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The lost Chris Adler from Lamb of God interview!November 12th, 2010 at Fri, 12th, 2010 at 11:18 am by Shawn Skager
From the lost files of Electric Phase we bring you the oft mentioned, never before seen interview with Chris Adler, drummer of Lamb of God.
This interview was done just a week after Lamb of God closed their summer festival swing with Mayhem Festival 2010 in August.
We caught up with Adler at his home in Virginia, where he was taking some much needed time off from almost two years of constant touring to prepare to head back on the road for Lamb of God’s now concluded nine-show headlining tour of South America. We talked about the band’s new super-cool box set extravaganza “Hourglass” and the bands opening spot on Metallica’s nine-date Australian and New Zealand tour which kicked off Oct. 13 in Auckland and concluded Nov. 11 in Sydney.
Adler, a founding member of the Richmond, Va. based metal band also shared his thoughts on being a inspiration to a new generation of metal drummers and talked about the future of the band and plans to begin working on it’s seventh album.
Electric Phase: I gotta tell you this is the first time I’ve interviewed a musician before noon.
CA: (laughs) Well I’ve got a two-year-old baby daughter, you could have got me at 7 a.m. if you wanted to.
EP: Are you guys on break now?
CA: Yeah, we just got back from Mayhem. A week ago today (Aug. 15) was our last show. So I’m just at home playing Mr. Mom.
EP: So when do you guys go back on the road again?
CA: We’re here for a month and then we’re all of South America, headlining that. Then in November and December we’re doing New Zealand and Australia with Metallica.
EP: Awesome, you’ve got to be looking forward to that.
CA: Definitely, we spent the last entire year on the road with those guys, and I’m obviously very honored and flattered that they’d even ask us. Now we’ve become somewhat friendly with the guys and it’s really a good time.
EP: So how is it adjusting to getting a prolonged period of time off the road. Is that a hard adjustment for you?
CA: The month that we have off now is the longest time we’ve had in two years, since the beginning of the touring for the “Wrath” album. (released Feb. 23, 2009) So it’s been go, go, go. The adjustment has been a little rough coming home, because we all have families and it’s the opposite of being on the road where you hang and party every night and go to bed at 4 or 5 in the morning. Now I’m waking up at 4 or 5 every morning with my daughter. So, it’s kind of the opposite, but you get used to it pretty quick. You just have to curb some of those behaviors that make that 5 or 6 in the morning not feel so good.
EP: How was the Mayhem tour, typically you do the European festivals during the summer, why did you decide to do Mayhem this year?
CA: We had done OzzFest a couple of times and had a real good time with it. Mayhem came and offered us the spot on the main stage. Initially we were kind of hesitant because the bands that were surrounding us were not our style. I don’t have a problem with any of them but I’m not the biggest Korn fan. I’m not the biggest Five Finger Death Punch fan. I’m not the biggest Rob Zombie fan. And I wasn’t sure if our fans were going to appreciate us going on something like that. But they’ve got a really cool business model going with that. Tickets were only $25 and I figured for that, you’re going to see sixteen bands, something like that. And even if none of our fans showed up, you’re going to, probably for the first time, get in front of Korn or Rob Zombie’s audience. Those kids may have never seen a band as heavy as we are and we might be able to walk away stealing their audience, stealing the show for some of those kids who are just learning what heavy metal is all about. So that’s why we did it.
EP: So did you guys feel like your were successful at that? What was the reactions that you got after your shows?
CA: It was great. We kind of went on at twilight, so we didn’t have the big flames and pyro and dragons, or the big huge show. We just went out and did our songs. We just went out there, turned it up and did what we do. And I think that, in comparison with some of the other bands’ shows which were just full of that huge production stuff, I think we were a little bit more of an honest band. And I think that actually worked in our favor. It went really well for us.
EP: I saw you guys here in Auburn (Washington) and you were awesome. I think you were my favorite on the main stage. I’ll tell you what though, I’ve never seen more fire at a concert before in my life. And I was going to concerts in the 1980s.
CA: I know everything was on fire the entire time.
EP: It was unbelievable.
CA: And as a kid, I loved that. I’d be really impressed. But for me it comes down to the tunes. And that’s what we got.
EP: So what bands were you excited to be able to watch on the second stages? There were a lot of great acts out there?
CA: Definitely, and we’re friends with all of those guys we’ve been touring in the same circles for years and years. I’ve always been a fan of the band Chimaira. We’ve brought them on tour several times. More recently we’ve been bringing the band 3 Inches of Blood on tour with us. And catching up with the guys in Hatebreed is always good. There was one band over there called Winds of Plague that we’ve crossed bands with several times. I’ve become good friends with their drummer Art. It’s basically just like a big party, it’s great seeing all those bands.
EP: Although 3 Inches of Blood are actually from Vancouver, they play the clubs down here (Washington) all the time. It’s nice to see them starting to get a little bit of recognition.
