About Me

Interview with Lamb of God

The relentless well-oiled machine Lamb of God is alive and well, and it is not going anywhere. Not even this virus can stop it and it shows no signs of slowing down. In a friendly chat with Art Cruz, we addressed the current situation we’re all living in, the new album “Lamb of God”, religious controversy, legal issues and other topics. All the usual aggressiveness, the highly detailed lyrics, the thunderous riffs and the smashing drum play are better than never and Art himself confirms it first hand. Here’s what he had to say:

M.I. – Hi, Art, thank you so much for granting this interview, it’s great to be able to count on you. How are you holding up, given the circumstances regarding the COVID-19 situation?

Hi! It’s obviously a bit depressing when I ocasionally wake up and realize that I can’t go on tour anytime soon. However, I’ve been able to enjoy much more time with my family, I’ve been taking a lot of time focusing on my drumming and, you know, staying busing mentally and trying to get a little bit healthier. I’m just keeping my mind busy and trying to stay positive, regardless of the situation. I’m trying to keep the most positive mental attitude. It’s hard, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Whenever it does happen, we will get back to normal. 

M.I. – Many bands have been postponing their album releases and live shows due to all this mess. Are there any plans to postpone Lamb of God’s most recent album as well?

We’re sticking with the date of June 19. I know there was one time when there was a lot of manufacturing issues with a lot of places being shut down and things like that. But as things would gradually open across the country, it helped out the situation. So, right now, as of today, we’re definitely locked in for June 19. Regardless of this, it’s an exciting time and I wish I could play shows to support this album, but it’s also an important time to take care of the fans and some of the things we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to give back as much as we can. We connect with the fans as much as we can, so we’ve been thinking about very original ways to do that and we have a couple of things planned that hopefully people will be excited about. 

M.I. – Would you like to share and talk about some those things you’ve been working on?

Right now, no (laughs). We’re figuring out what we can do. And it’s just so hard nowadays… I feel like everybody needs the attention right now and I understand that. Everybody’s doing Instagram lives, Facebook lives, YouTube lives, and I think that’s an amazing thing because it’s gotten bands out and busy, but it’s also very saturating. So, I think that the tricky part is trying to find something that’s very original and something that makes the most sense for everyone. It’s still a work in progress so we can connect to our fans. 
With that being said, it’s an exciting time to be able to release the album, to see the excitement around it and enjoy it as one big Metal family. That’s our goal: we want to release it and listen to it all together at once.

M.I. – After “VII: Sturm und Drang”, this is going to be the band’s 8th studio album so far. We’ve seen some clips, in particular for “Memento Mori” and “Checkmate”. What reactions have these videos been getting from the fans?

Generally, all positive, except for all the keyboard warriors that are just there to talk trash, but that’s just part of what the world is. “Checkmate” was the first song in which we worked all together, because this is my first record with the band, so that was already a benefit and we were excited about it. I mean, you’re always connected to that first song. Not to mention that song had a lot of everything that was the traditional classic Lamb of God and the reactions were great. We just felt good about it, we thought it was a good song. I felt like a lot of fans weren’t overwhelmed with something drastically new but they weren’t let down at the same time, so I felt like it was a nice song that everybody took in equally. And then, obviously, slamdunking with “Memento Mori” as the next single, was a big, big deal for us. We knew we had to put up a video for it, with real actors and everything like that and the whole concept was written well with Randy’s lyrics. And the timing I think it’s just crazy, because it’s a song that it’s very much speaking about what’s happening right now.

M.I. – Yeah, it’s like you want to “wake up from this dream”, right?

I really do. And, right now, I’m just about ready to wake up from all this shit (laughs). 
But you know, the song did really well and the fans really, really loved that song because I was able to throw a little bit of my spice on it with my drumming. But, at the same time, it’s Lamb of God, I play for Lamb of God, with Lamb of God, it’s not like I’m trying to go above and beyond to purposedly trying to outshine the last drummer or the band. We’re one unit and it’s a Lamb of God sound and I think we did a great move. It still has that Lamb of God flavor, but at the same it has a kind of modern flavor, if you will.

M.I. – So for the rest of the album can we expect more songs like “Memento Mori” and “Checkmate”?

Absolutely. I see this album as kind of a collection of all the other previous records in one. So, it’s got a bit of everything, there’s some very intense music that has not been heard yet, very very fast and very relentless. There’s also classic Lamb of God stuff that hasn’t been out yet, there’s a lot more groovier stuff more on the vibe of “Wrath”... It’s just a very bold album lyrically, with Randy and Mark’s lyrics. In this matter it’s a very powerful album, very intense and to the point, there’s really no speaking in code. It’s more like “this is what it is, this is what we’re saying”. It’s a very complete album across the board and it’s my favourite album so far.

M.I. – What inspired you all to name the new record “Lamb of God”?

