We’ve got a double dose of greatness on this episode, as we’re joined by Lamb of God’s Chris Adler and Machine The Producer.
“I need to see the end game before I start the game.” – Machine
ON THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
10:00 Nature vs nurture in musical upbringing
16:00 Chris’s family musical upbringing
22:00 Teaching Machine about ‘real’ metal
30:00 The process of learning what a producer actually does from a musician’s standpoint
50:00 How Machine was able to pick out the moments that would resonate with a larger audience
1:00:00 How the producer’s role is like a shrink, and why bands need to be careful with finding the right match when finding producers.
1:14:00 Starting from the idea of a “brutal” version of “Operation: Mindcrime” and using keyboards/psychoacoustics
1:20:00 The learning curve for separating hands/feet, creating a ‘new’ drum sound
1:25:00 Creating the best album sound possible and worrying less about how it will be reconstructed live
1:30:00 Why mixing never stops, you just surrender
1:35:00 Creating tempo maps during pre-production, programming custom click samples
1:45:00 Room mics – using your ears to listen to a room as a microphone would listen to it
1:50:00 The typewriter kick sample, having a signature sound like Meshuggah
1:55:00 Chris Adler and Jason Lekberg’s new management company for Dyscarnate
2:00:00 Chris Adler’s entrepreneurship in and outside of the band
2:10:00 Playing drums out of necessity for the band rather than as a passion
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Machine The Producer’s Discography
– 2018 – As It Is – The Great Depression – Production, Engineering, Mixing, Mastering
– 2018 – Press To Meco – Here’s to the Fatigue – Production, Engineering, Mixing, Mastering
– 2016 – KYNG – Breath Under Water – Production, Engineering, Mixing
– 2016 – Crobot – Welcome To Fat City – Production, Engineering, Mixing
– 2016 – Electric Mary – Alive in Hell Dorado – Mixing, Mastering
– 2016 – Darke Complexe – Point Oblivion – Production, Engineering
– 2016 – Painted Wives – Obsessed with the End – Mixing, Mastering
– 2015 – Clutch – Psychic Warfare – Production, Engineering, Mixing, Writing
– 2015 – Upon A Burning Body – Turn Down For What-Pop Goes Punk – Production, Engineering, Mixing
– 2014 – Crobot – Legend Of A Space Born Killer – Production, Engineering, Mixing
– 2014 – Four Year Strong – Go Down In History – Production, Engineering, Mixing
– 2014 – Crossfait – Zion EP – Production, Engineering, Mixing
– 2013 – Clutch – Earth Rocker – Production, Engineering, Mixing, Mastering
– 2013 – Halestorm – ReAniMate 2.0: The CoVeRs eP – Mixing
– 2013 – We Came As Romans – Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be Deluxe – Production, Engineering
– 2013 – Basic Vacation – Basic Vacation – Production, Engineering, Mixing
– 2012 – House Vs. Hurricane – Crooked Teeth – Production, Engineering, Mixing, Mastering
– 2012 – Impending Doom – Baptized In Filth – Mixing, Vocal Engineering/Production
– 2012 – Miss May I – At Heart – Production, Engineering, Mixing, Mastering
– 2012 – Crossfaith – ZION EP – Production, Engineering, Mixing, Mastering
– 2011 – Hit the Lights – Invicta EP – Production
– 2011 – Protest the Hero – Scurrilous – Mixing
– 2011 – Brighter Brightest – Right For Me – Production, Engineering, Mixing
– 2010 – Chiodos – Illuminaudio – Production
– 2010 – The Amity Affliction – Youngbloods – Production
– 2010 – Four Year Strong – Enemy of the World – Production
– 2009 – Four Year Strong – Explains It All – Production
– 2009 – Suicide Silence – No Time to Bleed – Production, mixing
– 2009 – Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone! – Production, mixing
– 2008 – Johnny Foreigner – Waited Up ’til It Was Light – Production
– 2007 – Bloodsimple – Red Harvest – Production
– 2007 – Armor for Sleep – Smile for Them – Additional production
– 2007 – Demon Hunter – Storm the Gates of Hell – Mixing
– 2007 – Haste the Day – Pressure the Hinges – Mixing
– 2007 – Cobra Starship – Viva La Cobra – Production, engineering, mixing
– 2006 – Gym Class Heroes – As Cruel as School Children – The Queen and I Bonus Remix (Titled “Machine and – I”) Featuring Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die
– 2006 – 18 Visions – Eighteen Visions – Production, engineering, mixing
– 2006 – Halifax – The Inevitability of a Strange World – Co-production, engineering, mixing
– 2006 – Lamb of God – Sacrament – Production, engineering, mixing
– 2005 – Armor for Sleep – What to Do When You Are Dead – Production, engineering, mixing, additional writing
– 2005 – Fall Out Boy – Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland Soundtrack – Production, engineereering, and mixed the track Start Today
– 2005 – Emanuel (band) – Soundtrack to a Headrush – Production, engineering, mixing
– 2005 – Mindless Self-Indulgence – You’ll Rebel to Anything – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 2005 – Boys Night Out – Trainwreck – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 2005 – Every Time I Die – Gutter Phenomenon – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 2004 – 28 Days – Extremist Makeover – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 2004 – Lamb of God – Ashes of the Wake – Co-produced
– 2004 – Clutch – Blast Tyrant – Produced, engineered, mixed, additional writing
– 2003 – Serafin (band) – No Push Collide – Mixed, additional production for singles
– 2003 – King Crimson – The Power to Believe – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 2002 – Sev – All These Dreams – Produced, engineered, mixed, additional writing
– 2002 – Pitchshifter – PSI – Produced, mixed
– 2002 – 28 Days – Stealing Chairs – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 2001 – Diffuser – Injury Loves Melody – Mixed, additional production
– 2001 – Lostprophets – The Fake Sound of Progress – Mixed the singles
– 2001 – Vision of Disorder – From Bliss to Devastation – Produced, engineered, mixed, additional writing
– 2001 – Clutch – Pure Rock Fury – Produced, engineered
– 2000 – Hed PE – roke – Produced, engineered, additional writing
– 1999 – The Step Kings – Let’s Get It On – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 1999 – Coal Chamber featuring Ozzy Osbourne – Shock the Monkey Single – Mixed
– 1999 – Stony Sleep – A Slack Romance – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 1999 – Shootyz Groove – High Definition – Produced, Engineered, Mixed, additional writing
– 1998 – Pitchshifter – www.pitchshifter.com – Produced, engineered, mixed
– 1996 – White Zombie – Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds – Mixed single
Lamb Of God’s Discography
As Burn The Priest:
– 1995 – Burn the Priest – Demo Tape
– 1997 – Burn the Priest – Split with ZED
– 1998 – Burn the Priest – Split with Agents of Satan
– 1998 – Burn the Priest – Sevens and More
– 1998 – Burn the Priest – Burn The Priest
– 2018 – Burn the Priest – Legion: XX
As Lamb Of God
– 2000 – Lamb of God – New American Gospel
– 2003 – Lamb of God – As the Palaces Burn
– 2004 – Lamb of God – Ashes of the Wake
– 2006 – Lamb of God – Sacrament
– 2009 – Lamb of God – Wrath
– 2012 – Lamb of God – Resolution
– 2015 – Lamb of God – VII: Sturm und Drang
– 2016 – Lamb of God – The Duke (EP)
Chris Adler’s Discography
– Chris Adler’s Discography
(Not in chronological order)
– 1989 – Calibra – Demo Tape (Independently Released)
– 1993 – Cry Havoc – Demo Tape (Independently Released)
– 1994 – Jettison Charlie – Hitchhiking to Budapest (Turn of The Century)
– 1996 – Jettison Charlie – “Legions of The Unjazzed”/”I Love You, You Bastard” EP (Peas Kor Records)
– 1995 – EvilDeathInc – Bedroom Compilation Cassette
– 1995 – EvilDeathInc – “Full On” Now That’s Metal Compilation CD
– 1998 – EvilDeathInc – Sevens and More
– 1995 – Burn the Priest – Demo Tape (1995, Independently Released)
– 1997 – Burn the Priest – Split with ZED (1997, Goatboy Records)
– 1998 – Burn the Priest – Split with Agents of Satan (1998, Deaf American Recordings)
– 1998 – Burn the Priest – Sevens and More (1998, mp3.com)
– 1998 – Burn the Priest – Burn The Priest (Legion Records)
– 2018 – Burn the Priest – Legion: XX (2018, Epic / Nuclear Blast)
– 1996 – Grouser – Demo Tape (1996, Independently Released)- 2000 – Lamb of God – New American Gospel (2000)
– 2003 – Lamb of God – As the Palaces Burn ()
– 2004 – Lamb of God – Ashes of the Wake (2004)
– 2006 – Lamb of God – Sacrament (2006)
– 2009 – Lamb of God – Wrath (2009)
– 2012 – Lamb of God – Resolution (2012)
– 2015 – Lamb of God – VII: Sturm und Drang (2015)
– 2016 – Lamb of God – The Duke (EP)
– 2016 – Solo – Drum Nation Volume 3 (2006, Magna Carta) feat. Ron Jarzombek
– 2005 – Chris Adler and Jason Bittner: Live at Modern Drummer Festival 2005 DVD (2006, Hudson Music)
– 2012 – Testament – Dark Roots of Earth [Guest Artist] – 2013 – Protest The Hero – Volition [Session Drums] – 2016 – Megadeth – Dystopia [Session/Live Drums] – 2016 – Nitro [Session/Live Drums] – 2016 – Corrosion of Conformity [Session/Live Drums]
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Unstoppable Recording Machine Podcast, brought to you by iZotope. We craft innovative audio products that inspire and enable people to be creative. Visit izotope.com for more info. This episode is also brought to you by Sonar Works. Sonar Works is on a mission to ensure everybody hears music the way it was meant to be, across all devices. Visit sonarworks.com for more info.
Speaker 1: And now your host, Eyal Levi.
Eyal Levi: Welcome to the URM podcast. I am Eyal Levi, and I just want to tell you that this show is brought to you by URM Academy, the world’s best education for rock and metal producers. Every month on Nail the Mix, we bring you one of the world’s best producers to mix a song from scratch from artists like Lamb God, Meshuga, Periphery, A Day to Remember, Bring Me the Horizon, Opeth, many, many more, and we give you the raw multi-tracks so you can mix along. You also get access to Mix Lab, our collection of bite-sized mixing tutorials, and Portfolio Builder which are pro-quality multi-tracks that are cleared for use in your portfolio. You can find out more at nailthemix.com.
Eyal Levi: Also, I want to take a second to tell you about something I’m very, very excited about, and it’s the URM summit. Once a year we hold an event where hundreds of producers from all over the world come together for four days of networking, workshops, seminars and, of course, hanging out. You know, this industry is all about relationships, and think about it, what could you gain from getting to personally know your peers from all over the world who have the same goals as you, the same struggles as you, and who can not only help you with inspiration and motivation, but also with potential professional collaborations. I’ve seen a lot of professional collaborations come from the summit in the past.
