Blasting-Zone.com recently conducted an in-depth interview with MEGADETH bassist James Lomenzo. Several excerpts follow:
Blasting-Zone.com: In hindsight, how would you describe the recording process for "United Abominations"?
James: "It was definitely a labor of love and respect in retrospect looking back at the whole project. We started just before Gigantour last year, which was weird because it meant I had only played three gigs as a member of MEGADETH. We went right into the studio, and Dave already had a whole bunch of material ready to go. I guess he had been preparing for this for a while. So our job was to interpret it and make it sound as MEGADETH-y as possible. It was actually a really cool environment. I was pleasantly surprised and a little shocked by how cool it was to work with Dave Mustaine. After all the things that people had cautioned and warned me about, I found them all to be not true at all. He's actually a cool guy to make music with. So we plodded forth in the studio and to make a long story short, we had to stop recording for a while to do the Gigantour last summer. Looking back at that, it was actually a blessing in disguise because it gave us a little bit of time, all of us, to sit back and look at what we were creating and how close it was to being a classic MEGADETH album…and Dave had a lot of time to fine-tune his lyrics and decided where he wanted to do. So that worked out really well."
Blasting-Zone.com: Did you have an opportunity to contribute any songwriting ideas?
James: "Dave had already pre-conceived most of the music, so we worked off of some demos and patterns that he had. My job was basically to put as much of my personality into it that the MEGADETH sound would allow. On some things, Dave just kinda let me go and dug on a lot of it, I think. 'Washington is Next' is a pretty good example of that. In other places, he would suggest things like, 'Why don't you play along with the guitars on this part because that would reinforce it and make it sound like more of a MEGADETH record?' So it was a really cool blend and the same was true with both Shawn and Glen, especially with Glen. He really shined with his solo work on there. There was a lot of space for his to do his thing and put his mark on the band as well. When I came into this band, I was just blown away by Shawn and Glen…by their virtuosity and their real love for this band, ya know? These guys are students of music across the board, so they were a real inspiration to me because they're great world-class musicians. They're every bit as MEGADETH as any of the other players… (former guitarist) Marty (Friedman), (former guitarist) Chris (Poland), (late drummer) Gar (Samuelson)…any of those guys."
Blasting-Zone.com: In retrospect, how would you describe your time with David Lee Roth? Was he as difficult to work with as the rumors would suggest?
James: "David Lee Roth was fantastic. Again, it was one of those situations where everyone was raising their eyebrows going, 'Good luck with that one,' ya know? I got there and man he was one of the best guys that I have ever worked with. I'll say that both Daves are alike because I think their misunderstood to a degree. They speak their minds and people don't like to hear what they have to say sometimes…but there's some validity when they do open their mouths. He was a cheerleader for the band, he made us very comfortable and he was all about being Dave. The trick that I've found over the years to playing with these guys is that they have this unique identity that they understand implicitly about themselves and that's why they continue to rise, ya know? If you can get on board with that and just keep your ears and eye open and do what it is you need to do to bolster these guys, the ride is easy and they make it very nice for ya. The thing that was great about Dave was that he was a bit of an esoteric where he'd come up with these little projects for us. He'd be like, 'Lomenzo, you play upright bass?' and I say, 'Sure…' and he'd say, 'Are you sure?' and I'd say, 'Yeah…' and he'd say, 'Then go get some…' (laughs). We'd start doing some stuff and off we'd go, ya know? It was fun for me after all these years to come in and be so diverse with such a character. It was fun."
Blasting-Zone.com: If the opportunity arose, would you participate in a WHITE LION reunion?
James: "Actually, I almost have twice."
James: "Yeah, I've found along the way that there's so many really cool people who dug that band. It's funny… I'll come to the MEGADETH shows and they cue right up. They'll have all the albums for me to sign and everything (laughs). I've come to find that people are really appreciative of that style of music and it's nostalgic for them, so I understand what that's about. There were a couple of things that came up just before we started this MEGADETH tour. I sat down with a couple of friends of mine from the band POISON and some other bands. On the way out of the dinner, the guys said, 'You know, we'd love to have WHITE LION out with us this summer…' and I said, 'Wow, that probably would be great. I can't do it right now because I'm in MEGADETH, but that's a great idea. Let me get (WHITE LION vocalist) Mike (Tramp) on the phone….' So I called Mike and he went to go spearhead it and I think him and (former WHITE LION guitarist) Vito (Bratta) got into some verbal fisticuffs on the radio, so it probably won't happen for them. A bunch of years ago just before I joined BLACK LABEL SOCIETY there was some speculation…about the group doing some European stuff, but again, I couldn't participate. But I would. If it would make people happy, why not?"