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Publié le 16/04/2010 à 14:05
Édité le 16/04/2010 à 14:05

Lamb Of God en interview - Making Of

Making of

Cette interview, c'est deux billets de train Rennes-Paris, cinq heures de préparation et des cours à présence obligatoire loupés. Tous les membres de W-Fenec ont des activités professionnelles (ou étudiantes pour ma part) et c'est parfois difficile de conjuguer les deux. Mais rencontrer quelqu'un comme John Campbell ne se refuse pas, surtout quand un label comme Roadrunner pense aux webzines et a compris que la promotion de leurs groupes passe aussi par ce réseau.

S'il y a une règle à connaître quand on a affaire à des artistes, c'est qu'ils sont la plupart du temps en retard. Il a donc fallu prendre son mal en patience sur les canapés en cuir blanc (!) des bureaux de Roadrunner. Tous les journalistes espèrent que l'imprévu se mêlera à l'entretien, il n'y a rien de plus chiant que de se retrouver avec une interview que tous les autres auront. L'imprévu étant ici le moment où John aborde le départ en pleine tournée d'Howard Jones, chanteur de Killswitch Engage. Toute la préparation de l'interview consiste donc à être capable de rebondir sur n'importe quel sujet et à s'adapter à n'importe quoi : artiste remplacé à la dernière minute par un autre, temps écourté, artiste complètement ennuyé par le simple fait d'aligner une réponse etc.

«Tu sais ce qui serait bien là ?», demande-t-il une fois les présentations faites. «Whisky ?». «Ah non, ce sera juste avant le concert. T'aurais pas un joint à dépanner ?». Dommage. L'interview est vivante, John est très «gestuel», mime beaucoup de choses (ce qui ne rend pas facile la traduction à l'écrit).

L'interview se termine. Le temps des photos. Exercice particulier. J'ai pour habitude de commencer par là, ça détend l'atmosphère. Mais là, oubli complet. Fin de l'interview donc, John me demande où il peut trouver les meilleurs falafels (l'échoppe à côté du Roi du Falafel dans le Marais non?), je manque de ne pas pouvoir l'aider. Avant que je lui demande encore une minute pour faire quelques clichés : «fuck that, let's take a picture together. We'll ask the lovely girls of the office». Et voilà l'histoire. Humain le bougre.

Plus de dix heures de travail ont été nécessaires pour traduire, écrire, mettre en forme, relire cette interview. C'est le prix d'une certaine qualité de contenu, même si on peut toujours faire mieux. Et parfois deux mois s'écoulent entre l'interview à proprement parlé et la mise en ligne. La faute aux études.

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Publié le 15/04/2010 à 16:24
Édité le 07/01/2011 à 17:23

John Campbell's interview - Original version, uncut.

Lamb Of God were in Paris in February, ready to crush the Bataclan. , The band got bigger (again), with Wrath, out months before, hitting #2 at the top 200 Billboard. In the Roadrunner french office, there's a lot of press. So here I was, sitting on a white leather couch (!), waiting for my turn to chat with John Campbell.

On Wrath, once again, you did not chose a metal producer...

Not a typical metal producer, no. His name is Josh Wilbur. We've worked with him before. He was mixing on some live stuff, he actually did some studio engineering on Sacrament. We knew that he was very capable and that he would get along with with the band. And when it came time to start these discussions, he immediately said : "you guys already have some songs written, why don't I come down, totally free of charge, to do pre-production on five songs, and if you want to use me after that, great, if not, I'd understand". That's what he did and it worked great.

Did you chose him on purpose ?

Yes because if we'd used a typical producer, we would sound like everyone else. And we don't want to sound like everybody else. I think it helps to have a definitive sound, to not do what everybody does, basically.

Is it some kind of way to keep control upon the outcome ?

No because I think that any producer who's going to work with us is going to have... Let's say that we would not be an easy band to work with (laughs). We're very thick headed and it wasn't until we started work with Machine (on Ahses of the wake) that we let a producer come in and help us write. Anyone before that, there's no fucking way we would let them, their opinion didn't matter. So we continued that process with Machine and with Josh also.
We are a band that has actually controlled a record label, and I speak of Sony and Epic. We're new ones on Roadrunner, and thank God we are on a label that knows something about fucking metal. They respect us as artists and don't interfere with our work.

Sacrament could have been considered like a lucky shot at the time. Is Wrath a way to prove that it actually was not ?

I think each and every record dumps the previous, I think we put out the absolute best thing at the time. And that we learnt from the mistakes that we made. From the very beginning of this band in 1994, our goal was just to do better than we did before. I guess it gets more difficult as the records get better and better.
If you take all of our records in chronology, each one makes sense, you can hear where we got better. Better song writing, better producing, better performing. I think it's been that way from the beginning, so I agree yes but it's even bigger than between those two records.

Wrath made it #2 on the Billboard. That's pretty big.

But the music industry has changed dramatically. That is great and awesome, we would be on the top 200 I'm sure, but we wouldn't hit number 2 if people were buying records like they bought pre-Internet. I don't know if we would have been as highly placed. I think we still would have sold more records than we have before, and commercially been a success and continue to build because what we sold was a great number for us. But number 2 used to be up here (miming) and now it's down here (miming).