Eyal Levi: And speaking of networking and relationships, there’s no other event where you’ll get to learn from and hang out with some of the very best in the production business. I mean, you could go to something like NAM but good luck getting more than five minutes with your hero. At this you actually will get to hang out, like hang out, hang out. And just a few of this year’s instructors are Andrew Wade, Kurt [Ballou 00:02:07], Blasko, Taylor Larsen, Billy Decker, Kane and Kevin Churko, Jesse Cannon, and more. Seriously, this is one of the best and most productive events you will ever go to. So if that sounds like something that’s up your alley, go to urmsummit.com to find out more.
Eyal Levi: All right, now that that’s out of the way, I just want to thank you guys for showing up to listen to this podcast, and I want to say welcome back because I’ve been gone for, what, six weeks now? Six weeks since the last episode. I know some of you guys may have gotten worried that we were done or something like that, but I just want you to know that once a year for about a month, or five weeks or six weeks, I take a break from podcasting. It’s in order to recharge the batteries. Last year we had a bunch of Dear Whoever episodes, like Dear Kurt Ballou , Dear Mary Zimmer. This year we just decided to just put on the brakes because we have so much going on we didn’t want to half-ass the podcast.
Eyal Levi: So we took a brief little break, but now coming back hard with season four of the URM podcast, believe it or not. It’s hard for me to believe. This episode is one that I could’ve only dreamt about doing at the very beginning. We’ve got two people on here that I’ve been looking up to for ages. One of them has been on the podcast before, one of them hasn’t. We’ve got both Machine and Chris Adler.
Eyal Levi: And if you don’t know who they are, I mean, most of you will, you don’t need an introduction for most of you, but just in case you don’t know who they are, Machine’s a famed producer, engineer, and a mix and masterer and has worked with, of course, Lamb of God but also a ton of other projects such as Clutch, Crobot, Fallout Boy, Mindless Self Indulgence, and many stellar artists. And not just that, he’s helped start the careers and mentor some of today’s best and most luminary metal producers and mixers like Will Putney, Josh Wilber, Zack Cervini. I mean, this guy is a fucking legend and so cool to talk to.
Eyal Levi: Then we also have the mighty Chris Adler who, of course, is the drummer from Lamb of God since their inception in 1994. He’s also worked with various bands like Protest the Hero, Testament, and even won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for his work on Megadeth’s Dystopia album. He’s also a well-known entrepreneur, the business brains behind Lamb of God, and just a very impressive guy that I’ve always wanted to get to pick the brain of, and now I got the chance.
Eyal Levi: This is a long podcast, but a great one. It was a great conversation where we talk all about the making of Sacrament, how Machine helped Lamb of God define the sound that would then become, what we know as the huge, badass band Lamb of God, as well as just entrepreneurial wisdom that I think musicians and engineers at all levels could benefit from. This is just a great episode and I hope you guys enjoy it. So without further ado, here are Machine and Chris Adler.
Eyal Levi: Chris Adler and Machine, welcome to the URM Podcast.
Machine: Hey there.
Eyal Levi: Hello.
Chris Adler: Lovely to be here.
Eyal Levi: So before we started recording, we were talking about Garage Band and cheat codes and kids using it to make their own music. You know what, just to finish off that convo real quick, I don’t actually think that it’s a cheat code because anything that gets kids thinking about music, creating music, being creative, that’s good in my opinion.
Chris Adler: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what I was kind of spitting up the scene was, like I see the ease in using it, even to create without necessarily creating it. But in that is kind of a real generic kind of a starter product. You know, my daughter in the backseat of the car pressing here and here and here, she doesn’t understand the melody but she’ll correct this and change that, and then, “Dad, listen to this.” I’m looking back at her like, “Holy shit, how’d you do that?” You know, she’s feeling really proud about it and now she’s kind of more interested in digging in further.
Eyal Levi: Does she play any instruments?
Chris Adler: I tried to teach her, and she’s not bad. Maybe on my level, at playing drums. She’s also in piano lessons and that kind of stuff. So yeah, I’m definitely trying to encourage that for her, although if she ever gets into a band I’ll be … so bummed out.
Machine: I know! I have like, one kid. My girl is so legitimately talented, has no interest in going to vocal lessons, being in one of these bands at like a School of Rock type, any of this stuff that I could give to her.
Chris Adler: Right.
Machine: But just schools it. I mean, she came out of the womb with like perfect pitch, it’s crazy.
Chris Adler: Wow. What does she sing?
Machine: Just like, all pop stuff, you know?
Chris Adler: Exactly.
Machine: Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea.
Chris Adler: I’m pretty sure my daughter’s gonna be a cheerleader into rap. But that’s the way it goes. I think all rock stars have daughters.
Machine: Yeah, yeah. And then Ike likes Upon a Burning Body’s Turn Down For What with Ice T, which I did where they’re in like a strip club and they’re like, you know, fucking rock stars.
Chris Adler: Congratulations on that.
Eyal Levi: Life achievement unlocked. Do you think that it’s a genetic thing or do you think it’s just how they’re brought up because my dad was a musician too and I was surrounded by it. It didn’t even make sense to go into anything but music just because, you know, it was like growing up into a cult except music basically, if you want to get right down to it.
Chris Adler: I think there’s something to that, environmental versus, you know, kind of what’s passed down. I certainly see my daughter being very creative in different ways, she’s ahead of her field in art and stuff like that, but obviously it’s very difficult for me, as a drummer with a drum set set up in the dining room, to give lessons. Come on dad, let’s do something else or whatever. She sees it as kind of that’s been done, what am I going to do? It’s certainly in that kind of task of prevailing in the business certainly would give her the advantage to continue with it but I think, just like all kids, I mean you guys know, everybody knows, you grow up and it’s like whatever my dad is doing, I’m going to rebel against that. Like my parents don’t smoke so I’m going to smoke.
Machine: Or my parents party so I’m going to be straight-edge.
Chris Adler: Exactly, it’s always the rebellion, which, like I was saying earlier, I’m pretty sure she’s going to end up being a cheerleader into rap but, you know, she has some genetic, obviously … well I would think so …
Machine: Oh yeah, sure she does.
Chris Adler: Capability doing it …
Machine: Sure she does.
Chris Adler: But it’s that rebellion that every kid has to get away and I think that’s why I ended up kind of where I was. My parents are listening to the Beatles and not really into music. My mom’s very focused on getting us into creative activities, very supportive, and both were, but it was more of a, I think at the time probably, like can I get this kid into a music lesson for an hour so I can go do some shit I want to do? It’s definitely there, it’s for them to choose. That’s been a weird thing, for me anyway. With my daughter, everything is do is come on dad, turn off the boy music. But at the same time, she’ll pull you Spotify and put on some … I don’t even know this, you know, Katy Perry or there’s this … I don’t know what the name of the guy is but, you know, peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time, kind of song.
Eyal Levi: Song of the year.
Chris Adler: Right, so I mean, she’s embedded in, you know, kind of everything that I do and it’s very familiar but I think we all rebel naturally, in that genetic way, against what our parents do.
Machine: I have that exact story as far as rebelling but to like give my little spin on this conversation of influence. Nature and nurture is what makes up our personality and our musical DNA and there’s absolutely a nature, a biological thing your brain is born with that makes you predisposed to being talented in music and that same thing with athletes or whatever or scholars. And then nurture is, you know, your influences when you hit the real world. As I was just discovering what I was liking, the Monkeys or the Beatles or then Kiss and the friendly stuff, there was a constant progressive music style happening all around me, classical music, constant really technical playing, very, you know … I can’t tell you the key, I never learned theory so I cannot tell you the insane key structures and time signatures that my dad would be rehearsing and I was just exposed to.
Eyal Levi: What, he was a musician?
Machine: As a musician. But that, right, that nurturing played into my growth of my brain and my DNA where I, sort of, when it came to working with bands like King Crimson and Lamb of God and really progressive bands, I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t feel out of place, I could just roll with that.
Eyal Levi: It’s in your DNA.
Machine: That was in … No, not my DNA, that was in my nurturing.
Eyal Levi: Got it.
Machine: The nature, nature versus nurture, nature is you’re born with, you know, an ability to music, ability to hear pitch. Some people can’t, you know, are born, they’ll always be tone deaf.
Chris Adler: Yeah, it’s very much a thing that I’ve realized with my daughter is that, you know, I’ve got this drum set here, I’ve got guitar, amp sitting next to it, acoustic guitar, piano. The more I push it, the less she’s interested.
Machine: Yeah, right.
Chris Adler: While I tried to give her lessons and … I don’t know how to give lessons because I never had one. I was able to teach her some stuff and able for her to kind of play along to Gloria, Gloria. You can see the smile, you can see the confidence in it, but the more I push the concept, the less interested she was.
Machine: Yeah, rebelling.
Eyal Levi: Rebelling.
Chris Adler: So I basically stopped and just let her kind of watch the whole thing and now I find her seeking it.
Machine: This is what I do, this is what I do. I do it’s like the secret lab. It’s like there’s a lot of stories about geniuses and scientists, right, that had parents that like would go to the lab and this was a forbidden place for the children, like or whatever it was, or the editing room, and it was a forbidden, like back in the days in the 50s and 60s, it was a forbidden place for children and they just weren’t allowed in and then they wanted that so bad, when it came time for them to become adult, they wanted into that laboratory so bad, so now I’m like reverse psychologying that shit on my kids.
Chris Adler: Exactly, that’s exactly it.
Machine: I’m like no, I’m going to … I got a session.
Eyal Levi: That’s really smart actually.
Machine: I got to do this, got to do that, and I’m really not even encouraging them. Then they’re, “My dad did this and my dad did that,” and that’s how it works.
Eyal Levi: I can totally confirm the rebellion thing is real. I’ve actually learned …
Machine: Or the secret access to what you cannot have as a kid. The desires you want as a child of things you cannot have.
Chris Adler: It’s like taboo stuff.
Chris Adler: I’m not allowed to smoke cigarettes?
Machine: Oh, you’re not allowed. Oh, you’re not allowed in the studio. Oh no, no, that’s for adults and serious musicians.
Eyal Levi: I learned something interesting recently which is that … And I don’t know if this is true or not but that this rebellion thing that we’ve been talking about, that natural tendency, it’s there, it’s a natural thing that develops in kids because it’s them starting to develop the skills that they’re going to need in order to be able to actually leave the house at some point and fend for themselves. If they don’t start doing that, you know start like getting ready for that at some point, they’ll never be able to get out there on their on and be an independent human. So, the rebellion, even though it’s irrational sometimes when teenagers do it or when kids do it, they’re not thinking about how they’re rebelling, it’s just this natural instinct, but that’s what it is, it’s that independence that they’re eventually going to really need starting to rear it’s head.
