(Mark Dean Interviews):  Legendary bassist JAMES LOMENZO

(Mark Dean Interviews): Legendary bassist JAMES LOMENZO

Contributor’s Note:  Mark Dean spoke with legendary bassist James Lomenzo for Madness To Creation on the Covid-19 pandemic, his latest project with Echobats, and the legacy of his career in hard rock and heavy metal music.  James has been involved in many bands, most notably White Lion from 1984 to 1991, Megadeth from 2006 to 2010, Black Label Society and was even a contestant on the CBS hit reality television show “The Amazing Race”.  The current Echobats project involves Tony Harnell(TNT), Joel Hoekstra(Whitesnake/TSO) on guitars, Eric Levy(Night Ranger), Matt Starr(Ace Frehley, Mr. Big) and of course James Lomenzo himself.  Echobats has recently released the music video for “Save Me From Loving You”.  Fans can find Echobats at the following locations:

www.facebook.com/echobatsofficial

www.instagram.com/echobatsofficial

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Okay, difficult time for the world right now. I just wondered as a musician, whose livelihood has obviously been impacted, has it been difficult to stay motivated?

James Lomenzo:  I haven’t noticed, is something going on?

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Apparently so ..

 

James Lomenzo:  Staying motivated, no. Actually for me personally, Mark, this is the first time in probably about six or seven years that I’ve had any kind of time to actually not run out of the house with a suitcase and a bass under my arm. So in a weird way, I mean, it’s getting a little old now, because I do love playing the shows, and to a degree I like travelling. That degree being the degree that brings me to the shows. But I am actually having a good time sitting here, and slowing down the pace, and organizing a lot of stuff that got left behind. I have so much music on hard drives and stuff like that. I’ll come in for a week or so. Spend time with my family, do things like that, and throw down some music in the middle of all that, and it gets lost into the void. This is the first time I’ve had to run through things and pull a lot of stuff out, so that’s a positive. 

I don’t like not having the living that, with the career I’ve built up for all these years, but there’s a lot of us musicians that just don’t have any place to go and do these things. It seems that we’ve formed alliances and networks that were building themselves anyway, and we’re doing a lot of work. I mean, a lot of my friends are, not just with me, with other people I see online and I talk to them about it. They’re doing all this great music separated, but music is music. People are finding a way. Art finds a way.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  It leads me nicely on to the Echobats Musical project. How did the project get together? Was it Tony’s idea?

 

James Lomenzo:  This is precisely what I was just talking about. About a year and a half ago, maybe a little less than that, I got an email from Tony. I’ve known Tony for, God, maybe 40 years now, something like that. Yeah, maybe 40 years. And so we go back a long way, and we’ve run into each other over the years, and chat up, and talk about the good old days, when we used to hang out, before we were in sort of famous bands. In Brooklyn, I think I met him around the L’Amour Rock Club, which was the only place on the East Coast where you could see larger-sized metal bands in a small club venue. Like probably what maybe the Marquis was like back in the day. And so I met Tony there, and we’d always talked about supporting each other and making music, and I guess it took this long to get to that, and so that’s what finally occurred. 

Tony reached out to me along with Joel Hoekstra, who I’ve known for years, and Matt Starr, who I’ve played with many times, and I adore each of these people, as people and musicians. They’re really, they’re the finest. They have a wide range of ability. They’ve done a lot of really interesting, notable things, and they’re just good, core musicians. And so when Tony had approached me with this, I immediately said, “Yeah, let’s make some music.”

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer: And the big question is, has this sown seeds of more songs, perhaps even an album?  

 

James Lomenzo:  Okay, so that’s a good question. So as I said, this started a year and a half ago, so immediately, I had a foot out the door, and a couple days to go touring with John Fogarty, and I think we were just about to embark on a multi-month tour, so I had some stuff to do. So what we did was, we collected as much music as we possibly could, which turned out to be about six or seven songs, between Joel and myself, and like that kind of stuff I was telling you about, demos that we had lying around. I think I might have jotted down one or two things fresh, that I thought, in terms of what would be good for these musicians, as did Joel. 

