Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden’s Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Mark Morton and vocalist Randy Blythe of Richmond, Virginia metallers LAMB OF GOD. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: The artwork [to the new LAMB OF GOD album, “Resolution”] — is that some kind of Iraq thing going on there with a burning oil well?
Mark: Yeah, everybody’s taking it that way. No, not specifically, but it’s cool that it certainly can be. I thought of it more like… some of the themes on the record are about pitting [one] against oneself, self-destruction and isolation, detachment in different forms and to me it was more of an interpretation of that. Kind of being the last thing left. But, really, there was no stage in the game where we called [the artist] Ken Adams and said, “Hey, we want a stark white album cover with a barren wasteland and a fire in the back!” It’s not. It’s more like we talked to him about concepts and really broad strokes and it sort of comes from his mind. Ken‘s done every album cover, so it’s almost when it comes to that, that’s his time.
Metalshrine: The title then, “Resolution”? How long does it take to come up with a good title that works? Do you go through different titles?
Mark: (laughs) This time was the worst for that! The title “Resolution” appeared very early, but it just took a long time for everyone to accept it.
Randy: Yeah, I’d forgotten about that!
Mark: It was early in, and everyone else was just like it took them a very long time to sign up on it.
Randy: Management loved it.
Mark: The thing is… it’s not that titles haven’t come from the other guys ever before, because they have, but Randy and I write the lyrics, so a lot of times, unless dudes are paying attention to the lyrics, more or less we have like a theme that we’re talking about. It’s almost like pinning the tail on the donkey. If they just come up with an album title out of the abstract, it doesn’t necessarily apply. I think that was our big argument this time; that “Resolution” really kind of relates to a lot of the themes and things we were writing about, be it clarity, like resolution first and then clarity or being the finality of a phase or the end of a conflict and a new beginning or something. Or just having resolved or having the determination to see something. All those are parts of the themes and the things we were writing about. My idea for it came from a line in a really old song of ours called “Ruin”, there’s a line that I wrote that says “This is the resolution” and at that point of time it was about knowing that I was never going to do this particular thing ever again. I think that idea popped up again.
Metalshrine: What does Josh [Wilbur], the producer, bring to your sound and to your work ethics and stuff like that? Could you do it without a producer?
Mark: We could, but I don’t think the results would be as well. I think if we thought they would, we’d do that. We’d save a hell of a lot of money! (laughs) Josh Wilbur brought a lot. I think the reason we began working with Josh is because we sort of felt like we were in a sense capable of doing it ourselves and Josh is an engineer by trade and very recognized. In a relatively short career, he’s done a lot as an engineer and been very well received. Having worked with him in that capacity, we felt like we were gonna self-produce it, as it were, anyway, and we just needed a really competent and qualified engineer that we trusted as a peer. With “Resolution”, Josh was very aggressive about playing a role in at least evaluating the material and prioritizing material and keeping us focused, and you mentioned work ethics, and that was a big, big thing he brought to the table and at the very end, as if he needed to punctuate the whole thing, he slam-dunked it by bringing in the idea of the opera and the choir stuff and strings on “King Me” at the end. That was really something Josh championed.
Randy: It was his idea.
Mark: Right, and man he took that song to the next level! So, go Josh! (laughs)
Metalshrine: Working in a studio these days with all the technology, are guitars, drums and bass and so on, is it all separate?
Mark: Yeah! It’s based on a live tape. We write and rehearse as we’re writing and everybody’s standing in the room together and we’re all playing the song and we’re recording ourselves playing it, so when the drums are tracked, he’s basically redoing a real live tape that we got. It’s all done to click and stuff like that and even when we’re doing it live, so it all can be cleaned up. He’s basically recreating his drum parts to a live tape and then we go in and replace our parts, but yeah, it’s done separate.
Metalshrine: This album has 14 songs. D you go in with like 20 song ideas…?
Randy: We came in with 17 this time.
Metalshrine: You recorded it all?
Randy: One was recorded instrumental and the vocals never made it. It just wasn’t there yet and we were running out of time.
Mark: That’s not the first time that’s happened. There was the single, “Hit The Wall”, and that was a left over from the “Wrath” sessions. It was never finished because there wasn’t a good lyric for it or a good vocal. It didn’t have the final treatment. It’s not the worst thing in the world when there’s stuff left over! (laughs) It’s not that it’s a bad song, it’s just that it’s not done. We recorded 16 and we put 14 on the record. One goes to Japan and one’s for iTunes. Best Buy gets an exclusive, too, and they’re getting a bunch of live stuff, so they’re getting a whole live album.
Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.