Enlarge Photo credit: Ekaterina Gorbacheva

Dave Lombardo Fought Boredom Behind the Kit By Trying to “Stump the Guitar Players”


Being part of one of the most important metal bands of all time has to have its ups and downs. Sure, you’re treated with reverence wherever you go and you’ve got throngs of fans all over the world, but you’ve gotta play the same shit over and over each night for 10, 20, even 30 or more years. At some point, it’s all gotta be tiring.

For former Slayer, former Testament, current Mr. Bungle/Suicidal Tendencies/Misfits drummer Dave Lombardo, the boredom that comes from playing “Angel of Death” for the billionth time was real. Yet during a recent interview with Conan Neutron’s Protonic Reversal podcast, the rhythm master said he used to combat the drumming doldrums by improvising new fills and slight alterations to some of the most iconic songs to play on the instrument.

“It was difficult to change the Slayer path. They really liked their niche market, and they didn’t wanna stray too much. But in a live sense, I was able to be free when it came to some of the drum rolls and some of the changes. I used to throw the guys in the band for a loop when I would create a really bizarre drum roll. And it makes them turn around [and go], ‘What the fuck is that?’ And then I land on the ‘one.’ It’s, like, ‘There it is.’

“But I was getting creative, I think, because I knew the music so well. And so there was room for me to fuck around. It’s, like, ‘Why didn’t I play this drum part when I recorded the album? It would have been so much better.’ After you played something for so long…

“I read once that Mick Jagger said, ‘God, I wish we would have written that song ‘Satisfaction’ a little better if I knew we were gonna play it for [almost 60] years.’ I was going through a little bit of the same thing with my own drum parts. ‘Ah, I’m gonna do this.’ ‘Oh, that double-bass section in ‘Angel Of Death’. You know what? I’m gonna extend it a little longer.’ Or ‘I’m gonna add a snare roll in the middle of it.’ So I was just having fun with it.

“And it was because I was, I guess, seasoned from the musicians I was working with in the past. And that kind of helped, I think — helped me personally — to enjoy the moments on stage. Because when you are on tour and playing the same songs month after month, year after year, it becomes a little redundant. So that kind of helped me entertain myself on stage, to see if I could stump the guitar players, if I could mess with them.”

I can’t imagine trying to keep up with Lombardo, let alone having to adjust to whatever crazy shenanigans he’s got going on just to keep his sanity in tact.

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