“We knew we were good, and you could feel it when we got onstage." Dave Lombardo remembers Slayer's first ever show - and the craziest thing he's ever seen at a gig

Slayer in 1986
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Slayer descended onto the nascent thrash metal scene in the early 80s, it was immediately clear that they went harder and faster than anyone else around them. In the new issue of Metal Hammer magazine, former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo fondly remembers the band's earliest days, including some of their very first shows.

“We knew we were good, and you could feel it in the energy when we got onstage," he says. "We had our own props, smoke machines... we’d build our own pyro! Rig these nails with copper wire and then plug them in so they’d explode and ignite some gunpowder we kept in steel pipes. Thank god there were no regulations – there was a lot of smoke and a lot of chaos in those early shows!”

When asked what the craziest thing he ever saw at a Slayer show was, the drummer -   who recently released his first solo album, Rites Of Percussion - recalls some particularly lairy crowd interactions that took place.

“One of the craziest was when we travelled up to San Francisco, the thrash metal epicentre," he reveals. "The excitement was huge; we were playing with Exodus, and during their set people were climbing up the speakers and leaping off. There were two guys I remember, one was called Andy ‘Airman’ Anderson and the other’s name escapes me, but they would literally walk on heads during shows. They’d run offstage and just see how far they could go until they’d sink and fall in. I’d never seen anything like that before. One time, a kid tried to jump off the balcony onto the stage, but landed feet-first and went through the stage. So his torso was sticking out, trying to wiggle out.”

A co-founding member of Slayer and a part of what is widely considered their 'classic' lineup, Lombardo had multiple lengthy stints in the band, his most recent ending in 2013 when he was fired due to a pay dispute. As well as his solo material, he currently drums in a variety of bands including Mike Patton's Fantômas and Mr Bungle projects, extreme metal supergroup Empire State Bastard and horror punk legends The Misfits. Slayer split up in 2019 following a lengthy farewell world tour.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.