I think the timing in regards to where the band is, because when you’re a band for so long, you have to go through so many hurdles and so many different jumps. Honestly, with the departure of Chris Adler and me coming in as the new guy, we felt such a strong energy in the group… And this is a very fitting name for the era. I wouldn’t say it’s the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one and we definitely just want to raise awareness to where the band is as a whole.

M.I. – Also, this is going to be band’s 1st album with the current lineup. With you being a recent addition, how are you fitting into the band, especially considering that Chris was already in the band for such a long time?

Thankfully we’ve all been very good friends for over ten years and friendship goes deep. I think it definitely helped that I was a friend of the band already because there’s a lot of types of situations in a lot of bands where you get a new guy that actually wasn’t too close with the band or had to try out for the band and, in this case, I had a very good relationship with all the members. I’ve been friends with them for years and that helped the chemistry, especially going into the writing process, with them allowing me to have my opinions. They were very welcoming with open arms and that definitely helps the situation. We get along really well, despite the fact that we’re very different, but then again the band has always been very different. I feel like we have such a powerful connection as friends… I feel like I’ve been in the band without being in the band. I used to just go on tour with them a lot and just be around. One Halloween, they played a show in LA and then I literally just got on the bus and ended up going on tour with them for the next two weeks. That shows you the kind of relationship we have as friends. It definitely made things a lot easier, I would say, and we’re doing great, we’re doing really, really great.

M.I. – Despite just joining recently, I’m sure you’re familiar with Lamb of God’s history, considering that you were even friends for a long time. Being in a band with such an incredible history, how would you describe the path travelled by the band since 2000, when the “New American Gospel” was released, all the way up to 2020? 

I would say… mature. But that’s just a given for most people as you get older. It’s just like I said, everybody has been through quite a lot, personally, in their own way, and I feel like the band has been tested since day 1. They came in a time where records were still selling and they were still getting that tail end of a time in music where people would still actually buy a record. They also came in a time of evolution in technology, with the Internet, and streaming, etc. I feel like they’ve really made a statement: they’ve lived throught it all, realistically, within this time. They lived through a lot as people and as a band. Even Randy’s legal situation in the past and things like that are big challenges for a group of people in a band. I think that everybody making adjustments to their own personal life pays a huge toll in the band’s situation as to where the band started and as to where it is now. 

M.I. – Along the way, the band suffered… let’s call it some growing pains. One of them involved Randy being locked up in the Czech Republic in 2012. Even if you didn’t have to deal with this at the time, is this something that in some way might be haunting the band? Is this something the scarred all the members at some level? 

Absolutely not. No, this is definitely one of those things that I wanted to say it was easy, but something like that is very intense, you know? I remembre when it all happened and I was already a friend of the band at that point. Obviously that when Randy decided to go back, to do what was right, and go through all the motions and going to court, getting the “not guilty” decision it was a weight that was lifted off. So, I think it’s buried. It’s definitely a thing of the past regardless of how serious it was. I know Randy and, well, I can’t speak for him but I know that as a human being, you just can’t let go of that, but I think that it’s been taken as fuel and inspiration to change his life and do things differently. Everyone’s in a better place now and this definitely didn’t scar the band. They’ve been challenged since day 1 and so, this was just another one of those challenges.

M.I. – I know that it even served as an inspiration for some tracks, namely “512”. 

Yeah, I believe “512” was his cell number, something like that. I know that record wasn’t entirely about that, it’s more like a collection of things, but that song in particular was, and it has an amazing tune. I love playing that song, personally, it’s a great song… but yeah, that’s the beautiful thing about bad things: you can get inspired by them and you can be creative with it. I mean, I imagine that there’s a lot of bands writing amazing stuff that we should expect next year or later on this year, who knows, but now is the time to take this kind of moment and just… create.

M.I. – This wasn’t the only situation that arose in foreign countries. Back in 2013, the band was involved in a controversy in which the Malaysian Officials labeled the band as “satanic” and “evil”. And this has been a constant battle for Heavy Metal bands all over the world, so, how do you react to this and how can this affect a band on a general level?

I feel like it’s unfair for the people that do enjoy the music and want to experience it, but it’s like we have our hands tied behind our backs. There’s nothing we can do. You can’t turn that over and situations like this are more common than people think. This is just Malaysia but I’m sure there’s a lot of other countries where this is a big deal, and I feel like this is just a bummer. It’s an upsetting time, even if you’re not preaching satanic worshiping. I guess that the difficult part is just being labeled with that. That’s where people are more close-minded and I don’t know why people need to take the aggression as “satanic” or “evil”, but who knows? I wish I knew more about it and I wish it was easier to get that pointer across. Even if you told them to read the lyrics to see that there’s nothing to do with Satan, they wouldn’t really care. It just shows that, culturally, they’re different from us. 
Thankfully the majority of the world doesn’t look too deep into that, but yeah, we occasionally have those situations. It does suck, though… because now we’re just going to have to go to Malaysia as tourists (laughs).

