For Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, the musical philosophy "less is more" guides PHILM, his newly formed metal power trio. For him, the downsizing goes right to his storied drum kit, which he has scaled down to a four-piece set for the band. Joining Lombardo in the ambitious project are just two other musicians; WAR bassist Pancho Tomaselli and guitarist/singer Gerry Nestler of the prog metal group Civil Defiance. Together, the band packs an incredibly powerful musical punch that is intuitively metal in its foundation, but so much more. A four-song demo recorded at East West Studio illustrates PHILM's ability to melt down metal influences and mix them with elements of funk, ambient jazz and punk. The brew is potent and has left audiences (who have already had the opportunity to see their live performances) wondering how so much noise could be emanating from just three musicians.
PHILM storms through the Grove of Anaheim this Sunday to rock the Orange County masses, but before that, the Weekly caught up with Lombardo and Tomaselli and asked them about their new band.
OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): Dave, what made you want to start PHILM?
Dave Lombardo: I started the band around 1995-'96, which a lot of people don't know. It has just been on hold for awhile, and it didn't go anywhere. I had some projects and other things going on at the time. Slayer had called me and everything got put on the back burner until November 2009. I called Gerry Nestler and we put the band together. Here we are, a year later. We just finished playing a show in Denver, and next we'll be in Southern California.
Describe the sound PHILM creates and how the band's roster helps achieve them?
Lombardo: Well, Gerry and I have this liking for ambient, spacey, tripped-out music. We just shared that style, and we felt that we could present it in a new way. It's definitely a departure from what you'd expect from Slayer.
Pancho, as bassist for funk legends WAR, how does PHILM reconnect you musically with your inner metal soul?
Pancho Tomaselli: I grew up listening to metal. The only reason I stopped playing metal was because I needed to fucking eat. When my rock band didn't take off in Los Angeles, I needed to learn to play other kinds of music. I didn't do any metal at all since 1998. It wasn't until Dave Lombardo called me out of nowhere and asked to me to play with him in a band called PHILM. I had actually just bought a Slayer onesie for my baby daughter, and two days later the call came. As for WAR, the band has been an education for me--it was my doctorate in music. If I didn't do the WAR gig, I could never play with Dave Lombardo. I owe it to my WAR bandmates: Lonnie Jordan and Sal Rodriguez. Now, because of them, I can play on any stage with anyone in the world.
PHILM has already been on tour playing shows. Tell us about how the band was received in Seattle and by audiences in other places as well.
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Tomaselli: The crazy thing about the Seattle gig was that people were coming up to me and saying they haven't seen a trio that created such an impact since Nirvana. Actually, a lot of people were ready to call PHILM the new Nirvana. The audiences were ready for simple music. We went to Seattle with our three-piece, and people just freaked out. Everybody went nuts with every song that we played, as if they were already fans. Recently, we had a show in Chicago. People, young and old, came up to us after that gig, and said it was a refreshing experience. They called our music "mature metal."
Dave, what are the future plans for PHILM? And what can fans expect this Sunday?
Lombardo: Definitely--I want to record an album with this band and take it on a real tour. You know, I'm just doing PHILM like I've been doing Slayer when I look at it; play live and put records out. As for Sunday, we'll bring the audience something they haven't seen in a while, a power trio. They'll hear a different style, but it's still heavy, it's still powerful, it's still hardcore.
PHILM opens for Halford at the Grove of Anaheim, 2200 East Katella Ave., Anaheim; www.grove-of-anaheim.com, Sun. 8 p.m. $43.60.