By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal
Lamb Of God is a band that needs absolutely no introduction. One of the biggest names in the world of heavy metal, the band recently released their 7th studio album “Resolution”, and have been on the road to promote the album ever since. Their world tour brings them to India very soon, as they prepare to grace Bangalore on May 26th, the same city they rocked nearly two years ago. Today, on May 10th, just a short while ago, I had the pleasure of talking to bassist John Campbell to discuss what he and the band feels about the upcoming India show, the bass sound and musical style on “Resolution”, his unqiue three-string bass, and lots more. Enjoy the conversation, and find links to buy tickets to the show as well as to the band’s social networks below the interview.
First of all, how does it feel to be returning to India after two years?
It’s great, man. I’m really excited to get back to India. We didn’t see enough of it last time, and it was a very quick in-and-out thing. I’m hoping to have a bit more time around to see things this time, but it’s exciting. That last show was amazing. The kids were a lot more enthusiastic and crazier than I expected they were going to be, and I’m very excited to get back to play some more heavy metal for some excited fans!
You said that it was a quick trip last time. So did you just land, play the gig and pretty much flew out straight after?
Well, after we landed, they put us up in some resort about an hour outside of the city. So we were in the middle of nowhere literally, and there wasn’t much time to do anything other than playing the show. But I’m really hoping that we have a chance to do more this time around.
When you play in countries like these, do you still get shocked by the response of the crowds, or are you used to it by now?
I don’t think ‘shocked’ is the right word, because the importance of the crowd for a performer is that you feed off of that energy. ‘Pleasantly surprised’ would be the better term I guess, and it makes for a better show for me personally, and for everyone in my band I believe. You play to a crowd that’s into it, and you’re all coming together just because of this music. It’s an amazing experience when the crowd is that into it.
You’re one of the founding members of the band. Did you ever imagine that you’d be playing in front of thousands of people in India?
(Laughs) Absolutely not, man. We’re from a small city in Virginia, which is on the US East Coast, about a two hour drive south of the beach city. We never really intended to do much more than play parties here in town and hopefully go out on tour in our van for a week or two at a time. So, for us to be able to go to India is amazing, specially this being our second time back. It’s something we never expected and never planned for, but we’re very thankful we’re getting to do it.
What kind of set list can we expect this time? Will it focus on the latest album “Resolution”?
It will be a mixed set list, I think. We’ve been a band for quite some time and have a few records out. We have songs from every record that people want to see when they come for a Lamb Of God show. So we play a lot of songs from pretty much every record. There’s probably a little more from “Resolution” in there than other records, but those are the songs we want to play, and we feel like those are the songs the fans want to hear. We’ll play for about an hour and fifteen to hour and twenty minutes of blistering heavy metal!
I read that you guys started writing for this album even before the touring cycle for the previous album “Wrath” was over, in early 2010 or something like that. So, would you say that it’s been one of the longer writing processes for you, compared to any of your other albums?
Well, it has been as a group, but when the writing process started on the road, that was Mark Morton by himself in a hotel room, working on his laptop and demoing out song ideas. That continued when we got home with Willie doing the same thing at his house, and then when we came together as a band, we had these demos to work from. So, I think the songs had more time to get more developed, and we ended up tracking an amazing record out of it.
One of the things I like most about the album is, your bass is more audible, at least as compared to “Wrath”.
Yeah, absolutely. I found the volume knob on my bass and turned it up (laughs).
Right! But, I felt “Wrath” had quite a bit of clean guitar usage, and I really enjoyed that. Do you think “Resolution” lacks in that aspect, in comparison?
Well, the track “Barbarosa” has some clean guitars in it. The opening for “Ghost Walking” has the acoustic, and then the track called “King Me” has some clean guitars as well. We use clean guitars from time to time. We don’t have any sort of measuring stick to tell whether it’s enough or not enough, but when we make a record, we do what feels appropriate in terms of mixing the clean and heavy guitars. Primarily we’re a heavy metal band, and the gain is on.
Exactly. You mentioned Mark Morton. He recently started giving lessons on Bandhappy, which is a community a lot of musicians are getting involved in these days. Have you thought about getting into that as well?
Absolutely, I did consider it. I’m not a trained musician, so I’m not sure how exactly it would go over, but I can certainly provide some tips on playing in general, and it’s definitely something I’ll do in the future, but when I’m home I’ve got a lot of stuff to take care of. I have two children, and two motorcycles. So I’m kept pretty busy. But I plan on doing something of that sort at some point.
So are you really passionate about the whole motorcycle thing?
Well, I’ve got a 1982 Shovelhead, which is a Harley Davidson. It’s a low rider, and I just took it over to a friend’s house and did a ton of work to it. And yeah, it’s kind of my hobby. It’s what keeps me sane, to be able to wrench on bikes and go ride them.
There’s something else I read about you, but I don’t know whether it’s a reliable source, because it’s Wikipedia, which is sometimes just full of shit. But according to that, you invented a three-string bass for yourself. Is that true at all?
‘Invented’ is probably a strong word for it (laughs). What happened was, I had a guild pilot with my first bass, and the tuning peg that holds the lower string broke. I didn’t have the money to go get a new one, so I just took the one that held the high string on it, to move that to the low string, and all of a sudden I had a three-string bass. Somehow I got notoriety out of it. It was really just because of being broke and needing a low string.
Interesting stuff. Coming back to the band, the thing that I admire most about Lamb Of God is that you guys haven’t taken any short cuts. You paid your dues and that’s why you are one of the biggest bands today. Would you give the same message to Indian bands who are just starting out in today’s scene?
Yeah, you definitely gotta pay your dues, but I think one of the things that worked for us is, we never intended for this to be successful on the level that it is now. We intended for it an artistic success, in the sense that we were making music that we were proud of, and that we could play a show and people would take notice and say, ‘Wow, what is that?’ So I think if anyone wants to successful with music, that should be their ultimate goal. Making the best music that they possibly can, whether it’s brutal or whatever style of music they’re trying to make. And if that works out to a successful career, then great. If not, you created beautiful music as an artist. So either way, it’s a win. But if you’re looking to become financially stable by playing music, then I think you might be slightly delusional.
I agree completely. So, the final question I have for you is, I see a lot of bands in India and all around the world copying your style, which you’ve been playing for a while. Does that make you feel good or bad? I mean, it must be good in the sense that you created music that people want to follow, but then people should have their original style too, right?
It’s flattering, to be honest. Musically, people build on what came before them anyway. We didn’t invent music or heavy metal by any stretch. It’s very flattering. I knew a friend of mine who worked at a guitar store, back when “Laid To Rest” was our latest single. He said that kids would come in and that was the riff they would be playing when they picked up a guitar and wanted to check it out by playing it, which I thought was really cool. It’s amazing that we’ve had that effect on the new wave of musicians, but again, that was never our intent. It was kind of the way the cookie crumbled, and things worked out!
Buy tickets for Lamb Of God’s Bangalore show here: