Thursday, February 2, 2012

Return of the King 10 Years later...2.1.2002

So how ya been?  I hope there are still some of you out there, truthfully I wouldn’t blame the lot of you for jumping ship, it’s been a long time since I last wrote anything.   I will sort of explain my hiatus in another entry, but for now I just wanted to see if I could still do this.  Still write, still convey passion and still really give a shit about all of this. 

In short, I’ve been through life’s wringer and I wasn’t sure what, if anything I was going to do with this place.  I actually had an “exit” thing in my head sort of planned out.  This blog has been a lot of things to me, mostly good and mostly gratifying.  However it’s also been a source of semi obsessive like behavior.  Like the magazine that preceded this, it was definitely an all consuming and at times became more important than “life” itself. 

But if I’m going to continue, which it looks like I am, I’m definitely going to take a different approach.  I’m so far behind on so many things I’ve wanted to write about.  Some are things that are near and dear to me, some are books, music, shows etc.  I will get to them eventually but for now I wanted to begin my journey back with some “comfort food” if you will.  

Thanks to ALL the emails, questions and suggestions since I last wrote, while I can’t get back to you all, I will try and knock out a few answers when I can.


It all started with a phone call.  Slayer was due to perform at the Madison Theater in Peoria, Illinois on the second leg of their ‘God Hates Us All’ Tour.  Now this wasn’t just going to be another Slayer gig, this was one of the first shows with Dave Lombardo back behind the kit.  For those who remember, Paul Bostaph had left the band again at the tail end of 2001 and Slayer had dates already booked for the first part of 2002.  They were in a bind. 

It was announced that Dave was going to do the tour, yet at the same time the band was going to be holding tryouts for drummers at the shows, trying to fill the soon-to-be-vacant throne.  As we all know, the short “fill-in” tour Lombardo agreed to has now reached it’s 10th year and those try-outs eventually led to nothing. 

So I contacted Slayer’s publicists to secure tickets and a photo for the Peoria show.  A few hours after that they called back to see if I was going to be using a digital camera, which I thought was weird, but I answered “yes”  as I had just recently received one for Christmas 2001.  They asked if I would be interested in heading down to the venue early to take pix of the drum try-outs to send to them for publicity purposes.  I said “yes” in a heartbeat and was pretty excited to be given such an assignment.  

Once I was confirmed to do all of this I wanted to try and set up an interview with Dave Lombardo.  Truthfully there hadn’t all that much written about him since the demise of Grip, Inc. and his foray in the Fantomas, especially from a Metal perspective.  I knew he had his own management at the time and I tried the manager’s office and had a hard time getting the guy on the phone.  This guy was also one of Morbid Angel’s managers and I was not going to give up so easily.  Morbid Angel was still signed to Earache Records and I was still managing Usurper, who was also on Earache at the time.  So I put a call in to the US label boss to see if he could pull some strings and make this happen.  Lo and behold my will was done and I was set to interview Dave Lombardo this very same day.

I arrived at the venue after a two hour drive, I was pretty excited at the day that lay before me and I figured nothing could go wrong, after all I was there on “band business” and I figured everything would be a breeze.  How wrong could I have been?? My first wall of obstruction was meeting with Slayer’s tour manager.  A little back story – 

I had met Slayer’s tour manager, let’s call her Billie Sue, back in November 2001 when I had interviewed Kerry at the Aragon Ballroom.  She was kind of a bitch, I mean I guess I would be too if I had to deal with “Slayer idiots” all day long, but I was far from your typical “Slayer Idiot.”  I was and always have been pretty damn professional when it came to interviews (showing up on time, not causing headaches, not demanding anything outside of what I was promised, ready to work, not being an autograph hound/fan-boy, not bringing a “posse” etc. etc.) but she was totally bitchy towards me.

At this November 01 interview she told me “I’ll give you 20 minutes with Kerry.”  I went in and started my interview, Kerry was totally cool and totally into the interview that when she came in to kick me out after 20 minutes he sent her away.  When she came in again, he again told her to “go” and that he had “nothing else scheduled, leave him (me) be.”  

So back to Peoria…I explained to her I was there to shoot the drum tryouts and she had no idea the publicists had scheduled anything of the sort and treated me like total shit.  I was pissed, I mean I was there at like 2:00pm and show time was at like 9:00!  What the hell was I supposed to do in a shithole like Peoria for several hours?  Alone?  Yeah I had my Dave interview, but that was going to be a half an hour at most…yeah I was pissed.  So she tells me to leave the hall while the tryouts were taking place etc. etc. 

There was no way I was going to go out to the freezing February cold to twiddle my fucking thumbs!  I told her “thank you” and left the building only to re-enter another door, head to the balcony and watch Slayer sound check and then the drum tryouts.  I mean come on!?  It was a two hour drive I had to go alone as to keep it professional and I thought her power-trip was a bit much. 

So I sat in the balcony while Slayer sound checked, it was killer.  It was my first time seeing Lombardo back with the band since the Clash of the Titans a decade earlier.  I then watched as the band (Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman and Dave) leave the stage as Kerry was the one in charge of auditioning drummers.  They set up drum kits on the floor and Kerry had a half stack set up and they’d run through a few songs with each of the hopefuls.  I didn’t have the greatest view of the two drummers, but they were decent at best.  The last drummer to try out was former Fleshold and ex-Soulfly skinsman Joe Nunez.  What made his audition different was Dave Lombardo introduced him to Kerry and actually let Joe use his drum kit on stage.  So he was “endorsed,” fully mic’d, the whole shebang.  

Joe was practically flawless.  He practically had the gig, but the reasons he didn’t take it were pretty funny

So after the auditions, I went back down to the floor, met up with Dave and went to do our interview.  We went to Slayer’s dressing room but Hatebreed was then sound checking and it was way too loud to have a conversation so Dave asked, “do you have a car?”  So we went and did our interview in my Ford Explorer…very memorable to say the least.  It was a great interview and while the truck is long gone, my memories of that interview ten years later are still crystal clear!  

The show itself was amazing, I had really just accepted the Paul Bostaph years when they played the aforementioned Aragon Ballroom show in Nov 01.  But seeing Dave back where he belongs was something all together different.  It was magical and all seemed right in the world.  I took some great shots that night; all that are in this entry are from 2/1/2002. 

This one here of Dave above was and remains my favorite from the night. 

Dave was back…Here's the interview from that night.  Funny thing, that solo album never materialized, but as with anything related to the man, it'll surely be worth the wait. 


**This writing is dedicated to my Aunt Jacquie who left us one year ago.  I couldn’t find the words 12 months ago to tell you what you meant to me and I still can’t.  Instead I decided to do what we do best and just write.  I love and miss you and think about you all the time.  Tommy