And so we put all this stuff together. I edited it into basic song form, and before I took off on the tour, Matt was doing the same thing. He was about to go on tour with, I think, Mr. Big at the time. And Matt calls me up and he goes, “I got access to a studio. I’m doing something else in there, but we could use it to record the drums for this stuff.” So I threw everything on a hard drive, and we went down there, and knocked out these six. I can’t remember if it’s six or seven, I’ll have to look at the files. But anyway, so we knocked these things out. He did a stellar job. I sat there and just listened, and produced things just to make sure it all went onto the hard drive the right way, and I brought the hard drive back and put all the stuff together, and sent it out to Tony.

And Tony said, “All right, great. I’m going to get right on this, I’m very excited.” And that was the last I heard from Tony up until, I guess two or three months ago. As soon as this virus thing broke out, he called me up and he said, “So I’ve got lyrics and a melody to this one song that I really love, and here it goes.” So he sent it to us, and we were blown away, because in its rawest form, it wasn’t mixed or it wasn’t really put together with the right guitars or anything at that point. To our minds, it sounded like a true hit song. It just had all those pop elements that I think, that are infectious and the people had probably not heard for a very long time. 

And so we thought it was a really strong song, and that’s basically all we thought about, and so we just got onto putting it together, I would say as quickly as we could, but it took a little bit of time, because we were all dealing with the world changing around us at the same time. So the dichotomy of doing this really happy song in the midst of all this turmoil was actually cathartic, in a very strange way. For me anyway, it seemed to give me something to focus on, that wasn’t all doom and gloom. But oddly enough, lyrically it is a little dark, so it was an interesting amalgam of all the emotions going on in that particular moment, that we were working on this song.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Sonically also, it sounds like quite a significant musical departure for all you guys, who are all generally known for doing heavier, rockier music.

James Lomenzo:  Right, well as I said earlier, the thing is, I trust these guys to support the music. Everybody has a really wide range. I mean, I’ve played with Megadeth and I’ve played with Black Label Society, and I’ve played with John Fogarty. You go figure it out. Music is music, really. There’s an intensity, even through pop music. When it’s done right, there’s an intensity behind it, and it’s not the loudest, it’s not driven by the loudest guitars, but it’s certainly driven by that same energy, that you drive classic, great metal music. You either do it or you don’t. 

So all these gentlemen in this band all have that, and I think we were all reverent to what came out. Somewhere in there when we described what the Echo Bats should be early on, we talked about, “Well, let’s do things like, The Best of Queen had a wonderful flair, for just doing everything they could do, and make it heavy or make it light.” Bands like Free, they had that kind of thing back even further back. It was a little heavier than that. So we thought we would just be cool to whatever we were working on, and I think in this case we succeeded. Having said that, we’ve still got five to six songs sitting on our hard drives somewhere, so it’s really up to everybody in the band examining them, and deciding what they want to do with them. 

And they’re very different from this song. They’re not pop-oriented at all, they’re actually a little heavier.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  That’s just what I was going to ask, if the other songs are in a similar vein, but you’ve already answered that. Looking back, well it has taken me quite a while. I tried to explore your musical legacy earlier, as I said.

James Lomenzo:  It’s a jigsaw puzzle.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  It is. Going back, actually dug it out and put it on Rondinelli, War Dance album. Would that have been your first studio experience?

 

James Lomenzo:  Well that was with Ray Gillen. No, I’d been in a lot of bands prior to that, and we used to do a lot of club acts. But before that, we lived in Brooklyn and went to school and had bands with all my mates. One of them was in fact, the very first band that I ever put together was with Steven Augeri, who you might know, ended up staying with Journey all those years, and now he’s a great solo band. He’s just this wonderful singer, and a really incredibly talented musician across the board. And now I didn’t record with him, but there were other bands I had where we went into small studios. There’s a studio in Brooklyn called Fly Studios, and they actually had an eight-track board and all that stuff, back in the ’70s. That seemed like the big time. 

