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World Painted Slayer

Dave Lombardo, drummer with American thrash metallers Slayer speaks about why he loves their new album so much, why he’s looking forward to playing with Metallica, and why he thinks metal is in a good place

Bobin James May 10, 2010

As one of the Big Four of thrash and in the three decades that they have been causing badly bruised necks, Slayer have firmly established themselves as one of the most influential metal bands of all time. Starting from their rather prophetically named 1983 debut, Show No Mercy, to their tenth studio album released late last year, World Painted Blood, the band has mercilessly delivered riff after crushing riff, song after heavy song. Reign in Blood (1986), South of Heaven (1988) and Seasons in the Abyss (1990) are generally regarded as albums that define not just the band, but the entire genre of thrash. While on a forced break ”“ vocalist/bassist Tom Araya had to undergo surgery to tackle back pain brought on by years of headbanging ”“ drummer and founding member of Slayer spoke to us about the new album, hitting the road again this month and playing with Megadeth and Metallica.

Congratulations on a fantastic album out, Dave. I could hear a lot of Eighties thrash on ”˜World Painted Blood’”¦

Absolutely. I think that the producer has captured the real essence of the band. That’s why it sounds so, you know, very traditional thrash metal. It’s almost untouched by a producer going in there and changing it and making it sound like something else.

I believe for this record, you wrote in the studio as opposed to coming in with complete songs. Did that also change things?

I think so. I think that added the spontaneity and kept things pure. Also, because we were like, ”˜We gotta finish this record and we only have five songs.’ So we really didn’t have time to over-analyse the music. I think that also contributed to making it sound more raw and more pure.

How would you rate this album personally?

Personally, I think this one is up there with Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, easily”¦ It has that kind of feeling, you know, that makes it nostalgic, that makes it original.

One of my favourite tracks on the album happens to be ”˜Americon.’ It’s got this almost groove metal kind of feel to it”¦

Yeah, it’s a rock-y song, but it’s Slayer.

Yes, it’s unmistakably Slayer. But what would your favourite tracks be?

I like ”˜Beauty Through Order,’ I like ”˜Unit 731,’ I like ”˜World Painted Blood,’ I like ”˜Snuff,’ I like ”˜Americon,’ I like ”˜Hate Worldwide’”¦ That’s why this album I think is one of my favourite Slayer records, just because I like most of the songs.

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There seems to be some confusion about this. There’s some news about this being Slayer’s last album, and some others say that this is the first of a trilogy. What is the truth?

Okay, the truth is it is our last album but with Rick Rubin. Up until now they had the option, Rick Rubin and American Recordings had the option to sign us or let us go. So it’s our last record. So we don’t know yet, what’s going to happen.

Okay, but you’re not done recording yet”¦

Oh no, no way. No, Slayer is not done, nobody’s going into retirement. I mean, all those are rumours. It’s just a misunderstanding of something that [singer, bassist] Tom [Araya] said, basically.

Alright. So, how’s Tom now?

He’s doing a lot better, a lot better. He’s recovering really fast. He feels no pain like he did before. They got him fixed. Unfortunately we had to postpone shows but he’s feeling better and he’s taken care of. Better than something worse happening if he didn’t take off.

So when do you get on to the road again?

May 26th.

That would be before Sonisphere?

I think so. There’s some other shows first in Europe before we do Sonisphere.

But Sonisphere is the big one, with the Big Four of thrash on a single bill.

Hey, we should go to India playing that tour, hunh? Can you imagine Sonisphere in India?

That would be awesome! Honestly, there are not too many top international bands who have played here. Iron Maiden has been here thrice, and I do believe they were suitably impressed for them to really come back twice. Megadeth has been here, Machine Head has been here. But other than that, there aren’t really too many metal bands that come here. So yeah, something like Sonisphere happening would be a lot people’s wildest dreams come true”¦

Oh man! Yeah. But honest to god, man, that would be huge”¦

At Sonisphere, you have the Big Four of thrash on a single bill. You guys, Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax. Which makes it pretty much ”˜never been done before.’ Are you looking forward to it?

Yeah, very much”¦ I mean, we haven’t played with Metallica”¦ The last time Slayer was on stage with Metallica was when we played a club out in Orange County, California. Mustaine was in the band and Ron McGovney was in the band. We had fun with those players. You know we have played the same festivals, where we played the tent and they played the mainstage. And I don’t know if you know but I played in Metallica for two songs [at Download 2004]. [Metallica drummer] Lars [Ulrich] got sick and so you know, I played ”˜Battery’ and then I did ”˜Four Horsemen.’ So, we haven’t played really together; I think it is really exciting. I just texted Lars the other day and I told him, “Hey, I heard you were in Venezuela.” I told them to kick some ass for me. And I told them I couldn’t wait to start to hang out and jam. And he answered me right away. You know, there’s that great friendship going on there.

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Sure, sure”¦ But what about Megadeth?

Same”¦ There’s a great friendship. Dave Mustaine was on TV, on a show with Eddie Trunk, you know that show? And he said that it’s really unfortunate what happened to Tom, but Tom had to get well so that we could do these shows. He was very kind, very polite. I see a very positive tour happening. I still think we are all”¦ we know who we are and there’s no need for there to be any kind of problems, or attitude or anything like that..

Dave, do you see a sort of resurgence in thrash metal happening right now? There are a lot of old bands who are coming out with some fantastically strong albums and then there are some new bands which are really coming out with good thrash metal”¦

Well, maybe it’s time you know. Because, remember, metal had to go underground for a while. And maybe now it’s time for metal again. You know, I would embrace that. I think it’s great, I think it’s about time. Metal really has survived more than any other type of music. Metal has been around. You know, metal is pretty good [laughs].

Absolutely. You guys have three decades behind you and ten albums worth of songs. How do you really draw up a set list where you have 15-20 songs at max?

Kerry King does it, he is the one that puts together the setlist. And he figures, “Okay, we haven’t done this”¦” Basically, he throws ideas at us ”“ “Guys, what do you think about this song?” You know, it is a little difficult, when you have so many records, but you pick the best.

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