Metal-heads rejoice! As we know the ultimate show is coming down under shortly, and it’s no other than the almighty Slipknot, with supports from our favourite groove metalers Lamb of God – catch up on it here. Of course the Virginian band are no stranger to Aussie shores, having come through all formats of touring. Guitarist Mark Morton cherishes his time on Australian soil over the years and even reminisces to Lamb of God’s first trip down under many years ago.
We decided to take a stroll with Morton in hell and get to know the musical maestro a little better. Of course there wasn’t much to ask as the guitarist spends a lot of his spare time responding to fans personally on Twitter; not all of them are so easy to answer though.
“I get some questions that are tough to answer, and sometimes I even get questions that are offensive, but the wonderful thing about social media is you have the choice of who you answer to” he says with an evil chuckle. “I like to be open and be myself and let people know who I really am and they can decide to do what they want with that information.”
Of course, Morton finds time to tweet to fans between numerous tours and festivals, the two being quite different from each other. “I would say that we thrive in a club and theatre environment, but we really get a look at a lot of different landscapes.” The band get a lot of variety in the audiences they play to. “We have played, and will continue to play shows in front of 100,000 people, like at Download Festival or Rock Am Ring” – whilst they love playing the smaller gigs. “We can headline and play in front of 5,000 people in a hall.
“I like [playing to] 1,500-2,000 people in a theatre environment, I think it presents an opportunity to have a closer connection with the audience where you can really see emotion on their faces as they react to certain parts of certain songs.”
In terms of touring with metal front runners Slipknot, Morton and the band see it as travelling with a bunch of mates. “We look at what’s in front of us which is a tour of Australia with some of our really good close friends, or colleagues I guess you would say.” The American outfits are of a similar generation and get on like a house on fire. “We’ve done a lot of touring with them over the years, we have a lot of friendships between the band, and we seem to share a lot of the same audience so it’s kind of a no brainer in that sense.”
Lamb of God have shared the stage with a plethora of bands over the years, and Australia is no different, but the first ever tour down under certainly stick out to Morton. “The first time we came to Australia, we were actually supporting Killswitch Engage and I remember very specifically being absolutely astounded at how much of the audience knew our songs and were singing along.
“We just had a very nice initial welcoming to Australia and it’s really been growing ever since, so we don’t need a lot of coaxing to convince us to get down. We have a very solid loyal fan base there, so we’re excited to be a part of it.”
The ‘Pure American Metal’ band are used to visiting Australia under all sorts of formats. “We had that first tour with Killswitch among other club shows, we’ve been to Soundwave quite a few times, and we came there with Metallica” – for the World Magnetic tour back in 2010 – “so you know we’ve kind of seen every level there, but we love coming back whenever we can.”
In addition to the Slipknot support slots over east, Lamb of God are exhibiting ultimate loyalty to fans by making the effort to play headline shows in Adelaide and Perth – check it out here. “I don’t really remember how it came about, I just looked at the itinerary that was presented to me, but the thing is that I’m happy to headline, it gives us a chance to stretch out and play a little more material.”
The upcoming shows in Australia will be the end of a well-deserved break for the band who have been working hard. The show never stops for Morton though, who, when isn’t riffing for Lamb of God, is still picking up the guitar. “I’ve got a project that I not too long ago started with Jean-Paul Gaster, the drummer from Clutch.
“We’re doing something that’s very different from what both of the bands are most known for being a part of, doing kind of a blues/rock/jazz fusion kind of thing.” The musician is very excited with the diversity to this side project. “It’s different from the music that you’re accustomed to hearing from me, something that’s really personal to me, so I’ve been working pretty hard on that – but nothing I can give too many details on yet.” Stay tuned folks!
Don’t worry though, Morton has some fresh riffs in the world of Lamb of God as well, as the band have just announced an EP for release in December called ‘The Duke’. The title track is inspired by vocalist Randy Blythe’s late friend who was impacted by Leukaemia. “It’s really special, I think it’s something different for us” the guitarist says with honesty. “It’s a cool opportunity in between albums to stretch out and just really engage our creativity, and I hope it connects with fans.
“With just two new songs on the Ep, it’s not necessarily indicative of where we’re going in the future, it’s just kind of more representation of some different ideas that we’ve been tossing around lately. All I can say is, I hope it connects with people in the same way it’s connected with us as a band.”
But is that all the new music we can expect from Lamb of God in the immediate future? We seem pretty hopeful about it. “Well I don’t know when we’re slated for anything in terms of a new album, I can tell you that Willie [Adler; rhythm guitarist] and myself are constantly working on new material.” They certainly like to keep busy. “It never really stops, it’s almost like the only time we take a break is to record a new album and then we get back to writing, so we’re really always writing but in terms of when we’ll actually have another release beyond the EP that’s about to come out, I really couldn’t tell you.”
In the meantime, there’s more enough of the band’s back catalogue to rock out to on the upcoming Australian tour, whether you’re there for one of the Slipknot shows, or the headliner shows.
“For the most part, we are in a support slot so the production is a little toned down because of the fact that we’re opening for somebody” he says with humility and respect – “so we got a limited timeframe and limited resources in terms of bringing out all the bells and whistles, but what that amounts to is the fact that you’re just getting a really stripped down honest direct representation of Lamb of God.”