Interview: Lamb of God's Mark Morton and Willie Adler Discuss the Band's New Album, 'Resolution'
Mark Morton and Willie Adler discuss Lamb of God's latest album, Resolution.
I read a recent interview in which Chris talked about working with Matt Halpern, the drummer from prog-metal act Periphery, to learn new riffs and to “keep up with what’s out there.” As guitarists, are you keeping tabs on what these new young players are doing?
MORTON: Not at all. I’ve got so many riffs flying around my pickled noggin as it is.
ADLER: Yeah, I’m not really paying attention either. And that’s not to take anything away from people out there. I’m sure there are 18-year-old kids that can absolutely play circles around me. But we don’t keep up with that, and I think that’s actually what separates us from everyone else.
MORTON: I’m trying to launch off of each step in our discography. I view everything we do in the big picture, like it’s all one piece of work. Because at the end, when we stop and look back, I’m not gonna look at one piece; I’m gonna look at the whole stream of consciousness that runs through our discography. So I’m not really worried about what Periphery are doing. I’ve seen them. I know what they do and it’s fantastic. But for that to impact what I do, well, that’s just not where my head’s at.
When did you first start writing for Resolution?
ADLER: We started the writing process a lot earlier on this record, during the touring for Wrath.
MORTON: One of the big differences on this album was that I started using simple recording software to help document my ideas and flesh them out. We’d get a day off in Thailand or wherever, and I’d be in my hotel room for a couple hours putting down some riff ideas, whereas before we’d usually just hope that we’d remember the best ones when we went to rehearsal after we got home from tour. It’s not the first time we’ve written stuff on the road, but that process certainly flourished more on this record. I think that’s because of Wrath’s extensive touring, combined with Willie and me becoming more comfortable with personal recording software.
What are your go-to home-recording programs?
MORTON: I have Pro Tools, but I’ve found it’s much simpler for me to just use GarageBand. Some of my demos for the new tunes were relatively sophisticated, too, with bass lines, two guitar tracks, solo, programmed drums and vocals. And GarageBand was just the easiest way to get all those ideas down.
ADLER: I use Cubase, just because it was the first software I learned and I didn’t want to go through the learning curve of Pro Tools. I had a ton of fun with it, too, laying down bass lines, two guitars and drums. I got so into it that it’d be like, “Holy shit! Eight hours just went by.” There’s something to be said about documenting jam sessions. You never know when one might come in handy later.
MORTON: In my case it’s mostly about putting down a demo that I’m going to present to the band as a song idea. But sometimes I write something that I have no intention of turning into a Lamb of God song, like the intro to the record, “Straight for the Sun.” That song was originally just a tune I came up with for fun. I was playing around in my studio and trying to make a doom song like Neurosis. I wrote and sang the lyrics, added a bass line and put drums to it. I had played it for a few of the guys and our producer Josh [Wilbur], but more just like, “Hey, check this out.” But toward the end of the writing process, it came up as an option to start the record, almost like an anti–“The Passing,” which started our last record.
That was a very melodic and beautiful guitar piece, where “Straight for the Sun” was the antithesis. So that track was never meant to be a Lamb of God song, but now it very much is, because everyone played on it and it starts off the record. As it relates to demoing, that piece was an example of how becoming fluent with recording software can open you up to channeling creativity in a very quick and useful way.
The second track, “Desolation,” dovetails perfectly with “Straight for the Sun.” Was it written at the same time?
MORTON: That was written separately. But the way Chris does the drum solo into it makes them blend very nicely together. “Desolation” was written very much the same way: me in my rehearsal studio doing a demo. But I knew I was writing a metal song and had it pointed in the direction of Lamb of God.
Resolution’s production is much similar to Wrath’s in that the amps have an almost oldschool sound, rather than the pristine modern metal tones on Sacrament. Can you talk about how you got those sounds?
MORTON: During Wrath, right around the time Josh Wilbur started producing, we fell into this amazing perspective of actually dialing in our guitar sounds before we recorded. [laughs] On Sacrament and Wrath, it was pretty easy to determine which song was Willie’s and which was mine because we’d each record a right and left guitar track on our own song.
On this record, we both played on each other’s songs: I’m on the right and he’s on the left. We played and recorded them with a guitar tone that’s much like what you’ll hear when you see us live. It’s more of an accurate representation of our sound. I thought Sacrament sounded good; it just didn’t sound like Lamb of God. And even though I love Gene “The Machine” Freeman, I hated the guitar tones on Ashes. Those guitar tones were awful. It took me awhile to get the confidence to say, “That’s not what we sound like. How about we put a mic in front of an amp and see how that sounds.” Because I really think we have some killer tones.
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