For months now, Gun Shy Assassin has been bringing you an ongoing string of quick, casual, off-the-cuff interviews with the very talented Chris Adler — drummer for the one and only Lamb of God. Often, our conversations center around Chris’ life — and often, his obsession with mint cookie ice cream. Of course, Chris will continue to be checking in with Gun Shy Assassin from time to time with updates on what’s going on in his world, and he will occasionally answer some topical and ridiculous questions from me. Here now is another exclusive you will only find at Gun Shy: the seventeenth installment of Adler Chatter with Chris Adler.
Chris Adler is one happy dude. When I asked him recently how he he was doing, he responded, “Really pretty fantastic;” most times, my response to that question is “Well, I’m still alive.” Things in the Adler Universe are good, despite the recent earthquake and hurricane that threatened to wreak havoc on Chris’ home. The earthquake rattled his abode two days before Hurricane Irene knocked his power out for ten whole days. Lucky for Chris, he left for Spain right after the earthquake.
“In Richmond right now, city workers are replacing all the gas lines, and so these guys have been out in front of my house for two months,” Adler starts telling me, about his earthquake experience. “My wife and I are kind of packing, and the guys are out front replacing the gas line to our house, and the house starts shaking. They’ve been using a jackhammer all day, so it’s not weird but its like, ‘Dude, give me a fucking break.’
“I sprint from the upstairs where we’re packing, down the stairs. I think I made it down 16 stairs in two steps. I run outside to yell at these guys. I’m like, ‘Whoa, whoa whoa! Stop! Stop!,’ and we were right in front of my house, and they’re looking at me like I’m doing something. They’re like, ‘Dude — we’re not doing anything. We don’t know what’s going on. We all kind of stood there and everybody on my block ran out of their houses. I think everyone lost a mirror or two. A chair got swayed here and there. It wasn’t a big deal.”
The next day, Chris left for Barcelona. Adler was one of the main attractions for a festival and a clinic “and I was fortunate enough to have the festival organizers invite my whole family, so we just chilled out for two weeks in Spain. I did a little bit of work, but it was incredibly awesome.”
The festival attracted more than 6,000 fans, and Chris gave a class to 900 drumming enthusiasts.
“We had a blast,” Adler tells Gun Shy Assassin. “We basically just sat on a beach for two weeks and then I worked for an hour at the end of it. It’s funny, because when we first started talking, we had a small conversation about how it feels to have come this far, and I remember telling you that it’s hard to notice the things that go by, because you’re constantly working, constantly wanting to make sure tomorrow is better than today. But when I was sitting on the beach in Spain, I realized this doesn’t happen to a lot of people, and this is a very, very special kind of reward for the work that I’ve put in. It was very cool.”
Adler is also psyched because he just finished his second book, which will provide fans with an inside look at the making of As The Palaces Burn. Adler just sent it to the printers and will release it when he’s good and fucking ready. That’s my way of saying, we don’t know just yet when the book will be available, but will be the first ones to let you know when it is.
I caught up with Chris earlier this week, when he was fresh from a day in the studio.
“Today was the first day I had the time to head over to my drum studio and try to remember everything that I played on the new record,” Adler tells me. “It’s been a little while since I recorded now, and Randy is days away from being done with the vocals; he’s been going at it for what seems like a God awful time. He’s done it three or four times now in total, and every time, it gets so much better.”
I can only imagine. Man, that’s sick. Can you guys believe we will get a new Lamb of God record in early 2012? I’m psyched…especially after the conversation continued.
“We started the process early knowing that we’ve always been pressed before and always regretted something, and this time, I really think we are going to have something very, very special that everybody in the band is happy with,” says Adler. “Randy definitely has a lot on his mind and has a lot to say, and his performance on this record is equivalent to my own — I always try to outdo myself, and I am very proud of everybody in the band. It’s a pretty awesome record. On this record, I have played as well as I did ten years ago on Palaces.”
