Interviews : Lamb of God – Resolution in mind and music (An interview with John Campbell)
Lamb of God – John Campbell
There is no doubt that Lamb of God are one of the most respected American metal bands of the 2000’s, touring with some of the biggest names in metal. On the 21st of January, they’re set to release their 8th studio album “Resolution”, and in February/March they will be apart of Soundwave Festival for one of its best line-ups yet. Back in November, Patrick Emmett had a chat to bassist John Campbell about the new album and Soundwave Festival, aswell as previous tours and other bands.
Metal Obsession: Hey John, how’s it going?
John Campbell: Hey, it’s going okay, 9:30 at night at the east-coast of the US, raining pretty badly y’know, just another night at home.
Metal Obsession: I just got home from school then so I can do this interview, but I’ve gotta go back straight after it.
John: What are you studying at school?
Metal Obsession: I’m still in the middle of high school, and there’s nothing in particular that I’m studying as of yet.
John: Good enough, this should be a very well-rounded interview then!
Metal Obsession: Yes, it should [laughs]. With the lyrics on Resolution, is there any particular theme you tried to go with?
John: Most would be in relation to the title. Well, what happens is, to make a long story short, the songs come together, and we kinda look through the lyrics for specific words and things to try and come up with a title for the record. That’s what we did, and it appropriately reflects the themes of the album.
Metal Obsession: I noticed most of the songs on this album were tuned to Drop C# instead of the usual Drop D, why did you want a lower tuning for this album?
John: That is an amazing observation; most journalists wouldn’t take notice of the tunings we were in. It was definitely a conscious thing, y’know, dropping it down another half step because it’s chronically heavier. We just thought it sounded badass, and a couple of songs sounded appropriate in C#. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the very opening track is actually tuned to Drop C.
Metal Obsession: Yeah, I noticed that one was even lower.
John: Are you a musician?
Metal Obsession: I play guitar, I’m not great at it yet, but I’m good with telling what tuning a song is in, or learning riffs by ear.
John: That’s a gift man.
Metal Obsession: It is. What makes you feel like this is the best Lamb of God album yet?
John: Well if you think about it logically, we have been for a long time so we’ve got better at doing this. But it’s ah, we’ve learned lessons along the way that we’ve actually used, and when bringing out a new record, we’re not interested in bringing out the same record we did before. To stretch and try new things and try to evolve as a band has always been what we’ve aimed for when we’ve gone to write and put out a new record.
But what makes it better? Specifically, I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but being very involved with all the recordings we have done, this is my absolute favourite and most challenging group of songs we’ve put together.
Metal Obsession: To be honest, I think it’s the best Lamb of God album yet.
John: Well I appreciate you for giving me feedback on the album. Have you got a favourite song at this point?
Metal Obsession: My favourites would be The Number Six or Ghost Walking.
John: I love Ghost Walking. The beginning of the song with the acoustic guitar, and then when the band comes in, it’s such a brutal hit! That’s one of my favourite songs on the album.
Metal Obsession: That’s my favourite part as well, so heavy!
Next year will be your second appearance at Soundwave Festival, and you have also been on a few tours down here in the past as well. What are you most looking forward to next year, is there anything from your previous times in Australia that you never got to do.
John: To be honest, the last time we were here was with Metallica, and we played multiple shows in each city. That was amazing; to be able to spend a couple of days in each city in Australia was a gift. We absolutely love Australia; the people, the land, it’s really an amazing place to be able to visit, and [laughs] I hope Metallica comes calling again, because spending a week in each city with them was great.
I don’t know if there’s anything specific that we want to do, when we hit the road we’re working as hard as we can to play as many shows, so there’s really not much time. But if I could, when we come back to Australia, I would get on another motorcycle and cruise around Melbourne, that’d be great.
Metal Obsession: I got to see you twice last year on the Metallica tour, and that was an awesome concert! I can’t wait to see you again at Soundwave Festival.
John: Awesome. The Metallica show was great. The stage was a little awkward, but we got used to it after a while, because we toured with them for I think 4 months, for the last tour legs. It was amazing to have the opportunity to meet those guys and play shows with them, but I look forward to hittin’ Soundwave again. The headliners get a little more action on the PA, but when you play with Metallica there’s no huge difference on the volume.
Metal Obsession: The Big 4 of thrash metal tour has been happening for over a year now, and there have been recent talks for a Classic 4 tour with Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. If you were to organise a Big 4 tour with the New Wave of American Metal, what bands would it be with?
John: Oh wow! [laughs] That is a very difficult question to answer. I would probably say, I would like to tour with Mastodon. Everytime we’ve played shows with them, I’ve had an awesome time, I love those dudes, they’re a great bunch of guys, and good guys to travel with. The dudes at Unearth are again a great band and also great guys, so we’d tour with them. So we’re upto 3 bands on the bill… Wow you’ve really tested me [laughs], lets throw Gojira in there, just to keep things heavy and not too sounding the same.
Metal Obsession: Over the years, which band member has caused the most trouble on and off the road?
John: Oh, lord; we take our turns to be honest. Wow, you’re really asking me to name names here, aren’t you? Well we all take our turns, we all have our difficult sides to our personalities and we all take turns of being the bad guy. We’ve been doing this together for quite some time and we’ve learnt about our bad sides, it’s all secondary to the time that we get up there and play a set. Despite our differences and those sorts of things, we’re there to play a set and that’s what we do well, because we really love to do it.