Eyal Levi: I can tell you guys too that my dad pushed classical music on me really, really hard as a kid. He would make me do violin and piano and he would sit there with me and like enforce that shit and I hated it so much that I think I went into metal as a result just to spite him. That wasn’t the reason in my mind that I went into it, like I actually liked it, but, you know, thinking back, I’m sure that that’s what that was, has to be.
Chris Adler: Yeah I agree. It all comes … I mean, whether you believe in the, you know, philosophers or not, it really comes … And this maybe a little crazy for this podcast but it comes down to this kind of Freudian thing of, as a boy, you fall in love with your mom and then when you realize that shit ain’t going to happen, you go the other direction, and as a girl the same way. It’s kind of set up to allow us to be individuals.
Eyal Levi: The alternative just wouldn’t work, like you literally wouldn’t be able to survive.
Chris Adler: Right, unless you’re the Partridge family.
Eyal Levi: Well yeah, and that’s just kind of weird. Alright, so that said, so your parents were not musicians but you still had music around you at all times, how did that lead to, you know, becoming a musician?
Chris Adler: Is this to me or Machine?
Eyal Levi: No, to you because …
Chris Adler: Oh, to me, ah.
Eyal Levi: Machine had musician parents so that makes sense.
Chris Adler: Yeah, my mom was a member of the Oratorio Society and has been her whole life and loves the idea of singing so I had eight years of, basically, homeschooled singing lessons and then went into different instruments. My dad was not particularly good at it but always joined kind of local players in plays or … Gosh we … Not sure how to describe it. Kind of the local players of a stage show of some kind, a play, a mimic of something that had been done prior. So they were both artistically inclined, my mom was far better at what she did than my dad was, but they sought that out as well and were very supportive of everything that myself and my younger brother were doing as far as any kind of creative stuff. They weren’t really stoked on …
Eyal Levi: For people who …
Chris Adler: the prison inmates …
Eyal Levi: For people who don’t …
Chris Adler: the prison inmates that came over for band practice.
Machine: For people that don’t know, Chris’s younger brother is in Lamb of God, his name is Willy Adler.
Chris Adler: That’s right, he’s a subcontractor.
Machine: Awe, stop. No, but I mean, it’s not a given. I don’t think everyone that’s listening to this podcast knows like Will is your brother.
Chris Adler: Sometimes that works out well, sometimes it’s a … just a curse.
Machine: I forget dude, I forget. I forget he’s your brother because you guys are so different.
Chris Adler: We are, yeah, it’s weird. I’ve asked my parents at least 20 times like come on guys, tell me the truth, I was adopted, right?
Eyal Levi: Well, are you more like them or is he more like them?
Machine: Well, obviously, he is.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, if he said … If you think that you’re the one that was adopted then he’d be more like them, alright.
Chris Adler: Yeah, I think he’s exactly like my dad, I’m exactly like my mom, but one of the funny things that I’ve had a conversation with many people about, I always tell people like Willy has all the talent that you could ask for, he’s incredible musician and he does all kinds of weird stuff that is just off the charts of kind of the normal process, which is what I love about working with him, especially in metal where it’s kind of a defined thing and it is this and we use these scales and power chords and all that shit. At the same time, I have very little talent but incredible motivation to do it, where he’s super lazy, he’ll sit on his couch and write Paradise City and then get a hamburger and go to bed.
Eyal Levi: Man, that is the curse of talented people is the work ethic part, it really is.
Chris Adler: Right, and so him and me together, while I am absolutely insecure about my playing, I’m motivated because it’s what I want to do so I’ll yank his ass out of bed and and say dude, we can do some shit together. That’s kind of been the relationship the whole time.
Eyal Levi: How did the metal thing come about? Was that in like childhood or …
Chris Adler: Well, it was, yeah. I mean, we grew up … I think the first album I ever bought was Thriller on vinyl, which I still have.
Eyal Levi: That’s my favorite Slayer album.
Chris Adler: If anybody wants to buy it.
Machine: Wait, you’re not … Michael Jackson?
Eyal Levi: No, I’m kidding.
Chris Adler: Yeah, he’s fucking with you. But from there …
Eyal Levi: It’s not really my favorite Slayer album.
Chris Adler: From there, we get into this kind of skateboard culture, this tape trading kind of thing and the coolest part about that for me and the thing I remember … This is a tangent, I’ll get back to it but as my mom allowed us to subscribe to Thrasher magazine, she also went and, on her own, pulled the kind of the back pages out of it, the instructions on how to build a halfpipe, and she built a halfpipe in our backyard
Chris Adler: For us to skate by herself.
Eyal Levi: That’s dedication.
Chris Adler: My dad didn’t help, nobody knew. I mean, I knew there was something being built in the backyard but I don’t know it was going to be that. Then she put a chain across the middle of it so that, you know, people couldn’t come over in the middle of the night and skate on it and stuff. She was really into what we were doing regardless of what it was, but back to the point.
Chris Adler: In that kind of skate culture, even though it was suburban and kind of white bread, there was a lot of kind of tape trading and I was into Michael Jackson and then I kind of found Aerosmith for a minute and then I started getting these tapes of, you know, a real good mix of stuff, but the one, obviously, that stuck out for me was this Megadeth song on one of these tapes. It was Seven Seconds, TSOL, SOD, and then this Megadeth thing. I had been very, as much as a white suburban kid could be, into this kind of punk rock vibe with Cro-Mags and stuff like that but I think when I heard SOD and Megadeth, that’s really where it went from Michael Jackson, pretty much straight to Megadeth.
Eyal Levi: How old were you?
Chris Adler: This had to be … I was in sixth grade so whatever age that is, 12?
Eyal Levi: Okay, so you got into the metal thing around the same age that I did but Machine, that never happened for you, right?
Machine: No, no. Still hasn’t happened to this day.
Chris Adler: I’m going to send you a tape.
Machine: I actually did not believe, when I met Chris Adler, there was such a thing as instrumental metal. I’m like, “What are you listening to right now Chris?” He’s like, “Oh, I’m listening to this instrumental metal.” I’m like, “No, that doesn’t exist, that’s not possible.” He’s like, “Stop fucking with me, come on.” And it’s like no. Well, like I go to his house for the first time and there is, yes, in fact instrumental metal playing.
Eyal Levi: What was it about it that you didn’t believe was real?
Machine: Oh, no, no, no. No, I don’t believe … It’s not that I don’t believe it’s real, it’s that metal, by design, fulfills things for people’s musical needs. I’m like … I’m a good music person. I like metal. I like Lamb of God. I like hand-picked metal bands, right? But I’ve never been … I’m not on the cusp of what’s happening in metal, I don’t subscribe to metal blogs, it doesn’t hold my interest as a genre over some others. Not that when something brilliant comes out, Meshuga or … You know, I’m not just like as blown away as the next guy. That could be in anything. I love what’s great but …
Machine: So, if you look at like culture, and you know how I like to call myself a sociologist of music, when you look at culture, and when I met Chris and I went to see them play for the first time and saw them with these bands like Killswitch Engage and do that and I kind of was really researching. I just understood. I understood the … you know, the fulfillment factor that metal gives to it’s audience, it’s audience that really live metal lifestyle, metal culture. You know, it’s the muscle car in you, it’s energy, it’s the ticking of numbers and math where you sneak in melody, it’s body contact, it’s like guy-on-guy, it’s like wrestling. Dude, I, to this day, have never been in an actual mosh pit, ever. I am a pit analyzer. I have this idea that maybe like we could like pad me up in like a helmet, football pads, and then like send me into a Slayer pit and film it just for like more of my research, but I have never …
Eyal Levi: Right, that’s a great thesis.
Machine: Exactly. No, I’ve never been in a pit. The point of all this, not being funny, the point of all this is that no, heavy music … When I say metal, I mean metal here guys, not Five Finger Death Punch. Metal means to me what Chris Adler and Lamb of God taught me metal was, was double kicks and screaming vocals. I’m not talking about hard rock, I’m not talking about the like … Chris needed to explain it to me, this is metal, like it’s not this hair stuff, it’s not that … real metal of the day. That meant there wasn’t going to be a lot of singing and there was going to be shit tons of double kicks and blast beats. Like that was … when I say metal, that’s what I’m saying, metal. That energy, that energy and the things it does for people … yeah. It’s a real … and it will forever carry thousands and millions and millions of people, which is what’s amazing about the genre. It will forever ever do that and it will never go away and when other music forms come and go, metal will do so less so because of these things that it fulfills for people, it’s awesome, it’s awesome.
Eyal Levi: That’s one of the best descriptions I’ve ever heard of the genre actually.
Chris Adler: Well, I think just by nature …
Machine: I mean, I had to say to you Chris, I had to say to you coming into this project, I had to say, “Hey, let’s say I was the best producer from another galaxy, like I killed it on planet Zoltan, right? Like I was the man, right? And then what would” … Remember? I had you give me homework. I was like, “Give me like the two best production modern day metal records, give me the two records that define your band, give me” … and then there was another category, which I forgot what it was, but I was like I wanted your help really, really learning about why you were so successful prior to me meeting you and what’s important about it and what I could do from my …
PART 1 OF 5 ENDS [00:29:04]
Machine: And what’s important about it, and what I could do from my perspective to just kick fucking ass with it, just take it to another level, you know?
Eyal Levi: So, Chris, I have a question for you. Based on what Machine just said, I do have a question for you. So, you guys worked with Devin before him, right?
Chris Adler: We did, yes. Just recently prior, yeah.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, and he’s like a metal genius basically. All right, so you’re a real metal dude who’s been into it since the age of 12. You worked with Devin Townsend, all that stuff.
Eyal Levi: And I remember the vibe about the band back in those days, what drew you to this dude who was not part of the scene?
Chris Adler: Right. Well, that certainly feeds into what he was just saying. We love the idea of, at the time, actually no one in the band had ever heard of Devin Townsend. And, I’m gonna put an asterisk here in that that didn’t really work out so well, but I was a huge fan of what you had done with the recent solo work album that had been completed, and really felt like this is a guy that can … It’s a crazy story, man because at the time, certainly at the time of working with Devin, none of us … I talked the guys into working with Devin, but no one ever really understood the role of a producer.
Chris Adler: Basically everybody thought that was an engineer. Just turn the knobs, make it sound like that last shit you did. Don’t tell me how to do my job, because there is no way … and I probably had this as a quote in Machine’s head, there’s no way you’re gonna tell me how to do what I do better than I already do it.
Eyal Levi: Wow.
Machine: I know. They were so fucking brutal to me, man, when they first met me.
Eyal Levi: Holy shit.
Machine: You have no idea the shit that piled on. All of them, it took so long to break those walls down.
