Metal veterans Lamb of God will return to Australia once more in October with good friends Slipknot for a tour that should rank as one of the year’s best. On a well-earned break between touring commitments, guitarist Mark Morton had a chat with us about honesty, integrity and the brotherhood of Lamb of God.
Lamb of God is touring Australia once again very soon. It’s almost like you were only just here a short time ago.
I was just telling someone in an interview earlier, we have quite a history with Australia. We just got a real dedicated fanbase down there and I have to say that, collectively, it’s one of our favourite places to come on tour.
I was talking to Randy just after the album was released and it got a massive reception. Looking back on it now, after a year or so, what are your thoughts on it?
I love the album. If I look at it in context and perspective, I don’t think there’s a lot of bands that I can think of that can say with any kind of real, genuine belief that our seventh studio album is, without question, one of our strongest albums. I would put Sturm und Drang in probably in our top three studio releases, and when I think about how confidently I can say that, knowing that it’s our seventh release, that’s a pretty special circumstance. It’s one I’m very proud of.
Do you think it will be hard to live up to that now, when you go in to do the next one?
I don’t think any harder than it was before. When we go in to write and record an album, we don’t think we’re competing with ourselves at this point. We have a very settled and deep-rooted confidence. We trust ourselves and we approach each new album with the idea that we’re going to represent ourselves as best as we can and where we are musically at that point in time. Each album is a snapshot of where we are collectively when the five of us get together. I think our song writing has improved over the years, I think we have become better players. We trust ourselves, we trust our instincts and I think that’s what you’re seeing with each album as they pass.
This might be a tough question as you’ve not been in a situation where you’ve had a lot of people come through the band. Do you think that the brotherhood of Lamb of God helps with that process, that you’ve always had the same guys around the whole time?
100% I think that’s absolutely one of our strengths, that we’ve had the same personnel throughout our career. So when we’re sitting down to write songs and arrange songs and sequence and record an album, we’re very aware of what each other’s going to do. We’re very aware of our strengths and weaknesses, who’s good at what and what’s not good at what. That plays out in every dynamic. In every relationship in the band. Will and I are such different guitar players. Take us one at a time, each on our own, our styles are so drastically different, but put us together we are a very compilmentary blend. The things that Willie is great at very often are my weaknesses, and vice versa. The things that I’m good at, Willie doesn’t necessarily approach in his playing. And I think that’s one of our strongest assets, the way we can support each other in that sense.
Chris has been off doing double duty with Megadeth. Has that had any kind of an impact on Lamb of God?
No, not at all. It’s been entirely in between Lamb of God working and touring so it’s been good. I think it’s made him very busy on a personal level, but the way we approach our calendar and our schedule it’s had no effect at all.
What’s it going to be like being in Australia with Slipknot? Both you and they were very responsible in bringing attention back on American metal so it’s going to be a tour by some veterans now you could say.
I think that’s a big part of it. You’ve got two veteran bands… Slipknot has been around a littler longer than us, but not that much longer. We have worked together extensively. We’ve toured together on multiple continents and on many occasions. Our first tour with Slipknot was in 2004. We’ve been working together for over a decade, so the relationship between the bands professionally is strong, the relationship between the bands personally is strong. We have a great respect for what they do and they obviously do for us too, because they take us out on tour. We did one in North American not long ago as well. It’s really very very comfortable to work with them. It’s something we’re used to and it’s something we look forward to doing again.
We talked about stability before, and given the sort of things Slipknot has been through, you must be glad you’ve been able to enjoy that stability. A lot of the bands that started out around the same time as Lamb of God are all gone. Do you feel lucky that you’ve been able to stick around?
I feel very lucky that we’ve had the longevity that we’ve had, and that we’ve had the success that we’ve had. I definitely fell lucky… fortunate, is what I would say. Good fortune. I don’t think luck is a good word for it. Our good fortune. Part of that has been our dedication. It’s been our loyalty to each other… we touched on that earlier, that we’ve had the same members. That’s hard to do sometimes. We have our own places in our lives, our own personal obstacles and challenges and we all go through bad stuff in our lives and good stuff in our lives. We’re pretty good at not airing our pubically… some bands aren’t as good as that as we are. I think our good fortune has had something to do with luck, but a lot more to do with hard work and our loyatly and our commitment to doing what we do and believing in the music we’re making and that the impact that we’re having on our fans is worthwhile and it’s honest. I think we’re a very very honest band. We’ve let the fans into the inner circle of this band time and time again. We’ve released DVDs and Internet interviews. We’ve really given our fans access to who we are and what we do on a level that is at times unprecedented and I think that has something to do with how dedicated our fans are to us and it’s an example of how dedicated we are to the music and to what we’re doing.
Lamb of God is a band that is still able to sell records, which is hard for many bands now. Obviously that relationship you have with the fans has a lot to do with that.
I think you’re right, and I think that’s what I was alluding to in my answer before. I think we very much thought along the course of our career that we are very much a reflection of our fans. I’mnot taking away anything from any band that has an image or any sort of style or some sort of visual element but when we walk on stage, we look exactly like we do when we go down to the store to buy beer in the evening. I’m wearing clothes now that were my stage clothes on the last tour. That’s just one example, but we look like who we are. We present ourselves as who we are, and I think that’s what I was getting to earlier when I said we are a very honest band. We are very much ourselves on stage. We see ourselves in our fans and I think our fans see themselves in us. And I think that kind of honesty and I think that kind of connection makes for a very very long term fanbase.