MR Exclusive: Chris Adler of Lamb of God on drum techniques

Posted by NichTheHair on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 12:54 PM (PST)

Lamb of God‘s drummer Chris Adler is currently traveling the country spreading knowledge to all who care to learn. His drum clinics draw scores of eager musicians looking to gain a professional edge and insight from one of metal’s most influential players today. Explorers Percussion hosted the clinic here in Kansas City, MO and the class was packed. Despite that, Chris was well composed, probably doing a complex math problem to stay collected. He admitted that is how he keeps his cool when a larger crowd is drawn.

Click here for the Q&A.

How did you find your “voice” within your playing style?

The secret to having a voice on your particular instrument is not nessassarly to always have to being playing the most ridiculous stuff you can think of to stand out in the song. This is bad because you’re actually taking away from the song. In order for a song to stand up on its own with its own character, everyone needs to find their own “voice” within their instrument that fits together like a puzzle, but that does not mean to absolutely kill it with un-needed double bass speed or mind twisting riffs. One of my biggest tools I use to add to my “Voice”  is music and drummers I listen to that are not even in the metal genre. Some of my major influences are guys that can import different sounds from various other types of music like latin, jazz, gospel, etc. to add to their genre, thus reconinzing that influence in their personal work. Keep yourself open in terms of influences and constantly bring in new things and try new things to see how it works.

When did you start playing?

I didn’t start playing drums until I was 21. I started out on Piano, taking voice lessons (my mother was and still is a great singer) and playing guitar the majority of my child hood and up to the present.

How do you handle pressure while on stage?

During the shows it still can be overwhelming with the crowds and the response from them even to this day. I turn myself off a bit to let that creative element come through. As wierd as it may seem, I like to think of complicated math problems as one example, and then try to work through them in my head.

How long have you been with Mapex drums?

I have been Mapex drums since 2004 now playing on their new Black Panther series that is just sick awesome!
I also use Meinl cymbals, Pro Mark sticks, Aquarian drum heads and Gibraltar racks.

A cool thing about Meinl is that a rep from their company called me up a few years back and was like “Hey Chris, we would like to send you a set of our symbols to check out and play on courtesy of us and let us know what you think.” A few weeks went by and I got them and called Meinc back and said “You know, I like some of the symbols much more than what I am using now, but some are lacking. They are not as good as what I am using now.” And what come next was one of the coolest things this company could or for that fact, anybody, has ever done. Instead of the guy focusing on selling me on the ones that I did like, the guy said “Ok, lets do this. How about we fly you and your wife over to Germany?  We would like you to sit down with our designers and manufactuars in the factory and tell us exactly the sounds you are looking for in what you do.” They produced the exact sounds I could hear in my head, which is impressive!

I noticed there is something behind your pedal. I was just wondering what that was.

Behind my pedals are folded up ankle weights. When we were in Canada recording “As the Palaces Burn,” I stayed with fellow drummer Gene Hoglan (who drummed with Slayer, Dethklok, Fear Factory and others). One of the things he told me to do to build up my double bass endurance was to wear ankle weights. Wear them around the house, during the set, during rehearsal, anytime really. All day long he was wearing ankle weights and still does, in addition to combat boots. He’s one of the fastest double players ever, so I took his advice and started wearing them. As I was preparing songs for this clinic, I played with them on and then just unzipped them and took them off. One thing I realized was that even though I was playing heel up, my heel was resting on the . It’s not often my foot is entirely at rest, even though split seconds do matter how quickly I would fatigue. It would significantly improve precision when I had something there to rest on. I’ve talked to Trick drums about the idea and they are in the process of creating something that should be released later this year.

What gave you the idea of writing on a splash cymbal and how may did you go through while recording?

Very good question. To be honest, if I wasn’t as well endorsed as much as I am, I probably wouldn’t use them as much as I do currently(Laughter). However, I am well endorsed and the actually do last longer than you might imagine. Out on the road and while doing shows I’m definitely playing a lot harder due to the adrenaline so they usually last about three weeks. The idea to use them came about during rehearsals. I could never really hear what I was doing, the guys were always playing at eleven. It was almost out of necessity that I needed something loud enough so I would know I was riding the time, but I wanted it quick and out of the way so I could hear what my feet were doing, and then it just stuck in these songs when we recorded the deos there was the splash instead of the hat.

So when you play live do you mic the kit closer?

I do, significantly. When we go live, there is a tremendous amount of microphones all over the drums. her is one for each drum, top and bottom, and basically one for each cymbal, and some cluster and overhead mics as well.

What do you do to keep yourself capable to play at such a high intensity?

Aside from playing itself, which is very physically demanding, I use the ankle weights like I said before. Also, swimming really helps me and I enjoy it. I get real total body work which helps a lot.

What’s next for Lamb of God?

We go into the studio March 18th and you can expect everything metal!

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