Lamb of God will be playing two Florida festivals on the same weekend. Fort Rock Festival in Fort Myers and the Welcome to Rockville Festival in Jacksonville will simultaneously be rocking on April 30 and May 1. The Fort Rock Festival will feature Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, A Day To Remember, Megadeth, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Sevendust, Ghost, Avatar, Disturbed, Shinedown, Bring Me The Horizon, 3 Doors Down, Sixx: AM, Pennywise, Bullet for my Valentine, Pop Evil, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Red Sun Rising and more. To the north, Welcome to Rockville will have HellYeah, ZZ Top, A Day To Remember, Clutch, Cypress Hill, P.O.D., We Came As Romans, Texas Hippie Coalition, Issues, Sick Puppies, Collective Soul and others.
“Obviously, the promoters thought there was enough of a metal scene in Florida: enough to support two hard rock metal festivals there, and enough people interested to make it worth doing. I don’t doubt that there is,” said Lamb of God’s Mark Morton. “It’s quite a short distance for us to travel between shows. It’s not uncommon to travel 400-500 miles between shows the next day. That’s part of touring. A lot of times, we will be finishing at 11 p.m., have the crew packed up by 2 a.m., drive all night to next show, drive in the next morning. Staying in the same state, that’s nothing for us.”
Morton, Lamb of God’s guitarist, had recently been in Florida for the start of the Slipknot tour. “We did a preproduction there, so I brought my wife and daughter down for the tour. In Orlando, we went on the big ferris wheel, the Orlando Eye. My daughter is five-years-old, and our guitar tech has daughter the same age, so he took his daughter, too. It was a real fun night. My thoughts on Florida are that it has a very historic death metal scene, with lots of legendary bands, Death being the most obvious. It has a really strong metal scene there. Bands in Florida know what they’re doing. It’s always fun to come down and play,” said Morton.
Lamb of God, which was originally called Burn the Priest, was formed when Morton was attending the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, with fellow band members.
“My major there was in Political Science, and my minors were in International Relations and African American studies. From there, I enrolled at the Roosevelt University in Chicago for my Master’s in International Relations, so I left the band to pursue my Master’s degree,” Morton explained. “Part of the way through, I felt like I hadn’t finished everything I wanted to do with music. I was studying to be a government professor, but I felt I had more to do with music. It was not out of my system yet. I couldn’t focus on both, so I came back to Richmond, rejoined the band to see what I could get done. Millions of records later, we get our fifth Grammy nomination, so I’ve not gone back yet.”
As Morton has been blessed with a successful career with music, he said as long as music will have him, he will continue with his music career, but he would not rule out going back to school, as life changes fast.
Though nobody in Morton’s family was a musician, he grew up with a lot of music in his home. “People were always listening to music, particularly my mom. There was a lot of old classic country music, neighborhood soul and R & B, so I was really fascinated and exposed at early age. My brother is eight years older than me, so when I was at age 5 or 6, he was a teenager. It was the late 70s, so I heard a lot of what we now call classic rock, bands like Aerosmith and Molly Hatchet. Southern rock was a big thing, and I was exposed early on. I was drawn to it naturally, and I gravitated to it on my own. I got my first guitar at age 12, which was a nylon string acoustic guitar out of newspaper for $15, which I guess was kind of expensive back then for out of a newspaper, but I never put it down since.”
Lamb of God’s writing process as a band is pretty consistent. It almost always starts with guitar riffs, as they write instrumentalist first, so the music is written first, often starting with a guitar riff from Morton or Willie Adler, the other guitarist in the band.
“We show the band what we’ve been working on, and the band builds off those guitar parts,” Morton detailed. “Lyrics, Randy (Blythe) our singer and myself write the lyrics, which are written separately. I’m always jotting stuff down in notebooks, and Randy does the same thing. Sometimes, we write specifically for a song, but often, we are compiling on our own to be used for lyrics. Once the band has songs instrumentally, we will come, take out our lyric books, skat lyrics over instrumentals written, and put stuff together, so it is done separately and paired together at the end.”
Perhaps some people would not expect a guitar player in a metal band to be influenced by British blues, but Morton cites Jimmy Page, Jimmy Hendrix, Peter Greene from Fleetwood Mac, and Eric Clapton, explaining that he often references classic blues rock. Often, he tries to incorporate the classic blues rock sound in the context of a heavy metal song, adding originality within the realms of metal.
“We have a song called Walk With Me in Hell, and that is interesting on a lot of levels. It’s one of the songs I’m most proud of for a lot of reasons, such as how it wound up and manifested itself,” Morton shares. “It’s easy to misinterpret, as it sounds anti-religion, or conflicted spiritually, but it is actually a love song written to my wife, by me. No matter how bad things get, you always have someone with you and always have a partner to walk with you through the lowest points. I wrote the music to it as well, and it has one of the longest incubation periods. I worked with it for two years, not every day, but it took that long for all the pieces to be put together and get crafted into what became that song. Machine was the producer, and he took a liking to that song, so we worked together to make it sound very massive, echoing. There’s almost like a space age feel to the song. It has an incredible landscapish feel, with lots of elements, like panning from the left to right, both quiet and loud sonic quality.”
Though Morton has toured with a slew of bands, playing festivals and shows across the globe, he said that fatherhood has been the most life-changing moment for him.
“Becoming a father, if you do it the way I think you’re supposed to do it, your life no longer becomes about you,” Morton explained. “You can fall in love and get married, which I have done, but it doesn’t take your life as it was away from you. It doesn’t change your identity the way fatherhood does. It’s completely life altering. I made me aware of how selfish I was intuitively, forced me to make a welcome change, to make all decisions and actions more important than me considered first. Certainly, it has been the occurrence with the most immediate and drastic impact on my life.”
Marisa Williams earned her Master’s in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University, is the author of more than 100 books and is the publisher of Thorisaz Views.