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Due Process: An Interview with Chris Adler from Lamb of God

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 5:26 PM


"I don't think that if we had made everybody come through the door and sign a waiver and put on a bubble suit and filled the club up with foam--this probably would have eventually happened at some point."

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After a much-publicized derailment due to legal matters, that had rendered the band "untourable" for almost three months, Lamb of God is about to kick off its national tour in Phoenix on October 30th. In Flames and Sylosis are on all of the dates, with Hatebreed and Hellyeah splitting the tour.

Drummer Chris Adler gets current with KNAC.COM.

KNAC.COM: Hi Chris.

ADLER: Hey, Charlie. How are you?

KNAC.COM: Good. How are things with you?

ADLER: Things are going good.

KNAC.COM: It seems like you've had a long time off from touring.

ADLER: Yeah. Somewhat unplanned, but we are certainly doing our best to enjoy our time. We don't get a lot of summers with our families, so I guess this has been a blessing in disguise.

KNAC.COM: How is everybody else in the band doing?

ADLER: Seems to be really good. Our tour manager got married this past Saturday night in Chicago, and we all flew up there to celebrate with him. Everybody was smiling and dressed up, looking happy. I think the time at home has probably served us well, just to get to reconnect with ourselves, our family, and our friends. It's been good, but it's also made us pretty anxious about getting on the road. But yeah, it seems like the guys are doing really well.

KNAC.COM: This tour kicks off at the end of this month and finishes up mid-December, right?

ADLER: Pretty much. I think we get home on December 16th, so a few days to decompress and buy some presents, and then we'll be good to go. KNAC.COM: Did you guys pick Sylosis as one of the bands for this tour?

ADLER: We did. I don't want to blow myself up, but it's been one of my favorite bands. Ever since 2008, I've been following them, and Edge of the Earth--I thought was really one of the top heavy metal albums, maybe ever. And Monolith, I think, is a really great follow-up. Yeah, I'm really psyched. Before this whole derailment happened, we had them on two shows in Ireland that we just did. I had asked the booking agent to try to arrange some shows with them if possible while we were over there and saw 'em on stage and was blown away that they were as good, if not better, than on the CD. Just incredibly tight speed metal. It's just right up my alley. I just love the stuff. So yeah, I pushed pretty hard to have them on the tour.

KNAC.COM: I love them. I think they're an incredible band.

ADLER: Me too. It's fun to hang out with them. They're good kids, too. Hopefully this will help them out a little bit.

KNAC.COM: And, of course, you'll be out with In Flames and Hatebreed again as well.

ADLER: Yeah, we've toured the world with both of those bands and it's going to be fun to see them again. We've become, actually, pretty good friends, so we we're lucky that they were available when we wanted to do something and they wanted to do something as well. So yeah, it's certainly going to be a lot of fun backstage, and we're really gearing up our production. I think we're putting more into this show than we ever have, monetarily and idea-wise to what we could do to put on a really big show. I think in front of the stage it's going to be as good of a time as backstage.

KNAC.COM: I'm looking forward to your show at The Palladium.

ADLER: We are, too. Halloween, right?

KNAC.COM: Yes. Are you guys going to be dressing up like Rob Zombie does?

ADLER: (Laughs) We've done a couple funny nights. There was one night in Canada-- we were playing with Metallica and I wore a full body spandex Spiderman suit on Halloween Night.

KNAC.COM: No you didn't.

ADLER: I did, absolutely. Back in the day, I think 2003, we were playing The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Randy (Blythe) wore one of those inflatable big cowboy suits for Halloween. So you never know what's going to happen.

KNAC.COM: When is Randy's trial?

ADLER: He's out on bail. The trial is set for January. He's fully intending on going back and we fully support his decision to do that and believe that he will be exonerated, believe that he is innocent, so for the moment, he's out on bail and yeah, the spirits are high. We're really excited to have the opportunity to get back to work. The situation really reminded us how fragile and special it is--what we do. So we're looking at every night as another great opportunity to do what we do. I don't want to say that we took it for granted before, but it had become somewhat routine in a career, 16 or 17 years now to do what we do and have it possibly end forever--in a blink of an eye--was pretty scary. We're a little more awake about how awesome it is that we get to do this.

KNAC.COM: The letter Randy wrote while he was incarcerated expressed a lot of humility. So, the band stops working, which is a bummer from a professional standpoint, and your friend Randy's stuck in a Czech prison to boot. That's quite an ordeal.

ADLER: Of course. The priority was our concern for our friend and our band mate and to make sure that he was safe and that we had an opportunity to defend ourselves and get him the resources necessary in order to do so. That was first and foremost. From there Randy let us know, like, probably in the letter you read, that he was doing well, making use of his time, and really wanted to be able to answer any questions that the family might have. First priority was that someone had lost their life at our show, and that was where his head was as far as trying to make sense of that. Not being responsible for it, but being able, or willing, to answer to it. We all very much felt the same way, but, obviously this was being put on his head, so we certainly supported him in that. And, like I said earlier, we all believe that when he does go back he'll be proven innocent and it will also give him and possibly the rest of the band the opportunity to face the family and express our sympathies.

