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MARK MORTON Talks LAMB OF GOD's Omens, Live Mishaps & The Importance Of As The Palaces Burn

Plus a potential follow-up to his solo album.

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They are one of the most reliable attractions in modern metal for the past two decades, and Lamb Of God could realistically be heir apparent to the title of major touring global metal headliners in the year of our lord and savior metal 2022.

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Off the back of their latest studio effort Omens (out October 7 through Nuclear Blast), the Richmond, VA birthed collection of groove-based thrashers have taken the world by storm, most recently trekking across the U.S. with a who's who of special guests.

Mark Morton, founding Lamb Of God member and certified guitar-god, sat down with Metal Injection for a deep dive into the raw new album, crafting a career spanning set list, his notable on-stage mishaps, potential for a sophomore solo record and much more!

On Touring Preferences

"Yeah, I mean, I don't have one preference. I like that we get to do a bunch of different looks. Honestly, there's benefits to everything and there's benefits and different categories to everything, you know? I mean, festivals are in a sense easy because you just roll in and there's a massive crowd. You typically play for a little less time, so you just kind of roll through.

"I don't want to say you're phoning it in. It's not, it's just a little easier to determine what's going to happen. But the downside is you don't usually have your whole production. You don't have all your bells and whistles. You can't stretch out set-wise. You know, it's not your stage. So things are a little more cramped and it's just logistically trickier. But it's great because you're in front of 100,000 people and you get just usually an hour or a little over.

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"We just did Bloodstock and we did an hour and a half there. That was awesome. And we had a fair amount of production there and we still didn't have our whole show like we have now. So headlining you get to bring all your stuff, but that means you got to bring all your stuff [laughs].

"I think what I'm trying to say in a really meandering sort of way is I really appreciate the fact that we get to sort of hit every corner of things. I like being named support for a bigger act or a big act or, you know? [The Megadeth tour] was a co-headlining tour, but they closed every night and that was a great tour. We had a great run.

"We had a really long run as main support for Slayer and we've done a lot of main support slots for Slipknot and Metallica. And you know, I like those gigs. I like those gigs a lot. I still enjoy playing clubs in some of the different parts of the world where we're maybe not as big as we are in America or in Scandinavia and that kind of thing. So we'll get smaller looks and play 1500-1600 capacity theaters. And those, to me, honestly always sound better than any of the big shows. So I appreciate those for just the audio quality and sonic quality. So I'm happy to have a lot of different landscapes in which we can present our band. I think that's cool."

On Recording and Writing Omens

"It was very collaborative in the writing process. Everyone was involved early on and not just with their own parts. You know, just a lot of feedback on what each other was doing. And I think where we are internally and personally with each other and as a band allows for that. It leaves those doors open where we enjoy working together. We enjoy working together and that makes for a really collaborative and open environment creatively. And I think that had a lot to do with how the songs came together and again, the manner in which we recorded the record you alluded to.

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"It's not a live record. We didn't record the record live. But the bones of the record, the basis of the tracks were all done together on the floor. And even I would say the majority of the vocals. So when I say we all did it together, Randy was in the booth, too. We were all five performing and the majority of the vocal takes that you hear on the actual album are from those live versions of the song. And then of course, Randy went back and we recorded everything and just vocal sessions.

"But ultimately, more often than not, the versions that made the vocal performances on the album are from the live stuff, because of that thing that you're talking about in your question. You know, there's just a certain energy that I think most bands have, but certainly we have when we're playing together rather than one at a time. 

"I get a lot of questions about the pissed off comment [the band saying Omens is a 'pissed off' record]. That's something in Randy's bio interview and it made the bio so everyone kind of keys into that. You know, for my part, I'm not pissed off. I'm not pissed off at all. I wasn't pissed off making this record. I love making records. I love writing music with my friends, writing and recording music. Of all the things that I do within the machine of Lamb Of God, writing and recording music is my favorite thing that I get to do. So when we do get to do that periodically, I usually relish in it and I did this time. So you know, I see your point.

"You know it's been on everyone's mind and everyone's conversations for the last however many years, three or four years or whatever, the state of the world and the sky is falling and the end of times and doomsday and all that stuff. And maybe some of that stuff is true. Maybe some of it's sold to us for whatever reason. But I don't know the answer to that stuff. But for my part, in terms of writing music and recording it with my friends and being in the studio and making records, I love that stuff. And I had a blast making this record.

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"You know, there are lyrical references to all the doom and gloom in the world. And you can find plenty of that. And let's face it, it's a heavy metal record, right? So that's what we're doing here. So it's appropriate to touch that stuff and use that stuff as a point of reference. And I think that was certainly done in this process. And Randy probably was pissed off at times."

On Re-Teaming with Producer Josh Wilbur

"In terms of production, yeah. And even before that he engineered quite a bit of Sacrament. He engineered the drums and engineered my guitars on Sacrament. So yeah, Josh has been in the room, in the process for a very long time.

"He's a very, very close friend to me, and I think to all of us. And there's just so much trust and ability for openness and authenticity with Josh. There's no need for any kind of creative filter or anxiety because we have that relationship and that history. And he also produces and mixes a killer sounding record."

On Crafting A Career-Spanning Set List

"Yeah, I think it happened naturally. In fact, it's funny you picked up on that because as soon as we really dialed in the set list, very late in the game too, I would say a week before the first show we kind of finalized the set list and we have a few songs up and running that aren't in right now that we might swap in and out. And one of those is from New American Gospel. We didn't intentionally go through and try and hit every record. But that's more or less what we did. Like you said, Gospel is not represented in the current set list, but it could be at some point.

