We talked to the legendary ex-Slayer drummer about how (and why) he formed a brand-new new hardcore punk band last week.
Photo courtesy of Dave Lombardo
Dave Lombardo's had an awfully busy week. After his band Philm decided to part ways just days before they were scheduled to depart on a short run of tour dates with Mexico's Descartes a Kant, he was faced with a difficult decision: either stand idly by and watch his friends lose out on time and money, or figure something out. Ever resourceful—and more than a little lucky—Lombardo went with the latter.
A chance meeting with producer Ross Robinson last week saw the storied former Slayer drummer cross paths with an old acquaintance, Justin Pearson, whom he knew from a previous tour with Fantomas and Pearson's old noise grind band, The Locust. As Lombardo told me over the phone earlier today, "Justin's guitar player from his new band, Retox, was there as well, so we caught up on some stories, and I told them the situation that I was in, and they were very excited to help and put something together and do these shows. Ross was really excited to see our camaraderie and enthusiasm, too, and said, 'When you guys get music together, come on in and let's record it. It's really a surprise to me how fast it all came together; it's mind-blowing, I couldn't believe it. We've been rehearsing now for three days, writing music."
The new band—dubbed Dead Cross after the four members spent days batting ideas back and forth—features Lombardo on drums, Pearson on bass, Retox's Mike Crain on guitar, and vocalist Gabe Serbian, with whom Lombardo is particularly excited to work. "One of my favorite drummers, Gabe, is going to be singing in the band, which is really exciting for me, because I understand the importance of vocals and drum patterns. I believe that a lot of the melodies are going to be very syncopated to the drums—he’s definitely not going to have a problem following me, so I'm excited about that!"
Dead Cross is a punk band, first and foremost; they haven't recorded anything yet (bearing in mind that they literally formed a week ago), but according to Lombardo, it's going to be fast, mean, and ugly. "It's just straightforward brutal punk— metal-esque, but it's definitely not metal. I think it definitely leans more towards the punk style, because I feel that the way things are in the world, a punk attitude is definitely necessary to help you along with the shit that's going on. There’s no time to sing "We Are the World," or all this bullshit, we’re all pissed right now, and there’s no better way to release anger than to be in a punk band and write punk music."
Politics aside, Lombardo is especially pleased to be playing back at punk speed. "I’m excited to play fast! I was playing fast in my previous band, but there were still other grooves we were tapping into. This is an onslaught of music—something my body is a little more used to than some of the groovy, more laid back songs. This is the kind of music I thrive in. It's like a vitamin. I come home after rehearsal and I'm charged; it can be 11 o'clock at night, and I'm just full of energy.
"This is something I'm really looking forward to, and I'm glad i was able to save these tour dates for Descartes a Kant. They're coming in from Mexico to do these shows, and when my previous band said that they couldn't do it, my heart was broken. I was like, no, these guys paid for tickets, I have to pull something together; I couldn't see them losing out on their flights and cancelling this whole thing, and now, from what I hear they're more excited than they were before, because they're fans of the bands these guys are a part of—The Locust, Retox, Zu, the list goes on—and I'm a fan too, so I'm just really happy I was able to save this for these kids."
For now, Dead Cross is purely a live entity, and will be playing its first shows early next month at The Roxy Theatre on December 2nd, and at The Glass House Concert Hall on December 3rd. Lombardo swears that this is just the beginning, though, and it's certainly not the last we've heard of this new project. "I don't know exactly when we’ll be able to release anything, but I'd love to get something out by the end of the year, two single,s just to release something, and then do a full-length next year. The level of musicianship we have is very high, so I don't think it'll be too much of a problem to create music and put something out. These guys are driven like I am. I've learned a lot from being in this industry, and sometimes it's a lot better when you grab the bull by the horns yourself and don't wait around for other people."
"I'm excited to see how it's going to turn out. With some bands, when you call, you don't get a response; you text, you don't hear back. It's a very immature way of working, especially when you take music and a band as seriously as I do; I have no time for laziness or downright unprofessional musicians. Enthusiasm in the members is very important, and [with Dead Cross] everyone's here; when I text the guys, I get responses right away. One door closes, five doors open, not only with this band but there's been a lot of other things in the works right now that have surprised the heck out of me. From one day to another things change for the better, so, we’ll see!"
Kim Kelly is an editor at Noisey; follow her on Twitter.