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08.07 Lamb of God

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KEEPING METAL FROM GOING TO SLAUGHTER
By Len Sousa

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“The tour we just finished was intense!” says John Campbell, bass player for Ozzfest main stagers Lamb Of God. Their recent summer dates have included stops in the UK, Germany, Belgium, Scotland, Holland, Norway, and France. “We played festivals on the weekends and clubs dates in between, which gave us the best of both worlds.”

Globe trekking as much as they have, the Richmond, Virginia rockers must have picked up a coupla three things, culturally-speaking, from their international fan base. “As we travel around, [we] find that most things are pretty consistent as far as touring goes,” Campbell says. “The audiences are what vary the most. In Asia, fans will be waiting at the hotel with gifts. Australians are similar to Brits in that they get completely sh*t-faced and go nuts. In Switzerland, they are very sedate ~ neutral even.”

Who says bass players don’t have a sense of humor?

In addition to Campbell on bass, Lamb Of God features Randy Blythe on vocals, Mark Morton on guitar, and brothers Chris and Willie Adler on drums and guitar respectively. All together, the quintet look a long-haired, surly bunch who might have crawled off the deck of a pirate movie, but have no worries, it’s just the look of good ole fashioned metal ~ the return of which has been a long time coming for Campbell and his bandmates.

“We started in the winter of 1994 back when metal was a bad word,” Campbell explains. “If we wanted to play a show out of town, we would have to tell people that we were a ‘punk-metal’ band, whatever that is…As we got some momentum, we started playing shows with bands like God Forbid and Shadows Fall and have had an amazing time watching the scene grow from the van-riding, canned-soup-eating days into playing for over 70,000 people at the Download Festival this year.”

In 2004, the Lambs played second stage at Ozzfest. This year, they’ll be joining the master of ceremonies himself, Ozzy Osbourne, on the main stage. “It is mind blowing to think that we went from second stage to main support for Ozzy,” Campbell says. “Either we’ve been kicking all kinds of ass since 2004 or Ozzy ain’t doing so great!” Again, that bass player humor!

Earlier this year, Lamb Of God made their national television debut on Late Night With Conan O’Brien playing the song “Pathetic” off their new album, Sacrament. Turning from the political proselytizing of their last two albums, their latest release is the group’s most personal to date.

“On our two heavily-political albums, the message is very important, but as a standard theme, it has its limitations.” Campbell adds, “We were sure that politics weren’t going to be a theme on [our last album] Ashes Of The Wake, but in the beginning of 2004 when the lyrics were written, the Presidential race was just getting underway and things in the Middle East were too appalling to ignore.”

“With Sacrament, we had had enough ranting about how sh*tty things were politically. Lyrically, we turned toward more personal themes that we thought would fit well in the landscape of a heavy metal record ~ somehow, a song about how much Randy loves fishing wasn’t going to cut it.”

So if not a fishing record, what is in the works for Lamb Of God? “We finish the Ozzfest run with a hometown show in September and then have a few weeks off before heading over to the UK to tour with Heaven And Hell,” Campbell says. “We will do one more short run in the States before the year is out then it’s anyone’s guess.” While the bassist won’t commit to working on a fishing record any time in the near future, he does hint that a new album may be in the works once things wrap up later this year.

What was it like playing on national television for the first time?

“The television studio was a very strange place to play. The crowd was definitely not there to see a heavy metal band, with the exception of the few friends we got in ~ and they sit very far away from you. The stage itself is way smaller than you would ever imagine compared to how it looks on television. After the first few seconds of the performance it all kinda fell into place, but those first few moments were pretty weird. I would love the opportunity to do more appearances like that.”

What’s your stance on fans downloading music for free?

“Labels are the ones who are most directly affected by people stealing music, and being a good live band doesn’t necessarily sell records. What it does sell is T-shirts, which is a piece of the live experience that people can take away from the show and wear like a badge of honor. I recently heard that record labels were starting to structure in merchandise with all their new contracts. I don’t know how true that is, but it looks like ‘the industry’ is trying to find an answer to downloaders. From an artist’s perspective, the more people that are exposed to the music, the better! “The downside is lower album sales [which don’t] keep the labels happy to continue putting out [our] records.”

Any advice for metal bands just starting out?

“Do it for the love of the music and not because you want to be successful! If you can find happiness making music, any success beyond that is icing on the cake. Plus, you won’t be some desperate schmuck that people in ‘the industry’ can take advantage of. And don’t cover other metal bands songs. The only cover we ever played was ‘Just Got Paid’ by ZZ Top. It sounded nothing like the best little band in Texas.”

Check out LOG at www.lamb-of-god.com.

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