But I’d had studio experience, but playing with somebody at the level of Bobby Rondinelli, I would say that was a very big step up, because he wasn’t some guy out of a basement. He’s a guy who’s been playing arenas for four years before I met him. And his brother Teddy was an exquisite guitar player, and then we found Ray to sing. It was just mind blowing. I mean, that was a really interesting story at an early age, because I was pretty young. I was 19 or 20, but I was playing on Long Island, and I’d met Bobby’s drum check, and he had seen me play with a band called Insects or something like that. I don’t know, but it was a heavy three-piece blues band. And he said, “Bobby needs a bass player.” Bobby was playing with Felix Pappalardi, who was, yeah, a bass player and producer of Cream. Bass player and producer of Mountain. I mean, he was a big guy back in his time, and just an exquisite bass player, if you listened to his style back then.

So Felix Pappalardi was gunned down by his wife not too long… So we’re talking, we’re talking probably late ’70s, maybe. Let me think about this. Yeah, late ’70s. So I guess they had a guy named Jeff Van Holt singing before Ray came in, and he was doing Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, so he had notoriety. He was a great rock singer, and he just bowed out after a while. And so Bobby called me and I auditioned. He thought I had something really cool for him, so we played really well together. And then we started auditioning singers, and then Ray showed up. And man, as soon as he opened his mouth, it was like, we had our blues band. This guy had everything that anybody like David Coverdale back in the day had, or even… I don’t know why his name’s escaping me. The lead singer of Free.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Paul Rodgers.

 

James Lomenzo:  Yeah, Paul Rogers. Of course. He had that kind of a sensibility. He was a good-looking guy, a sweetheart. Him and I shared a room up in Bobby’s house, actually. We were best buds. So anyway, we went right out to Long Island, that was Something Tracks Studio. I met Blue Oyster Cult there, because they were recording at the same time, and we had management with Kreb’s Management at the time, I think they were doing Aerosmith. We just put together that demo at the very best, but a lot of things started twisting and turning back then. 

in the middle of that, I was playing with Bobby and Richie Blackmore on the weekends at a club in Long Island, which to me was a mind blow. I think that was more exciting than I could stand. I was the singing bass player, so we did a lot of Hendrix stuff, and Deep Purple stuff. So that’s my broad recollection. But it wasn’t really getting off the ground, for whatever reason. I had something going on in California, so I took off to do that. I can’t even recall what it was at the time, but I made that move, and the rest is more.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Yeah, I just wondered why the album is made up of four studio tracks, four live tracks. Did you not actually record a complete album with Rondinelli?

 

James Lomenzo:  No, we recorded a complete album. We put together a demo, and I don’t know if it was shopped properly or not. I really have no information about it, at the time. The other four songs were recorded up in an attic, a giant attic we used to rehearse at, on a porta-studio. I was actually the engineer, twisting those four knobs and a treble bass, and the volume. So I was interested when that thing came out. It was funny, because it really brought back a lot of memories. I think I even took our photographs, those four pictures.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  And then of course, next up was probably my first introduction to you, growing up as a young rock fan back in the ’80s, White Lion. The band have recently brought out a box set of the Atlantic albums. I just wondered, looking back at that time when you achieved in the MTV era, massive success, fame and fortune. Was it difficult for you, as a young musician, to cope with all the fame and fortune that went with the success of White Lion?

 

James Lomenzo:  I had no idea it was going on at that time. I really didn’t, man. You’ve got to understand something. Back then, it’s not like it is now. We didn’t have cell phones, and computers, and certainly not like we do know. And certainly cable TV was a luxury, so when we hit the road, when we first started out, even after we signed to Atlantic, I think one of the first tours we did was across the country, and we were in an RV, and we had our sound man driving it. It was comfortable, it was a decent-sized RV, but we would stay at pretty cheap hotels, because we didn’t want to really spend that much money on travelling at this point, and we’d stay at hotels and there would be rabbit ears on the TV. Cathode tube. And so a lot of them didn’t have cable, and so I had no idea. 

