5/15/07: Here’s the back story for this interview. Deege called me a month ago and told me that he was getting questions together for a follow-up interview with James LoMenzo. I thought it was a great idea because as cool as they are to read, typing them out is a pretty time consuming affair. This time we’re clocking in at almost 4000 words. I typed out the last LoMenzo interview and with the amount of typing I knew it would take…better Deege than me! I was really looking forward to reading about it, not typing it so I said “You want to interview LoMenzo? Absolutely perfect…go for it!”
The day the Heaven & Hell tour rolled through Philadelphia, Deege called up and dropped the bombshell. Cleveland was the next night on the tour and he didn’t have a recorder lined up. That’s the monkey wrench of doom when doing interviews! We decided that I should do it and with no preparation I showed up with my minidisc recorder in hand and winged it! But being the true professional he is, James took it all in stride and made it look easy.
anyone asks why we’re supporting another band on the site, I’ll
say this - We’re all Black Label Family here at SDMFworldwide.
James is a Brother and he’s one of the best in the business.
He's been in two of Zakk's bands, both Pride & Glory and BLS,
plus he played on Book Of Shadows. Besides, truth be told, Deege
and I are huge Megadeth fans. I was a Megadeth
before I knew anything about Ozzy Osbourne! (I didn’t catch that
train until 1989 and I heard ‘Crazy Babies.’) Mike Jeter let me borrow
three cassettes the summer before I started the 6th grade. ‘Among
the Living’ and ‘Spreading the Disease’ by New York thrashers Anthrax
and Megadeth’s ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying’. My life changed that
summer. So now 20 years later, when I get to see my favorite Beatle
center stage under the spotlight ripping through the intro of Peace
Sells…I just can’t help but smile. James LoMenzo is incredibly talented
and genuine and I am more than honored to call him a friend. He absolutely
rocks in every sense of the word. Enjoy the interview!
James: It’s always a pleasure to be here with Fred Kowalo over my shoulder.
James: Is that too confrontational?
WW: Nooo…Hey Freddie, what’s going on?
K: Hey Shawn.
WW: So you’re in town with Megadeth. Let’s start with some background on how you got the gig and how it came to be.
James: Okay. A buddy of mine who worked over at the guitar company
ESP recommended me to Dave. I called him up, after we had been hanging
out having lunches and such and he said “Are you looking for another
gig?” and I said “Yeah, sure.” Alan Steelgrave’s his name. He said
there’s this band that I think you’d be great for, they’re one of
the pioneers of Heavy Metal” I said “Oh, Megadeth.” He said “No,
I can’t tell you who it is.” I said “OK, what do you need?”
So I got it put together and he sent it off to Dave. I guess Dave liked what he heard and we got together and had a little pow-wow and it just moved from there.
WW: So did it start with a jam session? Did you go into a room and play or was it a meeting of the minds over a couple cocktails?
James: It was actually one of the strangest auditions of my life. I was asked to meet Dave and the Brothers Drover in their Manager’s office and to bring an amplifier and a guitar. I didn’t have too many small amps at the time so I packed up my car and moved with my dolly into their office off Sunset Plaza and set up. Dave showed up not too long after I got there and then the Drover Brothers showed up. I assumed that Dave would have a guitar or they would have instruments or something like that, but no. It was just an office! So I’m sitting there and the secretary is there and we ran through some of the songs that I had boned up on - some of the more popular Megadeth tunes. I played a few things and Dave was like “Yeah, I get that…that’s Symphony of Destruction. Could you play me some stuff like you did on the CD I heard?” I remember saying that most of that was on a six string bass so instead of having the extra strings, I used extra volume. I cranked up the amp and played a little bit and he thought it was good! He went on to say “I’m looking for somebody to join Megadeth who’s been doing this for a while. Someone who can get in there and handle themselves relatively well and I know you have experience. So why don’t we give it a try?” And so with about three weeks to learn the set we shoved off to Dubai and played a show.
WW: That was a festival in Dubai (The Dubai Desert Rock Festival)
WW: Was that your first time to the Middle East?
WW: Holy Wars come to life
WW: That would definitely be crazy…and it was a trial by fire.
You didn’t have much time to prepare.
WW: When you came back from the Middle East did Gigantour 2006
start up immediately?
WW: Was that a process where you ran through recording all at
one time or because of the touring situation it had to be broken
WW: When we saw you on Gigantour, this version of the band was
still new. Did touring help pull the band together? Playing live
had to help tighten up the band. Did that come across in the studio?
WW: How does the writing process work in Megadeth? Because there’s
a guitar playing bandleader who’s also singing, are there similarities
between Dave and say…Zakk? How is new material brought to the table?
