This month, acclaimed American heavy metal band Lamb of God should have been on a nationwide tour with Megadeth, Trivium and In Flames, marking the genre’s biggest jaunt of the year.
But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic—like most tours—the run was postponed until perhaps 2021.
Lamb of God’s bassist John Campbell is in lockdown like the rest of the band, in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia.
“I have two kids, who are 9 and 12, so I have been the family man during the lockdown and quarantine,” Campbell says.
“That has certainly kept me busy, which is a good thing. I take my kids on walks and we go to the store, but that’s about it. We’re trying to be safe.”
Campbell says he passes time like most people.
“I’m just trying to keep from going insane,” he says, “Of course, I play music but also watch TV and some movies. I read as well and recently re-read “Animal Farm” by Orwell, and it seems relevant to today.”
Lamb of God’s tour would have promoted its eighth album, a self-titled effort. It is traditional groove metal, mixed with hints of death metal and thrash, proving that Lamb of God is a powerful, relevant band—a modern force to be reckoned with in heavy metal music. This new slab of brutality is the first to feature drummer Art Cruz.
“Working with Art both playing live shows and on this record was amazing,” Campbell says. “I got to say he was a positive dude, always full of energy. For us, we have all been at it for a while, so it was new and exciting to have a set of fresh eyes. Art has been a fan, listening to Lamb of God growing up trying to emulate that in his drumming. So far, for us all, it’s been a great transition. He’s been a real pro to play with. We’ve all enjoyed it.”
Campbell says he and his bandmates are eager to share the record live.
“We hope fans will enjoy it,” Campbell says. “So far, we’ve gotten good feedback. I’m proud of this album, I know it’s cliché, but this is the best we’ve done. We put so much time effort and energy into it and we can’t wait to get back on the road and play some of these songs for our fans from the West Coast to the East Coast.”
Lamb of God’s live performances are known for their intense mosh pits and infamous “Wall of Death.” So, will Lamb of God bring it to small screens?
“Personally, I don’t know if us performing on a stream or whatever live streaming would work,” Campbell says. “When we play a show, it’s all about the energy of the crowd. The fans in the audience, they carry the magic and power of our time on stage. I don’t know how it would come across online with no audience. It would just be like a rehearsal. It would take a lot of convincing for me personally to do it, but we have not talked about it as a band.”
Campbell is frustrated by the lack of a timeline for the return of live events.
“That part really sucks. I don’t know when I’m going to be able to go to work,” Campbell says. “But safety has to come first. We can’t see ourselves playing any significant show until things calm down and it’s safe with a vaccine or something. The music business is very volatile. You never know when something crazy is going to happen that will threaten the business model. But, as a band, this is not the first time we’ve been in a grim situation where we didn’t know the outcome.”
He’s referring to lead singer Randy Blythe’s arrest on manslaughter charges in the Czech Republic after a 19-year-old fan died from injuries sustained during a Lamb of God show. Blythe spent five weeks in custody but was subsequently acquitted.
“We can’t tell you when things will be over or how things will play out,” Campbell continues about the pandemic. “Right now it’s just a waiting game, and it sucks, but we’re just here just trying to focus on a better future. I know I am not alone. There are people suffering way worse. I am not unique in my struggles. We’re all in this together, and we’ll all see how this will play out.”
Some artists have hosted social distancing live events or drive-in concerts. However, Campbell says this wouldn’t work with Lamb of God.
“Right now, it is a scary time, and this is a virus you don’t want to get,” Campbell says. “We all just need to focus on staying safe and healthy as individuals and as a species in general. When the time is safe, we will be back to play shows again.”
In the meantime, Campbell enjoys his time with the family and being a father during these tumultuous times.
“My kids understand what’s happening out there, but I try to make sure they know this is not normal,” he says. “We’re here in Richmond, Virginia. There are lots of protestors out here, and there are lots of historic statues that are ‘artistically being adding to’ by some protestors. I took my kids out there one day when it was safe and not too crazy. We all wore masks. I just wanted them to understand the historical significance of the times we’re living in. They’re not going to forget this. I want them to remember. We are reliving history in a way.”