So I put a quarter in the phone, outside of the hotel. This will blow people’s minds if they think about it, and call back home and check in with my family or whoever and they’d say, “Oh my God, you guys are on TV all the time.” And we had no idea. The only clue we had was, it seemed like people kept coming out to the clubs, and the clubs started filling up pretty good across the country. Which we were used to in New York, because we were a local band, but we didn’t expect that. And so it wasn’t until, I think we started playing with bands like KISS and AC/DC and doing those bigger tours, where things changed.

But to tell you the truth, I think I was visually just a less obvious person, as far as being a famous dude, then Mike Tramp might have been, or Vito. And so I just went about my life, and really didn’t notice a big change out in the world. People didn’t… It wasn’t until much later on, like when I was in Black Label Society, and after I’d done a bunch of things like that, that people would actually call my name out in the street. So I guess, just doing it long enough, I’ve found enough of a fan base to follow what I was doing. But back then, no. And there were so many other bands then too. I’m trying to think of some of the names, but Cinderella and bands like that, and Motley Crue for God’s sake. We were a big band, but these bands were selling maybe three times more than we were, a lot faster. So we came in maybe towards the middle to the end of that run of hair bands, as they called them.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:What about the bands then, like with White Lion. Was it four partners, or was there still from the early days, that split between, as you said-

 

James Lomenzo: It was, Mike and Vito had started the band. Greg and I came in later on, and so there was a partnership there but it was a limited partnership, so they basically had a lot of say about things that we were doing. Having said that, Mike was very open to all kinds of ideas. Vito a little less so, but certainly not intolerably. There were a lot of things that I wished that I could’ve contributed and tried, but it became about the dollar after a while, so I just didn’t bother after a while. 

And you’ve got to understand, man. I came out of playing with Bobby, and jamming with Richie Blackmore and all that stuff. So when I got there and we were playing straight-on pop music, again, I was adept at it and I liked it, but it wasn’t featuring, I wasn’t feeling like a featured artist in that band. I was feeling like a support artist, which I actually made a very good living doing for the rest of my life, which doesn’t bother me at all. But back then, there was a lot of songs that maybe got passed on that I would have liked to have heard the band do, for a variety of reasons.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Big Game featured Radar Love, which of course was a success for the band, but that was actually quite a surprising inclusion on the album for me, listening to it, because you guys had some great music. Great, new original songs.

James Lomenzo:  Which was that? You’re talking about Radar Love?

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Yeah, I just wondered, why was that included?

 

James Lomenzo: Well it was actually an accident. We were at rehearsal one day working on some of the songs, and I got in my head to start jamming that riff, because I think I’d heard it on the radio that day. So I started just playing it, and Greg joined in, and it felt pretty good. And then Mike came up to me and said, “What is that? I love that song.” And I said, “Well that’s not Danish, but it’s in your neighborhood.” So I said, “It’s Golden Earring, Radar Love.” And he goes, “Ah,” so he starts singing it, and at first he was a little clumsy on it, because he sounded like… He was very square on it. “I’ve been riding all night, hands white on the wheel,” but then he started swinging it really good. 

And I was like, “Man, we should do this,” and Vito was digging it, so we just threw it on just as a lark, just because it was fun to play, and the record label when they heard it, they really, really liked it, and they were hedging their bets, because they weren’t really sure about a lot of the songs on Big Game, and maybe looking back, I don’t disagree with them completely. That band was just a little more raw, we didn’t really do a big production on that. We just played the songs, really close to being a three-piece band. And so I think, because that was a wide, familiar-sounding song, I think the record company was more than thrilled to throw it out there as an insurance policy. I think that’s why they ended up doing that.

