If you’re into heavy music you know about what went down with Lamb of God front man Randy Blythe this summer. If you follow the news in general you may have heard this story. On June 27 Randy Blythe was arrested in the Czech Republic for essentially manslaughter. Two years prior, a 19 year old fan Daniel Nosek had allegedly jumped on stage (as many as three times) and allegedly was pushed off stage by Randy Blythe in which he fell on his head (even though its clear in black and white that Security pushed him), went into a coma and died a month later. Nobody in Lamb of God knew about this incident until the arrest. Blythe remained in prison until early August garnering tons of a support from not only the metal community but also the music community as a whole.
Randy’s out now and they’re out on tour with In Flames, Sylosis, Hatebreed and Hell Yeah. They released a great new album “Resolution” back in January. I got the chance to chat with drummer Chris Adler regarding the incident in Prague as well as the upcoming tour and “Resolution.” If you want to listen to the extended interview, you can do so here:
Zoiks!: So you’ve had a pretty eventful 2012 so far.
Chris Adler: Indeed
Z!: You’ve been building up momentum year after year, you released a great new album and then the stuff with Randy goes down. When he got back was there ever a thought, for even a second, that you wanted to take a break and walk away from this mess that had been created?
CA: For me, no. I think we were all a little uncertain initially if Randy was going to be interested in jumping bank into work. At this point in our career we’ve been around like you said 16 or 17 years and its been kind of this slow burn, but it’s been growing the whole time and to have something like this happen was pretty shocking. So nobody was really sure 100 percent what the future would hold for the band and we were waiting to see how he felt about it. I think everybody certainly wanted to continue, we never wanted to stop to begin with. It was just a shock that left us all kind of wondering what the next step was going to be. Then we heard from Randy’s lawyers as it was getting closer to him getting out that he was definitely interested in doing the two Slipknot Fests we did and getting back to work obviously to support the record and keeping our families and the crew and the people that work for us and their families, keeping food on everybody’s table. It was good to hear him and we’re certainly lucky and happy to be getting back to work this fall.
Z!: The amount of support you guys and Randy got was pretty amazing. How surprised were you to see that level of support?
CA: I spend a fair amount of time on the Internet looking up new music, so I’m not immune to the blogs out there with all the metal fans arguing over who’s true metal and who’s not. I see all these subdivisions of metal fans and I’m a fan of all different types of heavy music so I still laugh at most of it, but it was really the first time where I saw everybody, well not everybody, but most people coming together for one particular cause. It was really refreshing to see the metal community come together like that. There were bands that we’re good friends with, guys that we see everyday like Devil Driver and Machine Head. We were getting calls from them and getting their support, guys like Hatebreed as well. But then to have like Ozzy and Slash, the upper echelon of rock stars come out and give their support too, it was really shocking. I didn’t know we had that much of an impact on the rock world. People do look at this particular scenario and see the danger in what could happen if Randy is held responsible. It could mean that any performer or anyone who decides to go on stage is held responsible for the general well being of everybody that walks through that door. That doesn’t only affect bands at our level or smaller, but that goes all the way up the chain to bands like Ozzy or even pop stars, it’ll be a whole new world if this is how it goes down.
Z!: When you took the stage for the first time after Randy got back how overwhelming was that moment?
CA: It was incredible man, like I said earlier it was quite a shock to have this whole thing happen and we were all questioning as to what the future would be for the band, if there would be a future, if it was going to be all over in a blink of an eye or if we were going to continue. It was like therapy to be on stage again. I think we were all very excited. One of the things that made it so special was that the crowd at both of those festivals we did came over to our stage early and were chanting for a good half n hour straight, “Randy” or “Randy is Free.” Not just the name of the band, but they were familiar with the situation and really vocal about their support. There was this renewed energy on stage because we had realized just how fragile what we do is and coming into those shows we had a new appreciation for being on stage with each other and playing the music that we do and also to have that reflected in the crowd response to us and have their support. It almost felt like some sort of reunion show, we wouldn’t market it like that but that’s how the crowd was supporting us, it was pretty incredible.
Z!: You mention you wouldn’t market it like that, but because of this you’ve gotten a lot of added attention, but you don’t seem to be exploiting that attention which I think is really respectable by you guys.
