LAMB OF GOD guitarist Mark Morton spoke to Kerrang! magazine about his collaboration with LINKIN PARK singer Chester Bennington on a song for his upcoming solo album, "Anesthetic", which will be released on March 1 via WPP Records and Spinefarm Records.
"I didn't even know if I was on his radar at all, but through the channels, I reached out, and it turns out he was very respectful of my work with LAMB and that kind of thing," Mark said (see video below). "And, obviously, everyone in the world knows how good Chester is."
According to Morton, Chester "loved" the song "Cross Off" in its initial form and "we kind of went back and forth about doing it. And then we got in the same room and did it," he explained. "But the great part of the experience — a lot of it was great, but one of the great parts of the experience — is that the template, the outline I had for the song when I presented it to Chester is different than what it became, because we really sat together over a table and just really hashed stuff out and kind of tore it apart and built it back up together. And that was, to me, one of the more memorable parts of that experience."
The guitarist added that collaborating with Bennington was a smooth process.
"We very quickly got into kind of a creative mode and very quickly were just two guys working on a song that we both really dug," he said. "So that felt very natural. In terms of what he was excited… I think he just genuinely really liked the song — I think that's why he was there, 'cause he really liked that song. And I happen to know he was very, very excited about the idea of screaming and doing something heavier than what he's been doing lately. That meant a lot to him — he was very vocal about being excited about that."
Mark said that he was impressed by Chester's vocal skills as they worked on the song, which was written by Morton, Bennington, Jake Oni and producer Josh Wilbur, and features Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent of TRIVIUM on bass and drums, respectively.
"Chester's ability was undeniable," he said. "Just sitting in the control room and watching him do takes… I'm not gonna say it was effortless, 'cause I'm sure it's not, but it seemed that way. And you could just ask him to do something — change a little pitch thing or something like that — and he'd just drill it every time. It was pretty remarkable to watch."
Mark also talked about the lyrical inspiration for "Cross Off", which was released digitally earlier this week. The track was recorded in April 2017, just three months before the LINKIN PARK frontman's untimely death at the age of 41.
"The lyrics to 'Cross Off' are very personal to me," he said. "I didn't write all of them. As I said, when I brought it in, I had an outline for the song, and then Chester and I kind of went through it. It's sort of about codependency. Parts of it reference directly a relationship ending in my life, but parts of it are about self-destruction and codependency and just the ways we beat ourselves up. And regret, I guess, is a theme in there too."
Morton, who found out about Chester's passing via a text before a LAMB OF GOD concert in Charlotte, North Carolina, said that he will remember Bennington as "just a really genuine, honest, fun guy. [He was] really passionate about music, a really devoted father and husband," he said. "And a good listener too. He had a lot of questions for me about the lyrics and about where I was coming from, and that kind of spurned conversations that we had about just real-life stuff. He was just a good dude. I was happy to get to know him a little bit."
Other singers on the album include Randy Blythe (LAMB OF GOD), Jacoby Shaddix (PAPA ROACH), Myles Kennedy (SLASH, ALTER BRIDGE), Alissa White-Gluz (ARCH ENEMY), Mark Lanegan, Chuck Billy (TESTAMENT), Jake Oni, Josh Todd (BUCKCHERRY), Mark Morales, and Naeemah Maddox. Musically, Morton performs all guitars, with Roy Mayorga (STONE SOUR), David Ellefson (MEGADETH), Ray Luzier (KORN), Paolo Gregoletto (TRIVIUM) and Alex Bent (TRIVIUM), Mike Inez (ALICE IN CHAINS), Jean-Paul Gaster (CLUTCH), Steve Gorman and Marc Paul rounding out the band.
"Anesthetic" track listing:
01. Cross Off (feat. Chester Bennington)
02. Sworn Apart (feat. Jacoby Shaddix)
03. Axis (feat. Mark Lanegan)
04. The Never (feat. Chuck Billy + Jake Oni)
05. Save Defiance (feat. Myles Kennedy)
06. Blur (feat. Mark Morales)
07. Back From The Dead (feat. Josh Todd)
08. Reveal (feat. Naeemah Maddox)
09. Imaginary Days
10. Truth Is Dead (feat. Randy Blythe + Alissa White-Gluz)