You guys recently were on tour with the Mayhem Festival, how was your overall experience there?
It was really good, we were, at least on the main stage, definitely one of the heavier bands, and I think a lot of the fans that came out to Mayhem are used to kind of the radio rock; the heavy metal they get to know over radio stations and on TV, and maybe they haven’t seen or heard of bands quite as heavy as we are, so I think we turned a lot of those fans on to the “dark side” of heavy metal, if you will.
You guys have been on tour almost non stop almost this entire year, is there–
It’s true, yeah. We left in December of 2008 and we really haven’t been home for more than 3 weeks, that’s it.
Would you say there’s an addictive aspect to touring?
Addictive? Wow… Ummm… I don’t think so. I mean, it’s definitely, you know, from the outside, it seems just Friday night all the time, but on the inside, it’s actually a lot of work. You end up missing your home. It’s kind of like a kid going to camp, it’s cool for a week, and then your parents left you there for 6 weeks, you start missing– we all miss our lives, and our kids, and our friends, and our family; and we miss a lot of time at home. So it’s hard to be away, to stay away as long as we have. But we realize that we’re kind of living our dream and we can’t really complain about it, we’re really very fortunate that people want to have us come play! Especially with our last record, we were touring for like a set of two years basically, and that doesn’t happen very often these days. We’re really very lucky.
How do you balance having a family with touring?
That’s definitely the hardest part of this whole profession, is trying to make painless relationships and keep your family strong, but you know, if I were home, if I were to quit and say, “hey, I’m going to stay home with my family.” I’d have to obviously get a job probably from 9AM to 5PM every day. So this, doing what I do, I might miss January, but hopefully I’m home til February. And again, we know it’s not going to last forever. We’re lucky to be in it right now, so we’re going to make the most of it, and do our best to keep our relationships as strong as we can so we are able to get home and (laughs) fix them up, I’d say!
You guys just released the Hourglass box set, that seems to have solidified your success in metal, how does that make you feel?
It’s kind of crazy, the label came to us and said they wanted to do a greatest hits album and we immediately said, “No, we hate that idea, we’re a metal band. We really don’t have any greatest hits.” It just always seems like such a cheap rip-off to the fans. But we wanted to do something, you know, we’ve been around for 15 years. We wanted to try to put something special together for people that might catch onto us for the first time on the Mayhem Fest, like I was talking to you about, experiencing new fans, and for the people who have been around with us since the beginning.
We tried to put a package together that they found something unique and not– we don’t want to put anything out there that we feel like the fans already have or that we’re ripping anybody off. So it’s kind of a special moment for us being able to come up with all of these different packages and to do something– have a career this long that allows us to do something like that. So yes, very cool.
Listening back to the older songs, what is one thing you’ve noticed that you guys have evolved with?
I think probably the biggest thing is, that when we started, we were all very personally driven by ego, where we just wanted– we weren’t as concerned about the song or the profits, we just all wanted to show off, and it turned out some good material, but it was less professional song writing. And I think as we grew up and gained more experience, we learned that if we could let go of that ego and work with each other better or more, pay attention to the song, and not our own individual parts of it, that the songs came to evolve and became more memorable and overall, better songs.
Based on what you’ve said in the past, you insinuate that you want to feel the music and not just play it, that you want to bring your music to life. How do you go about bringing it to life?
Well… Umm… (pauses) It’s an interesting question. I mean, I think the magic in this is how people create different kinds of art and it’s always trying to explain to people who want to or don’t do that kind of thing how that happens. It’s not necessarily a mystery, but it’s definitely an interesting event, you know.
We get together, we all have different ideas of what we like and what we’re bringing to the table. Then this kind of magic happens where we create these things together. We argue, like any family would, about how “no, I want it like this,” or “no, I want it like that!” And sometimes those arguments are tough, but that’s part of the process. And in doing that, not just following one agenda, but working together, I think we create something bigger than any individual.
Then when we go to the recording process, we try to make sure it’s not a sterilized process that’s fixed by certain computer boundaries. Meaning, like when we do, like most bands when they go into the studio, they use Quick Track, which is– we do as well, but Quick Track is basically so you know that everything is on time and you can look at a grid on a computer where everything fits. And for us, we use that, but we define Quick Tracks by as music that we write, instead of the other way around.
A lot of bands say, “ok, this song is going to be at a certain tempo,” where we go in and play the song the way we like to play it, the way it feels, and then we record it that way, then we go back and make Quick Tracks based on how we actually played it. So we’re not changing it into like a sterile form, the music is moving the way we want it to move, we study that, make that kind of the blueprint of how it’s supposed to go. So, that helps the recording process, makes things feel like they’re alive as well.
