Gail Worley of Ink 19 recently conducted an interview with LAMB OF GOD drummer Chris Adler. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Ink 19: How's the tour going?
Chris: Last night was the last show of Ozzfest and tonight we were supposed to play a show in Orlando at the House of Blues, but the HOB is actually on Disney [-owned] property. When Disney found out that our show was booked there — even though tickets had been sold, and actually the show was sold out — they canceled us because they didn't want "our element" on Disney property. We ended up moving the show on up to Myrtle Beach, where we're playing tonight, and it's sold out. So, we're moving right along.
Ink 19: Have you had that kind of thing happen much, with shows being canceled for "political" reasons?
Chris: We've run into that kind of controversy before but we've always made it out alive, if you will. The same thing happened at the L.A. Forum, where we were booked when we were on tour with SLIPKNOT. SLIPKNOT went ahead and played [their set] but we were told that we could not play that venue. We moved our show down the street to the Glass House in Pomona — which is one of our favorite places to play – sold it out and had just a killer show there, too. In both of these cases a lot of our fans were complaining about censorship and those kinds of things. But being that they are privately owned buildings — and in this case, that the venue was on Disney property — they have every right to make those choices. I think it's a dangerous situation for corporations to do that, but it's not something to where I'm going to cry censorship.
Ink 19: Well, Disney are what they are, but it kind of shocks me that the Forum would pull that kind of a move. What, are they owned by a church now?
Chris: Yes, that's exactly right.
Ink 19: Wow, the First Denominational Church of the Forum. Can Ronnie James Dio still play there?
Chris: (Laughs) I have no idea.
Ink 19: I remember seeing you play a clinic at the Modern Drummer Festival in 2005, and you were just insane.
Chris: That was definitely one of the most intimidating things I've ever done. You know, to be in front of 2,500 people all staring at you and most of them are drummers. It's like being under a microscope, if you will.
Ink 19: But you know that you shouldn't sweat it, because it's just a big drumming brotherhood. Everybody loves everybody.
Chris: That's true, but put a mic in your hand and put a bunch of lights on you and there's a little pressure there.
Ink 19: You started playing drums after college; kind of late for a guy who's now as accomplished as you are. What got you into the drums?
Chris: I played bass guitar in bands through college. At one point I went to see a band called WRATHCHILD AMERICA and Shannon Larkin — who's in GODSMACK now — was drumming for them. He just totally blew me away and he really made me want to switch to the drums. But I had all this bass gear and I didn't have money for drums, so it wasn't something that I could do right away. As time went on I got a part time job and started saving some money, and guys that I knew wanted to start a band. One of them was John Campbell, who's the bassist in LAMB OF GOD now. That seemed like the opportunity to go spend $250 on a drum kit [that] I saw in the classifieds and just see what happened. I spent, obviously, a lot of time trying to learn how to play and there were a lot of great bands in Richmond, so there was a lot of pressure on me to be good. I didn't want to embarrass myself with the caliber of bands that were playing around town. I spent a lot of time just wood shedding in my house and trying to be the best I could be, so that I'd feel proud of the band and the songs we were writing.
Ink 19: And look where you are now!
Chris: (Laughs) Well, I guess I'm going to Disneyworld next!
Ink 19: Or not, as it would be.
Chris: Oh yeah that's right, I'm not allowed.
Ink 19: You are a very precise player but you're also obviously very emotionally connected to your music. With that in mind, would you say that you are a more of a technical drummer or more of a song-oriented drummer?
Chris: Wow, that's a great question. The reason it's pertinent to me is that for a long time, especially for our first three records, I was very much a technical player who was very focused on trying to be the best by being faster and harder than anybody. I was trying to outshine not only the band but also any other drummer that was on the stage with us that night. After a while I got to a point where I was sick of the race that only I was in — because nobody else cared. When we started writing "Ashes of the Wake" it was really important for me to sit back a little bit and become that kind of songwriting drummer. It was still technical but I really wanted to pay attention and do what was right for the songs. Like I said earlier, just because you can play 250 BPMs on the bass drum doesn't mean you should, so I wasn't shoving that stuff into the songs just because I could do it. It was more of a process of recording it one way, listening to it in the car and [feeling that] if it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up then we know we've got something. It was that kind of process and what happened was that [when I found] the mix of those two things – the previous time I'd spent trying to be as technical and the best I could be combined with me now allowing the songs to be more important than my parts — that's when the accolades started coming to me. I think it's really important to mix those two things and not to focus necessarily on just one or the other.
Ink 19: Your most recent CD, "Sacrament" was released in August of 2006. Are you working on a new record?
Chris: We haven't been home (laughs) since before that record came out. We've been touring non-stop on "Sacrament" for over a year and we are booked up until December 22nd of this year. Actually, I think we're going to take a little time off and see if our wives remember us, then we'll begin the writing process for the next record. So we'll relax for a little while and then get together when the itch is there, and take it slow. For us, there's no rush. The past couple of records have come in quick succession and it's time for us to really put some time into the writing and let it come naturally without an imposed deadline. We want to take the time to record a lot of material and to weed it down to the best of what we have. The goal with LAMB OF GOD has always been and always will be to put out a better record than we just did. We've continued to evolve and grow. "Sacrament" is the best record that we've ever done in many ways and it's going to be hard to top it. Unless we do, we're not going to put anything out. We want to take the experience that we've gleaned from all these records, the last couple of which have been kind of polished and maybe a bit easier to swallow than the early material. I think we want to go back into that middle ground where it's a little bit uglier. It's very important to us to maintain the integrity of the project, so it's a challenge for us as well.
Read the entire interview at www.ink19.com.