KNAC.COM: In regard to audience participation and the "Wall of Death," how are you going to approach things now at the shows?

ADLER: We thought about that--if there was anything we could do differently--or if there was something that we had done that may have somehow created this situation. In and around 2004, 2005, we had met a kid that had broken his leg during the "Wall of Death," and after that incident Randy decided that he was no longer going to call for that. That hasn't stopped it from happening, but Randy's not orchestrating it in the same that way we used to back in the day. Obviously, in hard rock, people get bumped up and bruised around and that's certainly nothing unusual. I don't know if there's anything that we could do differently that would have stopped this random set of circumstances. I think from the very first show that I went to as a kid, the very first hard rock show, there were people stage-diving. And that has not changed one bit in 30 years. I don't think that if we had made everybody come through the door and sign a waiver and put on a bubble suit and filled the club up with foam--this probably would have eventually happened at some point. I think it was just really a terrible series of random events that led to this. I'm not sure that we could have fixed it.

KNAC.COM: Just playing in your instrumental mode, nobody needs to say anything. You elevate the energy. The energy is always there at a Lamb of God show, without a doubt.

ADLER: Exactly. And that's what it's all about. We don't want to change that. For me, a metal show is about that energy and the release of that energy. It's far from our intent to have anybody get hurt or to lose their life. But, for us, it's a release. For the people who come to see us, it's generally kind of a time out from their day, at the least, and at most, a really good opportunity to get some energy out.

KNAC.COM: I'd like to revisit Resolution. I think it's your best album yet. It's a heavy, jazzy, non-formulaic Lamb of God record. What do you have to say about it?

ADLER: (Laughs) Well, thank you, first. I think that was obviously the goal. Everybody wants their newest record or artwork to be somehow better, which is subjective, than what they've done before. But yeah, for us, we went into it with the understanding..."Can anybody name a band where their eighth record was their favorite one?" And none of us could. So we knew those were the odds we were up against. We went back through the catalog, not just wanting to repeat singles or successes. But we really wanted to take the things that worked on a musician's level--on the things that we enjoyed about playing and try to experiment further with those. And looking back over all those records we certainly covered a lot of ground. There wasn't the kind of extreme purpose coming in to this record like there was on other records, where as with Sacrament we really wanted to kind of go out on a limb and see what kind of stuff we could come up with in the studio to make it more of a listening experience. Then, after that, we felt like we had gone too far. So we wanted to be super aggressive and super fast on Wrath...just going back and pointing out things like that. We really covered all the bases that most heavy metal bands get to do. So, on this record, we didn't come in with any specific points on the horizon and we were open to a lot more ideas. People were able to bring in things that would have normally been shunned before, because maybe it wasn't within the "metal lines on the road." So, with that, obviously, we're a metal band, we put those ideas in and had a lot more fun doing it that way because it allowed us to be a lot more open in how we wrote the songs.

KNAC.COM: The song "The Number Six" really flaunts the band's musical evolution. As a drummer, it must have been a really fun song for you to do. How did it come to be?

ADLER: That song was really a lot of fun to put together. That was a Willie (Adler) song. When I say that, the bud, the main parts of the song were Willie's ideas and we all kind of worked it up. We knew if it was going to make the record it was probably going to be a weird B-side, because it was just so unusual. But most Willie songs are. Songs like "Hourglass" and stuff like that, where it's just riff after riff, that doesn't necessarily repeat, but they sound very together. That's kind of how Willie writes. And those are the songs that I really enjoy the most because I'm kind of more of a prog fan. So I certainly was right behind him on that song and encouraging that direction, at least for this one song, let's go out on that limb. Like I was saying earlier, we were a lot more open to ideas like that coming in, and not trying to re-engineer this song to have "verse A, chorus, verse B, chorus B, solo, out" which is kind of the normal formula. So now we're free to do stuff like that. It actually reminded me a little bit of the stuff that we were doing back on the Burn the Priest record, where we really didn't give a shit about anything. It was great fun for me, and I think a lot of the inspiration drum-wise was from a lot of the Richmond bands that we kind of grew up listening to, like Breadwinner.

KNAC.COM: Had you guys envisioned the kind of success you're enjoying now back when you started out in the '90s?

ADLER: We had no intention of getting a record deal or finding a career in this. We just had a lot of fun together, just writing heavy stuff and drinking way too much beer and driving a piece of shit van up and down the East Coast. Just getting out of the house for a weekend or whatever we could do--as many shows as we could book. There was a zine, back in the day, called "Book Your Own Fucking Life," and me and the bass player John (Campbell) would pick that up a the local record store and just call every kid that was having a party, from Chicago to Atlanta, and then figure out if we could come and play for five bucks and some pasta. It really wasn't about building a career or writing songs that we thought everyone was going to like. Obviously, the name of the band was our kind of poke at just pissing everybody off. Because of that--because we weren't really chasing the idea--I think it became a bit contagious for the fans. They saw us doing something we honestly loved.

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