Eyal Levi: That’s extreme.
Chris Adler: Yeah. I mean, we broke Machine in half on Ashes of the Wake, and I had to fly to New York-
Machine: Oh yeah, I didn’t want to come back.
Chris Adler: And take him to dinner, and convince him that, “Okay, we now understand a little bit about the things that you were able to get in on the last record, that have helped us out. And, we-
Machine: Yeah, Eyal. I wanted out. Ashes of the Wake, I was done. I was like, “I’m good. I don’t wanna do another record.”
Chris Adler: He was the first guy that we reached out to to produce a record. He said, “No.” I called him up, I was like, “What’s going on?” He said, “I can’t deal with this anymore, man. Like it’s so brutal with you guys. Just to get one idea across, it’s 10 days of crying in my hotel room.” But, at the same time, the few things that he was able to inject into Ashes, were the things that we realized very quickly when we took that on the road, were the ones that made a huge difference.
Chris Adler: In our security of … or, insecurity I guess, of thinking that we knew exactly what we wanted to do and be, it’s very hard to let somebody else in. It was the same with Devin. When Devin came to the studio, we were doing Palaces. Picked him up at the airport, brought him to the studio, and we were already set up in the studio, and we said, “Okay, have a seat in the control booth. We’re gonna play the album that we wanna put out from front to back.”
Eyal Levi: You mic’ed it for him before he even arrived?
Chris Adler: Yes.
Eyal Levi: That’s amazing.
Chris Adler: “Have a seat. We’re gonna play this album from front to back, and then you can help us do it again, and just turn the knobs, and make it sound really awesome.”
Eyal Levi: ‘Cause that’s all there is to it.
Chris Adler: That’s it, yeah. So, we had no idea what a producer really was. But, back to the question, the reason that after … Well, the Devin experience didn’t go particularly well in that there was a lot of technical issues, and computers fucking up, and not the right studio, and him not being an engineer, more a producer which we didn’t understand the difference at the time. But, the reason we ended up even taking the meeting with Machine, was because after that I really was hellbent on finding someone out of the scene that could understand it, and have us stick out a little bit because they didn’t understand the scene.
Chris Adler: But, that doesn’t mean that I wanted to push Machine in a different direction. But, the concept was it’s every [inaudible 00:33:56] mix sounds the same as if metal just sounds like this. How do we get out of this box?
Eyal Levi: That’s actually a really ballsy move, because I’m sure you know that when guys try to produce metal records, and they don’t understand how it works, a lot of the times they come out horrible. Like really good producers too will … Guys that excel at hard rock, or excel at pop, or something, they’ll take on that one metal band, and it’ll just be a disaster, and that happens over and over again, so that’s a very ballsy move.
Chris Adler: It’s weird, because there was a meeting we had in a hotel lobby in New York City. It was our first meeting-
Machine: That was our first meeting, right.
Chris Adler: Yeah, I think it was Mark Morton and myself that went up to meet Machine in order to interview for the Ashes of the Wake producer.
Machine: So, the band is first signed to major label deal-
Chris Adler: We just got on Epic.
Machine: So, they could have had any metal producer they wanted at that moment.
Eyal Levi: Yeah.
Chris Adler: In fact, the label said, “We’re gonna have you do this with Bob Rock in Hawaii.”
Eyal Levi: Holy shit.
Chris Adler: It was like, “That doesn’t sound bad, but I don’t know. Let’s think about this ’cause that could end up being sad but true all the time.” But Machine shows up in the lobby of this hotel. We’re all supposed to sit down and have dinner, drinks, or whatever. And, he’s got this cat in the hat hat on, and just … You know, Mark and I are in camo shorts, and black t-shirts, and here’s this guy who’s like, “Hey. We can do this, and we can do this, and we can do this, and we can do this.” He definitely sold himself well, but it was definitely scary in the way that you’re talking about where I don’t know if this is gonna work.
Chris Adler: But, the one thing that he said during that meeting that really caught my attention was his experience with sound design, and loving the band, Prodigy. And, I’m a huge fan of that band. I love the technical aspects in the same way that-
Eyal Levi: They’re great.
Chris Adler: I’m huge fan of what Devin was doing with solo work, and just the kind of ear candy stuff that even a shit song, it sounds amazing. And so, in the end I don’t think that was a very positive meeting, I think we actually told him, was like, “How the fuck do you think you’re gonna be able to help us? You don’t even know what the fuck is going on?”
Machine: That’s what Mark said.
Chris Adler: Yeah.
Chris Adler: But I loved the idea of bringing in somebody from totally the outside, and giving it a go. I agree with what you’re saying, it’s obviously a risk, but at the time for us, it’s not necessarily a risk, it’s hope.
Eyal Levi: So, it would’ve been a bigger risk in some ways to go with the safe path?
Chris Adler: Yes. We would’ve just been everybody else.
Machine: To my … Can I just add a little here? All right, there was-
Chris Adler: Pepper in some details.
Machine: There was a few other connection points that happened in that meeting, you know, creatively as well.
Chris Adler: You like calamari as well.
Machine: No. No, there definitely was. It’s like, I kind of … We talked a lot about a standard of what metal sounded like. ‘Cause basically what was happening at this time, Eyal, was heavy bands were getting on K-Rock which is the biggest radio station in New York. So, these major labels were going, where metal only lived on Roadrunner and Metal Blade and these label. Major labels were going, “Ooh, we should sign metal because someone one day is gonna take over the reins of Metallica. And, one of these incredibly talented bands are gonna develop.”
Machine: And so, there was a lot of interest in this. So, I talked a lot about the sort of standard that I was hearing, about what the current relative metal bands were putting out, you Kill Switch Engages, and stuff. And, kinda took apart what I didn’t think was really cool about it at all. And also, I didn’t think it was necessarily metal. It was just how drums sound like drum machines. I had this whole list, and I could go through it, but I think everyone in the band took a “Whoa, he just said all that, took a step back,” and then thought, “There’s a lot of truth in that. And, if we figure this out together, and trust this guy, maybe we could do our own version of it.”
Machine: And, back when you said the first thing, Chris, we got our own unique version of this. Yeah, I really connected I was like, you know, drums are all like this, no one cares fucking about vocals, base guitar is so secondary, blah blah blah. It’s like, what’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with the picture? It’s like, vocals are so left to last thought at the end. They’re buried. So, I just went through the whole list of things then was like, it doesn’t have to be that way to be heavy and metal, heavy metal.
Eyal Levi: So, basically you guys were on the same page about everything that was wrong in the popular metal productions of the day.
Machine: No, no but we-
Chris Adler: Only in hindsight.
Machine: But we figured it out. We figured it out, and compromised our own way. You’re gonna see that and nail the mix, and that kinda gave us our unique sound, so it all worked. You follow me?
Eyal Levi: Absolutely, I think. All right, so you guys worked-
Chris Adler: It was very very uncomfortable.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, I wanna get into that a little. So, what was uncomfortable about it?
Chris Adler: Well, we loved the idea of being able to stand out in some form or fashion from everything that was going on, but it’s very difficult to allow someone in, and start saying, “What if we extended that chorus, or what if we did this verse again? And that kind of stuff. Conceptually, the idea was great. In practice, it was really very difficult, and we butted heads to the point of … Really when we wanted Machine to come back for the next record, he didn’t wanna do it. And, there really wasn’t a lot of comfort in that first record, because even though we romanticized the idea-
Chris Adler: It was hard to accept where it was going, ’cause in the end truly we just wanted to sound like the cool metal bands that were out there. But, we knew … I think everybody knew enough deep inside that-
Eyal Levi: What do you think was hard about that? I’m actually very curious because some-
Machine: Hey Eyal, question, what do you think? How different do you think it was? As a guy listening to metal bands, that record comes out from your outside perspective, was it so out of the box that it wasn’t metal?
Eyal Levi: Yes, absolutely, 100 … No, it was totally metal. It was absolutely metal, but it had a totally different aesthetic than what was I guess the norm to a degree. It wasn’t it didn’t sound like the Andy Sneap, Colin Richardson records which I think they sounded great in their own ways, but-
Machine: Can I ask you another question? Did Slipknot do that for you?
Eyal Levi: Yes.
Machine: Did Meshuggah do that for you?
Eyal Levi: Yes.
Machine: Did System of the Down do that for you?
Eyal Levi: Yep.
Machine: Okay. That’s what we’re talking about.
Chris Adler: Until it happens, so it’s like this kinda risk, and where do we wanna be, what are we doing? You sign up for the idea, but it’s difficult to swallow in the process. And then, you put out something that’s you know, like you guys talk about, slightly off path, and it’s sink or swim. Holy shit, how are we gonna do it? Is it gonna work? And, it took off. It was a gamble, but at the same time, I think both sides were fighting really hard the whole time, and that conflict actually in the same way that the conflict exist within the band itself, created a product that couldn’t have been what it is without this like-
Eyal Levi: You’re right. Sadly, you’re so right. And you can basically … And, that’s Lamb of God period, whether I’m there or not. You guys, you’re all gonna do that to each other, and that’s how you come out with your unique, amazing stuff.
Chris Adler: There’s a very interesting dynamic in the band where I wouldn’t say we hate each other but it is a challenge always. We are kind of this, who’s alpha in this discussion all the time? Like every single thing? And, it’s difficult, but we’ve found in our inability to be … Well, I should say ability to be as stubborn as we are that I’m not gonna quit first. So, we just keep taxing each other so hard-
Machine: Yeah, man. Going back-
Chris Adler: To point of losing friendships. But-
Machine: Going back for Sacrament …
Chris Adler: Meant something more creative.
Machine: After doing Ashes of the Wake, and Chris coming to New York, and talking to me, and really signing up for Sacrament. My pre-mental prep for going into Sacrament was similar to that of, I think what I would’ve done to myself for psychological warfare. Like, if I knew that I was gonna go to war, get captured, and get my head fucked with, and twisted, and try to hold it together, but trying to be gone insane every day, that was my prep going in.
Eyal Levi: So why’d you say yes?
Machine: I knew this was gonna be crazy.
Eyal Levi: Why’d you say yes then?
Machine: I said yes, because Chris showed so much heart, and proper intent, and he sat down with his wife, and he’s like, “This is coming from all of us.” He’s like, “Look dude, we did fight on the last record, and we were scared. And, we learned a lot, and all these things. I’m not gonna cite the examples of who said what or did what. All these things did so much for us. And it’s like, we’re a little chiller now. I promise you this. We are chiller now. We’re not as afraid. We’re ready to have more fun, we’re ready to try more ideas, and we realize that that doesn’t mean you’re gonna ruin us anymore. On the first record, we didn’t know. We were defending everything. Everything was more scary.”
Machine: So, basically Sacrament was like … Right? Sacrament was like getting the first record right. Get it, not right, but completing some more of the concepts that we were on about to make us who we are as a team.