Mark Dean -Interviewer: And then of course you went on to play with Zakk, and Pride & Glory. Pride & Glory always surprised me, because there is a band that is still highly rated, within my peer group. And they’re a band that had a very short shelf life. Do you feel like maybe you should’ve-

 

James Lomenzo: We got sidelined, man. We did, we got sidelined. What ended up happening with that, is we were signed to Geffen, and the taste of the day went directly to Nirvana and bands like that, like really hardcore. And so we were in a weird spot, because we weren’t exactly any of that stuff. We weren’t from Seattle, although we mocked some of that feel. We recorded the album in Seattle with Rick Parashar, who did a lot of those albums. But the label didn’t really stand by it, and just basically let it fall. There was some internal stuff going on then that I wouldn’t describe, but I bowed out. I just, I didn’t see moving on with it, and that was a shame. I mean, musically Brian Tichy and Zakk, it was just, it was truly an amazing band. 

It was one of those bands that we could play without a net all night, and I don’t mean a girl named Annette. I mean, like a circus act. We could literally start a chorus or a verse of a song and just expand it ad infinite, until people would turn blue, and then pull it out. Much like a band like, like back in the day, that Cream would do. So I always thought we were something like that, a different cranked-up version of that. And Zakk was really fine in his footing as a singer, and I thought a lot of those songs were great. And to this day, I do have a lot of people who say a similar thing that you just did. I mean, they loved that album, and there’s something about that, that really, at a time inspired by them, it became a favorite album of theirs. More people than I thought would.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  How-

James Lomenzo:  So I don’t think all is lost on that, I just think that it’s a shame, but that’s the way the world turns sometimes.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  I was going to ask, I mean, I’m sure you’re still in touch with Brian and Zakk. Has it ever been discussed for maybe getting together, and maybe doing some stuff?

James Lomenzo:  Brian and I have been up for it for a long time, and I think Zakk has, but there’s other things in the mix that don’t allow that to happen. I was never sure why, and I really, at this point I don’t care anymore.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Your musical CV shows that you have worked with many legends, many musical greats. I just wondered, which band did you find the most challenging, and really forced you to personally up your game?

James Lomenzo:  Oh, without a doubt it was Megadeth, without a doubt. There were several things on the block when I joined that band. First of all, I never played stock in trade thrash metal, I really never did. I wasn’t a huge fan of Megadeth in that… When White Lion was touring, Megadeth was pretty big, and directly after that they got even bigger. But I wasn’t listening to a lot of music back then while we were touring, oddly enough. I’d have my evening with a beer, and then put on music I loved from back in the day, as my entertainment and decompression. 

So I was familiar with maybe three or four of their songs, and that’s it. So when I got a call to audition for that, I thought about it and I said, “Yeah, I’ll do anything. I’ve done all kinds of music, this might be well worth my effort.” And so I met with Dave, and I learned a couple of the songs that I thought I could do, and Dave saw that, and he listened to some demo stuff I’d done. And there was one song in particular that I did with a band called The Hideous Sun Demons, which was Ray Luzier, and a great guitar player named Toshi Hiketa, and myself, it was just a three-piece, jazz fusion band that was built out of David Lee Roth’s touring band, we were his touring band. And so we did that just as a lark, just to show off some chops, and just get together and do something interesting.

And there was a song on that one called The Mummy, which was as close to heavy as I could get, and so I gave that to Dave, and he was really impressed with that. So the challenging part about it was this. First of all, I was trying to be really true to what Dave Ellefson was doing, out of respect for not only Dave, but for the fans of the band, because I realised there was a really distinct sound that Megadeth had, for a whole host of reasons. Every element was important. So I really tried to get really close to a tone that he would have, and played everything with a pick as he would, although I remember David said, “I know you play, you’re a great finger player. You can certainly play with your fingers.” I didn’t think that was right for making the band sound right, so I didn’t.

