Interview: Lamb of God Guitarist Mark Morton Discusses US Tour, India Show and More
American heavy metal giants Lamb of God have been through a lot during the past few months, including singer Randy Blythe's arrest and subsequent release from prison in the Czech Republic.
Thankfully, things have been sorted for the time being, and the band is gearing up for an extensive U.S. headlining tour with support from In Flames, Hatebreed and Sylosis. The tour — which starts October 30 in Phoenix, Arizona, followed by a Halloween-night show in Los Angeles — is set to continue well into December.
On Thursday, October 11, I chatted with Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton about a variety of topics, including the tour, the new album (Resolution), the band's recent India show and lots more.
Enjoy the conversation below, and visit the band's official website for tour dates and other info.
GUITAR WORLD: You guys have an extensive U.S. tour coming up, which is something you haven't done in a while — a long headline tour of your own. This must be a good feeling for you, I'm sure.
Yeah, we are excited! It's been honestly far too long since we have toured the U.S. I think the last time we did it was the summer of 2010 on Mayhem. We did a quick one-week run in January of this year, but yeah, it's been a while. And you know, U.S. is our favorite place to tour in the whole world, so we're definitely looking forward to get back out. With everything that's happened with our singer Randy, it feels good to get back on stage again and get back in front of our fans, particularly at home. So yeah, we are very excited for this tour.
The tour was supposed to happen in August with a totally different lineup. It got delayed for reasons that are obvious to everyone now. What did you end up doing in these extra couple of months? Did you just end up taking a break?
Well, yes and no. I mean, there's a lot going on behind the scenes with respect to the situation with Randy, so I can't say it's been a particularly relaxing few months. Outside of that, it's not like we delayed a tour and picked up exactly where we left off. We basically canceled the tour we had planned and then had to put together an entirely new package and an entirely new routing.
So in that sense, we were pretty much starting all over again. That's what we spent the last couple of months doing, just putting together this new tour, rerouting it and getting prepared to go out again, and all the behind-the-scenes stuff that's going on with the Randy situation which I don't really care to give a lot of detail about at this point, but there's still a lot going on there as well.
The LA show on this tour is on Halloween night. When was the last time you played Halloween night?
I think the last time we did it was probably with Metallica, and I only remember that because Chris actually put on a Spider Man costume [laughs]. But I couldn't tell you where it was. I just remember we were opening for Metallica somewhere.
Looking at the venues, I think some of them are smaller than what Lamb Of God usually play. That's cool, because I feel the smaller venues capture the Lamb Of God vibe a little better. Would you agree?
I think it's a toss-up. In big shows, obviously the crowds are bigger, but you tend to lose sound quality and there tends to be a little bit more of a disconnect between the band and the audience. So it's a trade-off, you know.
In the smaller club shows, the crowd is close-up so you can interact with them better, and I think overall the sound tends to be better. That being said, I guess some of these are smaller venues, but we play those usually when we do the Mayhem tour or as support act.
Looking over the itinerary, I generally feel these are same-sized places we play when we headline, may be with a few exceptions. But even with consideration of that, we're bringing out our production package that's bigger than anything we've ever done before. So it should be a pretty exciting show for the fans that get to see it.
On the new album, Resolution, did you try anything new or different in terms of gear?
Yeah, I did. For the most part, I used my Mesa Boogie Mark 4, which I've used on pretty much every album, but I brought in some different guitars and a couple of different amps. During the course of this album, I discovered the new Mesa Boogie Royal Atlantic, which is an amp I'm very, very fond of. We used that on several tracks and for quite a few of the overdubs and solos and stuff like that. So primarily, in terms of impact, that was the biggest new piece of gear that we implemented.
Would you say the focus will be on Resolution for the set list on this tour?
No, not really. I'm not sure yet because we're still kind of deciding, but we'll probably play three to five new songs. There's a lot of bands on the bill, so we're only playing for 70 to 75 minutes. We're on our seventh album now, so even in that short set we've really got to include a lot of the older stuff too that people expect to hear.
It's not like we can play a show and not play "Walk With Me In Hell," "Now You've Got Something To Die For," "Ruin," "Black Label," "Redneck," "Set To Fail" and all those songs. So the further we get along in terms of the albums in our career, it becomes tougher to choose the songs because as I said, there's songs people absolutely expect to hear but there's also new songs we need to work in as well. So I would say it's a good balance. We're going to play stuff from pretty much every Lamb Of God album. But there will be a handful of new songs in there as well.
Earlier this year, you played a show in India. I actually saw you there. That was your second show in India. What was that experience like?
Both times we were just absolutely astonished about how well received we are in India, the sheer number of fans that turn up, particularly in light of the fact that it was only our second show there. So for that many people to come out and be a part of it, and to show their allegiance with Lamb Of God, we are very proud of it.
I was at the press conference the day before that show, and you were missing because your guitar tech missed his flight and you had to do your own set up! What was that like?
Well, yeah, that sort of thing happens when you travel so far. A lot of times you get snafued a little bit. There's always some issue with somebody's traveling. But I'm pretty well acquainted with my gear, so I had no problem setting up. One of the problems though, was that in transit some of my gear actually got damaged, so I was using a backup rig. That posed a few challenges in terms of sound quality, but we got it together.
On that tour, you were shooting a documentary. When we expect that to be released, and how will it be different from previous Lamb Of God DVDs?
It will be very different from the previous DVDs, because they have all focused on the band and the personalities within the band. But the band is kind of sidelined in the new film. It's not so much about us. It's really more about our fans, and specific fans in unique parts of the world. So that's really what it's about. The band is a sideline character in this film.
In terms of when it will be released, I'm not exactly sure. I think sometime in 2013 it will be in theaters. We're not releasing it the same way we did the previous stuff either, and it's not going straight to DVD and it won't be something we're going to market immediately as a DVD. It's more intended to be in theaters and viewed as a documentary film.
Is the filming for that complete or are you going to film more stuff?
There's a couple of tiny little things we still need to get, but for the most part it's complete.
I was on Twitter five minutes before this interview, and I saw a bunch of your posts where you answer fans' questions. Is that something new you've started doing?
No, I've been doing that for quite a while, I'd say probably at least a year if not longer. I enjoy it, you know. It's a way to stay in touch with fans and kind of see the types of things they're thinking about. I enjoy answering the questions. Some of them are pretty mundane, but sometimes I do get some interesting questions.
I think as a band we've always tried to stay open to our fans and give them an inside look, and this is just another way for me to do it. It comes and goes, sometimes I'll go a few days or weeks without being on there, and other times I'm on twitter quite a bit for a few days. I just try and answer questions as they come, and it's a good way to stay in touch with fans.
I think you get fans really excited by doing this. I noticed some of them even saying it was their biggest achievement in life to get a reply from you!
I would say they should probably set higher goals for themselves [laughs].
Andrew Bansal is a Los Angeles-based writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, reviews and pictures on his website -- with the help of a small group of people. Besides being hugely passionate about heavy metal, he is an avid follower of jazz music and recently started a blog called Jazz Explorer to pursue that interest.