Eyal Levi: You know, we all know of metal bands who have taken a risk on a record, and it’s completely backfired on them. So, I definitely think that … especially with first having gotten onto the major label, and I … Okay, so as an outsider, just a guy in a local band who listened to metal, and was just starting to learn about production, a total outsider’s perspective, I remember the vibe about the band was, people were saying this is gonna be the next Pantera or something, that’s how it was being pushed. So, I can imagine the pressure to not fuck that up must have been tremendous, and like I said, we all know of … When metal bands take risks like that, to go off the path sometimes they backfire in pretty spectacular ways.
Chris Adler: They do. I think the difference here was, it wasn’t so much … Machine’s input wasn’t so much as to rewrite the song, it was, “Okay, is this what you call the chorus? Okay, can we do that just twice here, and then we’ll come back down into this,” and that kind of thing. So, it wasn’t stuff that he was forcing us to rewrite necessarily, it was a matter of arrangement that allowed some contagious vibe to it. But, as we’ve written the songs prior to going in, “Well no, this is the way the song goes.” So, it’s difficult to have that objective opinion.
Chris Adler: But, after Ashes, that’s what we allowed to let go. You can see this from a different view than we can. ‘Cause we’re in this room, five days a week, [crosstalk 00:47:29] day, and this is how the fucking song goes.
Eyal Levi: Can you think of an example? So, you said that Machine came up with a lot of the ideas that then on the road translated with the audience in a way that blew your guys’ minds. Can you guys think of just one example of-
Chris Adler: Yeah, there’s a huge example-
Machine: On Now You’ve Got Something to Die For.
Chris Adler: Right.
Machine: Dude, Now You’ve Got Something to Die For … First of all, I met Randy, and there were rules, right? The rules were … There were many rules, many many rules. The first rule was, I’ll never do anything with a pitch, a scream pitch or singing, no way, absolutely not, never. The second rule was, I will never repeat a lyric, I don’t see the point in that.
Chris Adler: [inaudible 00:48:17] punk rock.
Machine: So, he was reading in pre production, and Now You’ve Got Something to Die For was a line in a verse. That’s how it started, and I heard that and I was like, “Look.” And I was like, “Okay, I can’t say chorus, I can’t say …” I was like … I was like, “Randy, there’s something that really really affected me, and it’s kinda punk rock, and it changed my life.” And I heard this guy go, “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me. Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me. Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” And I was like, “Randy, if you say, ‘Now You’ve Got Something to Die For,’ and you say it again, and then you say it again, you’re gonna have a reaction, a fucking connection like you’re not used to. I’m warning you.”
Machine: I’m like, “If you do that, if you have the balls to do that, those words are going to connect like starting a war.” And-
Chris Adler: I remember that exact conversation.
Machine: And, it took a long time, and blah blah blah, and that’s like-
Chris Adler: It wasn’t something that he hadn’t already written.
Machine: No, no. It was a verse line.
Chris Adler: So, it was a matter of forming it, putting it in the right place, and saying that ability to kind of bring it over and over, which we weren’t adept at doing at all. We started out instrumental. We didn’t have a singer, we didn’t want a singer. The only reason we have a singer still is the guy won’t fucking leave. So, in that he’s got a shady situation to begin with, now telling him, say what you wanna say, but do it here, and then do it again here. It was quite a task.
Eyal Levi: And basically, when you recorded it, did you know that it was gonna be this anthem basically? Or, did you figure it out when you were on the road?
Machine: Well, I did.
Eyal Levi: Well, you knew.
Machine: I mean, yeah.
Eyal Levi: I’m wondering when they figured it out.
Chris Adler: That’s tough, because I remember exactly how this went down. We’re recording this, and Machine is not the most metalhead looking dude around, and doesn’t really roll with that vibe or lifestyle. And, he’s telling us, he’s like, “Let’s just try this. We don’t have to record it. It’s not gonna stay, nobody’s gonna hear it. This is a non destructive process of what’s going on. Let’s just demo this out, and listen to it for a minute, and kinda go over this.”
Machine: Right, pre production.
Chris Adler: Working with Machine in the studio certainly posed challenges to where we had kind of come up from, and what we wanted to do, and now he’s kind of championing this idea of this repeated chorus, and I don’t mean that in a like, “Yeah, I think it’ll be cool,” or whatever. I mean, the dude is jumping up and down in a pony jumpsuit saying, “You guys, it’s gonna be amazing. There’s gonna be 10,000 people screaming it with you. It’s gonna be amazing.”
Chris Adler: And we’re just like, “What the … We play to like 14 people, dude. This isn’t really what we do.” And it was almost like, going into that process was, it seemed almost like a favor to him at the time.
Eyal Levi: That’s amazing.
Chris Adler: And so we definitely didn’t realize it in the moment. In fact, I think most of the guys, including myself were a bit opposed to this kind of anthemic concept, knowing that the 12 people that we play to normally we’re gonna lose two of them because now we sold out to have a sing along.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, and the other 10 were in the opening bands?
Chris Adler: Probably, yeah. Or, the parents. But yeah, it hit pretty direct. I think we got an offer for an Ozzfest tour there shortly after, and I don’t know what the distribution was, but we … The things that he was jumping up and down in the room about, in a tracksuit, were exactly the things that hit in the way that he knew they would. We were not necessarily afraid of, but hesitant about going in that direction because potentially where we’d come from, that’s the end of our credibility.
Eyal Levi: Right, right.
Machine: And the difference between Ashes of the Wake, and Sacrament, is that they realized that the trust, they realized that there is a guy that could sneak this in, into the context of what still appears brutal, and heavy, and dangerous. They realized I could … I am a ball of that. They weren’t sure at first, on the first record Ashes, but I think that was the thing. When you came to New York, you told me, it was like, “Oh, we get it now. We get it. We didn’t lose anything. You snuck it in, and it was real.” And that was the perfect thing to say to me, ’cause that’s my job. I mean that’s what I live for.
Chris Adler: It was the first time we understood what a producer is. Because like I said, with Devin, and then Ashes with Machine, it was basically the way you would think of an engineer. Just make the shit we’ve come up with sound great. That’s what a producer does, right? And, when we saw those little things that he was able to kinda sneak in, even though at the time, like I said, we thought we were probably just doing him a favor. Just tired of arguing about it, let’s just fucking do it.
Chris Adler: Those were the little things that showed up, and it was like, “Oh shit.” There’s like a mind change there where you realize an objective opinion is necessary. Because you’re in this tiny, little bubble where you know what you’re doing, everybody has the same point on the horizon, and it’s very very hard to let somebody come in, and change that direction even slightly. And, we didn’t know it until we saw these things that he fought us enough for to get in, and have that come back to us in the live setting.
Eyal Levi: Machine, I have a question about your mental process with this kind of stuff. ‘Cause, just to give you an example, whenever I’ve done something in my life that has been successful, like nailed a mix or whatever, I’ve been able to see clearly how it would work in a very … It’s almost like being able to see the future, but … like I knew it was gonna work. I knew exactly how it would work, and it’s like-
Eyal Levi: I just saw it clearly, and that it had to happen. I’m just wondering, so when you have these parts when you’re producing a record that you know it that much that you have to fight for it that hard. What’s it like, are you seeing the future? What’s it like in your head if you can try to describe it?
Machine: That’s a great question, and for every record I do, I need to see the endgame before I start the game. And if I don’t, I’m very honest with the bands, and I tell them, “I don’t fully see it yet.” And I often ask the bands for help, for like conceptual help. Sometimes I walk in there, and I think I may know the band really really well, or what it could be. And, sometimes I’m like, “I haven’t got the whole thing.” But I have to have … Before I start, I have to have the whole endgame in my mind. And you could ask any band I’ve worked with about this.
Machine: And then, it’s just a key of … like a coach, these are our game plans, these are our plays, these are our things, can we work them out, and stick to them? And, that’s usually when you win, those initial concepts and instincts are usually the right ones. And, yeah, for every … So, yes, Eyal. Yes, that is the case, and that’s for everything, every type of band, every type of music. And, I want every band to have their signatures, their things that are theirs, and unique to them, and that’s just the guy I wanna be. I wanna look back on my career, and see these different types of bands, and different types of records, and just know that I get it right most of the time, most all the time.
Machine: I don’t bat 1.000, but I’m fucking-
Chris Adler: Nobody does.
Machine: I’m up there. I’m up there. I mean, I’m really up there for getting it right, you know.
Eyal Levi: Nobody bats 1.000, but I’m guessing that if you didn’t see the endgame perfectly clearly like it’s real, there’s no way that you could convince-
PART 2 OF 5 ENDS [00:58:04]
Eyal Levi: It’s real. There’s no way that you could convince people, like Lamb of God, who were not-
Machine: Well, sometimes I don’t. I mean, most of the time I do, because I’ve got a really fun, animated personality, and I can be very manipulative, and convincing, and mind fucking, but once in a while I have a meeting with a band, I’m totally honest with them, and I don’t get the gig because I’ve deliberately scared them off, and that’s okay. That’s okay. Because I don’t want to make marginal, compromise records.
Machine: So you’re either like, whoa, kid’s got some ideas, and I’m not so threatened by the way he’s saying them, or some bands are just like … this is too scary for us, and I don’t get those records. And that’s okay.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, I mean, can’t win them all. All right, so it’s a success, but it’s a brutal experience. Chris goes to meet with you and talks you into doing the next one, says that they’re chilled out, and let’s do it again. Let’s talk about the next one. Was it actually chilled out?
Chris Adler: If I can take a minute before we go into that-
Eyal Levi: Sure.
Chris Adler: … which I’m sure wasn’t quite as chilled out as I told him, but I was hopeful for him taking the gig. One of the things that I’ve definitely learned, and what Machine kind of hinted on there, is that in that there basically were no rewrites of anything that we did. There wasn’t him coming in saying, “No, I need a new part. I need a new intro. I need a new outro.” Or stuff like that.
Chris Adler: What I’ve learned is … And not knowing, again, admittedly, what a producer really does, other than what a engineer does, at the time, is that the producer’s role really is almost like a shrink. You have to have the people skills, and in the way he said, manipulate things into a certain way.
Chris Adler: That’s really the skill, of what I’ve found in going forward and working with other people, it’s about how you can kind of worm your way into the mindset and figure it out via the relationships. It’s not about the song. It’s not about turning knobs. It’s about how you are able to create the vision that you come into the project with.
Chris Adler: And sometimes, obviously, it’s not going to work if it’s too far apart. But if it’s within, I don’t know, a 20% margin, or something like that, the producers that we’ve worked with, it’s been all the same. It’s a matter of getting inside the heads of the guys knowing … or girls, knowing where everybody wants to go, and finding a way to get each of them to agree that this meets close enough to where we want it to go. And then, when you get all five, the whole thing kind of changes into a form of acceptance of what it is. It’s really like a psychological warfare.
