As one of the hardest working metal bands around, Lamb Of God
are enjoying the fruits of their hard earned success. The group's hugely successful and most recent studio outing, 2004's Ashes of the Wake saw the group firmly cement their place as one of the leading forces of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Having recently completed their touring commitments behind their recent album, the group have commenced work on their next studio outing. Taking a break in between the writing sessions for the next album, Joe Matera caught up with one half of Lamb of God's guitar attack Willie Adler for this exclusive interview for UG.
UG: You've been in the midst of the writing process for the next album?
Yeah we started writing once we got home from touring Europe in December and went full force with the writing process and have been writing ever since then. And we kind of finished up with the musical part of it just this past week. Now we're planning to go into the studio. We start pre-production on the 13th of March and then we do that for about three weeks. Then we head to New Jersey to do a week of drums, the same place where we did the drums for the last record. Then we come back to a studio we have here in town in Richmond, Virginia to record the rest of the record. Machine who produced our last record will be again producing our new one.
Will the direction continue on from where the last album left off or veer towards something different?
|"It will definitely be a Lamb Of God record, but I would hate to try and put out the same record out twice."|
It's definitely going to be as heavy and as brutal and it will definitely be a Lamb Of God record. But there is definitely going to be different aspects to it. Like any artist, I would hate to try and put out the same record out twice or try and relive a band's previous record. As far as us growing as a band and maturing in our song writing, I would hope that we have achieved that. There is different stuff and things that we probably wouldn't have put on the last record but at this point in our career, we feel that is part of what we're writing right now. We're all heading in the same direction where we want to write the best stuff possible and challenge ourselves to become better players and better all around dynamically wise within the song. I think we're lot more focused in that respect.
What about the lyrical content, any departure in that department?
As for lyrical content, Randy [Blythe] does a lot of the lyrical stuff. We don't write geared towards any lyrics: the lyrics always come last when we're writing. We usually have all the songs done. Like maybe have about four or five done and then give them to Randy and he'll work on those. And Mark [Morton] has a big hand in the lyric writing as well. Being that both Randy and Mark are equally politically motivated, and which has shown on the past couple of records, I don't think that they're going to stray very far from that.
So when can we expect the album to be out?
I would guess that it would be released around mid- August or September of this year.
You and Mark both have distinctive individual guitar playing styles yet they also compliment each other?
|"I grew up completely metal, just real rugged chops and machine gun playing like Mustaine, Hammett and Waters."|
Mark and I are really lucky in the sense that we do have complimented styles. Yet we play so differently and the way that our styles interact with each other just comes out awesome. Stylistically wise, Mark is very groovy and very bluesy and takes more from Jimi Hendrix and players like that. For me, I grew up completely metal, just real rugged chops and machine gun playing like Dave Mustaine, Kirk Hammett and Jeff Waters, that type of feel. So it's really cool that we found each other and are able to work off each others strengths.
How does the each player approach their own guitar parts within the frame work of a song?
It's weird because a lot of times we'll come into a practice and I might come in with a whole song written or vice versa where Mark will come in with a whole song written. I'll have an idea on what I'd lay on top of Mark's song or Mark will have a similar idea equally to make a certain part stand out more in my song or add more depth and atmosphere to it. It happens during the writing process a lot but also in the studio process too when we're taken out of our fish bowl of the practice space. You know, where we've been there all day long, five days a week, but once we get into the studio to actually lay down the ideas and are able to objectively listen to it, then new ideas will pop up as well. In that case we feel like we might need another week of overdubs to add this or that cool part to the song that we never ever thought of existed beforehand.
There is a lot of technical intricacy in both of your guitar parts, is that something that you strive to achieve by bettering yourselves as players?
Yeah, it's there not for showing off though but because we're definitely trying to challenge ourselves every day in order to become better players. And it works. There is stuff like on the new record for example, stuff that is really simple as well as stuff that is extremely technical, but it all has its spot and it all fits. It's not to show off in any way but to make for a better song.
Is there a process you or Machine adheres to in the studio in order to go about capturing your guitar sounds?
Man, that's the hardest part about it besides the actual writing of the material! Though Machine is definitely not really versed in doing heavy metal records as he's done a lot of hip hop, the heaviest thing he did before us was the Clutch record yet he has a great objective ear. While on As The Palaces Burn (2003) we wanted a full crunch-crunch Mesa Boogie sound similar to how we play live by making it doubly as heavy, Machine's approach was more like 'why don't you go into three different amps?' He would say 'why don't you go through a vintage Marshall and then through a Boogie and then through a Sans Amp?' He would get us to set up a clean channel on the Boogie and have another similar one on the Marshall going as well too.
It takes a few days of this process to actually achieve the tone that we want to record with. Once we find it though, we make sure nobody touches the mics or goes into the room where the mics are all set up because once we achieve that sound, that's it, we're ready to go.
Using the title track of the last album Ashes To The Wake as an example, explain this process?
Mark didn't record any of the guitar tracks on that one except for the guitar solo so I did them all. I used an old Marshal amp that Machine had brought down and we tried to a get real nice 'rock tone like AC/DC's happening. Something where you can really hear the pick attack and there's not a lot of room for mistakes, as you really have to hit your notes because you don't have all the distortion to help you out. Then we went through the Mesa Boogie which being a Mark IV is incredibly versatile and gives you that distortion that I personally like.
Having the combinations of the two tones where again you really have to be meticulous about playing because you're playing through this Marshall and then you've got an extra little hand with the Mesa Boogie giving you so much distortion, it allows you to focus a lot more and really hear what you're playing. I played two rhythm tracks on that whole record compared to As The Palaces Burn where we did four rhythm tracks on each and every song. There reason why there are only two rhythm tracks on every song on Ashes Of The Wake is because the tone we achieved was the heaviness brought in by the Mesa Boogie and then the clarity of the Marshall, so you didn't need any more.
Your live show seems to have a simpler set-up than your studio sound and set-up yet you're able to recapture many of your studio sounds?
|"Our live sound IS really simple. Yet to get our sound in the studio we have to re-amp and go through 3 different amps just to achieve the sound we have live."|
Yeah absolutely and that's the funny part about it because our live sound IS really simple. We both use Mesa Mark IVs and both pretty much go straight through directly and there are no effects. Yet to get our sound in the studio we have to re-amp and go through three different amps just to achieve the sound we have live. But it's worth it as it comes out and I think it shows.
You're pretty much playing Framus guitars and cabs?
Funny you should ask about that as though I'm still playing the Framus cabs, I recently switched over and signed on with ESP for guitars. I was very happy with Framus and have nothing bad to say about Framus as they were really great to me, but with ESP they are over the top and above and beyond the call of duty. I love their guitars and they're willing to do anything. In fact, I'm actually working on my signature model with them as we speak. We're hoping for it to receive a Summer release in time for the Summer NAMM in Austin, Texas.
Finally what's the rest of your live set-up?
I use a Mesa Boogie Mark IV, a Compressor, a Rocktron Hush unit and a Sennheiser wireless and that's it. Mark uses pretty much exactly the same thing but he runs his set-up in stereo so he's actually running two Mesa Boogie Mark IVs. Tone settings wise one of his Mesa Boogie Mark IVs is set up differently while the other one pretty much has the same settings as mine. So he runs his in stereo while I run mine in mono.