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Archive for July, 2013

LAMB OF GOD

Lamb of God
Lamb of God


LAMB OF GOD

Ross Baker Talks to Bassist John Campbell

“We are no longer that kind of underdog metal band that everybody roots for. We are now the target.” stated bassist John Campbell back on the intro of their “Walk With Me In Hell” DVD.  Poised to release their seventh opus “Resolution”, the Virginians have certainly long since outgrown the status of plucky underdog and become that of global metal juggernaut having toured with the likes of Black Sabbath, Metallica and Slayer, not to mention cultivating a sound which can be instantly recognised as protagonists of southern groove metal. On the phone from his home in Richmond, Campbell is an affable gentleman who takes what he does very seriously. It was he along with guitarist Mark Morton and drummer Chris Adler who formed the band way back in the early 90s. I begin by asking John if he ever envisioned where Lamb of God would be today back in the band’s more humble beginnings. “We expected to play some parties, get free beer and to hit on girls! It’s fantastic to be where we are today. I find it interesting in an age where everyone’s opinions can be expressed through the internet. I have a unique insight when these self professed experts wish to discuss my band and seem to know what our goals are. To some people we have crossed a line of popularity where we are not cool to be liked. But we are very happy to be where we are!”

Having pushed the biggest names in metal to the limit onstage, I wondered how John felt about young bands trying to do this with his own act. “Any time we play a show we want to be the best band that plays on that stage. It motivates us. When we played with Slayer and Metallica our M.O. was to go out and kill! We feel we can take any one crowd and turn them into a Lamb Of God crowd. All the young bands snapping at our heels better bring their A game. We are still hungry! Bring it on!”

With the release of “Resolution” looming in January, I wanted to find out what had inspired the Virginian powerhouse this time round. “We demoed songs in the rehearsal space. The drums and vocals were done in New York and the guitars here in Virginia. Our producer Josh Wilbur got a huge sound out of us and helped us refine the songs as we arranged them. I know every band says this but the end result came out killer!”

“Resolution” is the band’s seventh album which sees L.O.G. revisit many aspects of their music but also branch out and add new elements such as the orchestra and operatic female vocal which appear in album closer “King Me”. Would we be seeing more of this from L.O.G. in the future? “We don’t know until we cross that bridge, if it sounds right, then absolutely. On each record we have expanded our palette and incorporate aspects of the previous record. The song “King Me” was written by Willie. It has a great feeling. Beforehand, I wasn’t very happy when I first heard the track with the female vocal and the orchestra. It took me a while to adapt to the new flavour of the song. I love the track now, though. The female vocals are very haunting and memorable.”

In light of John having warmed to the idea of experimenting more with Lamb Of God’s sound, I wondered was there anything he would like to try in the future. “I don’t think you will hear a dub step record from us! I try to live my life defining things that I am not! I think we would try just about anything but we are very critical, strong willed people so if we don’t agree then it’s not going to happen. I think in a way we have defined the Lamb Of God sound and we will always be a heavy metal band for the duration of our existence.”

Having overcome internal tensions such as a well documented tour bus fight between vocalist Randy Blythe and lyricist/ guitar player Mark Morton on the Killadelphia tour, John was quick to play down any talk of internal tension amongst the band members. “That happens from time to time. People take turns being mad at each other”, John laughed. “We have come a long way since then. This band is like a family. We have all experienced hardships in our lives which have brought us closer together and we channel that energy into our music.” Considering the levels of aggression on an L.O.G. album I wondered if any of this conflict influenced the content of the album.” “Sacrament” was more of a political album and “Wrath” was a bit more personal. This record is coming from a similar place to “Wrath”. It’s a commentary and a lament for the human condition. There are certain situations that are universal that people can relate to. We want people to interpret the lyrics the way they want but it’s not a political record like we have done in the past.”

One act Lamb Of God has drawn comparisons with for much of their career is Texan metal gods Pantera. Certainly in addition to their heavy groove metal sound, harsh vocals and relentless double kick drum work, L.O.G. display a similar work ethic with dogged touring and their uncompromising approach to making music that recalls the late metal legends. I enquired as to whether being compared to Pantera was still a compliment or was it now a tiresome cross to bear? “It’s great to be mentioned in the same breath as Pantera but it would be nice not to have it everywhere you turn! It’s nice egotistically to stand on our own as we have our own sound but when we came out Pantera were one of those bands who were putting out albums that were worth listening to! If the comparison is more than just a sonic one then that’s very flattering!”

It is at this point I bring up the fact that the time of this interview marks the seventh anniversary of when Pantera Guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott was brutally gunned down during a show at the Alrosa Villa club in Columbus Ohio on December 8th 2004 by former U.S. marine Nathan Gale. I asked John if he is aware of the significance of today’s date, where he was at the time and how this tragic event affected him and his band personally. “Absolutely I am aware.” Campbell begins in a sombre tone. “We thankfully had the opportunity to meet Dimebag a few months before on the road when he was touring with Damageplan. He was an amazing dude. We hung out with those guys after the show and had a great time. About a month later we were playing a show on Brighton beach when we got the news. I remember walking down the beach, just feeling stunned. It was really hard to take in what had happened.”

Steering the conversation back towards more positive topics, I asked John what he wanted to achieve next with Lamb Of God. “I really enjoy playing countries we have not visited before. We are playing in South Korea and Alaska soon which we have never done before. In terms of playing with other bands, we have already played with Metallica and Slayer so I don’t know where we could go from there! For me it’s all about the live show. It’s an amazing thing to keep playing bigger venues and larger crowds and spreading our message to new people.”

L.O.G. have never been an act to collaborate musically with anyone else. Was there anyone who John felt they might want to work with in the future? “There is a band from here in Richmond called RPG who I played bass with for a bit in 2008 but now they have a much more competent bass player! (laughs). If he ever wants to take a short vacation, I’d happily fill in for him for a while! These guys all have jobs outside of making music so we did a few weekend warrior tours where I was setting up my equipment and lugging stuff around which made me feel very humble and reminded me how far we have come!”

Looking to the future now I asked John what the battle plan was in terms of touring in 2012 and what the next step is in the evolution of the band. “We are still working things out but we are going to be in Europe for the Festival season. We only played one show last year and spent the rest of it doing the record so we are hungry to get out and play for the fans. We are going to be touring for two years on this record and will play Europe more than once. We will be in the U.K. sometime after March. We love coming to the U.K. and we will pay there a couple of times next year! We are really proud of this record and can’t wait to come out and kill it every night we play! We take no prisoners!”

ROSS BAKER

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