Features

Chris Adler (Lamb Of God): The Interview

by Paul Hanson

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 Photo © William Hawkins - morphusphotography.com

I'm smiling, sitting in the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Lamb Of God's soundcheck is over and the arena is now filled with various noises. The roadies for the other three bands on the bill work feverishly to set up the stage for the concert.

The roster reads Gojira, Machine Head, Trivium and Lamb Of God. It is a great lineup on paper. Satisfied with his drums, Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler walks from backstage to the arena floor to greet me. We find a place to sit down and talk about the band.

Adler is lanky, about 6' 4" with a long beard and long hair. The press says he is well-spoken and articulate, speaking for one of heavy metal's current breed of bands that are relentlessly taking the music to the fans. That is my perception of him as well. He is genuine, smiling often. As we talk, he has many witty comments. You forget that you are talking to Chris Adler, one of the premier double-bass drummers in heavy metal.

This tour is for Lamb Of God's Sacrament, which fell into stores in August. However, the band has been on tour since before August as a band on Slayer's Unholy Alliance tour. "We were getting final mixes for the record in the mail and listening to them on tour," he tells me. "The sequencing for that record was very difficult. We wanted to start strong and finish strong."

Which is the case. And before anyone asks, Lamb Of God is not a Christian band. "I can't count how many times we're asked that," Adler says. None of the other bands on the tour are either. As for why those three groups were chosen for the tour? "Gojira was hand-picked. We all like them and we were all into their sound and what they got going on so we really wanted them to come out with us," he says.

"Machine Head [the second band that plays] had done some shows with us before so we liked them and had had a good time with them so we wanted them to come out," Adler continues. "For a while, it was going to be just us three. But then we said, what if we got an arena tour together for the smaller venues we wanted to play? That's when Trivium just kind of happened."

When the tour ends this summer, Adler says his band will be looking at other summer tours like Heaven and Hell, which features the revamped Black Sabbath, Korn and Slayer. And, of course, there is Ozzfest, but Adler has some thoughts on the free tour.

"Let me give you an example. It costs $45,000 to drive our tour bus, to get us to where we need to go, for one month. Why should we pay, five of us in the band, $9000 each? Someone has to sponsor it," he says.

"We don't want to be a corporate band -- that's selling out," he adds. "I think there is going to be a trend towards smaller shows vs. a festival, where you sit through eight bands before you see the band you want to see."

So while touring is a part of Adler's life now, there is light at the end of the tunnel. At some point, there will be the writing and recording of the follow-up to Sacrament. "It's hard to find time to write when you're on the road with all the things that happen daily," Adler says.

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The band also is looking at working with Chris Poland, former Megadeth guitarist, which could piggyback off previous work with Ron Jarzombek, Spastic Ink's guitar player. The material with Jarzombek was featured on the Live at Modern Drummer Festival 2005 DVD; among the performances is "Hourglass," which Adler says captures the essence of the songs that spurred his interest in drumming.

Also on that DVD are "Blood Of The Scribe" and "Now You've Got Something To Die For," which along with "Hourglass" were songs Adler played with his brother, Lamb Of God guitarist Willie Adler. The drummer's face lights up when he talks about the songs.

"Being able to share this experience with him is great. It's great to share it with the other guys in the band but to have your brother with you is awesome," Adler says. "It's the same guys day-in, day-out. We are all old enough to understand the dynamics of what we do. Some bands break up after a fight -- we know that is part of all this."

It becomes apparent that perspective has allowed Lamb of God to thrive while others have failed to survive the rigors of the tour schedule. After a half-hour of casual conversation, Adler shakes my hand and returns to the backstage area for his final prep before the concert, a humble man with no chip on his shoulder.

A couple of hours after interviewing Adler, the doors to the arena open. Gojira puts on a good show, while Machine Head riles up the crowd in a good way and Trivium rocks the house. Lamb Of God then hits the stage with "Hourglass," and I smile as I hear Adler pummel through the song. The stage presence is excellent and the dry ice and smoke in front of the band makes it hard to see them, but the crowd is into the show. As usual, the band puts on a great show. I'm smiling again.




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