Lamb Of God’s Chris Adler: The Gun Shy Interview

Part I

There aren’t many bands that can tour behind a single record for two years straight. But then again, most bands aren’t Virginia’s Lamb of God, who are arguably one of the biggest metal outfits in all the world. I mean, think about it — who else can tour two years running on a metal record? Metallica did it on Death Magnetic, but other than that, there’s only Slayer and Megadeth.

Chris AdlerPlus, the band’s last record, Wrath, debuted at #2 on theBillboard Top 200 back in early 2009, selling more than 68,000 copies. Such achievements are unheard of for a group so brutal, but Lamb of God have been slowly built an allegiant, underground following that appreciates the fact that the band’s never softened, even after inking a major label deal. But two years is a long time to be away from home, and so now, the band’s taking some time to unwind…and then they will start to write new material.

“We just finished all the touring for Wrath which ended up taking, in full, about two years; I think the longest we were home at any time during those two years was about three weeks, so it’s not often that — just kind of seeing what’s going on out there — bands are able to tour that long,” Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler tells Gun Shy Assassin, who you can tell truly appreciates the position his band’s in and the opportunities that brings. “In fact, most bands are struggling to do anything and they’re putting out an album a year. We’ve been lucky to be able to keep going and it’s been cool, but its also been really exhausting, so we’re going to kind of lay low for the holidays, and then I think probably February, get together and start writing the new one which we hope to have done by the end of next year.”

Yes, people. That’s right. Gun Shy Assassin spoke with the very humble Adler exclusively about Lamb of God and the plan for the foreseeable future and it goes something like this: In early 2011, start writing songs and be recording stuff by July, with an eye on releasing the new record sometime before the band starts a tour that’s already been booked for January 2012.

“We’re already booked for several tours in 2012, so, we’ve already got the schedule rolling and a little job security, so things are good. We’re booked through the end of July of 2012…if we can hold it together.”

Lamb of God have come along way since the Devin Townsend-produced As The Palaces Burn, the record that — in my opinion — was the beginning of LOG’s mercurial rise.

“It’s pretty bizarre,” Adler admits. “We’ve been keeping our nose to the grindstone, and taking advantage of the opportunities and make smart moves. There’s been very little time to reflect on that. We really don’t even know our place anymore. We just keep trudging along at our own pace. I don’t think any of us really recognize the size of what we’ve accomplished. Yet. I don’t know what that will happen but…we’ll see.”

For Adler — who said being away from his wife and daughter the last two years was “really tough, emotional torture” — and the rest of Lamb of God, the next couple of months will be about unraveling, reconnecting with family, taking care of long-overdue home improvements, and “trying to get the creative juices flowing.”

Because 2011 is all about the new Lamb of God record, Adler says. “It’s going to take a minute, but hopefully February, we’ll start knocking around ideas,” he says. ”I know there are a lot of ideas already. I think [guitarists] Willie [Adler, Chris’ brother] and Mark [Morton] have eight or nine really good long ideas of what they want to do. We are working with Josh Wilbur again and hoping by July, we will be in a studio somewhere, with songs written, kind of banging ‘em out.”

Video: Lamb of God“Hit the Wall”

Part II

In 2011, Lamb of God will be on a break from the road, but focusing on their next record — the follow-up to 2009’s Wrath, which will be the band’s second straight record with Josh Wilbur at the helm. According to Chris Adler, the band hope to be tracking new material by July, with an eye towards releasing the disc in late 2011 or early 2012. But what’s the plan for the next disc? Adler says he has “a bunch of ideas” he’d like to present to the band for the new disc, and discussed the writing process and how it has evolved for Lamb of God over the years.

“I’m in the process of doing drum tablature books, and I’m writing a little bit about each song, sort of telling the story, and if you go back and listen to all the albums, you can hear how the writing has changed,” Adler tells Gun Shy Assassin. “On the first couple of albums, you can tell it is very rhythmically driven, especially [the band’s 2000 LP] New American Gospel: it’s all about these pummeling rhythms and those were basically ideas I had brought in, rhythmically. Same with [the follow-up, As The Palaces Burn]: there are lots of rhythms going on underneath some of the lead lines, and was really the driving force of those records.”

But things changed with Sacrament and the Grammy-nominated Wrath, Adler says.

“As the guitar players really stepped in to their own, you can tell the difference where they were bringing in ideas and I was kind of doing my best to come up with rhythms based on what they were doing,” he explained. “Sacrament is heavily guitar-driven as is Wrath. I have been — for the past two albums — been just sitting back and allowing these guys to do what they do because they’re world class players now, and I have learned to play for the song and not really push my agenda and come in there and say, ‘I don’t like it’ or whatever. I really enjoy working with these guys and respect what they’re able to do in the writing process, so I don’t want to get in the way. I have been collecting a bunch of ideas that I do want to throw in on this record. Just different kind of grooves…a bunch of grooves and rhythms. I want to try to find ways to make those things happen underneath what’s going on.”

During my recent chat with Chris Adler, I mentioned to him that Lamb of God were mentioned the other day on “The Howard Stern Show,” when former employee K.C. Armstrong had a nervous breakdown on the air; Armstrong was blasting LOG and Lou Reed from his car as he drove around Los Angeles, singing at the top of his lungs.

Adler says he’s a fan of Stern, and is even pretty tight with Richard Christy, a writer on the show now who has drummed with Iced Earth, Death, and his band Charred Walls of the Damned.

“At some point, years ago, we picked Richard up in New York,” Adler starts telling me. “It was Ozzfest 2004, probably. He came out to the show in New York and he and I ended up having a few too many drinks. He ended up passing out in the bus and waking up in Philadelphia for the next show, and was working on how to get back to New York.”

But Christy had a week off from the Stern show, and ended up spending that week in Lamb of God’s tour bus. “He ended up being my drum tech, because my guy couldn’t get into Canada for some stupid reason, and they just wouldn’t let the guy cross the border. Richard drum-teched for me across Canada for three or four shows. It was kind of embarassing to have him drum-teching for me because I knew, at any second, he could get up there and play circles around me. He’s a monster…definitely a world class dude, and he taught me a few things I’m waiting to pull out of the bag for the next record.”

Before I ended our conversation, I asked Adler if he’d seen AMC’s “The Walking Dead” yet. Having just found out about this show, spending the previous day watching all of the show’s episodes on demand, I asked Adler about zombie apocalypses. Has he ever considered what he’d do if the dead started strolling the Earth, looking for flesh to consume.

“I actually just picked up Forrest Griffin’s book ‘Be Ready When The Shit Goes Down,’ which is basically a survival guide for the zombie apocalypse. I’m halfway through that and it goes through everything. It’s kind of a joke, but it’s kind of not. I’m still in the process of buying my apocalyptic vehicle which will get us out of the metropolitan area, up until the hills in Virginia. That’s sort of the idea…to stay out of any metropolitan area that would be cordoned off or where disease can spread or infection can be transmitted. So, I have to talk my wife into buying a Hummer because right now, all we have is a couple of bikes and a Prius.”

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Chris Harris
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