Would you say that because so many artists just play music and not really feel it like you guys do, that is one of the reasons why music today isn’t as good as it once was?
(laughs) That’s a loaded question! Yeah, I think there is some music today that’s better than music ever was, so I don’t know if I necessarily agree with you 100%, BUT I do think that, that process– that sterilization process, that’s become kind of the “norm” in the studio, definitely has taken away a lot of the feel of a lot of bands, and a lot of bands nowadays skip the whole process of getting together and writing songs, they’re passing files back and fourth on their computer and just writing their parts with their keyboards, instead of actually playing, and I think that makes for a pretty dangerous live show, obviously, when no one’s actually played the material, but it also comes across to me, as fake. You got to be (inaudible), you got to work with other people, and that’s what makes music better.
Lamb of God is working on a new album to come out next year, correct?
Yeah. Well, we’re going to start– we’re still touring, we’re leaving for South America next week, and we got Australia and New Zealand with Metallica in October/November, and then we’re home in December, then in January, hopefully latest February, we’ll get together and start writing the new one!
Do you have any ideas for the next album?
Yeah, we do. Umm. Mark [Morton], our guitar player, has seven or eight guitar ideas written out, like full-on songs. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to keep them that way, we’ll get together and beat them up and add new parts or subtract, you know, whatever, work together. But, we definitely got a head start on this one, more so than we’ve ever had in the past. Mark’s taken a lot of time to write this stuff, so we’ve got a good head start.
What do you think is going to be different about this album compared to some of your previous ones?
A lot of our albums in the past, have come as a result of a reaction to the one before it. Like, Wrath, we really wanted to make a very heavy record because we felt like Sacrament had kind of taken us as far as we wanted to go, kind of in a commercial direction, it wasn’t– it was a very heavy record, it wasn’t really commercial, but after listening back to it, some of the studio tricks and magic that the producer was pushing, just felt like we had gone too far in that direction, so we wanted to kind of rally the other way and make a more raw, aggressive record with Wrath. But now, I don’t think we’re very reactive at this point to anything.
I think this album is going to be a lot more wide open, normally people have those kind of boundaries, that where their art fits within. Of course with a heavy metal band, it’s going to be a heavy metal record. I don’t think we’re going to limit ourselves and say, “this is going to be the heaviest, or the fastest, or slowest, or more rock, or less death metal, or anything.”
I think we– there’s no more boundaries for us anymore, we’ve really created many records that sound all a little bit different, but show different sides with the band. And I think, hopefully on this one, we’re able to be a little more creative and kind of not categorize ourselves, and not have a specific direction where we can kind of have all directions.
So, it may be a mesh of everything from the Burn the Priest days up to Wrath?
Well, I think– my– me, personally, my favorite records in the catalogue of the band, are from the Burn the Priest record, and the As the Palaces [Burn] record, I think those are– even because in a certain period of time, of course as well, but I also believe that those probably have our most aggressive material on it. I’m a big fan of speed, you know, that’s kind of just raging, prog[ressive], speed metal. That’s the direction that I’d like to go in.
The other guys, over time, have kind of mellowed out a little bit with more rock-based songs, and that’s where songs like Redneck and Set to Fail and those kinds of songs area little more groovy and stuff like that. So, I think they’re going to be both– on the record, like I said, it’s going to be a mix/match of everything, but we’re not going to limit ourselves to one or the other this time, I think we’re going to let both live together.
I’m excited to hear the new album!
Yeah, me too!
Do you think one of the reasons Lamb of God has been successful over the last several years, is because of how you guys connect with the crowd?
That’s probably the biggest, the biggest factor in our success. Being able to get out there and play live as much as we have, definitely helps. But I think our live shows is far more important than any of our records. Like, the music that we write, you know, like we were talking about earlier, how do you make an album have full of feeling; it’s really very difficult, and it’s not always possible to get it the same way it feels to us when we’re in the rehearsal stage jamming til 10.
So, I think the live show has really made us, the band that we are, where people come out and connect with that energy that we have, that the music has, and it’s pretty magical when that happens, when we have a show, doing what we love to do, you can feel the connection with the crowd, and I think that connection or shared energy kind of brings the music to a whole new level you’d never get listening to an album by yourself or in your car. So, it’s definitely a part of our success.
Is there anything with music today that excites you verses before you became a musician?