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"And yeah, I don't know. I mean, there's certain songs that we know we're going to play live. I mean, you could probably name them too. I mean, there's four or five songs that we sort of feel it's not a conversation about whether or not those are going to be in the set list. And then the rest of the stuff is just stuff we feel like playing or we like the way it reacts with the crowd or maybe stuff we haven't played in a while. And that's fun, too."

On Live Performance Mishaps

"We were opening for Judas Priest and there's a break right in between, I think it's 'Laid to Rest' and then 'Redneck and there's a break where we kind of had to change a little thing on the rig and Randy's saying good night and that kind of thing. And I just instantly forgot. Totally spaced out. Do I play the whole riff or just the front half of it and twice in a row?

"And I sat for a minute quietly, like trying to think in my head. And Sosa, my tech, I was like 'Yo!' I asked and he's like, 'uhhh pull it up on your phone.' And he did. And I went and I ran over to [drummer Art Cruz] too and 'I was like Art, the intro to 'Redneck.' Is it the whole riff or just half twice?' And he's like [makes a gasp sound]. Sosa is holding his phone up to my ear and I'm like 'got it!' And went out and played. So there's that song that I played a thousand times, right? And I still don't know how to play it. 

"I mean, there are mistakes every night. And I have told people before and I've said publicly, one of the ways you know that we don't run tracks live is just come see a show and watch me play the solo to 'Ghost Walking.' And you'll know without question that I am, in fact, playing live guitar in front of you. Because I can't play that solo! I mean, I can play it two out of every ten times. In fact, Sosa my tech, we have a running routine where I'll play that solo and then I'll look over and he'll give me a thumbs up or [makes a middle or thumbs down gesture]. I would do that every night. We play four or five shows a week and I'd say I get a thumbs up once a week.

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"But your question is about train wrecks on stage. I mean, yeah, and there are for different reasons at different times. Sometimes it's a technical thing. Sometimes there have been times over the years when maybe one person or the other wasn't performing their best on a given night or whatever. And that kind of has something that can make people mess up sometimes. We're just human beings and make mistakes. Fortunately we're not brain surgeons. It's just rock and roll.

"So I learned a long time ago that while I take our performance very seriously and I want to put on the best performance we can, I want to make sure the fans that stood in line and paid their hard earned money for a ticket to see our band play feel like they got a great show. I also know that it's rock and roll and it's going to be loose and there's going to be mistakes. And that's, I think, what makes it fun and what makes it real. We're not doing heart transplants here. There's a larger margin for error. 

"One thing too about us that's different, and I'm not dogging on 'em. There's so many great bands out here and so many bands that are so tight I can't believe it and put on great shows. And I feel like we're one of those bands which is going to be a little bit different every night, even the same set. We're not on a click. There's nothing programmed.

"I mean, we might run a little intro before a song that's just an intro or whatever through the PA, but by the time you count in we're playing. 'Ruin' the other night was a little slow. We talked afterwards and were like 'was that a little slow?' And like yeah, for whatever reason we kind of sat that down a bit. And sometimes it's like a big crowd and we're pumped up and 'Memento' might be real fast one night or something. So you get what you get. But I think that's cool. I think that makes it real."

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On Gratitude & Reflections of As The Palaces Burn

"I'm just really grateful to still be here, to still feel really motivated creatively, to still be having, honestly, we have more fun these last few years than I've had in a long time being in this band and making music with these guys. And I feel like I'm in a pretty good place in my personal life, which allows me to really enjoy what we're doing as a band and really be engaged.

"So I look back on our discography, Palaces included. That's one of my favorites, actually. That album, I feel like we really came into our own for the first time on that album, and that was to me, what everything else was built off of the modern era Lamb Of God. But I don't have the same perspective that fans do. So my opinion isn't always the most relevant because I'm too close to the sun, you know what I mean? I'm lucky to be here man, really."

On A Potential Followup To Solo Album Anesthetic 

"It was such an amazing experience making that record … that was a really pivotal moment for me, just personally and creatively, getting to work with so many people. Getting to work with Chester, Mark Lanegan, everybody on that record. It was such an amazing experience.

"And I do have material that I work on that's clearly not Lamb Of God. So I kind of put that stuff over in its own little area and work with it and I have been working on stuff. There's nothing official to announce. I don't have a time frame, I don't have anything but some songs I'm working on. But I do feel pretty confident that there will be more solo stuff at some point in the future. I don't know when, but I do love working on this stuff."

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Omens is available October 7 through Nuclear Blast. Catch Lamb Of God and Killswitch Engage on tour throughout 2022 with a variety of different openers!

w/ Motionless In White & Fit For An Autopsy

10/4 – Fresno, CA – Exhibit Hall at Selland Arena [Tickets]
10/7 – Sacramento, CA – Aftershock Festival (no Fit For An Autopsy) [Tickets]

w/ Spiritbox & Fit For An Autopsy

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10/9 – Vancouver, BC – Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre [Tickets]
10/10 – Kent (Seattle), WA – Accesso ShoWare Center [Tickets]
10/11 – Portland, OR – Theater of the Clouds [Tickets]

w/ Animals As Leaders & Fit For An Autopsy

10/13 – Inglewood, CA – YouTube Theater [Tickets]
10/14 – Phoenix, AZ – Arizona Federal Theater [Tickets]
10/15 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheater [Tickets]
10/16 – El Paso, TX – UTEP Don Haskins Center [Tickets]
10/18 – San Antonio, TX – Freeman Coliseum [Tickets]
10/19 – Houston, TX – 713 Music Hall [Tickets]
10/20 – Irving, TX – The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory [Tickets]

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