M.I. – And how do you deal with this on a personal level?

I wish I could do more, but I’m just one person. Even in the band, there’s only so much that we can do. You can’t really overthrow a country for its beliefs. I mean, everybody has their right to their own beliefs, and that’s the way of the world. So, we have a kind of respect for that at the same time. I’m a man of the human race vs. anything else. So, wherever it may be, if I have to listen to the opinions of the human being, I’ll do that. That’s the only way I can cope with it.

M.I. – Did you experience any curious or peculiar situation the last time you played here in Portugal?

No, everytime I’ve been in Portugal it’s been amazing either with Lamb of God or my old bands. The festival that we just played (Vagos Open Air) was one of the last shows of the tour and it was incredible. I didn’t feel anything weird… why, is it usually weird out there? (laughs)

M.I. – No, not at all, I’m just asking… (laughs)

No, the only weird experiences that I get it’s because I’m the new guy. Lately that’s all I’ve been really getting.

M.I. – What sort of things do you get from being the new guy?

That I’m not Chris Adler, and for the most part I agree with everybody: you know what? You’re very right, I’m not Chris Adler. At the end of the day he’s been my favourite Metal drummer since I was a kid. So, I just take it and accept it and I will never be Chris Adler, because I’m not trying to be him. I’m very inspired by Chris Adler and I will forever be inspired by him…but I’m not him and I’m not trying to be him. I’m Art Cruz and that’s all that matters.

M.I. – I’ve seen Lamb of God live back in 2009 with Chris on the drums, at Optimus Alive, and for me it was hands down the most electrifying show I’ve ever seen, alongisde with your performance in the Download Festival UK last year, where, if I have to be completely honest, I had to face a huge choice between Lamb of God and Anthrax (because both bands were playing at the same time). Ultimately, I had to go with Lamb of God, because it’s one of my favorite bands of all time. Tell us, when can we expect any live performances?

Thank you! I wish I could tell you, but I have no idea. I wish we knew. I just hope there’s a system in which we can all work together, which is very difficult… but it’s going to take a while. I mean, this is what we do, this is our job: to bring large gatherings together, so being the main thing that people need to avoid it’s a problem. It’s a devastating time. It’s going to be a while but I hope that everything can be figured out and we can move on with our lives. The health of everybody in a theater is important and we’d hate to be responsible for any outbreaks because of a Lamb of God show. So, it’s hard to say. I feel like a year from now is the best bet. That’s my only positive way of thinking about it, because of how extreme it has become.

M.I. – These onstage performances are always packed with action, strength and aggressiveness. What inspires you to deliver such amazing performances?

Oh, the fans. Everyday, the fans! This is why it’s so tough to not be touring right now. That’s why we do it and it’s definitely a gap on our lives. We can’t do anything right now and it stings for sure, but when we go out there and give it our 110% it’s for the fans. We’re just giving back that electrifying energy to them, we just work together and that’s the beautiful thing about it. If you give it your all, we have no choice but to give it our all. That’s how we do it and we love it, we really love it and… it sucks right now (laughs).

M.I. – How do you see Lamb of God for the next 20 years? What do you expect to accomplish now that the band has been on the spotlights for some time now?

I hope the band continues until we can’t continue anymore. That’s just about it. The name, the guys, the music. I mean, it’s all we know and we love it. So, personally, I want to go until these guys can’t go anymore. Well, I’m obviously a lot younger than them but I feel that they can use that to their advantage. I think that going out like Slayer did, it’s a very iconic move. Actually, they will be missed! But, at the end of the day, they’ve been a band for so long and changed lives and their era… I think that’s our inspiration. Doing the last Slayer tour with them was a very big inspiration for everybody to go until we can’t go anymore. So, I’m just hoping we can keep going. 20 years sounds great to me!

M.I. – Hopefully even more!

Oh, I appreciate that, that’s cool, I hope so.

M.I. – Art, I know for a fact that you have an increasingly growing legion of fans here in Portugal, with me actually being a part of it. Is there anything else you would like to address to the fans here?

I would like to tell everyone to be patient and to keep sustaining the continuous support for every band that’s been going through this mess. I think that by being patient and remaining positive is the only way we can go through all this and come back a million times stronger. By staying positive, sticking together with each other and being creative in the Metal community, I think we’re just going to come back 10x stronger and it’s going to feel even better than before.

M.I. – Thank you once again so much for granting us the interview, it was such a huge honor for me and for everyone in the Metal Imperium team to be able to interview you. Please send our regards to the rest of the band. We wish you all the luck and success in the world and we’re really looking forward to hear the new album “Lamb of God”.

Oh, thank you, I’m glad I could be here. Thank you so much, have a good day, stay safe and let’s jam this new record together when it comes out!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by João Guevara