Machine: And as the process starts and goes through, you … if it’s a good match, you earned your … you earn your trust, and-
Chris Adler: Right, which is why-
Machine: … it becomes easier.
Chris Adler: … I flew up to New York to have … take him to Dinner and talk about Sacrament.
Machine: The thing is, you know, just for … Can I just please say a message for all the fans-
Chris Adler: Yes, please. Please do.
Machine: … and artists listening to this? The thing is, is that we had a great … we were a great match, and a lot of thins that we were talking about, the fear, and this, and that, is taught, because there are many, many, many circumstances where bands do get the wrong producer, guys that have strong ideas, or guys that think they know [inaudible 01:02:18] is right, and they may not be, or guys that … producers that think because they have a bigger discography that they’re better than the band, or they know more, you know?
Machine: It’s up to you, as a band, to drill your potential producer. Be hardcore, ask them tough questions, and figure this out before you waste money and get into the studio. Because a lot of these disaster stories, like Chris in the beginning of this podcast was just talking about oh, God, all these scenarios where producers have ruined these records, it’s because, well, they weren’t a good match.
Machine: So it’s up to you, you know, right? Like you fucked up with your first girlfriend, then you learned more about what kind of girl you want next, and then you fucked up with her, and then you learned more about what kind of girl you want next, right? It’s up to you to be really tough.
Machine: I love it when bands play me examples of other bands that I did not produce. That is a challenge for me. Look what this producer did here. I love when bands go to me and go, “I’m a big fan of this producer, that producer, and this producer,” and, “What do you think we could do to fix this,” or … I mean, really, don’t be afraid, no matter how big that producer is, as a band, don’t be afraid to really challenge them before you get into a studio to make sure you guys are the right match.
Chris Adler: It’s-
Machine: For me, I say bring it on.
Chris Adler: It’s a difficult balance though, because you’ve got the thing that you believe in, in the form that it’s in, and then you have the objective opinion come in and saying well, what if we did this, and this, and that? And nobody that is in a band, or in a position to record, is kind of … well, nobody starting out, anyway, is in the mindset of oh, yeah, let’s change everything for this dude.
Chris Adler: Because you’re already taking the gamble on what it is that you’ve written, and having that come across in a certain way, and now here’s somebody else, that you don’t know, that wasn’t there the whole time, that didn’t really … wasn’t instrumental in writing the tunes, saying well, I think it would be better this way.
Chris Adler: I mean, I remember actually saying to Machine, I was like, “What the fuck do you know?” Like, “You don’t know … You can’t do this better than we can. What are you talking about?” And that’s a … It’s really, really difficult, starting out, to swallow the concept of allowing somebody in to the point of changing your creation.
Chris Adler: But in that, and what we’ve learned in a very hard way, and why I had to go romance Machine in New York, is that it makes a huge difference to allow-
Machine: It takes the right type of band to, I think … Now that I’m listening to all this, it takes the right type of band to think like this, type of band like Slipknot, a type of band like Lamb of God, a type of band like Mastodon. It’s like, it takes the right type of band, because in today’s day there’s a lot of guys that do metal, that they have a style. So if you’re a certain kind of metal band, this works a lot, they’re like, oh, we want the da, da, da dude’s sound. So they can … I see a lot of that.
Machine: So basically you’ve got producer-engineers that are … really do a thing, and they do it really well, and then they can choose that application for the sound of their band. So they’re choosing metal producers based on their known application, right?
Eyal Levi: Yes.
Machine: And that’s … God, and Chris, and Eyal, is that more than half of the average band’s mindset, or what do you think?
Eyal Levi: I’d say that’s well more than … way more than half. I think that’s-
Machine: Okay, all right.
Chris Adler: [crosstalk 01:06:18]
Eyal Levi: I think that’s the majority of bands.
Machine: Right, so-
Chris Adler: Yeah.
Machine: … not … You know, not everyone’s a System of a Down, not everyone’s a band like that, that just wants to take those risks and, you know …
Eyal Levi: Not even wants, capable of, you know?
Eyal Levi: I think that there’s definitely good bands, that are just not exceptional, that are still out there making records, and touring, and all that, but I think it takes a band with both the exceptional talent and the exceptional mindset to be able to pull that off.
Machine: You know what the thing is, is that Lamb of God knew that no matter what I said, or how I came off in the beginning, Lamb of God knew that they were so good as a metal band, and they themselves understood metal and themselves so well, that we weren’t going to let this guy fuck it up no matter what. And that inner strength and power …
Machine: I know TOOL, personally, had that when they went with their producer, who is not a metal producer. And they knew that, look, this guy is really cool because he does all this world percussion, and he could add all this application, but we’re not worried about this guy taking TOOl out of TOOL, you know?
Machine: And Lamb of God are that band, too. They weren’t worried, you know? Ultimately. They would just fucking out … They’d just beat me up or out psychology, out manipulate me, you know? So-
Chris Adler: Yeah, it definitely goes the other way, too.
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Eyal Levi: Machine, what would you say … because … Okay, so that advice that you just gave to bands, which is stand your ground if it’s worth standing for, and ask the tough questions. On the flip side, because, you know, there’s a ton of producers, and up and coming engineers listening to this, what would you say to a producer about when you’re on the other side of getting grilled.
Eyal Levi: And Chris, I’d like to hear your take on this, too. Like, what is it … When you’re grilling a producer, what are the kinds of things that would win you over? And Machine, what would you … what advice would you give to guys who are getting grilled so that they don’t get defensive, or emotional, or … you know, whatever. You know, you could react badly when you feel like you’re getting hammered like that.
Machine: Well, reacting badly would be a bad sign, if I was the band, right? Because I’m not … It’s like an educational sit down. I’m not going … I’m not asking any of these questions in an insulting matter. We’re starting the record process.
Chris Adler: It’s just business.
Machine: We’re starting the creative process. It’s like a boardroom, and we’re sketching out the screenplay, where, oh, how will this go down? So someone getting defensive, that’s, as a producer, a very bad sign as a leader, very bad sign, right there, not cool. Like, what else needs to be said? I mean, just don’t come at the guy like mean, like Mark did, where he said to me, “What the fuck do you think you know about our band that we don’t already know?”
Chris Adler: Right, but it’s almost impossible to not have that reaction, especially as a young band, to have somebody come in and say, well, I have an opinion on your creation that we’re going to need to do this, and this, and that. Because starting out, whether it’s your first demo, first record, second record, whatever, there’s a lot of ego in that, and it’s certainly easy to find what we were looking for at the time, and luckily didn’t get, which is an engineer that just kind of turns the knobs and makes it sound like everything else, and you stay in the mainstream of what everything else sounds like.
Chris Adler: It’s very difficult to step out of that knowing that it’s not so much a risk, like in our case, in that there were no real major rewrites of anything. But it’s still … It’s almost an insult when you have somebody telling you, “I think this is better,” because you’ve been working on this product for so long, and you believe in it.
Chris Adler: And it’s really hard to kind of accept anybody else’s thoughts on it, because you believe that this is going to be special, it’s going to stand out on it’s own, really don’t want any outside information about it, because you believe in what you’ve done creatively is different than what’s out there and it’s fine as it is.
Chris Adler: So it’s a real risk on the band’s part, and that’s not an advertisement for young bands to kind of be subdued and let a producer do whatever they want. You should argue the point, and that’s kind of really the whole thing-
Machine: Yeah, and-
Chris Adler: … is that, okay, you have an idea? Let’s record it and listen to it. And even after one of the things, Machine was actually smart enough to bring in a guy, on our records that we worked together, named Josh Wilbur, who we’ve worked with since.
Chris Adler: And one of the things that I really, really love about Josh, and Machine, because they share this whole concept, was better is better. Don’t argue what’s so personal to you, let’s just try this, and let’s all listen to it, and let’s think about it, and put the fucking tape in your car, or whatever. Let’s just take a minute, nondestructive, this is not going out anywhere else other than this. Take a second and try to get out of your bubble for a minute and feel my idea. Now, if you don’t like it, come back, let’s talk, let’s do it again in a different way, whatever.
Chris Adler: But just the initial idea of having somebody come in and say, no, you got … I think it would be better if you did this. It’s almost offensive to the young-
Machine: Chris, check it out. You know we talk about spectrums, like, kids that have ADD or various things, there are spectrums?
Chris Adler: Yeah.
Machine: Like, as far as all bands go, there’s a spectrum for a perspective of oh, my God, serious talent, serious focus, obsession, worked so hard, someone suggesting change, Lamb of God, this is going to be a major problem, to the other end of the spectrum where is I really like creative collaboration, blah, blah, blah. You, the band, Lamb of God, in its entirety, is all the way on the other side of the spectrum, right?
Chris Adler: Yes.
Machine: Dude, honestly, and listening audience members, this … Now, most … not all bands are like that, Chris. Some bands, they’re up for it, they’re really, really up for it, the collaboration. And everywhere in between, you know, you have to feel it out-
Chris Adler: We [crosstalk 01:15:24]
Machine: … certain songs more, certain songs less.
Chris Adler: Right, and I think we certainly are more than ever before. But in the way that you … In the concept of if I’m going to produce a record, and I come in and really have a global view of this, and it’s not … maybe it’s 50% there of what I’m seeing. I think it takes a band questioning what they do in order to swallow all of that.
Chris Adler: So it’s difficult on a production side to have a band that’s 100% confident with what they’re doing to allow somebody else in. So, I mean, situation kind of varies either way. On the first record, Ashes of the Wake, we were absolutely 100% confident. And not that we weren’t on Sacrament, but we realized the things that he was able to sneak in actually made a huge difference in our kind of growth at the time, or how it was perceived. And we’re certainly willing to back down off of that 100% confidence to-
Machine: Right, and it was-
Chris Adler: … maybe 90%, and allow-
Machine: 90%, great. And you were still cool, and you were still brutal, and you were still heavy, and you were still credible, and you were still Lamb of God, right? I promised you that. I promised you that’s what would happen.
Chris Adler: My daughter wouldn’t say that, but yeah. So what happened?
Eyal Levi: So what was the vision, then, for the second record? Like when you guys got together to talk about what it would be, and to figure … started figuring that out, what did … how did you guys voice that to each other?
Chris Adler: Immediate, for me, when I went up and told them, okay, we’ve realized the difficulties that we put you through, and we’d really like you to come in as a sixth member of the band, and have the same opinion weight that any other member would have. And I suppose that’s kind of what got him in bed.
Chris Adler: But it was still difficult, because when he came in that next time, where we imagined, like, “Hey, let’s do this chorus twice,” or, “Let’s go back to the bridge,” or whatever. Now it’s this grandiose, “I know the guy from Nine Inch Nails. I … This is going to be a … We’re going to get a symphony in here,” and it was just-
Chris Adler: … huge ideas.
