For months, we have been running a series of brief conversations with Chris Adler, as he’s gone through the process of recording the new Lamb of God. For the next two installments, we figured we’d turn the chatter over to you. On Facebook, we took your questions, and while we couldn’t ask them all, we did ask some of the better questions. As always, Lamb of God’s drummer delivered.
I spoke to Chris on Wednesday, the same day the band would be getting the final master of the new Lamb of God record — which Adler says has a name that won’t be announced until next month. I jumped right in with your questions because I had to get to as many as possible.
When I asked Gun Shy Assassin fan Chris Patrik Asplund’s question, Adler came back with an immediate answer. That question: What is your least favorite Lamb Of God song?
“It’s a song on Ashes of the Wake called ‘One Gun,’” Adler fires back. “Absolutely can’t stand that song. For whatever reason, we were struggling for material at the end of the writing process for that album, and I just thought — initially — that it was sub-par, and in the recording, it slowed down instead of speeding up, which to me has always been the death sentence to any tune. I don’t think we’ve ever played it again outside of the studio, so there was never an opportunity to get that shared energy with the crowd or even spice it up as a band; it’s just totally not motivating.”
He pauses. And then: “It reminded me — and this is in no way saying anything bad about the band, because I do actually really like ‘em — but it reminded me of a Chimaira song I can’t remember. Not because that’s bad, but because I don’t want to be like any other band. I just never liked that song. People ask us why we never play it, and well…it’s because I hate it.”
Reader Mike Bahantka asked me to ask Adler what the coolest gift a fan gave the band was. Chris said that the online covers and tributes to the band — which he watches on YouTube — are cool gifts.
“The coolest thing we have ever brought home was…a couple that came out, maybe at the beginning of the Ashes of the Wake touring and they had made this enormous stained glass window of this Russian or Middle Eastern-style palace on fire, and written into the stained glass was ‘As The Palaces Burn,’” Adler recalls. “We delicately transported it back to our rehearsal space and keep it there on the wall as part of the decoration. It’s an odd piece but it was probably the most time spent on something like that.”
Next up came Andrew Minarik’s query: In what areas do you push yourself to improve?
“I think I’ve kind of learned through trial and error that when I say ‘Yes’ to things that are uncomfortable, whether or not it turns out to be a huge success, those are typically the things I learn the most from,” Adler says. “When I’m intimidated to say ‘Yes,’ I just kind of want to say ‘No’ and kind of walk away. That has taught me to understand both my strengths and recognize what I think my weaknesses are and those are certainly constantly changing and evolving into different things, as far as being a drummer.
“After the Sacrament record, I felt like the drumming on Sacrament and Ashes of the Wake was pretty much all the same, and I hadn’t really developed any new tools for my belt. I especially felt lacking in my hand speed,” Chris continues. “So in spending time for Wrath, I just worked with the metronome, just trying to increase my ability to, with rolls and rolls down the toms and just pick up the speed of things I was doing with my hands. I felt like the feet were still there, but my hands never really caught up with my feet from the beginning of my drumming career.
“After Wrath, I felt like, ‘OK, well, I brought that a little bit up to speed, so now what is my weakness?’ I do this metal groove drummer thing fairly well, but I don’t know how to play anything outside of it. If you hooked me up with a jazz trio at a local bar, I would just be the most embarrassing thing you have ever seen. So I wanted to branch out and learn more about other styles of music and why I was so intimidated by them and what was so different. If I can do this so well, why do I not feel at all comfortable in that other world?
“I started learning from tab books. [Tower of Power’s] David Garibaldi does groove exercises, which is very, very different from what I do, and then slowly, open myself up to talking to different drummers and looking at different guys. Matt from Periphery and I have done a few lessons. He’s a fusion player, so it’s totally different than what I do, and he’s brought that into metal, so he gets where I am coming from too. So with the new record, I was really trying to focus on elements of my playing that I could make metal but weren’t metal, by themselves. Not just the standard straight-up double kicks going a million miles an hour for three minutes. Just trying to do something and bringing in different styles. Now, going forward from here, I don’t know. Next time I turn on the creative switch, I will try to pinpoint where I feel like I’m lacking, and just go after it full force.”
Next week, the answer’s to the rest of your questions. And be the first to know about the new column first by following us on Facebook.
Chris Adler is the drummer for Grammy-nominated metal band Lamb of God and the author of the book “The Making of Lamb of God’s New American Gospel,” a comprehensive behind-the-scenes narrative book detailing the early days of Lamb of God and the writing and recording of their New American Gospel LP; a forthcoming book will address the recording of As The Palaces Burn. Anything else you need to know about Chris Adler, you can find at his web site, Chris-Adler.com.
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