CA: And they’re great dudes. Incredibly awesome senses of humor and really talented band as well. We always have fun with those guys.
EP: So tell me a little bit about South America, have you guys toured there before?
CA: No, this is our first time going. In a shocking turn of events all of the shows sold out more than two months in advance and we’re not playing small places. The average show size is 12,000 people. We’re excited to get down there and obviously, we should have gone sooner.
EP: Going back to Mayhem a little bit, how does an American festival crowd compare to maybe some of the shows you guys have done in Europe.
CA: Europe and America are actually pretty similar. But there are a lot of places around the world that you start to notice differences. Like, we just came back from doing a whole mess of shows in Asia where we played the Philippines and Singapore and actually did China, places where people don’t see a whole lot of rock and roll shows. And that’s where you get the people just going insane, because they don’t have it. Like New York City, there is a different show every night, so you kind of get spoiled and people show up lazy or whatever. But in these places kids live for it. In the Philippines we had 30,000 people show up because we were one of two concerts this year. And people were just going nuts, they couldn’t get enough of it. The place turns into a riot when you’re done with your 90 minute set. It’s a little more chaotic in places like that. I’m not complaining about places in Europe and the U.S., that’s obviously where we’ve done the best in the world, but kids there have seen a lot of shows so it’s not quite the same as going to some of the far off places. Our reaction is always good. Mayhem is a little weird, like OzzFest was as well, because it’s all seats. Bands like us we’ve kind of grown up in the more mosh pits and open area kinds of venues. I know our fans, being stuck in a seat is not our favorite thing. But I still think we pulled it off.
EP: You guys definitely did here. I was excited to see the Wall of Death. That was my big thing. I’d never seen it and everybody was all, ‘you’ve got to see the Wall of Death!’ That was awesome.
CA: They were doing some crazy stuff up on the lawn.
EP: You and Slayer are the only bands that I’ve actually seen with mosh pits on the lawn out here. So you guys are in good company.
CA: No doubt. We’ve spent about three years on the road with those guys, so maybe it’s rubbed off a little bit.
EP: So do you ever wake up and find yourself just kind of pinching yourself? I mean you’ve played India and the Philippines. That’s got to be kind of surreal.
CA: It is. Definitely is. I mean we never thought we’d play the bar down the street in Richmond, Virginia, never mind getting up to New York to play CBGB. We thought we were superheroes when we did that. Now that we’re really traveling the world and it’s really quite humbling to think our music has really gotten that far and that people care about what we do and want to see us. When we show up people are smiling. It’s really an amazing feeling. I try not to get too wrapped up in the actual success of the band or get too big of a head about it, or anything like that. But it’s very, very flattering to be able to travel the world and see the reaction when we show up in a place you can’t even pronounce.
EP: A lot of younger drummers put you up there with the greatest drummers in metal today, how comfortable are you with your spot in the pantheon of metal drummers?
CA: I’m comfortable with it. Not to say I don’t appreciate it, but it recently hit me over the past year. I’ve really started to notice it. I’ve noticed it before, but I didn’t really believe it. Maybe I didn’t want to accept that all these kids were being influenced by me. But I think over the past year it’s made itself just so unbelievably apparent, where it’s not just kids at the signings saying, ‘hey man you’re a good drummer.’ Now I’m getting teachers that are coming up to me asking me how to do something because all their students are asking them how to do it. It’s starting to sink in that this is real, that I’m really influencing people and my playing is changing metal a little bit. But I try not to think about it too much because I don’t want to jinx myself or put any undue pressure on myself. I just try to keep my work ethic together, keep practicing and step it up on the next record. That’s really all I can do.
EP: So who were the drummers that influenced you? Who made you want to play drums?
CA: The band that really set it off for me was Wrathchild America. At the time the drummer was Shannon Larkin. He’s gone on to do many different things. But that was the sound that I really wanted to get into and emulate on the drums. He was really able to take the drum kit and make it much more a part of the music. He wasn’t just the backbeat for the guitar player. He made the band, especially for the time, very progressive and pushed the boundaries of what drummers were doing at the time. So that was my big influence at the time.
EP: So do you remember what your first big concert was?
CA: First big concert? Growing up in the suburbs in Virginia, I’d gone to a lot of local metal shows with cover bands and stuff like that or small regional bands that would come through. But my first enormous show was at the Capitol Center in D.C. with Aerosmith. I’m trying to remember who opened, I think it might have been The Cult. And this was probably 1984, maybe on the “Done With Mirrors” tour. That was a good time. A lot of interesting smells that I came across at the time.
EP: We call it incense when we bring the kids to shows. So tell me a little bit about the box set (“Hourglass“)? Why did you guys decide to do such an elaborate release?
