There are few metal bands these days that aren’t looking up at Lamb Of God. The Richmond, VA-based band that long branded their style as “Pure American Metal” hasn’t lost a step in an increasingly competitive scene; they remain on top thanks to a stream of great albums and relentless live performances.
Their latest studio effort, Resolution, is due out on Jan. 24, and it’s as searing a pile of metal as you’re likely to crash into in 2012. From the lumbering sludge of opener “Straight For The Sun,” to the single, “Ghost Walking,” to the hardcore-affected “The Number Six” and insidious closer “King Me,” the new album is stock Lamb Of God, and that’s not something that can be taken lightly.
John Campbell, Lamb Of God bassist, humorist and all-around good guy, was busy preparing for a lengthy album cycle when he joined The Aquarian via phone for the following interview. The results—nay, the resolution follows.
What’s your headspace as far as the new album goes?
We’re very excited. It’s like two and a half—three weeks now till it comes out. I feel strongly about this record. The cliché thing for a band dude to say is that it’s the greatest thing that they’ve done and that they love the record, but this is actually true in this case.
We’re kind of just enjoying the last few moments at home that we’ve had off the road since ending touring back in November of 2010, so, a pretty chaotic headspace to be honest. But exciting, and we’re getting ready to fire up the touring machine.
You’ve haven’t toured since 2010?
We finished touring in November of 2010. That was in Australia with Metallica. [We] came home for the holidays and had some time off with our families and then we started working on Resolution. That was a good five, six months of pretty straightforward work. We played one show this past year in Canada; we played a festival. That’s been the one show we’ve played, and we’ve got one coming up here in Richmond, VA.
I didn’t realize it had been that long since you guys had played.
Well, we had to put a record together, record it and make sure it was good, and get a little time in with our families. And we hit the road with a two-year plan in front of us.
Do you think there will be any cobwebs?
No, I don’t think that’s an issue. To be honest, I’m sitting in the rehearsal space right now, which is my routine. Just getting in the rehearsal space, where I have no distractions, and I’m playing by myself. In another week or so we start to get together the band. And we’ve been doing this for—well, we’ve been doing it for longer than we haven’t been doing it; considering this year off, for the better part of 16 years. It’s sort of like riding a bike at this point.
How did these songs come together?
This time was actually different from how we’ve done anything in the past. The songs had started to be written when we were on the road touring, with [guitarist] Mark Morton on his laptop demoing stuff. When we got back home in November, Willie [Adler, guitarist] started demoing stuff. And when we met in the rehearsal space with Josh [Wilbur], the producer, we had a ton of tracks to start plowing through to fine-tune, craft and trim the fat off of to make Resolution.
How come you never worked like that before?
I think partly because of the technology. The ability for Mark to sit and do that to fill his downtime on the road wasn’t there. I thought it was somewhat therapeutic for Mark to start doing that to keep himself occupied on the road.
Before that, when you’re out touring and you’re playing five shows a week, you warm-up, play a show and then you put the instrument away and the next day you do the same thing. There’s really not that much time in the process for just kind of jamming around, being in a creative space… In the past, we had been in the rehearsal space with nobody over our shoulder, just sitting around talking about concepts.
Why did you decide to call it Resolution?
Well, because we argued quite a bit about what the record should be titled, and when the dust settled, Resolution was what the record was called. It’s not just a random word, and it can mean a lot of things, which I think is what makes it a great title. If you look at the cover of the record, there’s a mass of burning wreckage and a burning plane. You can imagine that this wreckage is some sort of resolution. Resolution could also be just having the fortitude to just carry forward on whatever path you’ve chosen and on whatever endeavors you’ve chosen.
You can’t pin down the meaning to the title to one thing. I think Resolution is exactly that.
The other thing that I was thinking about is that it might mean the resolution of the band. Are you concerned people might think that?