Metal Obsession: I read over a few YouTube videos that Lamb of God was banned from calling the wall of death at shows. What fuelled up this rumour, and is it true?
John: Oh, there is no truth to the rumour. It was two-thousand and… 4? 7? Fuck I don’t remember, but we played at Ozzfest, I’m sure you’re familiar with what it is; it’s sort of like Soundwave. A few days in, Ozzfest had video of a wall of death going on and they put it up on the website. Their insurers saw that, and said “Wait a minute, these guys can’t do this, are you kidding me? You can’t have insurance if they’re gunna do it.” So we were told that we can’t provoke the crowd to kill each other basically.
There were people getting seriously hurt, as Randy directed the crowd, and we felt a little uncomfortable with that. We still play the song that the people do the wall of death to, and people who are fans that have been waiting to do that for weeks and months are still gunna go ahead and do that when the song comes up. That is pretty much the truth behind that rumour.
Metal Obsession: I asked the last band I interviewed this question, and I wanted to ask you aswell. About a month or two ago, there was an article in Australia’s biggest newspaper The Herald Sun, and it showed a study saying “TEENAGERS listening to head-banging heavy metal music are at risk of depression and suicide.” Personally, I think its bullshit, but I wanted to get your opinion on it?
John: Well, I’m not a psychologist, or a professional mental health person, but I would guess that heavy metal is a rebellious type of music. People who are rebellious are generally younger, and I believe that people suffering from depression and those sorts of things, it becomes much more serious once they get some age on them.
I think that drawing the cause of effects between music and depression/suicide is no big deal, but I do think there is a correlation in the type of people who are kind of drawn to heavy metal music, are pre-disposed to that sort of behaviour already. So if they were trying to lay the blame on the music, I think that is ridiculous and sensational. While it’s certainly something that they’re talking about, because it’s a human condition that, if you have suffered from it yourself I’m sure you’d know how bad it is. Depression is a serious thing and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Metal Obsession: I know that you’re a gaming fan, have you played any of the new games out like Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or Skyrim? What one is your favourite?
John: I have not. I’ve had to kinda hang out and do things a little bit. I’m more of a family man now, I’ve got two children and once my son got old enough to kind of realise what was happening on the screen with the video games, I had to give up with all the bloody, brutal games. But these games are very close to my heart, I love these sorts of things, I don’t even have an Xbox anymore, I have a Wii. They released Call of Duty out on the Wii and I had a mess around with that a little bit.
I’m not as hardcore of a gamer as I used to be, and I unfortunately haven’t had a chance to play any of the very new games. I actually have a copy of Modern Warfare 3 sitting in my house for Xbox, I just have to figure out which one of my friends have an Xbox, so I can make some free time getting over to their place and check it out.
Metal Obsession: You have toured with many of the biggest names in old and new metal over the years, what band was your favourite to tour with and why?
John: Well I guess I might be repeating myself a little bit but, Mastodon is probably my absolute favourite band to tour with. Two of their guys was in the studio when we recorded the Burn the Priest record, because they were playing in the band with the guy who recorded it. So we met those guys a long time ago, and they’re doing the same thing we are in a lot of ways, and I feel like brothers with these guys. So without a doubt for me, playing shows with Mastodon is more than a pleasure, they’re one of my absolute favourite bands to tour with.
Metal Obsession: What advice would you give to people wanting to start a band?
John: Get it going man, c’mon, quit wasting time and go get those instruments and start practicing. Focus on having a good time and writing the best music that you can. The most important piece of advice I could give to anyone doing that is, don’t for a second consider that this is going to pay your bills, because there are very, very, VERY few people who actually pull that off. So if that’s what your goal is, then best of luck to you, you’re probably just as well off trying to win the lottery. But if you’re getting into it to have fun and make music, then go for it!
Metal Obsession: It’s been a pleasure talking to you, is there anything else you’d like to say?
John: I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me and put the word out. We are VERY stoked to get back to Australia, which is absolutely our favourite country to tour in other than our own, only because of the distances. What time is it right there?
Metal Obsession: It’s 1:51pm here.
John: What city are you in?
Metal Obsession: Geelong, about an hour out of Melbourne.
John: I think I’ve seen the signs on the highway for Geelong. Anyway, we are really excited to get back to Australia, it’s absolutely one of our favourite places to tour; the people, the country, and it’s just a beautiful place.
Metal Obsession: Well thanks for the talk mate; I’ll see you at Soundwave!
John: Talk soon; be good, we’ll see you in a few months!
Check out Lamb of God at Soundwave Festival and sideshows!
SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL VENUES AND DATES FOR 2012
BRISBANE: 25TH FEBRUARY – SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL @ RNA SHOWGROUNDS / SOLD OUT
BRISBANE: 28TH FEBRUARY – EATON HILL HOTEL- LIC/AA
SYDNEY: 26TH FEBRUARY – SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL @ OLYMPIC PARK / SOLD OUT
CANBERRA: 1ST MARCH – UC REFECTORY – LIC/AA
www.ticketek.com.au / www.oztix.com.au
MELBOURNE: 2ND MARCH – SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL @ MELB SHOWGROUNDS / SOLD OUT
ADELAIDE: 3RD MARCH – SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL @ BONYTHON PARK
PERTH: 5TH MARCH – SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL @ CLAREMONT SHOWGROUNDS