Machine: What symphony? Lies.
Chris Adler: That’s not lies. You were talking about keyboards and shit, we … It was like, oh, shit, what do we do?
Machine: No. No. No, no, no. You and me were talking about psychoacoustic ambient eerie shit, like from movie soundtracks, and how we were going to get that, and like, Operation: Mindcrime type shit, right?
Chris Adler: That’s funny that you said that, because yeah-
Chris Adler: … that was exactly the example that-
Machine: And we love that-
Chris Adler: … we talked about-
Machine: We both loved-
Chris Adler: … in New York.
Machine: … that idea.
Chris Adler: That’s my … Yeah, that’s my favorite record ever, and I do love it-
Machine: Me, too.
Chris Adler: … but it doesn’t fit.
Machine: That’s like the only metal record I knew as a kid.
Chris Adler: Right. It didn’t fit us, but-
Machine: No, but … No-
Chris Adler: … he … Machine came in with the concept of what’s like the brutal version of this record? How do we make Mindcrime brutal? And we already had the brutal riffs, and now we’re talking about kind of production stuff, which got a little scary for us, because … and there still is very much an insistence in the band that we’ll never, ever run tracks, or not be able to perform the songs as they appear on the record, which is why, unfortunately, we’re not able to do a couple of the things that we’ve written.
Chris Adler: But in the studio it was like oh, shit, you know what? I mean, we have one minute in time to kind of paint this picture, why wouldn’t we paint it in its most beautiful way that we can? Maybe we can’t do that onstage. And I appreciate the insistence of all the guys in the band of not wanting to run tracks, but it’s difficult in the process where you’re allowing these concepts in that you know are kind of above the original idea of where we’re going. So are we shooting ourselves in the foot here? Is this going to be a hit song that we can never do?
Chris Adler: But that was … Yeah, on the second one, in that we made him kind of the sixth member. There were far more grandiose ideas with the Sacrament record, and we took a lot of risk on that, but we also fought pretty hard back on … and I think there was a definite discussion had that we don’t want to put this on the record because we’re not going to be able to perform this. And one of the things Machine told us at the time was like, “Worry about that later. Let’s make this the best it can be.”
Eyal Levi: And did you agree with that?
Chris Adler: I did, because at that point we’d been doing it for long enough to understand that holding back a positive creative idea is just stupid. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t make this everything it can be. If the internal kind of punk rock vibe makes it impossible to pull it off, that’s another story, and we can talk about that, but there’s no reason we …
Chris Adler: And it wasn’t that we went along with everything, but it was far more appreciated to kind of take this to a level that even we didn’t see or understand from the beginning. But hearing it back again in a nondestructive way, it just, hey, check this out, I put this thing in here, and this thing in here, it’s like, holy shit, that’s badass. I don’t know how the fuck we’re going to do it, but why aren’t we taking the best picture we can in that moment?
Machine: But there … And remember, there was a rule where they could never be main parts. It was all psychoacoustics.
Chris Adler: Yes.
Machine: It was never … like, it could never replace where there was a guitar riff-
Chris Adler: Yep.
Machine: … or so … And I’ve applied that rule to other heavy bands. It’s like-
Chris Adler: That’s a great rule, actually.
Machine: … we can do ear candy. We can do ear candy, and I call them psychoacoustics, to things to create mood and tension, but if they’re not main parts, if it’s not like a main Prodigy synth line then it’s never missed, you know what I mean? You can choose backing tracks or choose not backing tracks and the bases of the songs are still there. And that was a rule we stuck by, right?
Chris Adler: Yeah, absolutely.
Chris Adler: I mean, still, there’s a couple things we don’t do because there might be slightly more than the background stuff, but in general-
Machine: There was just like … There was just like … was just like one outro where I just started remixing, but that was-
Chris Adler: Yeah, what was that, like, Faded Mind or something-
Machine: … was that?
Chris Adler: … I’m not sure.
Machine: There was one cool fade out outro where I just started remixing and it made the record.
Chris Adler: It’s real hard to fade out live is what I figured out.
Machine: What was that? It was like … It had like bass drops, and bass drops were a new thing at the time. What was that, was-
Chris Adler: I think it was … it was either One Gun or Faded Line.
Machine: Yeah, yeah, that was cool.
Chris Adler: All kinds of machine sounds and all that shit.
Eyal Levi: So Machine-
Eyal Levi: … you said that Chris was probably the most metal guy in the band. Did you find his dedication to the sound, and desire for perfection, to be a huge help when capturing drum tones and takes for the album?
Machine: Yes. Chris was absolutely not only the most metal guy in the band, but Chris is the most metal guy I’ve ever met. Chris Adler-
Chris Adler: Fuck you.
Machine: … he largely taught me so many things about metal, I mean, through our experience. I have no shame in saying that, you know? And it’s grown since then. And Willie, his brother, is very metal as well. You know, Randy’s got some punk rock in him, and he’s metal as fuck. Mark has got … you know, he’s got some swag in him, Allman Brothers and that, and he’s metal as fuck. John is Metal as fuck, and he likes … loves hip hop, like me, the bass player, John.
Eyal Levi: That makes sense.
Eyal Levi: Bass players.
Machine: What is that, Chris, with John loving hip hop so much?
Chris Adler: Man, both him, and Mark, and Randy-
Machine: He really knows his hip hop.
Chris Adler: … yeah the … I don’t know. On the last tour, they were talking about all these … I don’t know if they’re fabricated or not, but all these beefs with the hip hop artists and all that stuff. And they’re really into it, like, and then he did this, and then he said that, and it’s like, what the fuck?
Machine: Yeah, because they’re so friggin’ smart with marketing themselves. Us metal bands should … we should all dis each other, like sports.
Chris Adler: That actually, it was-
Eyal Levi: It works when they do.
Chris Adler: Yeah, it was a thing at the moment, because I kept overhearing all these conversations, and I was like, well, why don’t we just kind of fabricate something with somebody on our level and kind of take us both up to a different spot, you know? But …
Chris Adler: [crosstalk 01:24:38]
Machine: … what could that be? It’s not going to be gangsta, so like, in metal world, what would that be?
Eyal Levi: It could be-
Machine: How would you … How would you beef in-
Eyal Levi: … like the black metal murders.
Machine: How would you beef in metal, like …
Eyal Levi: Cut out somebody’s skull and make a necklace out of it, like in Norway.
Chris Adler: I think … Yeah, I think the best way would just be to say, you know, they’re just playing tracks.
Machine: Yes! Of course.
Eyal Levi: So the black metal example is too extreme, I guess.
Eyal Levi: Yeah.
Chris Adler: Yeah.
Eyal Levi: Oh, well.
Chris Adler: I don’t want to get killed.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, that’s, unfortunately, when … at least in the black metal scene, when bands beef, that’s what happens. So, I think it’s better for bands not to beef. But I don’t know, over the years it seems like when bands beef, they will go to violence at points.
Eyal Levi: I remember at Emmure and The Acacia Strain-
Chris Adler: Oh, yeah.
Eyal Levi: … they went a few years back, and over the years … wasn’t it Axl Rose and Vince Neil, too?
Chris Adler: Yes.
Eyal Levi: Went to blows as well.
Chris Adler: Yep.
Machine: Yeah, it’s just better not to beef. But anyways, back to-
Chris Adler: Yes, we do not promote violence here.
Eyal Levi: Yes, definitely not. So back to Sacrament, can you guys talk a little bit about the drum production? I know it was a deconstructed recording process, where things, shells and symbols, were tracks separate and so on. And what was both of your experiences with that method previously to that? And what were some of the learning moments and key takeaways from doing it with that method?
Machine: Chris, you decide who talks first.
Chris Adler: You just want to know how much I’m willing to give away about this, right? So, what we did was, like you said, kind of separated everything. And that was a bit of a learning curve on my part, because now we basically have hands and feet. And so, meaning that they are going to be recorded at different times.
Chris Adler: So I’d have to kind of deconstruct, take my feet out of it and just do the hands, and then take my hands out of it and just do the feet, and that didn’t come very naturally at all. So what we ended up doing, I think, at least for the feet part of it, and the same the other way around, but for the feet part of it, basically covered the entire drum kit with as many pillows, and blankets, and stuff over the top of the symbols, anything that we could do to totally make the hands kind of silent. But-
PART 3 OF 5 ENDS [01:27:04]
Chris Adler: … the hand’s kind of silent, but still allowing me to play because it was really impossible to fully separate everything on my end. Then with the feet, we just took the kick drums away and put little practice pads with blankets over them so I could play the feet while I did the hands as well.
Machine: And what’s interesting is how in time, it slowly you started leaning off and leaning off. Right?
Chris Adler: Yeah.
Machine: And then you’re just tapping the floor. Right?
Chris Adler: Right.
Machine: And then there are times where you could just completely-
Chris Adler: Yeah, there was a bit of learning curve.
Chris Adler: Right. A little but of a learning curve for me to take one of either of those things away, but slowly as we did it got song two, song three, whatever. It became a little more natural. I didn’t feel the need a kind of a need, but muscle memory, everything that was going on, I didn’t have to do the feet and I could get a better performance with my hands if I didn’t.
Machine: Yes, exactly. I wanted to ask you that as a fan, why? Creatively, why Chris Adler, would we do this method?
Chris Adler: Well, I think we were both very interested in not necessarily redefining, but creating a unique sound, and of course, at least when I was coming up, you do your first demo, it’s on a boombox or something and then you get the cheap recording studio with a bad mics and everything’s a bit mushy and you can’t hear that splash symbol that I thought was so cool when we were writing the song and all that kind of stuff. And there’s no way to go back in because now you’ve got a snare in the overheads and there’s only so much you can separate in these things.
Chris Adler: So if you can, the more you can isolate them, the more you can get a bit of a more pristine sound out of each thing and then be able to mix that properly as pieces of a kit as opposed to 10 mics that were on the whole time and you can’t really pull one out.
Machine: Right. And I’d like to add one thing to that as well, is also I noticed this is the first time we met, so this is back for our first record, right Ashes, where we were … this was before I even brought this up and you are definitely going to be playing your whole kit in your mind on that record. And you did play initially, our initial tracking on that, if you remember, we did play in the whole kit and then we started separating only certain things.
Machine: But the idea started within the first 10 minutes of me watching you play. The very first time we met in the very first pre-production, your body language and your whole demeanor was you were putting, oh, like 80% of your mental focus onto your feet, and you are complaining about your feet and I’m listening to you play, I’m thinking, “Wow. The things he’s doing with his feet are believable.” I mean, it’s really the other snare drum. It’s like there’s times where it’s so complex with the 32nd notes, the 24th notes, back to this, to complex things where there’s so much more actually happening down there than with his upper limbs.