WW: Megadeth fans are some of the toughest fans to please because
of the different line-ups. They know what works and what doesn’t,
how did you go about learning the Dave Ellefson material?
WW: Was that a big learning curve for you or was it pretty quick?
You’ve played with a pick before.
WW: Here’s something that’s completely off topic - I saw an
old Entwistle interview and he started his music career playing the
French horn in school. Is that a coincidence or was it the plan?
WW: (Laughing) We really took a left turn with that one!
WW: I never put all of those pieces together before tonight.
WW: Speaking of Warwick, how long have you been with them?
WW: That’s a pretty fantastic run considering these days guitar
companies and the endorsers are constantly switching it up. They
must treat you well.
WW: One of the things I noticed tonight was you had something
you had that I hadn’t seen before. It was an explorer shape…
WW: …you went with the Entwistle!
WW: It’s a great looking bass. Two things I want to touch on
before I lose track. Did Dave ever say anything about the Buzzards
like “Absolutely not!”
WW: So it wasn’t a matter of style.
WW: How does the custom you had made when you joined Megadeth
differ from your old Buzzard?
WW: LEDs on the side of the neck for fret markers?
like to see that bass, it sounds awesome.
WW: How many basses do you have out on the road with you with
WW: Speaking of basses - who’s taking care of those out on the
WW: He’s a sexy bitch!
WW: Keeping it in the family.
WW: Before we get off the gear topic, Warwick is making your
signature custom bass…is it going to be the “James LoMenzo” Stryker?
An interesting thing happened when I joined the band. Dave was looking at my name and goes “Dude, do you know that if you look at your last name, the word ‘Omen’ is in there.” And you know I love those old movies man! So I asked “Why didn’t I ever see that?!?” and he was like “Well, I am a wordsmith.”
Alright…cool! So I developed a little logo of my name which kind of looks like the logo of The Omen with my full last name. I called up Red Monkey and said “Dudes…straps!” And they were like “Dude, we’ve got to make you straps!” So we put those together and we’ve got the Omen logo straps now. We’re going to do the same thing across the board and do it with the guitars as well.
WW: Pretty Cool!
WW: They’ll be all over NAMM 2008
WW: On your website, in the Gear section there’s a mystery pedal
in the rig diagram.
James: Right…that was the prototype. It’s out now and that’s a very cool pedal. They were testing it at the time I went out with Black Label. I took it out on stage to see what it was like. …and it’s like those old Maestro Fuzz square wave things. It’s a lot to use for a whole song, but it’s good to kick it on and off. It sounds a lot like ‘Mean Mr. Mustard’ from the Beatles! It’s an unavoidable sound and it’s a very cool unit. I find little places to put it.
WW: So you’ve got a second NEW pedal that you’re working on
WW: We’re looking forward to it
what are Megadeth’s touring plans after the Heaven & Hell
run…or “The Dio fronted Black Sabbath?”
WW: It is Black Sabbath…absolutely, or maybe Dio Sabbath or
Black Dio. So after the States you’re headed to Europe. Are there
plans for Gigantour 2007?
WW: The current single ‘A Tout Le Monde’ features Cristina from
Lacuna Coil and it’s on MTV rotation.
WW: They’re very French
WW: United Abominations also features the song ‘Gears of War.’
Are any other songs from the album featured in the game?
WW: It’s a great song title
have asked...and I have to ask [ed - about why he left BLS]
WW: Do you and Zakk still talk? You live down the road from
WW: Megadeth and Black Label are both on Roadrunner Records;
I guess at some point it’s inevitable that you’d be on the same bill.
James: That’s my key word for this entire interview – serendipitous!
WW: You’re going to be on the same bill for some of the festivals
in Europe, do you think you’re going to reach the hand out and see
WW: Do you think there’s any competition…
WW: We’re rooting for them too…they’re the Home team.
WW: Thank you as always for sitting down with us…it’s always
a good time! Do you have any last words for everyone out there?
WW: Absolutely…and United Abominations is out May 15th which
is this Tuesday. Thank you James!
For more on J-Lo, go to his website at www.JamesLomenzo.com
For more information on Megadeth, visit their official website at www.MEGADETH.com
James uses Ashdown amps and Rotosound strings.
Also be sure to check out James' side-project the Hideous Sun Demons
James Lomenzo's Warwick Bass Feature
Live photos copyright Chad Lee of www.RockConcertFotos.com and Scott Uchida (where watermarked).
All other Megadeth photos taken from www.MEGADETH.com, studio photo copyright James Lomenzo
Top photo taken by Shawn Sexton in 2004.
Interview conducted by Shawn Sexton at the Philadelphia Spectrum on 5/10/07.
Be sure to check out our first interview with James from Ozzfest 2004!