A CONVERSATION WITH MARK MORTON OF LAMB OF GOD
Lamb of God has, over the years, established itself as an essential name amongst modern metal bands. Each member brings a unique element to the finished record, various styles and influences intermingling to create their trademark, yet constantly evolving sound.
Mark Morton, lead guitarist for the band, is a vital part to this legacy, and remains celebrated in the genre. His new solo album, Anesthetic, gives delightful insight into the influences and creativity behind his work while demonstrating Morton’s versatility and prowess. To promote the album, he has kicked off on his first solo headliner tour.
“We started in my hometown, Richmond, Virignia. It was great, it was very exciting to get this thing going. I was actually a little nervous about the whole new band and the whole new project. It’s actually the first time we got the songs live in front of anyone, but it went really well. It was well attended, the crowd seemed excited, the band was pretty good, so it all felt real good.”
Anesthetic was, indeed, greeted with enthusiasm and appreciation:
“I’m just thrilled to have the album out, super-excited about the reception, “Cross Off” is doing great. A lot of people are really responding to that. People are now digging into the whole album.”
Since it was an entirely different project on a completely different note from Lamb of God’s work, there certainly existed a lot of curiosity about the album. Morton goes over some of his emotions in the days leading up to the release:
“I don’t know if afraid or nervous would characterize it. I was kinda curious; this is the first time I’ve ever stepped out as just myself, and I mean it’s a solo record in the sense that it’s my name that’s on it, but you know it was really collaborative with a lot of these other songs. But I didn’t know how it would be received, I didn’t know what kind of audience was going to be willing to take this as its own thing apart from Lamb of God.”
Looking at the tracklist, it is at once apparent that these collaborations involve some of the biggest names in metal as well as rock in the past decade or so: Chester Bennington, Mark Lanegan, and even an appearance with fellow frontman from Lamb of God, Randy Blythe.
“There’s a lot of co-creative influence with the people that worked on these songs with me. That’s one of the best things about the project, we were really able to pull some of the many people together. Everyone involved was so generous with their time, and their artistry, and creativity, and I’m just lucky to be part of it.”
“This is humbling for me, to get some amazing artists, who were willing to kind of come and work on music with me. Every time someone said yes, I was kind of grateful and really thrilled to be able to collaborate with these stars.
To bring to life each song as well as he envisioned, Morton and his producer, Josh Wilbur, certainly put a lot of effort into gathering and working with the right stars, as Morton himself refers to them. Collaboration can be a complex process, and they had to overcome several hurdles such as distance and time to make each piece work.
“Whenever possible, we worked in the same room. I think it’s always possible when you get face to face with someone that you can really have that kind of human contact and that kind of creative energy. I think that makes for the ideal situation.”
With all these aspects to be considered, as well as the various influences involved, the project could have very well developed into something completely different compared to what was envisioned during the nascent stages. However, due to the nature of Anesthetic, this was not a problem.
I don’t think I remember having a defined vision for it, I think the songs just kind of really grew into each of their own selves, of course as we were writing. Then we did some demos and rewrites, and as we picked the musicians and players that would perform on each song, they evolved at every step of the way.
Morton’s pride and glee for his masterpiece soon emerges.
People use this analogy, and it’s very true, of a father and a daughter. With every different phase of growth, I can see the person that she is becoming and it’s always exciting to watch that happen. I feel kind of the same way, about a project like this. You start out with something of an idea, and then it becomes some songs, and then it becomes demos. Then you bring other people involved, and they influence the process, and you really see it growing as an idea. As an artist, that’s fun to watch.”
The end result is a work as well cherished by fans as it is by the creator himself.
“I still get to be a fan of this album in a way that maybe I don’t with some of the other work I’ve done. There’s so many people that I’m already fans of when I listen to it, so I can listen to it for my own enjoyment. I get to hear songs that are written and performed by these artists, it just happens to be in the context of a project that I put together.”
One can’t help but wonder if there’s more in store for Morton’s solo career.
“No plans right now, this album just came out and kind of in the process of working on new Lamb of God material. I’m going to finish up this tour and jump right back in the studio, with Lamb of God, and I’ve got two tours scheduled with them. Maybe after that we’ll schedule some more dates for the solo stuff.It’s going to be a busy year for me musically, lots of time, and lots of studio time.”
Well, Mark, you won’t see us complaining.