CA: What happened was a tragedy and there is no denying the fact that someone lost their life. We are incredibly sorry that happened and it humbled us. It’s one of those things as a performer it’s the worst-case scenario. Obviously we didn’t intend for that to happen, we don’t go into any shows with any sort of malice, but when something like that happens, it shakes you. It’s the last thing we’d want to have happen so for us to try and turn it into some sort of marketing ploy seems kind of twisted and its not something we’re going to do.
CA: We try to. There are people that we pay, booking agents and management. The reason we pay them is to help us make those kinds of decisions. If we all hand picked every band that was on the tour it would be four bands that nobody has ever heard of because we love them or their our neighbors or something like that. We have to trust in our booking agent and management to help us find bands that will help us and help the tour do well and succeed. Most of the time we have a hand in picking one or two of the bands. On this particular tour I was very interested in getting Sylosis on it. I’m a huge fan of their last album “Edge of the Earth” and their new album “Monolith” just came out and it’s incredible. We played a couple of shows with them in Ireland and they blew me away. So we had a band discussion back and forth about which band to bring out and they ended up getting the vote. So we try to be involved in the decision, but we certainly don’t want to bring out anybody we don’t like or have anybody with some weird racist stuff, we don’t want anything like that, but for the most part we’re certainly involved.
Z!: All those bands on the bill are pretty amazing live bands. You probably don’t need the added motivation, but these bands are going to force your to be on your game. Does that put added pressure on you and if so how exciting is that added pressure.
CA: It does, we always enjoyed kind of being the main support band because it gives us the opportunity to steal the show. So headlining is a whole different thing. Obviously we’ve done it a lot and its nerve wracking especially when you have great opening bands like we do on this tour playing with us. You can’t get up after Sylosis or Hatebreed and have a bad night. You have to kill it every night. There is some pressure on us, but to me that’s healthy. It’s not competition; we’re not trying to out do each other. Back stage we’re going to be drinking, playing poker and hanging out after the show as friends, but for the show itself everybody wants to put on the best show they can. When you line up a bunch of heavy hitters you want to make sure that the last guy is carrying the biggest bat, so we’re going to do what we can. We’re not trying to outshine anybody, but its our show and we’re going to make show that people remember that.
Z!: I went to your website www.chris-adler.com, and I was reading the story section and I came across a quote that read, ‘I’ve never heard any one say that their favorite record from any band was the 7th one. Never, that is what I felt we were up against and we had everything to prove.’ Your new album “Resolution” is amazing, when you go into prepare for an album what is your goal and how do you prepare?
CA: For me it’s about staying in shape and staying in touch with what is going on with heavy music and trying to help the band evolve, that keeps us relevant as opposed to relying on some hit from three records ago and just trying to copy that over and over again. For me it’s a physical challenge, playing drums is very physical. I’m spending a lot of time working on myself, going to the gym, running a lot, cutting out drinking and smoking, just kind of normal stuff to get myself in shape. Obviously spending a lot of time rehearsing with the guys, trying different parts, recording different parts, and listening to different parts. Spending a lot of time in the room playing and a lot of time outside the room listening and trying to decide what’s best for the song, trying not to overplay or over think. Those two are very hard to manage sometimes. As we kind of get on with our career we’re getting better at the song writing process, letting our own egos go and playing for the song.
Coming into “Resolution,” like you said it’s hard to find a band where your favorite album is their seventh one. We knew that coming in and we were trying to defy the odds on that, so the way we did that, or at least the way I did it was I went back and listened to all the material we recorded and tried to find the places that were our greatest strength and our greatest weaknesses. Then pick out the strengths, not necessarily the hit songs but the songs that stick with the band after the show like, ‘why didn’t you play “One Gun”’ or the weird random B sides that stick with people and find those songs that people somehow seem to latch onto rather than just the hit songs. So I tried to study those and learn what we did right and wrong with those songs and bring the good parts of those into my thought process coming forward.
Instead of relying on my old standard tool belt of drumming, I started taking lessons from Matt Halpern from Periphery, who is more of a fusion drummer, which is very different than what I do. I tried to add a few new things that I could offer the guys or to the writing process. I just tried to make sure I didn’t repeat myself, so I can listen to each album and think, ‘yes I did get a little bit better.’ That was my goal.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.