Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton has quite the busy year between preparing to tour in support of the next leg of Slayer’s final North American tour next month to supporting his own solo material. The guitarist recently embarked on his first-ever headlining tour in support of his debut solo effort Anesthetic, which was released on March 1st via Spinefarm records (read our review here). Despite his busy schedule, Morton sat down with us to discuss his solo album, working with the late Chester Bennington on “Cross Off,” provided a Lamb of God update, and more.
How long ago did you start working on solo material and when did you realize it was time to have a full length studio album?
I think the songs have been coming together for years. I just write music that’s bounced in between my ears. I didn’t really set out and start writing songs with the expressed intent of doing a solo album. They were slowly what was happening alongside the stuff I was working on for Lamb of God and for other projects. As I started accumulating them and collecting them and they started piling up, I bounced a few of them off my producer, Josh Wilbur, and we took it from there and just started working on the songs.
Along with Jake Oni, we conceptualized this idea of an album where we would start really recording these songs in the studio and bringing people in to play on them and perform on them.
What was the process like having a lot of collaborators on Anesthetic?
It took a long time. That was definitely one of the reasons for the album having such a long gestation period I guess. A lot of factor really, I’ve been full time with Lamb of God the whole time I was working on this and touring and writing and recording for that band. Josh Wilbur is a very in demand, very busy producer, so he had his projects that we committed to. And then of course the list of guests on this album is pretty extensive. So, finding time for them to come to us, or for them to work on their own on their pieces or their contributions to the album, it took some time.
Not counting the writing I had been doing beforehand. The first studio sessions for the Anesthetic album were in September of 2016. We started the actual official studio process about two and a half years ago.
I remember seeing something on, I believe, your Instagram before Chester [Bennington] passed. About how you guys were working on new material and I’ve always wanted to ask, did you two ever have plans in making more music together before he died?
We did actually discuss it. When we started, When we got together to write “Cross Off,” we were there just to work on that. We were gonna finish writing, I had the music done and chorus idea for it, but Chester and I finished up the bridge and the verses together. That was our objective and that’s what we did and then that’s “Cross Off” that you hear. We were both pretty jazzed on that song, we were pretty excited about how it turned and so, just corresponding with him after the fact and texting back and forth, he was like, “Let’s do another one, man.” And I was like, you tell me when you’re ready and I’ll be there, you know.
That was actually the last time I corresponded with Chester. It wasn’t long after that he wasn’t with us anymore. I don’t know if that was just excited banter, but I meant my part of it. I’ll tell you this, I know he really loved that song. He was excited about it when he heard the demos. He was excited about doing it, you can really hear it in his performance. He was having a blast with that song.
I’m sure somewhere in his mind, he meant it too.
I hope so, I think so.
What do you say about those who expected to hear a new Lamb of God album through your solo work?
Two different things. I would have no reason to channel that energy through a solo album because Lamb of God is still full throttle. We’re still in full swing. I feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum, we’ve got a lot left to do, we’re all excited about the new material we have coming together and there is new material, a lot of it, coming together. So, Lamb of God is it’s own big monster of a band doing its thing. I’m really grateful and still enjoying being a part of that band. This project is something different. It was a labor of love for sure, it was a long time coming, and I’m excited for people to hear a different side of my playing, a different side of my song writing.
Really, even more than that, these collaborations of all these amazing artists that were so generous, to contribute their artistry, their creativity to this project. That was really the biggest joy for me, is bringing these people together and getting it. Selfishly being able to collaborate with them and work with them, but also seeing the results of these combinations of players and performers that we were able to put together on this album.
How is it working with Doc Coyle?
Well, Doc’s not on the album, but he’s in the band. So, after the album, really, when we were working on the album and recording it, I never really envisioned, I mean, I guess we talked about what if and what will we do but I never really envisioned a full on tour or live shows. When it came time and we got the opportunity to do it, I’ve been working with Doc in one form or another for almost 20 years. We played our first shows together when he was still a teenager. He’s a great player, he’s got a great career of his own going on, really busy. I was surprised he had the time to do this tour, but he did and I was really excited to have him.
Speaking of new albums, what’s happening with new Lamb of God material? Anything you can share to us?
Yeah, just like I told you earlier, we’ve got a bunch of new material we’ve been working on. We’re well into the writing process. We’re not completed writing but we’re pretty far along into the writing process. We’ve been making demos and what we call pre-production for the new album. So I don’t have a date, I don’t know if it’ll be the end of this year or some time early next year but it’s in full swing. There’s good progress.
Since you’ve worked so long over the years for your first solo album, do you have any plans for a second solo album?
No plans for one right now. We’re just getting this one up and running and having a really good time with it. And really excited and just honored that the reception’s been so great for it and people seem to be really responded to “Cross Off” and to the whole album, so I’m thrilled with that. So no plans for another one, but I would welcome the opportunity at some point when the time comes. I’d love to do something like this again, I’m having a great time with it.