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Home » Rock n Rolla

LOG: Southern hospitality

Submitted by on April 26, 2010 – 12:01 pmNo Comment


The relationship Virginia band Lamb Of God has with its fans is marked by more than a trace of southern etiquette. In addition to going above and beyond the call of duty on the viral marketing/social networking front, the band is tremendously, sometimes brutally, honest with its fans.

For example, the band’s 2005 DVD Killadelphia, which runs 180 minutes, includes a full-fledged fist fight between lead singer Randy Blythe and his bassist John Campbell, an incident Campbell cites as but one of the ramifications of giving fans in-depth backstage access.

“We do signings and have kids come up to Randy: ‘I saw you get knocked the fuck out.’ There are definitely repercussions,”he says. “But we’re really honest. We don’t pull any punches within the camp, or with anyone who’s unfortunate enough to sit down with us.”

In the last half decade, Lamb Of God’s popularity has grown in leaps and bounds. Ashes of the Wake (2004), the band’s fourth album, moved 35,000 units in its first week; sales for Sacrament (2006) reached 65,000, while Wrath, released in February of this year, peaked at number 2 on Billboard in the U.S. and number 1 in Canada in its first week on the charts.

Formed in 1994, the band was originally named Burn The Priest before changing its moniker shortly after the release of their self-titled debut album. Campbell, who was against the change, believes that, though they still take flak for the old name, Lamb Of God is more offensive than Burn The Priest.

“We’re not allowed to play Dubai or The Forum in L.A. The owners of The Forum found out we used to be called Burn The Priest and decided that we weren’t the type of act they wanted performing at their venue,” he says. “The ironic thing, in my opinion, is that calling ourselves Lamb Of God is more blasphemous and evil than the cartoony, silly, gimmicky Burn The Priest.”

Fuelled in its infancy by “fumes and Black Label beer,” the band earned its initial success as a result of a long-time DIY tradition learned in part from Mikey Brosnan, the founder of Goatboy Records (later Legion Records), the label that released Burn The Priest’s debut. The album Wrath (2009) was dedicated to the memory of Brosnan, who was struck by a drunk driver while walking home from work.

“There was a long period of time where we were handling all the business ourselves, from booking and management to setting up our gear. We did it for the love of it and had a very do-it-yourself attitude. Without him,” Campbell says solemnly of Brosnan, “we wouldn’t have got where we are.”

Similarly, Lamb Of God DVD sales reflect a slow but steady increase in interest in the band. Killadelphia (2005) was topped by last year’s Walk With Me in Hell, which moved 8,000 and 13,000, respectively. Within the cadre that is Lamb Of God, less emphasis is placed on record and DVD sales than on satisfying a frantic fan base.

The deluxe editions for both Sacrament and Wrath feature guitar, vocal, bass and drum tracks in MP3 format, enabling fans to produce their own renditions of the band’s tracks. To promote the release of Wrath earlier this year, the band held the “Escape the Plague” contest. Fans that purchased the first 100,000 copies of the album had a one in 100 chance of winning prizes such as a signature John Campbell bass, a barbecue with lead singer Randy Blythe, guitar lessons with Mark Morton and Willie Adler, or a drum kit with an autographed Chris Adler signature series snare.

Lamb Of God also maintain a website for their fans called The Congregation, where members can enter to win merchandise, concert tickets and meet-and-greets with the band. “It’s a way for us to give back to fans and hopefully get in touch with them,” says Campbell. “We are pretty normal dudes and we want to stay in touch with our fans because without them we would be sitting in our garages at home and making loud music for our dogs in the backyard.”

A 37-year-old vegetarian who speaks through a grey beard with a charming, southern accent reminiscent of Matthew McConaughey’s in Dazed and Confused, Campbell agrees with his lead singer, who states in Killadelphia: “We’re no longer the underground metal band that everyone roots for. We’re now the target.”

“We’re not the opening band that nobody’s ever heard of. It’s really easy to win people over when they have no idea who you are,” Campbell says, considering Blythe’s statement. “But when they come in with expectations, which they now do, it’s a much harder battle. But we’re definitely in for it and we’re really thankful to have that opportunity.”

Remi L. Roy

Also appeared in XPress 10/30/09

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