Morton conjures low-end growl with his signature Jackson Dominion guitar, which comes stock with
tappable Duncan ’59s although it will soon feature new custom DiMarzios.
Your solo in “Ghost Walking” has a
nice contrast between arpeggios, scalar
sequences, and soulful bending.
Morton: Yes, I think “contrast” is a very
good word. I think of it as dynamic. There’s
some pretty burning stuff in the “Ghost
Walking” solo, and there’s also some more
bluesy stuff, and I think when you put
them next to each other there’s a push and
pull—kind of a peak and a valley—and it
makes it more exciting.
It also seems like you’re more focused on
the integrity of the song than sticking in
solos at every opportunity.
Morton: I’d rather be known as a songwriter.
I never wanted to be one of these guys that
could play a solo but couldn’t write a song.
Even in my first band, when I was 14 years
old, I found myself writing riffs and lyrics
and laying out entire songs. I only really put
a solo in a song if I feel that it needs one.
Let’s talk about gear for a minute. Can
you tell us about your signature guitars?
Adler: ESP sent me their original Eclipse,
and I wanted mine designed pretty much
straight off of that. My signature model’s
got Duncans—a JB and a ’59. There are a
couple I have that are absolutely my babies.
I’m actually retiring them from the road
now. They’re getting beat up, and they sound
so great in the studio so I’m just not taking
these out there anymore.
Morton: Mine is the Jackson Dominion. Right
now they’re coming stock with the Seymour
Duncan ’59s, but we’re switching that over to
DiMarzios, because I’m about to wrap up the
final details on a signature pickup with them.
There’s also another signature model, the D2,
which is more of an entry-level guitar. That
one has a bolt on neck, isn’t chambered like
the Dominion, doesn’t have the coil taps,
and has different tuners and pickups.
It’s pretty uncommon for a metal
guy to use a chambered guitar.
Why did you implement that on
Morton: It started years ago when
Jackson sent me a Swee-Tone model. It
was chambered and I just really liked the
way it resonated—it had a really bright,
loud resonance to it. I was playing the
Swee-Tone for a while on Ashes of the
Wake album and the As the Palaces Burn
tour. So I incorporated that when we
went to do the signature model.
Active pickups seem to be the de
facto metal pickup, but you guys
seem to remain firmly in passivepickup
Adler: I don’t know if I’m particularly a
fan of the way that those active pickups
sound through a [Mesa/Boogie] Mark IV
or Mark V. I’ve been a passive pickup guy
for so long, man. In my mind, tone needs
to come from the amps and cabinets that
you’re using, not from your pickups. Not
to say that I don’t really love the Duncan
JBs and ’59s—they have a real gushy,
powerful tone with so much bottom-end
growl. They complement my Mesa tone so
well that it was just like, “Okay, I’m sold.”
Morton: I’m not a big fan of active pickups.
I don’t think they have anywhere
near the tone or dynamics that a passive
You guys are both big Mesa/Boogie
aficionados. Which of their amps are
Adler: The Mark V. I’m kind of messing
around with combining the Mark
V and Mark IV tones to get that gushy
low end that the V has, and brightness
that the IV has.
You mean the real Mark IV and not the
Mark V’s IV mode?
Adler: Yeah, a real IV.
How would you say the Mark V’s IV
mode compares to the actual Mark IV?
Adler: It’s good, but a Mark IV is an
actual amp. The Mark V has a killer tone
and I absolutely love it as the Mark V, and
then the Mark IV, I absolutely love as the
Morton: I have a Mark V and have used it a
bit, but until very recently I was pretty much
using the Mark IV. Recently I’ve been switching
over to a Royal Atlantic with EL34s.
Is it Marshall-y?
Morton: Not really. It’s got a nice, tight
saturation. To me, it’s kind of a blend of the
Mark IV, with a little bit of the Rectifier/
Stiletto sound on the bottom end—just a
tighter low end than a Rectifier has.
Your respective sounds mesh really well.
Do you guys EQ your amps differently to
accomplish this balance?
Morton: Sometimes I’ll use an overdrive
pedal with the distortion turned all the way
off and just use it as a line boost for a solo.
For a while I was using the MXR GT-OD,
but recently I’ve been using the Way Huge
Adler: A little bit. Mark has a little bit
more high mids in his sound. I’m a little
How scooped are you—a total V, or kind
of scooped but not all the way?
Adler: I’m kind of scooped but not total
metalcore scooped. Our guitars sound drastically
different, and that scooped sound
really complements my guitar.
Moving on to big-picture stuff, you’ve toured
with some of the most influential metal
bands of all time—and you’re now one of the
biggest names in metal. What did you learn
from being on tour with, say, Metallica?
Morton: Without getting too specific, I think
they just taught us the next level of being pro.
Those guys approach everything with the
most professional attitude. I have never seen
a show where they are just going through the
motions. They are really … they’re the biggest
and best heavy metal band in the world.
I think it was, more than anything, really
inspiring to see a band at that level really care
so much about what they’re doing and still
take it so seriously. I’ve seen really big bands
that honestly don’t give a [expletive] about
what they’re doing on any given night. I’ve
never seen that with Metallica.
Mark Morton's Gear
Jackson Mark Morton Dominion signature model
Guild D-55 acoustic
Mesa/Boogie Royal Atlantic RA-100
Way Huge Green Rhino
MXR Phase 90
Cry Baby wah
MXR Carbon Copy
Strings, Picks, and Accessories
Jim Dunlop .010–.046 sets with a .048 low E
Dunlop Tortex 1.14 mm picks
Willie Adler's Gear
ESP Will Adler signature model
Mesa/Boogie Mark V and Mark IV heads
Boogie 4x12 cabs
dbx 266XL Compressor/Gate
MXR Stereo Chorus
Strings, Picks, and Accessories
.010–.046 sets with a .048 low E
Dunlop. 1.0 mm picks
Levy’s Leathers straps
Planet Waves cables
That said, you guys have been around for
a while now, too. How do you maintain
Adler: That’s a very good question. It’s hard
to say. I think we’re all smart enough to
realize that it’s way bigger than its individual
parts. We’re all part of something that we
all deem extremely special.
Morton: I think we just enjoy what we’re
doing. We’d be doing this anyway. I’d be
playing guitar whether I had a record deal
or not. Also, we work hard to keep the same
lineup. A lot of bands change members and
break up at the first conflict. We’ve weathered
a lot of conflict, personally speaking—
things in our lives that have nothing to do
with the band. I think we all realize that the
five of us are Lamb of God. So, as long as we
want to do Lamb of God, that’s what it is.
The music industry has changed significantly
since you guys started out. What
advice would you give upcoming bands—
musically and business-wise?
Adler: It is a whole new game, man. Musicwise,
stay true to yourself. Don’t try to
compete with anybody. Don’t try to sound like
anybody. Do what you love. If it’s something
that’s meant to be, it will happen. Honestly,
it’s a whole lot of luck. We were just fortunate
to be in a position where the iron was hot and
we were able to strike it right then.
Morton: If you’re in a band because you
want to get rich and you want to get famous,
then you’re probably looking at it the wrong
way. You’re setting yourself up for failure.
There are so many things that have to fall
into place and so much of it is luck. I mean,
yes, you have to be good … yes, you have to
be dedicated … yes, you have to surround
yourself with people that are as dedicated as
you are. But there’s a lot of luck and timing
involved, too. My advice is to do what you
love and then let the rest come if it will.