Lamb of God
An interview with guitarist Mark Morton
by Adam Carney
Were you in any bands before Lamb of God?
I was in a bunch of punk bands that you’ve probably have never heard of. I was in a metal band when I was younger. All I played in were garage bands for a while. Nobody outside of Richmond would’ve heard of any of them.
How did you hook up with Lamb of God?
We were in college together. We didn’t start out playing music together. We were all friends first, and we all happened to play instruments. We all decided to put a band together, and that turned into Burn the Priest.
Did you guys take a lot of shit for the band name?
Here and there… The fundamentalist, Christian types take offense to it, but it’s not meant to offend anybody.
On your DVD, Killadelphia, there’s a drunken fist-fight with you and Randy. Did that cause friction for you guys after that happened?
Not really. You know how it goes. I’m sure you and a couple of your buddies have gone blow for blow before. It just happened, and the night it happened, the camera happened to be rolling.
Has anything like that happened since that night?
Nope, that cleared the air for awhile.
Where do you get your inspiration to write music?
I usually start with guitar parts, but I write a lot of lyrics too. They come from different places. As far as the guitar stuff goes, I’ll go back and listened to old Jimmy Page and Randy Rhodes and get ideas from that. I listen to modern stuff to get ideas as well.
What sort of mood are you in when you are writing music? Say, if you’re having a bad day or something, does that spark your creativity?
Sometimes if you’re down and depressed about something, you can be a little more creative. We write dark, depressing music, so it usually comes from those times in your life.
What does it feel like, creating music when all the band members are at such a very high caliber of musicianship?
We all grew up together. We’ve been playing together for 10 years. And we’ve all kind of gone through that learning curve together. It’s amazing though, man, to be be able to write a riff today and tomorrow bring it into the practice space and have Chris start jamming on it. Usually, you have to get a riff first, and then you can come in with whatever else. There are times when he’s had a drumbeat, and I’ve been blown away, and was right then inspired to play something.
How do you like the traveling thing?
I personally don’t like it at all. I’m not into moving around too much. There are guys in the band that like it, but not me.
Is there a place you want to go that you haven’t been before?
I’m looking forward to Japan. We’re doing Japan and Australia in October, and that’s gonna be awesome. I’m not looking forward to the flight though, it’s gonna be like a 16 hour flight.
What do you do when you’re not doing music?
I drag race cars. I’ve got a dog that I play with a lot. I do stuff to try and relax. I hang out with my lady.
Are you a sports fan?
I’m a big racing fan, but that’s about it. I’ve never really been into sports. I’m never any good at it, to be honest with you. As a kid, I sucked, but I guess I was alright at basketball. I was too short, so that didn’t last very long.
Being short isn’t easy.
I think that’s why I picked up the guitar, actually. The last thing I tried was skateboarding, and I sucked at that too. So I picked up a guitar and found that I could do it pretty well, so I kept going with it.
What was your first influential band? What got you into wanting to play the guitar?
I have an older brother that’s like eight years older than me. I was five or six and he was already into this kinda stuff, and I started hearing it an early age. I was a big Kiss fan when I was younger. Definitely Zeppelin. They’re far and away my favorite band.
Before you guys got big with this band, what did you do for work?
I was a roofer. I did slate and copper roofing for about seven years.
So you know what it’s like, huh?
Oh yeah… We had albums in stores and videos on Headbanger’s Ball and we still had day jobs. We don’t anymore (laughs), and that’s cool.
What do you feel like when you’re up on stage and the crowd is going nuts?
It’s great, man, but it can be stressful though too. All sorts of things can go wrong. But being in front of thousands of people is a crazy rush. There’s nothing like it. I’ve seen some brutal shit. We had to stop doing the wall of death because it was getting very dangerous. Our shows would get so big, and at places like Ozzfest, people were getting really fucked up. It’s all on pavement, and it’s dangerous. I would hate for my band to be a catalyst for someone getting really hurt. We’ve seen some broken arms, legs, and all kinds of other stuff.
What are your favorite bands to play with?
We’ve played with so many, it’s hard to pin a few down. I’d probably have to say God Forbid, because we’ve played with them since the beginning. We’ve played shows with those guys in people’s basements when there was like six people.