Do you consider that Lamb Of God is an established metal act ?

I don't think I can deny it anymore, I think we are actually an established metal act.

Feels good ?

Strange, man. I mean, we're friends who drank beer and were like "hey man let's do some fucking heavy metal. Tu tu tu tu.. (air bass playing). Oh let's play at this party it's gonna be great". We've been doing this to have a good time, sitting drinking constantly and playing music.

Who doesn't like LOG ? There's kind of a consensus around you. `

I think it's partly because we're nice guys and that we toured with almost every metal band known out there. And a bunch of bands that you never heard of. We're not trying to piss people off, we're there to play some music and have a great time. If you're into that, come the fuck on ! The headliner in some tours would say "you have to sell your t-shirts at the same price that we sell our t-shirts. And our t-shirts, well they're going to be 45 bucks". We don't do that. I don't think there's any rivalry amongst the bands except friendly rivalry. But I think there are bands who still sell more than we do (showing a Killswitch Engage record).

The singer just left the south-american tour, any idea on what could have caused his departure ?

There could have been circumstances, which could have been physical with himself. We've been on tour with people who had to drop off. I will not go into too much detail, but severe family problems like they are the only person who someone would listen to back home. Practically with a gun to their head. Shit like that happens.
You don't get any sick days in rock'n'roll, you can't call and say "oh, hey I'm not feeling too good", this kind of comedy. If somebody disappears like that, something very fucking serious is going on.

You actually turned Metallica down when they offered you the opportunity to tour with them, because of the recording process. How did you deal with this ?

It sucked that this opportunity came. We already planned the recording sessions and here comes this great opportunity that says "do this instead". We did what we had to do. And it was not the best thing to do to turn Metallica down for a fucking tour (laughs). But thankfully things worked out as they needed to and we eventually toured with them for four months.
It wasn't an easy decision but once the decision was made it was easy to go on. We needed to have the record written, rehearsed, recorded, released. There is the business aspect of things. That is like setting a bunch of dominos. And in the middle of it you've got this call and you are like "Ah, fuck, I'll be ready in, like, four months".

Chris Adler emphasised on how touring with Metallica was a learning experience.

Every tour that we've done, we learnt something, from the very beginning to where we are now. What we would have learn from the Metallica guys is that regardless of where they are and the levels they have achieved, they're still a class act. They are definitely incredibly nice down to earth dudes, who take time out of their day to come to their opening band and say "hey buddy how are you doing ? Oh you want to grab some drinks later ? Because I think we're gonna all get dinner and drinks after the show tonight. Here's the address, just show up". They are completely awesome friendly dudes. Pretty nuts. It may not be specific lessons learned, just watching how they organise their day to day life.

And once again you brought Gojira on tour with you, and Metallica. You two bands are linked somehow.

I think Chris Adler has a lot to do with getting Gojira noticed by American record labels. I don't think very many metal bands get a lot of exposure in France. French metal bands probably have to go be successful somewhere else before. And I think that Chris Adler specifically was very instrumentally making that happen. And we took them out on tour, playing very large places, so we got them a great audience to play in front of. And we did this knowing that they are a great band, that they are going to succeed, and that they are there for the same thing as us : to play ridiculously amazing music and have a great time.

Do you feel that it is because of LOG that Gojira's known now ?

Not at all. We gave them an opportunity, that's all we gave them. And they did what they did. Because they are great.

Lamb Of God is surrounded by a halo of bad luck as far as touring goes. Does it get better ?

Not really (laughs). And who knows what's gonna happen next. Shit gets lost flying. All of a sudden here you're in Italy and you don't have a fucking bass to play. Shit like that would happen. It doesn't matter if you're in Europe, it doesn't matter where you are. The only thing you can do is to prepare to do whatever you can. Being resourceful helps for sure in this job.

How hard is it to be a professional touring musician those days ?

It is difficult. But how hard is it to wake up in the morning and commute through shitty traffic to a shitty job, where you really don't give a fuck about what you're doing at a desk, pushing the pencil around, get back in your car, commute back to your home. It's a difficult life but it's a fucking great job. The opportunities that we have are amazing. We make a lot of sacrifices, being away from family and friends. But we'll tour this year in new countries like China, Singapore, Malaysia... so there will be difficulties surrounding, but that's pretty fucking cool. And plus in my job when I do well people scream to me, clap, and show their titties, it's great.

Do you make a better living since the incredible commercial success of the band ?

The record sales do not relate to the artist getting paid. A record company gives you an advance, let's say a nice way to get a loan, to record. A percentage of each cd sold is going back to that loan. All it means is that money gets paid back. What I do for a living, which is touring and selling merchandising is the way the band makes money in these days. And I'm not trying to hide the fact that I do well.

Our colleagues from Metal Hammer started a campaign for metal to be officially recognized as a religion in the 2010 census. Your opinion on that ?

That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life. But maybe you're not asking the right person because I think that religion is the root of all evil. And all religions should be illegal. So in my opinion that's a terrible idea. It's completely nonsense. There are hungry people in the world. Don't waste your time making metal religion and do something that helps somebody.

Thanks to John, and Christine from Roadrunner.

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