Heavy metal band Lamb of God, will end of their international tour in South Africa at the end of January. On the 24th you can catch them live at the City Hall Auditorium in Cape town or at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Joburg on the 25th of January.
We phoned up bassist, John Campbell and asked him some questions…
griff: Most of you guys met at college back in the day when you formed Burn The Priest. This was in Virginia. Do you think you guys could have ended up being a country band or was it going to be metal all the way?
John: Hahaha, that is a funny question. Uhm no… Absolutely not! With Chris Adler in the band, he breathes and defecates heavy metal. He would never have done that. There is a miss perception of what it is to live in Virginia. There are definitely some 'very country' areas. We actually live in the capital city. Meanwhile it is the the South, and there is quite a bit of culture. That said, our lead guitar player (for a time) was in a country band with some other people in question. So I tried to dispel the stereotype and went ahead and proved it while doing it, hahaha!
griff: Ja, sorry – I just had to get that one out of the way.
John: Yeah, heavy metal is everywhere. Its pretty cool, its a life style. It is more than a life style than it is just bashing other pop cultures. And Richmond, Virginia specifically, the city where we live, and where we met going to college, there are amazing amounts of bands and artists in general creating all types of art and music. So we're a small little cultural bright spot.
griff: Not such a weird place then. Going back the last two or three years, you guys started touring a lot of obscure places. You went to the Philippines, India, Istanbul and now South Africa is on the map. What did you experience in those countries and what do you expect from South Africa?
John: Well, in some of those places I was completely blown away with being able to walk around and see the culture of the people, especially in India. Walking around in Bangalore – it was really nice getting off the beaten path and I think it is incredibly important for people to get out of that comfort zone and what they're used to and have a better understanding and a bigger perspective of what it is being a human on this earth.
griff: So South Africa? I'd imagine you guys would do the touristy things? None of you have ever been here before?
John: None of us have ever been to South Africa or even the continent of Africa, so this is pretty big for us! And on top of that it is finishing up our two year tour so it is pretty monumental finishing up our tour in South Africa.
griff: In line with that – Is there anything you've heard of South Africa that you maybe don't believe or need to come check out for yourself?
John: Hmmm… well tell me first the name of your publication again?
griff: Watkykjy. If you've heard of Die Antwoord, you've probably seen it there.
John: Then I would say from what I've heard, the dagga is incredibly cheap.
griff: Haha, I am not gonna argue with that!
John: The Philippines, not so much. India, not so much. Its amazing that you know Die Antwoord as I am mildly obsessed with them right now and even before we go on stage, I've got a couple of their tracks on my playlist to get warmed up. I would say the way the beats and the rap comes together is incredible. I don't usually listen to hip-hop or anything that end of the spectrum but they have grabbed my attention and it is difficult to let it go.
griff: Getting back to your own music – I think it was in 2007 when you re-released Sacrament as a CD-ROM with all the instrument tracks for the fans to mix it up and fuck around with as they please. Where do you think music is heading in terms of tech – MP3s, iTunes, downloads, that kind of thing. Where do you see Lamb Of God shifting with technology?
John: Well, we re-released Sacrament the way we did just to give people an exciting way to give people a chance to kind of get into the music and break it down and remix it any way they wanted to. As far as the downloading that happens… it is really a hard position to be in. Remember, we're in the game of making ridiculous amounts of money from record sales. We only really did it from the artistic side of things. We never intended for this to be a business this successful. We intended for this to be an outlet for us where we could write music that people would play at parties. So when more people are downloading your music, that is just more people getting into your art, so how can one get angry about that?
griff: It aslo means more people at your concerts
John: Yeah, absolutely! And the internet is how we initially got "discovered" by Prosthetic Records back in the day.
griff: So with all this technology evolving the industry, how do you think metal has evolved. People are talking about the post-Pantera era and the likes. I mean, I woke up one day and metal heads were wearing Adidas, so it is not what it used to be. How do you see it? Where is it going?
John: Well, uhm. That's a good question. I think technology has just really enabled more people to be exposed to the genre and I don't know if it has had a dramatic change specifically outside of just being more available. Of course the style changed over the years. Back when I was a kid and definitely not listening to heavy metal, all the metal heads would wear tight jeans and big puffy white high tops and jean jackets with the name of their favourite band hand-painted on the back.
griff: That's it. And people used to get fucked up in mosh pits quite badly back then.
John: Yeah, it was a whole different scene and I was way more into punk rock and there was kind of a fusion between the two genres which has ended and completely come together since. That was a huge change for the kids when heavy metal and punk rock used to be ad odds with bands the likes of DRI who finally realised "we're really just doing the same thing"
griff: Exactly. In the same way, if you look at the older guys like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden.. You guys actually had Grammy nominations for Best Metal Performance but you lost out to both Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Those are big names. They come from the stone age. How do you take something like that? It is obviously a positive thing, right?
griff: How do you treat "I nearly fucking beat these guys!" How does that feel?
John: Well to be honest – just to be nominated for a Grammy is amazing and the people we were nominated with, going up against… Are you kidding me? We're going up against Maiden, Metallica, Slayer… I mean its just ridiculous and we never really thought that there were a chance that we're gonna be winning. For me it was just nice to able to take my wife to Los Angeles for the weekend. She loves looking at celebrities.
griff: Haha! Speaking of Metallica – you guys opened for them numerous times. Do you guys hang out or do they just play and fuck off?
John: No, they are actually incredibly down to earth, very friendly people. I have to admit I was completely star struck at first but then, James especially… I mean they're all very laid back people. They're all relatively normal people, given what they've accomplished.
griff: We experienced the same with them in South Africa, but we are looking forward to having Lamb of God in South Africa so we'll see you guys on the 25th of Jan and have some drinks. Thanks for your time.
John: Yeah man, appreciate it.
We'll catch up with them again on the 25th a couple of hours before their gig. In the meantime, have a look at their video for Redneck: