim Wenders subsequent documentary of the same name, which profiled the club and its music. “It was phenomenal. My whole thing on that is that they got back to those musicians that started that thing and they documented it, and if they hadn’t, those musicians would have died and no one would have known about it.”

As an innovator, Dave did most of his craftwork in Slayer and met Kerry King who lived up the street from him. But his chops weren’t always machine-gun fast. His dream was always to be in a band, and he started in school band like most of his contemporaries. “I was in school band for about half of a school year, and I never made it to any of the shows, but I was still in band and all I played was marching drum. I think I had a couple of lessons, but I got really bored with it because they were showing me all these paradiddles and all this stuff, but I felt like-with listening to music-I got a lot more out of listening and mimicking the musicians than reading bars and notes out of a book.

Because my whole goal was to be in a band and I found that through learning these notes and everything at that time, I was like, ‘no way I could learn a lot more listening to this guy than learning from this book and this guy over here.’ But later on in time I felt like I should’ve gone that direction because I would’ve learned a lot more. I would have been way ahead of the game, and I wouldn’t have been left with having to learn so much later on in life. I should’ve continued my schooling. Then, what can you do? A totally different drummer would have evolved out of that training.”

Some of Dave’s other influences (besides his early affection for the music of his birthplace) are, “John Bonham and then Ginger Baker from Cream, but what I was really drawn to was bands as a whole and what the drummer’s contribution was to the band and what the band’s sound was. Instead of just saying, ‘oh I like this drummer or I like that drummer,’ I was more into the musical entity of the whole band and what the drummer contributed to that that attracted me.”

In 1983, a fledgling label called Metal Blade released an album called Show No Mercy by a Los Angeles-based band that had decided on the ominous moniker, Slayer. Ten years would pass, as Dave would go on to record and tour with one of the heaviest and most influential bands in heavy metal. From their days wearing makeup during the Show No Mercy/Live Undead/Hell Awaits days to their stellar work with producer Rick Rubin (Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss), Dave has consistently challenged himself and his fans with his remarkable speed and technique.

Dave’s legacy is living on, not only with his work in Mike Patton’s (Faith No More) Fantomas with Buzz Osborne (Melvins) and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle), but also with his two sons, who are at the heart of everything he does. Fortunately for them, they have better resources to express themselves with. “I got two boys that are in school, and they do have a music program. They go to Discovery School of the Arts. Piano lab, drama courses-it’s great because I never had that when I was growing up.”

Dave is back with Slayer after several years of hiatus playing in his aforementioned projects, and the band is currently playing club dates with Hatebreed and Lamb of God. According to his tour mates and himself, they are “making the opening acts work harder!”

Dave also says as a reminder, “Songwriting is vital! Vital! Everyone is a singular artist but it’s the chemistry of the four that makes it work.”

For more on Dave Lombardo, please visit

For more on Slayer and their latest comprehensive release, Soundtrack to the Apocalypse, please visit

For more information on Fantomas, please visit



For more information on the Buena Vista Social Club, please visit








AFI: An Interview with Adam Carson

AFI band picAFI began humbly, fumbling around playing what they could wrest from their teenaged musical imaginations in an Ukiah, California basement. Vocalist Davey Havok, drummer Adam Carson, bassist Hunterand guitarist Jade Puget, who later joined the band for their breakthrough record Black Sails.

The band spent the better part of the ’90s touring endlessly, playing for small crowds that have grown from dive bar punk club sizes to arenas. The group also had a regular stint on the main stage at the Vans Warped Tour. Their 2003 DreamWorks Records debut, Sing The Sorrow, helped the band see their first taste of the mainstream, without sacrificing their signature sound or ostracizing any of their die-hard fans. Their music transcends genre lines, and the clearest ne plus ultra lies in the roots of rock ’n’ roll with hints of ’80s hardcore punk, Goth and an impeccable talent for crafting catchy, anthemic sing-along tunes.

Recently, drummer Adam Carson took some time out of his day to answer some questions for

SR: What’s your first recollection of music, and how do you remember it affecting you and your decision to play?

Adam: I started listening to music at a really early age. I remember having a small collection of 45s as early as age 3 or 4. My parents considered it educational to be exposed to art and music, so once every week or so they’d take my sister and I to the record store and let us buy a record or 45. When I was 8 or 9, I came home from the record store with Def Leppard Pyromania, as well as a poster of them performing live. I remember listening to the record and looking at the poster on my wall and thinking that being in a rock band must be the best thing ever.

SR: When did you first start playing drums, and how did you convince your parents that it would be a good thing?

Adam: My folks have told me that I used to drag all the pots and pans out of the kitchen and assembled them into a drum set in the living room, but I don’t really remember that. My dad was a drummer in the ’60s and early ’70s but sold his drum set before I was born, so when I started to play drums he was really supportive and no convincing was necessary. I think I was in the seventh grade when I got my first drum set. I played for a year or so and then inexplicably I stopped. In high school, we formed AFI. I was 16. I became the drummer because I owned a kit.

SR: Were you involved in school music? If not, why? And how do you feel about the fact that music programs are being cut by 60 percent in public schools every year?