Yeah, it’s the same thing. I mean, I was definitely born with metal in my blood, and I love this kind of music! I’m still a fan, I still go to the shows, I still buy the records. I haven’t become, other than my own music and making money to become better, I haven’t become jaded about it. I really am still a huge fan and love doing this. I realized than when I was a kid, this was all I ever wanted to be. I’m still happy to recognize how lucky I am to be doing it. Yeah, it’s the same thing. I’m going to be 70-years-old sitting on my porch blasting Carcass and Testament, so if you see me moving in, you may want to put up a for-sale sign! (laughs)
Do you think your perspective as a fan differs from someone who isn’t a musician? Or do you think it’s the same?
Umm. As a fan, I think it’s probably the same. I mean, I sit around, listen to music, put my headphones on, have a few drinks, hanging out with my buddies playing tunes, you know, that kind of thing. But being on the inside, you see things, you meet people, you realize kind of– it’s kind of like when you go to the circus or something, you see all the stuff that’s going on, everyone’s like, “wow, wow, wow!” Because you go backstage and see everyone cleaning up the elephant shit. So, it’s not always as pretty on my side of the tent, but I haven’t become jaded about it. I still love the show, I still love the music. It’s obviously a big part of my life, I’d do it again if I had the chance, or the option.
You’ve been producing This or the Apocalypse’s new album. What has been the most rewarding aspect for you by doing this?
Probably that somebody would want me to do it. I know I’ve had my hands really heavy in all the Lamb of God records and they’ve turned out pretty well, but to have somebody– I was interested in getting into it, but never really found a particular band that I really wanted to work with or had the time to work with. And then, I caught up with these guys and made good friends with them, helped them write some of the tunes, drum parts; went back and fourth with them.
We were able to get together and make a record in New York with Josh, who did the Lamb of God records. So, it was very rewarding to me, as a process to see outside of my own band, and offer those special services to somebody else, and have it come out, at least on a listening level, a big success. These guys are very happy with the record, the label’s happy with the record, and I think it’s a great record.
Did you want to produce music for this or did it just happen, fall into your lap? What interested you in wanting to produce?
Yeah, I always wanted to. And you know, from the early Burn the Priest cassettes and 7-inches, as much production work that went into those on my part, as what I just did with This or the Apocalypse. So, I’ve always really enjoyed that process and look forward to continue doing it, even after Lamb of God. Hopefully I get those opportunities more often.
You’ve said before that you thought Lamb of God’s popularity had run it’s course, but with everything that’s happened in the last year or two, do you think the popularity will ever fade?
It’s really hard to say. I mean, I know that metal fans can be very, very particular and very kind of, fickle when it comes to their music. And I think today’s fans have very short attention spans, you know, there’s a new band every two minutes on Facebook and MySpace. They come and go so quickly these days that it’s really hard to believe that we’ve made it this far.
So, like I said, it’s always been a surprise to me that people have stuck with us as much as they have and continue to grow; our audience is getting bigger and bigger, instead of smaller and smaller. I don’t know too many bands that have been around for fifteen years that have that kind of story to tell. We’re very lucky, I don’t want to jinx it and say that it’s going to go on forever. It’s always a surprise to me that we’ve done as well as we have and I’m obviously very lucky to be a part of it. Hopefully it continues.
I don’t know, I know we’ve toured for a long time with bands like Slayer and Megadeth, and Metallica, these kind of legacy acts that kind of built an audience, they can go wherever they want, play wherever they want. We would be very, very lucky to have that kind of situation happen to us. But that’s not for us to decide, that’s for the fans to let us know, and so far, so good!
Would you say that Lamb of God has already left some sort of legacy?
(pauses) I– That’s tough to say, I think when the books are written, that’s for somebody else to write about us. To tell you something is pretty presumptuous on my part to think that we are anything special. I do think that we came along at a very good time, I think that the heavy metal scene, when we started doing New American Gospel and [As the] Palaces [Burn], really needed that kick in the butt and a show of somewhat success for other bands to believe that music could come back and be successful. So I certainly think we played a part in that time, but I don’t know how in the end it will be remembered.
Lamb of God has done so much in the last decade, what do you think has been one of the most important things that you all have contributed to heavy metal?
That’s again– that’s tough, I think other people would say that better about us than we have, it’s very egotistical for me to think that I contributed anything to it. But, I see how big our shows are, I see how far we’ve come. I realize how we play a part in the scene and I hear from kids and bands all the time how much of an influence we are, so I’m not oblivious to that, but I don’t think, it’s not very proper of me to insinuate that we had anything to do with anything.
We do what we do because we love it, we’re not looking to change the world, I think we’re very fortunate to continue doing what we’re doing, we’re lucky that we’ve had an influence on people, and I think the biggest thing, is that we’re lucky we kind of stay true to what we wanted to do and still make music that we want to make. So I think as long as we do that, I think we’ll be alright.