James LoMenzo says that he “loved every bit” of his four-year stint with MEGADETH.
The bassist 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.
Asked by Everyone Loves Guitar how he got the gig with MEGADETH, LoMenzo said (see video below): “I get a call from a friend of mine, Alan Steelgrave, who was working for ESP Guitars at the time. It’s an old friend of mine. And he goes, ‘Hey, man, I’ve got a band for you.’ I go, ‘What is it?’ He goes, ‘It’s one of the big metal bands.’ So I go, ‘Well, it’s not gonna be METALLICA, ’cause [Robert] Trujillo is in that. Oh, MEGADETH.’ He goes, ‘I can’t tell you, man. Just look — get me a package together, get me a bio and stuff like that, and I’ll send it.’ ‘So you’re gonna send this to Dave Mustaine, right?’ He goes, ‘I can’t tell you.’
“Anyway, sure enough, I finally get a call from Dave Mustaine,” he continued. “And I’d never spoken to him; I’d never even met him. And he was very cordial. He told me, he said, ‘I listened to your CD. I think you’re very good.’ And I said, ‘Well, thanks, man.’ He goes, ‘No, I really think you’re a great bass player. I’d love you to come down and audition.’ And so that was it. He told me to come down, learn a couple of songs. We met at his manager’s office on Sunset [in Hollywood]… And I sat there and ran through some tunes and and it was just very matter-of-factly. He was kind of, like, ‘Yeah, it’s really good.’ I sang with him a little bit, and off we went.”
As for why he thinks he ended up being approached to join MEGADETH, LoMenzo said: “I realized — and this isn’t to take anything away from Dave or MEGADETH — but everybody said he’s a really tough guy. So I thought when he was calling, I thought it was that thing, like I was Father Merrin from ‘The Exorcist’. ‘Cause it started seeming to me, like, when I’d get calls, it would always be, like, ‘Who are we gonna get for this one?’ And I kept getting those calls, for people who are noted as being difficult people.
“I always felt that I had this skill to defuse confrontation,” he continued. “I think a lot of people came to me and thought, ‘This guy could probably handle himself without getting in over his head.’ And I’ve gotta tell you, I found Dave to be a wonderful guy and we became the best of friends. We got close. And he’s one of those geniuses.”
LoMenzo said that MEGADETH was a huge learning experience for him as a musician and a performing artist.
“What I took from being in MEGADETH was that there’s so many parts,” he said. “Watching Dave do his thing, there’s so many small parts there that are actually very big parts — in everything; not just in music, not just in promotion, not just in writing the songs; but it all matters, and it all hinges. And up until that point, I don’t think I really ever internalized or considered that to be an important thing of being a rock and roll player…
“I found out that respecting the process for each individual, no matter how complex they may seem, is really important,” he added. “And if you can get behind that, you can make some great music and you can make great strides. Also in marketing — I never thought about marketing until I was in MEGADETH. Everybody does it, like they take it on the cuff now, because we all hold phones and we’re all doing our own little marketing, trying to show people who we are and trying to brand ourselves. In a way, this is common knowledge now, but in 2007, that was the kind of stuff that people were just figuring out. So I kind of got a head start on thinking that way.”
Describing his MEGADETH tenure as “great,” LoMenzo said that he “loved every bit of it. To me, the biggest challenge wasn’t so much the music itself, although it’s a lot of notes and a lot of parts to remember… It reminded me of symphony music — there are all these little parts that would come together and you have to learn them all,” he explained. “It’s really hard to learn that stuff and internalize it, especially as I didn’t know a lot of the music. I knew what I heard on the radio and MTV. So it was tough for me to get that inside me. Once I did, then the challenge was, how do you perform something like that, where you need your hands on the instrument so much? How do you relay that to a big crowd? And I figured out a way to make a show on a stage and play at that velocity.”
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.