Grammy awardee Chris Adler talks on life after Lamb of God

The first thing that strikes you is his humility, bordering on self-deprecation.

“People find it interesting; I think it sounds like I’m falling down the stairs,” jokes drummer Chris Adler about the segment he composed in ‘Ruin’, the opening track of metal band Lamb of God’s album As The Palaces Burn (2003).

That album alone sold 2,70,000 copies in the first 10 years of its release. Adler has since won a Grammy, co-created defining music with two of the biggest names in metal — Lamb of God and Megadeth — and, if the millennials gathered before him at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM) are to be believed, has inspired generations after him to take up the drumkit.

A life in tunes
  • The first record Adler ever bought was Michael Jackson’s Thriller . “It was the first time I had heard distorted guitar,” he says.
  • He had 16 Aerosmith cassettes, and would use their songs to figure out
  • his own drumming in the early days.
  • Listening to New York-based jazz fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra was the first time, Adler says, that he connected music with deep emotion.
  • His favourite drummer is The Police’s Stewart Copeland: “I can’t play anything that guy plays, which is maybe why I love him so much.”
  • A lesser-known band called Confessor, that played in Raliegh, US, in the late 1980s, also influenced him greatly. He calls its drummer Steve Shelton, “a magician playing the drums”.

Lambs of Adler

At least 80 such musicians sit before him, having travelled from Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and other cities to spend the weekend here. Though the Chennai session comes at the fag end of his drum clinic series covering India and Nepal, it is also the only one where participants get to spend two days with the drummer, thanks to efforts by SAM.

The dynamic, too, is more intimate: Adler is seated barely five steps away from them, patiently answering questions. They seize the opportunity, dissecting song after song and asking him to demonstrate some of his most complex pieces over the years.

“It’s very hard for me to describe what I do; that comes from instinct,” he tells MetroPlus during an exclusive chat after the session. “It was kind of intimidating, because though I have done clinics before, they kinda turn into half-concert, half-storytelling sessions. To come into a school, knowing that I haven’t been formally taught, was a little scary. And to do it for two days is a lot more of a close interaction; it was almost like I had started to learn everybody’s names... but it turned out great.” Along with his technique, he also explains how he likes his drum kit to be set up, and what his rehearsal sessions are like.

So is this the closest he has come to teaching? “Other than my daughter, yeah,” he admits. “I wouldn’t say I help her with the school stuff, but I am teaching her the drums, keyboard, piano... She seems to be able to pick up stuff like that.” Needless to say, Adler’s children are far less starstruck than most budding musicians around the world by the idea of learning from him. “We have three kids. The boys are into guitar and piano, and she is into drums, and a bit of piano too. I can help with that, but because I’m Dad, they are like, ‘Oh, Dad, leave me alone, I want to play video games’. So we have a tutor come and teach them,” he says.

About the record label

His exit from Lamb Of God, the band he had helped form 26 years ago, has devastated fans and also stirred up speculation — both about the reason for his exit, and about his future plans.

Grammy awardee Chris Adler talks on life after Lamb of God

Adler is politely distant about the first [“Between choosing to keep the friends or the business, I chose to keep the friends,” he tells one student] but more than forthcoming about the second. His record label Kintsugi Management is less than a year old, and currently works with two bands: Betraying The Martyrs from France and Dyscarnate from the UK.

“It’s exciting for me to be able to stay passionate in the music industry without having to be on the road for eight or 10 months a year. It has given me a chance to get in touch with bands that I really like, and hopefully help them avoid some of the problems in the music industry that I have seen.” For instance, he observes, “The typical record label deal is just absolutely terrible; merchandise deals are terrible; it’s very hard to stand out in a crowd of a million other bands.” Even basic things like visa issues and procedures require someone to handle them, he points out.

Both Dyscarnate and Betraying The Martyrs are heavy metal bands, but Adler clarifies that his label is “open to anything. But I seem to have a reputation in heavy metal, and I really still love heavy metal, so that goes a long way and is probably a good place for me to start. And as the music picks up, there’s no limit to it.”

For now, Adler’s plans seem to be set, centred around the label, and around family time. “I really don’t intend to be a teacher and give lessons, you know. I’m always inspired by watching other people play their work, and hopefully I was able to inspire [too].”

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 2:23:32 PM |

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