In a new interview with Madness To Creation, former MEGADETH, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and WHITE LION bassist James LoMenzo was asked which band he found the most musically challenging to play with. He responded: “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 [put] stock in 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 [Mustaine], 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 [KORN] 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,” he continued. “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 realized 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 mindblowing. 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 bearing 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.”
LoMenzo joined MEGADETH in 2006 and appeared on two of the group’s studio albums, 2007’s “United Abominations” and 2009’s “Endgame”. He was fired from the band in 2010 and replaced with returning original MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson.
In addition to MEGADETH, LoMenzo has played with Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and WHITE LION. For the past six years, LoMenzo has been performing with iconic rocker John Fogerty.