CA: I guess at this point the label was interested in doing some sort of a greatest hit thing. As a band we generally hate those things for two reasons. One, as a fan it sucks. When your favorite band that does that, it may not suck, but it’s like ‘why am I going to buy that, I already have all those songs.’ For the kind of fan who collects everything it just feels like a cash grab from the band or the label. So we didn’t want to do it for that reason. Second, we’re a metal band. We don’t have any fucking greatest hits. It’s just stupid to even think about. But we realized that we were right in the middle of the touring cycle. We’re kind of coming to the end of the tour and we’re going to bunker away for a year to write and record the next one. So there is going to be a time where there is really no Lamb of God out there. So we thought, what if we come up with something that was of value to both new fans we made off the Mayhem Fest, and to the older fans who could get something that was a little more unique than a greatest hits album. So we come up with these five different packages, the simplest one being just a couple of CDs that highlights some of the tunes that have done well for us in the live setting throughout our career. We thought that new fans that would be the one that the new fans would buy. So here is this new thing that has a little bit of everything, you can walk away with that and feel like you got something cool. Then you’ve got the super deluxe pack that comes with a guitar, a flag, the art book from artist Ken Adams – that has everything from our laminates, T-shirts, album covers, to the early sketches of everything – signed pictures, a USB in a cigarette pack with every single album. We really tried to find something that bands are doing and that was a unique piece to anyone who was a super collector, so that they could feel like they really had something special. On that one, it’s really made to order. When you order one it comes engraved in a coffin case that contains everything. We were just trying to come up with something that would bridge that gap between releases.
EP: After Australia and New Zealand, are you heading into the studio?
CA: That’s the plan. Actually we head into our little rehearsal den of sin and see what we can come up with. Mark (Morton) our guitar player has probably seven or eight tunes. And I know Willie (Adler) has three or four more. By the time we bang our heads around those, it will probably turn into five or six that are going to make the record and we’ll stick it out in there, sweat out a couple more and see if we can get an albums worth of stuff together. It’s going to be tough though, we’re not getting any younger and “Wrath” we really felt like was a special moment for the band. We kind of all walked away from the studio on the “Wrath” album feeling happy for the first time. We felt like we all nailed it and that we wouldn’t have done anything different. So we’ve kind of got this, it’s not really a mantra, but we all definitely agree that we don’t want to put out anything that we feel isn’t as good or better in some way than what we’ve previously done. So I think we’re going to step it up on this one I think. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.
EP: Is Lamb of God a band you envision playing in for the rest of your life? How much longer do you think the band will go on?
CA: That’s funny, my wife asked me the same question when we got married in 2001. “New American Gospel” had just come out and we’d done a couple of tours, but it always felt like we were walking on egg shells, like ‘this can’t last.’ So she asked me the same question. I told, her ‘I love doing it, I hope it lasts for a while, but honestly maybe six months, who knows.’ And now it’s 10 years later and she’s still asking me the same question. I think there is going to be a point where we realize that we’re not able to keep up the pace and the momentum of what we’ve done in the past. And we don’t really want to tarnish the legacy of the band by putting out some watered down, ballad-filled crap album. So we’re going to be pretty honest with ourselves when it comes to that time. For the moment, I feel like “Wrath” is a really aggressive record at a time where people were expecting us to maybe lay back, let the money come in and do some commercial crap. We went the other way and I’d like to keep going that way. I feel like I’m even more capable after playing those songs and preparing for that album. I feel like I’m a better player and able to do more than I was 10 years ago. I’d love to keep it going. I think that if we see one of the guys slack off or not care we’re going to have to take inventory and see if we want to replace him or push on or something like that. But right now I think we’re still very much a team and I think we’re all dedicated to doing at least one more record together.
EP: Do you have any other side project stuff or anything else that you do besides Lamb of God?
CA: You were talking to me earlier about kids talking about me as a drummer. Right now I’m starting to write out every one of our songs in drum tab. So I’ll be able to get those drum teachers and stuff like that. So that’s taking up a lot of my extra time. Plus, as you know having a little kid, that is definitely a full-time job in itself. But if I can get the tab book done and keep practicing as much as I need to so I can keep up with these kids today, than I’m in pretty good shape. That’s pretty much all I have time for.
EP: So how is it touring with Metallica? Do you get to hang out?
CA: Oh yeah, they insist on it. They’re really great guys. They come into our dressing room every night, bring drinks or take us out to the bar or dinner. We have no choice. They’re really very friendly, really hospitable. Everyone of them. There is not a guy who is standoffish or weird or anything like that. They all hang out. Kirk (Hammett, lead guitarist of Metallica) has invited us – we’re doing this thing were we’re touring for two weeks, off for two weeks, touring for two weeks – he’s invited us to stay with him and go surfing (in Australia). We’ve really got to know them and it’s really been fun. I know I’ve seen their movies too and some of their albums aren’t necessarily my favorite, and it seems like this really dysfunctional thing. But they’ve fixed whatever it was. They’re really very positive guys who have their shit together and know what they want to do from here forward. It’s really inspiring to be around them, they’ve been doing it for so long. We were just talking about how long can you keep going. With an example like them, I guess we can keep doing it for a long time. They help keep us fresh when we’re around them.