Empire State Bastard is the new extreme metal project created by Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil and former Oceansize frontman Mike Vennart, and features Lombardo on drums alongside Bitch Falcon’s bassist Naomi Macleod.
Speaking in a recent interview for NME’s In Conversation series, Neil revealed that the pair spent two weeks talking about drummers who could “play like Dave Lombardo” before one day during the pandemic they said: “Shall we just fucking get Dave Lombardo’s address and email him?”
“Within 24 hours he got back and was like, ‘This is fucking great, what are you thinking?’ We’d never even met him, but ended up with this on-the-phone relationship for about a year or so,” Neil continued.
“He really understood what we were trying to do with this album and band. He’s so busy and gets approached for a lot of things, but as soon as he came back and said, ‘This is special, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna play with you and make this record’ – that’s when we went, ‘Right, this is fucking happening.'”
“We had to shift into gear, because if Dave Lombardo says it’s a good bunch of songs then you know you’re onto something! We’ve been doing this for two decades, but he makes us want to do it for another two decades,” said Neil. “We’re still not quite used to it though, are we?”
“No, not at all,” continued Vennart. “It’s one thing being on stage, that’s hard enough in itself, but you wanna try going to Greggs with him. He’s like, ‘What is this stuff?’”
Neil added: “Mike had him in every fucking supermarket in Todmorden where we were rehearsing – Lidl, Aldi, Morrissons – looking for fucking Brylcreem!”
The pair then revealed they’d taken Lombardo down the middle aisle at Lidl. “He was like, ‘Wow, this place has everything!’ He came out with an organ-grinder,” said Vennart before Neil added: “You can buy a bridal gown and some haggis. Welcome to Britain. He did wonder why there wasn’t much fresh fruit and vegetables and we had to explain: ‘Those days are gone, Dave’.”
Empire State Bastard is rounded out by Naomi Macleod from Bitch Falcon on bass. “She’s the glue in this organisation,” Vennart told NME. “She’s absolutely marvellous. She carries herself so well and she’s such a bad-ass player, man: so heavy, so loud, so brutal.”
Neil added: “Mike’s known Naomi for a while and knew that she was just the perfect person to play these songs. We can be a bit flappy, but she has this stoicism that brought us down when we were getting nervous and adrenalised. Turns out that after the show she was shitting herself as well!”
“She also brings soul to the music, which is why I think this music is special,” he continued. “If you don’t listen to much extreme music then you might struggle to find the soul in it, but this record and the music we play is jam-packed with it. We’re very lucky.”
Elsewhere in the interview the pair spoke about debut album ‘Rivers Of Heresy’ and the future of the band, while Neil gave an update on his other side-projects Marmaduke Duke and Trippie Toe.
The band are due to play Glastonbury Festival next weekend as part of a European festival tour. Check out the dates below:
21-25 – UK, Glastonbury, Earache Takeover
07 – UK, 2000trees Festival
21 – Norway, Malakoff Rockfestival
02 – 05 – Germany, Wacken Open Air
17 – UK, ArcTanGent