JAMES LOMENZO On Playing In MEGADETH

Bob Zerull of Zoiks! Online recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist James Lomenzo. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Zoiks! Online: How did you end up in MEGADETH?

Lomenzo: I was in a lot of other bands prior to this so I'd been around the block a few times. A friend of mine over at ESP guitar company (told me that), Dave (Mustaine) was looking for another bass player at the time, he (Dave) said, "Hey, if you know anybody..." Without hesitation, my friend said, "Yeah, I know the perfect guy for you and he's not doing anything right now." So I called up Dave and he listened to a bunch of my music. I got together with the guys and played some of the songs with them. And Dave said, "OK, man you think you can be ready to do a gig in four weeks and go to Dubai?" And I said yes. (Laughs) I was kind of shocked at how complicated the music was.

Zoiks! Online: Did you know Dave beforehand?

Lomenzo: You know what?! I'd never met Dave. Back in the day when MEGADETH was coming up I was in a band called WHITE LION, so we were real busy selling records and doing all kinds of stuff. So I was well aware of the band and I loved them but it was mostly on a hit basis, what I heard on the radio. My familiarity was based on the fact that it was mostly the band's hit songs, you know the things that I'd see on MTV, stuff that I was aware of on the radio. And then stuff that I'd hear at the rock club that I used to go to in Brooklyn, a lot of the songs I actually knew better just by hanging out at that club and hearing them come through the PA.

Zoiks! Online: It seems like three of the big four original thrash metal bands are at their best right now. SLAYER's new album ("World Painted Blood") is getting rave reviews, obviously "Endgame" is amazing and last year METALLICA had theirs ("Death Magnetic"). Do you think it's a coincidence or were you trying to one up each other?

Lomenzo: I think it's a natural progression. I think what happens is that bands mature, you blow off a lot of the teenage anxiety and testosterone that we carry so it's a little easier to craft what we do. All these bands have their own vocabulary, if you know what I mean. They already have a sound that they know they already do, so they can refer to that as another part of the language of the band. I think that makes it easier, it really does. Some bands on the other hand, find themselves getting a little lost with all of that, because they're always trying to do something new. There are ways to incorporate that sort of vibe but remain true to the band's essence. I think that's what a lot of these bands do, because heavy metal is such a delineated style; such a fascist style, if you will.

Zoiks! Online: You've played with some of the most talented people, not to mention some of the biggest personalities in the rock world. What is it like playing with some of those icons like Slash, Zakk Wylde or Dave Mustaine?

Lomenzo: You know what? The thing is that with me it's been through happenstance. Fortunately, back in the '80s I made it really big with WHITE LION. So I know what it's like to get that feeling to play big stages. We used to play with a lot of iconic musicians and hang with them. When it started kind of stretching out after that, playing with people like Dave and Slash, these great guitar players, Zakk, you know, it's a second thought to me because I see them as musicians first. You know I kind of lose myself in that. A lot of people on the outside are like, "That's Dave Mustaine!!! That's Slash!!!" I'm aware of everybody's history. I take them as musicians, which I think is the only way to really handle it.

Zoiks! Online: Do you still keep in touch with some of your old bandmates?

Lomenzo: From time to time. I'll run into Slash every now and again when we're in town. He's always more than affable; he's one of those guys. Zakk I lost touch with for awhile, I know he's doing a little better now, I'm glad to hear about that (referring to Zakk's blood clot condition that caused him to have to drop off of the "Pedal to the Medal Tour" with MUDVAYNE). David Lee Roth said hey just the other day on the phone. I talked to Mike Tramp (WHITE LION) not too long ago. So it's kind of fun. It's starting to get kind of like that old stately gentlemen's club. We'll meet in some corner of the world (doing an impression of two rock stars catching up). "You all right?" "Yeah, I'm all right. You all right?" "Yeah, still rocking, you still rocking?" "All right, man, we'll check in later."

Read more from Zoiks! Online.

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