Dave Lombardo is well-known as the aggressive force behind the drums in one of the biggest thrash metal bands in the world. His solid 25 year+ career has seen him playing in not only Slayer, but also Grip Inc., Fantômas (with Faith No More’s Mike Patton), and on numerous collaborative recordings with everyone from Testament to Apocalyptica to DJ Spooky. Now he unveils his latest project, his new band Philm.
Featuring the unique sounds of guitarist-vocalist Gerry Nestler and War bassist (the superbly talented) Pancho Tomaselli, Philm is a new and different direction for Lombardo. Philm sees the ‘Godfather of double bass’ getting experimental – and losing the double bass. Press Pass LA sat down with Dave on the night of Philm’s packed out CD release show at the infamous Viper Room. We found out what he had to say about recording debut album Harmonic, style differences between Slayer and Philm, and what it’s like playing with the two bands.
PPLA: Tell me what we can expect tonight at the show?
DAVE: We’re going to try to do the entire new Philm record Harmonic on stage tonight…well actually we are, but we’re going to leave a lot of room and space for improvising. So, there’s going to be parts that are going to be played tonight that really aren’t on the record. It’s new and something that people haven’t heard before.
PPLA: Can you tell me a bit about the album, what was involved with the process for recording Harmonic?
DAVE: Well we were doing a bunch of demos and you know, trying to shop it, to shop the band. But we really didn’t get anywhere or get something that we were happy with, so I got tired of running into these brick walls. I said, ‘you know what guys, let’s just record the freaking record ourselves.’ So I asked this girl if we could use her house. It was a room in the center of her house and she liked to play music in there, to play guitar and sing. I said ‘wow this room is really cool.’ It had a tile floor, stucco walls, and a wood ceiling. It was kind of reminiscent of the room in Hagen, Germany at this place called The Woodhouse where I recorded all the Grip Inc. records in the mid 90s. So it was reminiscent of that room, and I knew our drums would sound really good in that room. So she said ‘go ahead’ and we set everything up and just started recording all the songs that we had. This is what we got.
PPLA: And how would you describe the album exactly?
DAVE: It’s like…it’s punk, it’s like extreme rock, it’s not extreme metal or thrash metal or anything like that… it’s just extreme rock. It stops at a certain place and it doesn’t go any further. So it’s that extreme rock, kind of punk, ambient, psychedelic, jazz funk, funkadelic kind of funkadelic punk…there it is, that’s it!
PPLA: How does this album fit in with playing with Slayer which is at almost the opposite end of the spectrum. Say if you have a Slayer rehearsal one day and a Philm rehearsal the next day, does that feel like two polar opposites for you?
DAVE: I do actually, not one day and then the other; I do it on the same day. I practice in the afternoon with Slayer- Kerry (King) and I get together at twelve, one o ‘clock in the afternoon and I’ll stay there until about three. Then I’ll drive home at four, these guys (Philm) will get here around five thirty, we hang out, drink a little coffee, smoke a little bit, then we go and play.
PPLA: It doesn’t feel like a shift for you? It’s just all music to you?
DAVE: No, there is a shift, it’s really big, a really big shift. Slayer is very mechanical, this has a lot of groove and funk; it has soul, you know. It has a lot of dynamics.
PPLA: Is Philm something that you had been wanting to do for a while, to explore this kind of music? Or was it something that just sort of came about?
DAVE: Absolutely. I want people to know that there’s a lot more to my playing than what they know me for so I’m just always trying new things and trying new styles. I keep trying to recreate myself instead of doing the same thing all the time. I always try and change it up a little.
PPLA: Does that transfer over to your playing with Slayer as well, or is that always just going to be a specific style?
DAVE: No that’s always going to be a specific style. Philm also has parameters and borders that we take on too. I’ll tell Gerry not to do the (imitates a quick thrash metal guitar riff) metal thing, so I tell him not to do that and I don’t have a double bass. It’s all single bass, so I can’t go there. So you know, that’s kind of what we do. Then in Slayer, you don’t do funky beats, so I don’t crossover and I don’t do swells and crescendos and things like that.
PPLA: Are you recording with Slayer right now or were you recently?
DAVE: I was. I recorded some songs for them and something is going to come out, sooner or later.
PPLA: Can you tell us more about what to expect or when we can expect that?
DAVE: I don’t know anything, all I know is that Kerry and Tom (Araya) are doing vocals this week. Because I’m working with Philm, they’re going to do vocals this week.
PPLA: What’s going to happen with Philm once Slayer gets going again with Mayhem Festival, a European tour, and everything else that’s going on?
DAVE: Philm is going to have to wait unless some agent or promoter says ‘hey come do a show here, you have a show in…’ let’s say for example Germany, or says, ‘we’ll bring Philm in and that way you guys play for us.’ You know, something like that… you never know. Either that or I’m just going to have to wait until I’m done with Slayer and then I’m going to kickstart Philm.
PPLA: You mentioned before that you were shopping demos and ended up going with Mike Patton’s label Ipecac Recordings. Was that an obvious choice considering your history (playing with him in Fantômas)?
DAVE: Well, I exhausted all other companies that I was interested in, that were also interested in the band. I exhausted all those avenues and then I said ‘Okay, I’m going to give it to Patton.’ Because I didn’t know if Patton was going to like it or not, I just didn’t know. I said, ‘You know what …let me give it to Patton and see what he says.’ And he loved it and you know what? It was the best decision that we made as a band, is taking it to him because his record company definitely caters to musicians like us. Musicians that are a little different, so it’s good.
After attending the launch for Philm’s new album Harmonic at the Viper Room, we are looking forward to hearing more of what ‘different’ sounds like.
Become a fan of Philm here.