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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 pickup does.
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 Mark IV.
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 Green Rhino.
Adler: A little bit. Mark has a little bit more high mids in his sound. I’m a little more scooped.
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.
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.