I guess the trick was learning 28 to 30 of their songs in three weeks, which was mind blowing. If they were in my head anywhere before, if I had heard them before, it probably would have been a lot easier. So that was me, just baring down every day, trying to learn three or four songs every day, and some of those songs are five minutes, with three or four sections. So there’s nothing in the blues world that’s predictable about Megadeth, for sure. 

So yeah, I did, I managed that first show we did in Dubai. I had some cheat sheets on the floor, and everybody was fine with that, just to keep me honest. And after that I was able to relax into it and get it, and the real thing that was the real challenge was being a stage performer and doing that, and that was what I got the biggest kick out of, was trying to find those faces, to stand up there and actually somehow perform the music, to show people what was going on in my little corner of the bass world. And that was a great, fun challenge, because I really do think that to a degree I did get that.

 

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Of course, you’re working now mostly with John Fogarty. I just wondered if there’s anybody still on that wish list, that you would love to create some music with, or if you’ve checked all the boxes? You must have checked some in your wide and very varied career.

James Lomenzo:  You know what? There was a time when, just before John Fogarty, I think it was. Elton John’s bass player passed away, and most bass players I know who grew up at the time I did, really realized what great bass play there was on the Elton John music. Mostly, it was Dee Murray, his original bass player. Played all those great lines from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and a bunch of those other albums, and so we always aspired to that. 

So anyway, the point is, I was in between gigs. I was actually running my video production business. We were doing Monster House Productions at the time, and that came up. And it was this weird… I didn’t lose my spirit, but it was like one of those things where I thought, and that little voice in my head said, “You should go through hell and high water to try and get in touch with those people, and see if they need a bass player, which they will of course.” But I was like, “No man, that’s shit’s too garish,” to jump in somebody’s grave that way, so I let it go. They ended up getting… Let’s see if I remember his name. Matt… No, I can’t remember his name, but he’s a great bass player. His first name’s Matt, and it’ll come to me in a second. His brother played with David Lee Roth too.

Mark Dean -Interviewer: Bissonette? Is it-

James Lomenzo:  Thank you, Bissonette. Matt Bissonette is an amazing bass player. I’ve seen him in many scenarios and he’s just great, and of course he’s the right bass player for Elton John. But anyway, what my point being, that was somebody I would’ve really loved to have been a part of. So I think that was one reason why, when I found out there was an opening with John Fogarty I didn’t even hesitate. I was playing with Kenny Aronoff, who was drumming for him at the time, and then directly, I immediately asked him. 

I said, “I want to play bass,” and Kenny was like, “Yeah, I told him all about you. I think you would be great for the band. You have everything that he likes. You have energy, you play, you dig in. Great sound, and all that stuff.” And I told him, but they were looking at really young guys, for whatever reason. And so I was like, “Okay man, but just…” He goes, “Yep.” So anyway, I guess a week later they found a guy that they liked and Kenny actually told me that he had stepped up and said, “That guy is really good, but I’m telling you, man. James is like that and a little more. You’ve got to just listen to him.

So on Kenny’s advice, John did have me for an audition, and hats off to Kenny. I was what he knew that I would be, I would be the guy that John would like, and he auditioned a lot of guys. So my point in all this is, yeah. I mean, that to me, it’s still after six years with him now, it’s still a dream come true in a weird way, because I grew up listening to all that Creedence stuff, and that music is timeless. I mean, playing those songs every night for years, I’m still in the car and I hear something come on, and my arm instinctively goes for the volume knob and I still turn it up. So I could name anybody that you love, and that’s probably who I want to play with.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  And you’ve even played with Slipknot.

James Lomenzo:  No, I did not play with Slipknot. That’s a misnomer.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Is it?

