It’s been over a year since Lamb of God released its much-lauded fifth album, Sacrament, the popularity of which has kept these princes of American metal on tour non-stop since the summer of 2006. While the group consistently plays to sold-out throngs of enthusiastic fans, drummer Chris Adler admits that sometimes a venue’s politics can stand in the way of Lamb of God entertaining its rabidly loyal audience.
“Last night was the final show of Ozzfest,” Adler explains from a stop in Florida. “Tonight we were supposed to play a show at the House of Blues in Orlando, but that venue is on Disney-owned property. When Disney found out our show was booked there – even though it was sold out – they cancelled us because they didn’t want ‘our element’ on their property. So, we moved up to Myrtle Beach, where we’re playing a sold-out show tonight.” According to the drummer, something similar happened when Lamb of God were booked with Slipknot at the renowned LA Forum, which is now owned by a church. “Slipknot played their set, but we were told that we could not play that venue,” says Adler. “Instead, we sold out the Glass House in Pomona and played a killer show. So, we’ve run into that kind of controversy before but we’ve always made it out alive.”
Having traveled the globe three times in 2007 alone, Lamb of God plan to take a well- earned break from the road before starting work on their next album some time in 2008.
Metal Edge: From watching other drummers in bands you tour with, do you ever cop some of their technique or are you totally comfortable with what you’ve got in your arsenal?
Chris Adler: It would be ignorant not to try to evolve and learn from other people. We’re on the road right now with Hate Breed. I sat down with their drummer Matt the other day and he taught me an old shuffle. Things like that, of course, will never end up in a Lamb of God song, but it’s fun to just keep learning different things. You can appreciate different styles of guys like Morgan [Rose] and others when you see them, but I wouldn’t necessarily watch a show and decide I’m going to steal a part that he just did and bring it back to what we have. But if I see or hear something interesting, I might try to continue to grow on the original idea and make it my own.
Metal Edge: Guys like you, Morgan Rose, Joey Jordison and Dave Lombardo– just to name a few – can be said to have similar styles, and you all show how metal drumming has evolved. It’s like all of a sudden there’s this ‘new breed’ of drummers. Who do you think kicked that off?
Chris Adler: It’s hard to say, because I see this natural evolution where guys like John Bonham turned on guys like Lars Ulrich, who then turned on guys like me. There are certainly standout players like Dave Lombardo and a number others who pushed metal in strange directions. Thomas [Haake] from Meshuggah started bringing in that kind of jazzy, very time-specific feel with the songwriting he was doing on their early records. There was something very obvious about what Meshuggah was doing that was different than what was going on elsewhere. I think metal, especially, went down that road because metal players are really focused on being very proficient at their instruments. They don’t want to be a Poison or Warrant kind of band, where it’s more about image. Today the focus is on ability.
Metal Edge: Your drum sound, and your snare sound in particular, is very punchy. How much of that has to do with the drums or heads and the way they are tuned, and how much is your own technique?
Chris Adler: It depends on whether it’s a recorded performance or a live show. Live shows are based on choice of microphones and heads and taking the time with my drum tech to make sure it sounds as good as it can every single day. In the studio it’s the same thing: working with the producer, choosing the mics, choosing the room that allows me to get the good drum sounds. The drums sounding clear and precise are not necessarily techniques, although it certainly helps to play precisely in order to have all the sounds come through. But it’s really more of the environment, the microphones and the people I’m working with.
Metal Edge: 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 technical or more song-oriented drummer?
Chris Adler: That’s a great question. For a long time, especially for our first three records, I was very much a technical player focused on trying to be the best I could be 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. 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 song. It was a process of recording a song 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. When I found the mix of those two things – the time I’d spent trying to be as technical as possible combined with allowing the songs to be more important than my parts – that’s when the accolades started coming to me.
Drums: Mapex Saturn Pro Series in Cherry Walnut Finish
Sizes: 18 x 22” Kick Drum, 9” x 10” and 10” x 12” Rack Toms, 16” x 16” and 16” x 18” Floor Toms, 5 ½ x 12” Snare
Sticks: Promark Chris Adler Signature Stick
Official Website: http://www.lamb-of-god.com
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chris-Adler-196137456576/
This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.