For Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton, the thrill of music isn’t with winning awards, but by earning the respect of fans.
“It was a thrill to be nominated for the Grammys but the biggest accolades are when fans say our music touches their lives,” Morton says.
“We really are a basement band; friends who got together in college to have fun and drink beer, satisfied with playing the corner bar at the end of the street. To receive the kind of acknowledgement we often get is certainly never anything we imagined would happen.”
Lamb of God is one of metal’s most successful and uncompromising bands. Boasting several albums that have achieved gold or platinum status, Morton is excited about touring; the band concludes its jaunt with Slayer and Behemoth at the Comerica Theatre on Sunday, August 20.
“Certainly, Slayer is a big influence on us as a band,” Morton explains.
“To me their album South of Heaven had a big impact because there was so much groove on that album. I tried to create a similar heavy groove with Lamb of God. We’ve played many shows with Slayer. The bands and crews are friendly. It’s comfortable with a lot of mutual respect. There’s a good chance there will be some pranks or something interesting that happens that last night in Arizona.”
Lamb of God’s latest release is The Duke EP. Featuring two new and three live tracks, The Duke was named as a tribute to Lamb of God super fan Wayne Ford, who befriended the band when he was ill with leukemia. The EP’s release raised funds and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
On the scene since 2000 with the release of New American Gospel, this Virginia-based group has often been referred to as members, if not originators, of the New Wave of American Metal. Somewhat ironically, if not poetically, because it was the New Wave of British Heavy Metal 35 years ago that influenced the likes of Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, spawning the modern American thrash movement. Without these bands, there would be no New Wave of American Metal.
Besides Morton is joined in the band by guitarist Willie Adler, vocalist/growler Randy Blythe, bassist John Campbell and drummer Chris Adler.
Featuring his 10th anniversary model Jackson Dominion Guitar, equipped with custom designed DiMarzio Dominion pickups, cranking out through his powerful Mark V Mesa Boogie Amps, Morton delivers a sound that crunches and crushes at the same time. A guitar hero to many, he has a few heroes of his own.
“I listen to a lot of blues and classic rock and Jimmy Page is my No. 1 favorite guitarist, by far,” Morton explains. “Jimi Hendrix, Billy Gibbons and Randy Rhoads were also big early influences, as was Tony Iommi, especially the way he could interject the blues style into heavy metal.”
He doesn’t necessarily have a favorite Lamb of God track or album.
“Albums are like your children,” Morton says. “It’s almost like looking through a photo book. It’s more of a reference point of what I was doing when I wrote those lyrics or that riff. I do have some songs that I’m especially proud of though, including ‘Welcome Me in Hell,’ ‘Descending’ and ‘Redneck.’”
Slayer w/Lamb of God and Behemoth, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix. 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 7 p.m. Sunday, August 20, $15-$195.