I like that — Chris is confident. If anyone can say something like that with sheer confidence, it’s Adler. “It could be the dementia at this point, but I am slightly confident we pulled another rabbit out of the hat.”
Get this. The mastering of the disc is scheduled for September 23 and September 24, which means by September 25, the Lamb of God record could be done.
“It still has to go through all the bells and whistles, and the production, and the super, thriller 3D laser beam artwork that’s going on,” says Adler. “No — I’m kidding.”
But it raises a good point. Mastodon, for instance, have this augmented reality thing they’re doing with their new album The Hunter. Essentially, it’s a gimmick no one will ultimately end up giving a fuck about. Just give us the music, dudes.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on these days on the management side, on the label side that just try to keep the business alive,” Adler defends. “Guys like you and I do just genuinely want the music. But there are tricks, and we are not immune to that. On the last record, we gave out all kinds of stuff with the lottery tickets that we put inside the CD. We realize the commerce of this is dying, to be honest. If we are all to make a living, you certainly need some sort of creative boost. So you come up with what you can. I haven’t seen the Mastodon thing, but I have read about it. That seems like maybe management thinks the kids are going to like the water ride if it looks like Free Willy.”
But the difference is, Lamb of God gave their fans something tangible — like the chance to meet them, for example.
“I know those guys, and I know there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that happens on everybody’s record that the artist isn’t necessarily in charge of. It is a business, and it’s a business that is not doing well, so sometimes, you have to try something.”
I suggest an iPhone app that sucks the dicks of fans who buy the next record.
“That’s a great idea, Chris,” Adler says. “We might actually go with that. I will sign my brother Willie up for that one.”
Adler said Lamb of God’s heavyweight manager Larry Mazer is very sensitive to the kinds of gimmicks labels try to hoist on their bands. “He always has our side, and never really allowed the gimmicky things to happen,” says Chris. “The idea of the lottery tickets was his idea. He would probably not come up with something involving a computer screen, because he is old school.”
Mazer is a legend in the business. He managed Kiss, Megadeth, and Cinderella — the dude gets it.
“He helps and he knows how important credibility is,” says Adler. “He wont let us go down the wrong path. When he has these meetings with the labels, he’s the first person to put his foot down and say ‘Absolutely fucking no. If you don’t want them, someone is going to pay a lot more than you fucking pay.’”
The stuff of legend, folks.
I end my conversation with Chris by talking about side projects. In recent weeks, we’ve learned that Lamb of God’s Mark Morton is working with Dez Fafara. Is Chris doing anything special?
“My baby is Lamb of God,” he starts. “A side project to me…knowing that Mark has done other projects and Randy’s done a record, it doesn’t bother me. But for me, to cheat on myself? It’s almost stupid. I don’t understand why I would want to, because i am so dedicated to this.”
Yet, he has started several side projects that do not interfere with Lamb of God and his responsibilities to that band, but keep him creatively fulfilled.
Adler said one project involves Peter Tägtgren from Hypocrisy and Pain, and another is with Paul Waggoner from Between the Buried and Me and guitar phenom Keith Merrow.
“We have talked about doing a project, but reigning in Keith’s abilities with the idea of putting out something a little more tasteful. Our goal would be to do something a la the band Mustach from Sweden, and reached out to Ralph [Gyllenhammer, Mustach’s singer], who has expressed his interest in being part of it.”
Adler said Lamb of God are booked for shows through January 2013.
While it’s great to have work, Adler says it’s getting harder to tour, because he has to leave his young daughter behind.
“I have been on the road for 20 years, eating chips and salsa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — it ends up hurting after a while, especially when you are competing with kids of today, for whom our first album is like their metal for dummies. It’s tough. It’s hard to walk away from my little girl.”
I will leave you now with two pieces of wisdom from Chris that I couldn’t fit in elsewhere. I quote Adler:
“I learned a long time ago you’re nothing until someone hates you.”
“We all have a voice on the internet, and the biggest voices are often the smallest people.”
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. Anything else you need to know about Chris Adler, you can find at his web site, Chris-Adler.com.
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