James Lomenzo: What happened was Paul Grey, that’s another one of those weird scenarios. There’s the band called Hail!, and it was put together by my friend and Amazing Race cohort, Abba, Mark Abbattista. And he had called me up right after I was out of Megadeth, because I think Dave Ellefson was going to go do a tour with Hail!, because they put that together, the two of them. So anyway, Dave’s out. I mean, I’m out, Dave is in Megadeth, so I get a call from Mark and he goes, “I’ve got this touring all-star band and we need a bass player, would you consider doing it?” We handshake over the phone, and then about a month later he calls me up and goes, “I’m sorry to say, but we’re going to go with Paul Grey,” and I said, “Yeah, bigger star, right?” And he goes, “Yeah.” 

So I resisted getting angry, which is probably a good thing. And I said, “Don’t worry about it man, that’s cool.” So I’m driving my daughter to school one morning with my wife, and the radio is on, and we hear that Paul Grey has died. And so my wife turns to me and she goes, “You know, you should probably call up that guy Abba, because they’re going to need a bass player.” And the same thing, I said, “No, it’s too garish.” I just think that’s not really a cool thing to do. 

Two minutes later my cell phone goes off and it’s Chris Broderick, and he says, “I was just talking with Ellefson, and he suggested you. He said you should call up Abba, because basically the tour is, they’re going to lose a tonne of money, first of all, going out there. And secondly, a lot of fans are waiting to see this thing.” It was going to Ukraine and Siberia and stuff, that was a really interesting tour.

So I called up, and in a good way we went out and we did that tour as a… What’s the word I’m looking for? In respect and as a memory for Paul. We played a bunch of Slipknot songs, and we had a little vestige of his photos and things like that up there, and we just basically used that to think about him, and just do something good, and it was. It was a really good tour, and we had a lot of people who were really happy.

Mark Dean -Interviewer: Outside your musical career, you’ve also worked as a graphic artist. I just wondered, do you still have time for that these days?

James Lomenzo:  Well now, it seems like I’d be doing a lot more of that, which I have been. I moved into photography, which I’ve done all my life, and more on the side of that. My wife is doing a book right now called The Tribe of the New Bohemian Woman, and it features all these wonderful women. Some you know, some are famous, some are not. And they have these extraordinary lives, creative lives. And it really focuses on all these women. So my wife approached me and she said, “Would you take the photographs? We’re going to do portraits.”  

So just as a reference, they don’t look anything like it, but we’ve been doing an Annie Liebovitz kind of style, to really encapsulate each of the women in their own way, and really do a portrait that represents who they are. And this has been really exciting, because I’ve been doing this over the years. On my days home and stuff like that we’ll go out and shoot them, and this stuff has been piling up, and her deadline’s coming up. So on the good side, I’ve been sitting here actually working on a lot of those files, and doing the post-production on them, and finishing them up. So this has actually worked out really good, so I’ve been doing a lot of that. 

On the graphic side of it, I think what I’ll finally end up doing is resurrect Monster House, and move into doing the videos again, because I was doing videos for manufacturers, musical equipment manufacturers like Manley and Ashtown and Afix. And I’m really good at it, because I really understand the gear. So when these people are trying to show what their stuff is capable of, I can optimize that visually and put it in. That’s one of the things that I’m working on right now.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:   Just a final one. I was impressed to read about your participation in the Amazing Race ’21, which hasn’t been shown in the UK. I just wondered about the whole experience of doing something like that, how was it for you?

James Lomenzo:  It was wonderful. It was one of those weird opportunities that come along once in your life, I suppose. Nothing I ever wanted to do. I was certainly not interested in sleeping on floors in strange countries, although I have done it many times in my field. But to choose to do that is a weird thing. But my friend Mark Abbattista, again, the guy who set up the band Hail!, he really wanted to do that all his life. He was going to do it again with Ellefson, and Ellefson couldn’t do it because he was back in Megadeth. So Mark said, “Do you want to do that with me?” And I said, “No fucking way,” because I’d seen it. I remember watching it one time on TV and seeing a couple of the people screaming at each other in cabs. I’m going, “This doesn’t look like any fun at all.” 