(Laughs) Shit, if people are worried about us, I’m happy. When people are on the internet slagging us, as we seem to have gotten to a level where people are doing that—I love the fact that people are spending their time thinking about us, be it good or bad.
What would you say is your favorite moment on the new album?
The record is full of moments, but probably the intro to “Ghost Walking,” when the band kicks in from Mark’s acoustic intro, the heavy drop is ridiculous to me; I love it. I’m looking forward to playing that loud through a P.A.
I get kind of a hardcore feel throughout the album. I think that’s partially because some of the gang vocals and also some of the verses, like on “The Number Six” where it’s just bass, drums and vocals.
Well, I don’t know if we ever stop to dissect it quite as much as you just did, but that’s part of the scene where we came up through, back in the mid-‘90s. When we started as a band, heavy metal was a bad word and punk rock was king. We had to call ourselves a punk-metal band to get anybody to book us. But we come from a—not just a metal world—Randy [Blythe, vocals] and I were listening to punk rock coming up in high school. The scene definitely intertwines; it’s part of who we are as Lamb Of God.
Is there anything in particular that you guys were jamming to during the writing?
I remember Willie bringing in some riffs and being like, “Man, check out this sweet Hatebreed riff that I wrote.” If you can pull off a riff that is as heavy as a Hatebreed riff, then I think you got something.
Will there be another documentary to accompany Resolution?
I absolutely love those DVDs and have been very vocal about the fact that we should continue that. But what’s happening with this run is that there’s a documentary being produced that involves us—mostly our music and the affect that it has to people around the world who are in an oppressive [situation] or a situation that is tough to deal with and how Lamb Of God’s music helps them in their situation, or what it means to them. And that’s going to be filming as we tour around the world, but it’s going to be mostly dealing with the fans, with the people and less to do with us.
Is that something that the band is producing?
We’re involved in it, but I’m not putting a camera on my shoulder. You involve talented people to get these things done.
What about the DVDs do you love?
To me they’re like home movies because it is a great representation of what those tours were like—at least the highlights. The guy who made those, Doug Spangenberg, he’s a great dude, he’s got a lot going on, and he just kind of interjected himself in with the camera. And the camera wasn’t really there. Doug was just hanging out being the jerk with the camera, and it was a lot of fun having him around.
He’s a talented dude and those were really fun tours back in the day. I’m really happy to have those to be able to look back on as documents of what was going on.
Do you ever worry about being too transparent?
No, I don’t think we’re really ones to put on airs. We’re not wearing eyeliner, and I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures of me, but I’m not really wasting much money on Just For Men. There’s nothing to hide. It’s a lot easier in that sense. Somehow people seem to be interested in what we are in our true form, so I guess we’re lucky for that.
They’re definitely entertaining…
We’re some really good-looking, intelligent and humorous guys, I’d like to think.
You’ve talked a lot about being competitive as performers; do you still feel that way?
Absolutely! Yeah, from every moment that we’re onstage that’s kind of part of the character that we take on when we becoming Lamb Of God up onstage. Dethklok kind of mocks the idea, but when you’re onstage, you’re the fucking baddest band in the world. And if you’re not, what the fuck are you doing onstage? For us, we’ve worked really hard writing songs that we feel are great songs, that we can perform and blow people away with. And we’ve made a career of doing that.
How do other bands that you play shows with react to that attitude?
There’s a lot of crying, a lot of calls home to mom (laughs). But, honestly, I think everybody’s doing the same thing. Everybody’s trying to take home the prize for the night, so that people walk away from that show going, “Holy fuck, that band owned that show!” When you can get a bill where everyone’s mentality is that, then the audience is gonna get their money’s worth. That’s just dudes going out there and putting everything they have into it.
And we’re lucky enough to be able to go and do this for a living. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
Lamb Of God will play Irving Plaza in NYC on Jan. 24 and The Trocadero in Philly on Jan. 26. For more information, go to lamb-of-god.com.