Slayer officially retired after playing their final show on Nov. 30, 2019 and it was something Tom Araya had wanted to do for a long time, even going back to when Dave Lombardo was still in the band (he was dismissed in 2013). The drummer revealed he and guitarist Kerry King had intended to form a new band, knowing Araya was eyeing retirement. And this was all before Jeff Hanneman died in 2013.
Lombardo spoke about various junctures in his illustrious career as a guest on “The Ex-Man” podcast, hosted by Bad Wolves and God Forbid guitarist Doc Coyle. In the interview, the drummer noted Araya’s long-standing desire to get off the road for good, which prompted him and King to plot the formation of a new band and, it turns out, they had their eyes on Exodus axeman Gary Holt.
“When I was [still] in the band, I knew Tom wanted to retire. I knew he wanted to stop,” said Lombardo, who continued, “Actually, Kerry and I were gonna start a new band after Tom’s retirement. And we were actually scouting guitar players.”
Festival grounds are a natural spot to start scoping out potential band members and the two capitalized on the opportunity while playing Hellfest in France.
“We said, ‘Hey, let’s go see Exodus.’ And so Kerry and I walked over to the stage where Exodus was playing, and we stood on the side of the stage, stage left, and were watching Gary,” added the drummer, who clarified, “Jeff was still in [Slayer at that point], Jeff was still playing, Jeff was fine.”
“And I told [Kerry], I go, ‘There’s our guy right there,'” Lombardo said in reference to Holt. “‘That’s the guitar player we need,'” he recollected. Due to Hanneman’s untimely death, Holt was eventually tabbed as the guitarist’s replacement, remaining with Slayer from 2013 through their final gig last year.
Further detailing the idea to form a new band, Lombardo said, “We didn’t tell Gary — I don’t think we had told Gary that Kerry and I were going to start a new band, but he was the first choice when that moment came [to replace Jeff in Slayer]. And I agreed, everybody agreed. And Jeff agreed as well, because he knew — he knew.”
The lineup featuring Araya, King, Lombardo and Holt was short-lived as Lombardo was let go from Slayer in February of 2013 after raising questions about Slayer’s tour finances and band member payouts.
Although he didn’t get to perform with the band he was an original member of on their farewell tour, he has a rosy viewpoint. “As far as I’m concerned, I played the first show with the original Slayer, and I played the last show with the original Slayer, and I’m happy with that. It was a brilliant band. We made some history. And I wish them well. But there’s nothing, man,” stated the drummer.
With Slayer retired, King is intent on staying active musically and has said he has two solo albums worth of material already written. Time will tell if he and Lombardo ever link back up.
Every Slayer Song Ranked