So I needed a contract read, and he said, “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll read your contract, you do videos, you do our video submission, and we’ll be even, okay?” And so I figured in the corner of my mind, I go, “Well, we’ll have fun doing this, they’re not going to pick us.” But after we did the video, I looked at it objectively and it was really funny, and it was good. Sure enough, man. As soon as I put that thing in, they gave us a call. So I went for it. In retrospect, probably one of the most interesting and life-changing things that I’ve done in my life at a late age, because it really showed me a part of the world that, when you’re touring-

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  You don’t see,or actually have the time to look around and explore places.

James Lomenzo:… you do the same thing. You go to a bar, you go to a museum, you go to a movie, you go backstage, you play a show, right? But this was, we were doing all these activities, but nonetheless, we were doing them amongst people in Bangladesh, in these far corners of the world. Even though there are cameras around and all that, and you’re competing and stuff, you’re still in these places, dealing with places. 

So every day reminded me of when I was really, really young, and five years old. Mom or Dad would be getting you ready for the day, and when you’re that age, you look out and there’s this big adventure out there, and you have no idea what’s it’s going to be, so it’s even more exciting, in a way. I haven’t had that feeling since I was that young, and the Amazing Race gave me that feeling. Every day I never knew what was coming, and that was really refreshing, at my age. So it was a great experience. I wish we would’ve won, and it would’ve made it a better experience, but things happen.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Just a final one. You must have done many, many interviews over the years, with all your different musical projects. I just wondered if there is a personal hero or inspiration that if the roles were flipped and you could interview, who would you pick? Maybe not even a musician.

James Lomenzo:  Oh. Living or dead?

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Either.

James Lomenzo:  Oh, okay. Well I’d love to have a sit down with Christ, and see what was on his mind for real. That would be the most interesting conversation I could have. There’s one thing I wanted to add to this, because we hadn’t touched on it, but I have a new band called Firstborne with Chris Adler.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Ah, right.A name that’s unfamiliar to me at the moment anyway.

James Lomenzo: And a fellow named Myrone, and a wonderful singer from India called Girish Pradham, and so we put out an EP in the midst of all this, and we’re actually putting that thing, that is a touring, real band, and we’re just going to keep making music, and so I just want people to keep their eye out for that, and the interesting thing about that band is, it’s a longer story. I think we’ve used enough time, but I’ll tell you some other time, if you want to talk again.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  Yes, sure.

James Lomenzo: The interesting thing about this band is, it was formed completely organically. I’d met Chris on the last Hail! run, out to, where did we go? Dubai, and the Mideast. And Chris as you know, was out of Lamb of God for a while, and he was really trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life and so he said, “I’m just going to try all kinds of things.” So while we were out there, we had such a good time playing together. I said, “Don’t forget to call me if you need a bass player,” and sure enough, he did. And this is a really interesting band, because it really calls back to a lot of classic metal and rock, and it really has this weird amalgam of really familiar stuff that you’ve heard. I mean, everything from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, to old blues bands. It’s all in there, and I’m really excited to see, we’ve done a lot of music. And I’m really excited to see what people think about it when we start getting the steam rolling.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  So is there music already? You mentioned an EP there, is that-

James Lomenzo: Yeah, we’ve got an EP. You can go to www.firstborne.com.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  I will indeed, it sounds like my musical cup of tea. Anyway, I’ll not keep you too much longer.  Thank you very much for chatting to me. 

James Lomenzo:  All right, my pleasure, Mark. It was great talking with you. Thank you for letting me pontificate in your space here.

Mark Dean -Interviewer:  It’s been good.

James Lomenzo:  And let’s all stay safe and alive until we can start playing shows again.

And there you have it!  Check out Firstborne and Echobats at the links provided!  Fans can also find Mark Dean at the following locations:

www.facebook.com/Mark-Dean-Media-Journalist

www.twitter.com/DeanoJou

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