Adam: I was in the school band in sixth and seventh grade. I played the drums (surprise, surprise) and had hot pink drumsticks and thought I was totally rad. I thought because I owned a drum set and could play a rock beat that I knew everything there was to know. I got sent to the office a lot for messing around with the trombone players, and when we had substitutes I organized mass switching of instruments by the class. I think I ended up with a tuba at one point. I kind of wish I had paid more attention because I can’t read music and know very little about scales and that type of thing. I quit band when the teacher called me a flake. I think he was pissed because I didn’t want to join marching band, and I was pissed because he turned me down for jazz band and they had a drum kit. Even though I was a screw-up, I think being in the school band was educational and affected me positively. I think school districts that cut music programs are letting their students down and depriving them of a healthy, educational and mind-expanding experience.

SR: How did you meet [singer] Davey?

Adam: We were on a soccer team together in the fifth grade, but we weren’t friends because he was a “St. Mary’s Fairy” and I went to Oak Manor. We became friends in high school.

SR: What was the first AFI practice like? How quickly did you realize that there was a chemistry there between the members, and how did that change with the addition of [guitarist] Jade for what is often considered your breakthrough album, Black Sails?

Adam: The first practice was pretty funny because no one knew how to play at all. I remember my dad was in the garage and spent like an hour trying to get the bass and guitar in tune. We didn’t even know how to tune anything. I think we tried to play Angry Samoans and Germs covers. There really wasn’t any chemistry at that time—it came a little later. Jade really changed the band for the better. At the time, Hunter had only been in the band for a year or so, and he and I were still learning how to play together, and Mark was in the process of leaving the band and didn’t really have his heart in it anymore. When Jade joined, he brought this new energy and willingness to explore music. In a way it was a rebirth for the band.

SR: What are some things, either musically or outside your profession, that inspire you to consistently challenge yourself and to keep your voice unique in a seemingly democratic band?

Adam: It’s really important to me to show growth on every record. I think if you listen to our records chronologically you can hear the evolution of my playing. My daydream is for someone someday to hear my playing and be able to tell that it’s me. Kind of the same way I can tell if a song is by Green Day or Zeppelin by the way the drums sound. That is always a motivation.

SR: What does the writing process for AFI consist of? Is there any “set” way of writing, or is it an organic and spontaneous process—or even more refined than that?

Adam: It varies song to song, but traditionally Jade will come up with a loose thread or idea or riff and he and Davey will get together to construct melodies. When they feel like they have something worth working on, the entire band will come together and work on it. Along the way things are smoothed out, sometimes rearranged, and transitions are created. Sometimes things just jell immediately—sometimes it takes a little work. Oftentimes, we throw songs away because they’re just not working.

SR: How has your recording process changed and evolved over the years from the first 7″ to the last record? What have you learned as a drummer as far as sounds you want to hear in the mix, and how has that affected your live playing?

Adam: The most obvious difference in how I record nowadays as opposed to when we first started is simply the amount of time I can spend tracking. Our first 7″ and albums were recorded with such a limited budget I scarcely had time to redo anything. Basically if I made it from one end of the song to the other, we kept it. This had an effect on my playing in that if the take was feeling especially good, I would subconsciously censor myself towards the end because I didn’t want to mess up a good take by flubbing a complicated roll. Now I can spend the time making sure that all the fills are there, that the track has a good pocket and that all the transitions are good. Also, I’ve become a bit more particular in the way the drums sound and can alter the sounds from song to song and sometimes within a single song. I guess all this has affected my playing live in that I have far more to live up to and reproduce onstage.

SR: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a drummer? It could be anything from the smallest rudiment, maintenance and throne height type of thing to the larger, more practical type of life lesson.

Adam: From a technical standpoint, I’d say to just keep your back straight and play relaxed. If something hurts the next day, try to analyze where the stress is coming from and change your set-up. Drumming is pretty physical and I’ve been doing it for 13 or 14 years and want to continue to do it for the rest of my life, so I’m hyper-aware of it. Also, it’s important to remember that drums have a million different voices, and there is no wrong way to play them.

SR: AFI is known for its very close-knit relationship inside of the band, which can also translate into the personal and positive attachment your fans have to the band itself. With such a lengthy existence in a world that once scoffed at ‘punk rock’ music, do you feel that your success is validating? Does it make a difference to you in how well you play and how you are perceived as a musician/drummer?

Adam: I don’t worry about validation too much. I think we’re a decent band and we’ve already accomplished so much more than I ever thought possible, so I think we’ve proven ourselves to the world. I take my responsibilities pretty seriously. I always try to play as best I can. I also try to enjoy myself as much as possible because if you don’t enjoy it, there’s no point doing it. I should probably practice more or whatever. I hope that people remember me as a decent drummer, but I’m not vain enough to think about it too long.

SR: Any advice for the kids out there banging on their desks with their hands, thinking about purchasing that first kit?

Adam: Get that kit. Drumming is one of the few things I truly love to do. Interests come and go, but I’m still as excited by drumming as when I first started.

Thanks Adam!!!

For more on AFI including tour info, please visit