Machine: I didn’t like that, all right? I didn’t, because as someone who knows how to capture great sounding drums, and I want to create great sounding drums, I know that the way those drums are hit and the way they’re tuned, has a lot to do with how they’re going to sound in the end. And I really didn’t like that he had to put so much focus onto his feet. I felt that there were times where the action on the way he would snap his snare or go into a tom roll or hit the, hit the bell of that ride just right, the brain cells were so much on the feet.
Machine: I wanted to be able to … That was my instant, I had the idea in 10 minutes after meeting you. I remember writing you this huge two page letter and why we should do it, and no one’s going to know, and we’re gonna get this great sounding this. Remember you kind of half blew me off? And then we did parts and then for Sacrament we were like, “Oh, this is game on, yo.”
Machine: And he played. It’s like he played all the parts in with his feet as we tracked them, as we tracked the kick on Sacrament, but it was then fully separated in the recording process as overdubs.
Eyal Levi: You know something? I’ve recorded a lot of great metal drummers at this point and also in my band that had a dude named Kevin Talley who’s a great metal drummer. He’s actually the person who introduced me to doing it like this, and I’ve done this sort of thing with great drummers through the years and it’s not because they couldn’t play or anything like that. But because the human being only has 100% of focus that they can give to anything, and if you want them to put 100% into the hands, really go Pantera on the hands, it’s not always going to coincide with putting 100% to the feet, and that’s just as important.
Eyal Levi: So with great drummers, that sometimes the solution so you can get the best of everything because they’re all humans, so they’re gonna have to divert their focus at times to different things that give them more or less trouble. And so, you’re going to have fluctuating levels of intensity and focus on different parts of the drum set depending on where their heads at, also, what’s going on that day.
Eyal Levi: I found that it works great with great drummers. It’s actually a lot harder to do with shitty drummers.
Machine: Believe me, if you can’t play the part as a whole, you’re not going to be able to dissect it very easily.
Eyal Levi: No, definitely not.
Machine: Duly noted. I mean, and not only could he play these parts as a whole, I mean he had them like really no other human I’ve ever met. He has them like this inner programming brain where he can see all these things and naturally dissect, it’s unbelievable to do this with Chris, this process.
Chris Adler: It was definitely weird and I think any kind of band at least coming up, when we were, or my generation of bands, no one thinks, “Oh, I’m going to go into the studio and not play my old drum kit.” But I think the thing that really sold me on it was there was a different situation where Machine was working, I think with one of the guitar players, I think it was Mark, and Mark was real concerned about creating something that we couldn’t replicate live. Machine’s answer to that was, “Listen, you guys wrote the songs, they’re amazing. Why spend the money to come into the studio and not paint the best picture of it that we possibly can? Worry about playing live later. We’re not going to put on a bunch of keyboards and tracks and all that kind of stuff. We’re just padding this, doing that, whatever.”
Chris Adler: That made perfect sense to me. It’s like why wouldn’t we allow this song to be everything that we would want it to be, but can’t really physically any of us individually or together necessarily do in that we’re, like I said, wrapped up, in our 100% focus of what we’re trying to do. So I did like that idea. Although, it’s a bit weird to think because it’s almost like there’s an anxiety in that, you have to swallow the fact that it is going to sound better if you do that and that kind of turns into, “Well then does that mean I’m not good enough?”
Machine: No. It actually makes you a better drummer when you get back to doing it again, I think, because you’ve learned to think about it differently.
Chris Adler: I agree. But to start the process, you have to surrender that ego of, “I know what I’m doing. I can play this shit.”
Machine: Here’s the irony in what Chris just said, like we don’t overdub guitars. Oh, oh, oh. Oh, oh, oh. Oh, that’s okay. So we can’t overdub drums? What’s up? We overdub guitars all day. Oh, vocals? You want double? You want a harmony? Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a second, we can’t do that.
Chris Adler: You want somebody else to sing it?
Machine: Easy. Easy.
Eyal Levi: It’s true though, it’s absolutely true. It’s not that drummers can’t play this stuff at all. It’s just if want it at that level of quality, you got to do what you gotta do in order to get the job done. That’s all there is to it.
Chris Adler: It’s really not an argument over-
Machine: Like with the guitars and vocals.
Chris Adler: Yeah.
Eyal Levi: Yeah.
Chris Adler: And I guess what I figured out was that it really wasn’t an argument over ability. It was what sound are we going for here? How clean can we get everything, basically how well can we paint the picture and insisting on maybe not overdubbing guitars or insisting on playing the whole kit. It’s like you’ve written these songs, you’ve practiced it for six months, obviously we know exactly what we want, now why don’t we just make it sound a lot better than it does in your rehearsal space?
Eyal Levi: Like I said, I can’t say this enough, the only guys that have been able to do this with are some of the best drummers in metal. I’ve not been able to do this with the guys that come in and suck and can’t play their songs or whatever. That’s a whole other thing. But the only guys that can pull this off with our dudes who bring it. Absolutely.
Chris Adler: Yeah. Definitely. Yeah.
Eyal Levi: Normally I wait until the very end to ask audience questions, but a lot of these audience questions are about what we’re talking about right now. So I figured that just to keep things on topic. I’ll ask some of them right now.
Chris Adler: Sure.
Eyal Levi: So here’s one from David Velez who says, “The final drum sound on the record, how close is it to the original drum sound you had in your head before you started tracking? To put it another way, did you keep trying things until you got the exact tone in your head or did you keep thinking yourself, ‘We can make it better. We can make it even better,’ until you couldn’t make it better anymore, even though that wasn’t what you were aiming for it before you started? I asked because I don’t think I’ve ever nailed what was in my head before I started tracking, but alas, I am a mere mortal.”
Chris Adler: So my message to David is we never ever finish mixing. We surrender. Does that make sense?
Eyal Levi: Yeah. It gets taken away from you.
Machine: I pushed and pushed and pushed and I know where I got the idea in my head, but I can’t like … that these … the exact. I just know what I’m going for. And that goes for a lot of creative people. Especially a perfectionist types of people that you see commonly metal, and certainly in definitely Lamb of God. So I’ve come to the point now where since when I started, it was very expensive to do, to keep trying and do recalls, very expensive. Hiring big studios of big consoles, recalling, now it’s different world where we can try and progress and procrastinate. I’ve adapted to that world. It had to. That’s why I just say it’s like, look, I just realized that I will … To answer David, I’m always, always pushing to make it better and better. I just realized with a lot of things I do, that I have to have the personalities and come to a point where I just say I’m not done. I just surrender and it’s cool. I’m cool with surrendering.
Chris Adler: Yeah. And on my end-
Machine: Chris Adler on the other hand, does not surrender.
Chris Adler: No, that’s not true.
Chris Adler: It may not have been then, and I think experience builds this ability to know that I’m listening to these performances back in the control room. And does it sound like the drum sound that I want on the record? No it doesn’t, but I know now that as long as we have these really clean individual things that in the mix, there’s going to be a ton of stuff done to this to have it sit properly and to have even everything out and maybe add … you’ll be able to EQ each thing to a point where that’s when … I guess coming from the drum kit into the control room, I know, you have to know, I didn’t when we were kids, but you have to know that’s not the end. It’s going to go from there into a whole nother process that’s really going to polish everything up.
Chris Adler: Not knowing that, and I think what it was David just asked, if you’re kind of on a low budget and you do the drums and come into the control room, don’t ask yourself. Right then if you trust the person that’s going to be working it at after this or mixing it, if it’s perfect for the record, because it’s definitely not going to be. It might sound cool in the studio speakers or whatever, but it’s far from the final product.
Eyal Levi: Yup. Actually I totally agree with that.
Eyal Levi: So here’s another one. One from Colin Pompeii, “Can Chris or Machine go more in depth about the process of choosing tempos and feel of a song during prepro? The idea of shifting tempos is foreign to me. What goes into identifying a good spot for this to happen?”
Chris Adler: Wow. That was one of the coolest things that I remember from both in the records that we did with Machine in that the band was very hesitant to set a BPM for a song or a part. And what Machine was able to offer us was that in preproduction, just set up a very general micing system in the room so we can get the idea of the song and then we can all sit and listen to it and talk about it, burn it to a CD, take it in the car, whatever.
Chris Adler: But at the same time, there were these parts of the songs that as the band played it as we had written it, would ramp down or ramp up and it really gave, to us, in straightening it out, attempting to, it really lost the feel, it was no longer have that tension of what is coming up. And so what Machine was able to do was take these demo tracks in a Pro Tools and draw a tempo map to it, so it wasn’t sterilized from the feel of what the band was naturally doing.
Machine: And then we got to work from there, and then we got to play to that, rails, clicks. And then we got to even better it in a way, and listen back, and debate over transitional tempos or let’s drop this part down. And we got to come back to pre-production with fresh ears and really know that we had the right energy flow before we were going to go into the drum studio. Which, is really nice. This is one of the many wonderful things about pre-production is that you can do all that and learn all that.
Chris Adler: Yeah, even in the band’s mind, we don’t know that this part’s coming up, so let’s, as we’re playing, everybody increase by three BPM, but when it happens naturally, then you can go analyze it, see it, and then either accentuate it or get rid of it if that’s what the band doesn’t want to do, didn’t realize they were doing, that kind of thing. So it’s really nice to have that process in play where you can really sit back.
Chris Adler: I know most bands don’t have time and money to have a producer sitting around for six weeks working on stuff like that. But we’re fortunate in that we did. Technology’s caught up, it’s crazy now with elastic and all that shit. But at the time, we had the ability to do it and everything’s kept sounding better and better and better. So it was a really great experience.
Eyal Levi: If you think about it, lots of the best metal records of all time, were done without a click and lots of the energy on those records comes from speeding up on the drum fill into the next part or getting slower, what it goes to halftime or whatever, whatever it is. A lot of these classic records have those natural ebbs and flows that playing to a click destroys, it just does. And so flushing these tempos per section on the song like that is the way to get around that problem I think.
Chris Adler: Yeah. And I don’t think we’d set anything up necessarily on purpose to have that effect, but we were able to capture the natural flow of the tunes in that way and use that to do exactly what you said, not sterilize the whole thing.
Machine: And also, you got to add one thing to this, Chris is a player. When you commit to a tempo, it feels good to him. He is a player that his playing does not suffer whatsoever when he’s playing to that click track. There are many, many, drummers, they don’t rehearse that way, they don’t grow up that way, and they get to a studio and click track as new to them. They may not realize this, but they start hitting their drums really poorly because their brain is going to the click track.
Machine: So this is absolutely not Chris Adler. Chris Adler is very comfortable with nailing it with a click. We would do a lot with designing that changing click, and even the information he was given was it cow bells on quarters or did it slow down where it needed more information. So I’d put a cowbell and then it ghosting cowbell on eighth or whatever, it was always very friendly to Chris to have that. No, oh, we found the right one, we found the right thing, and it does not suffer in his playing whatsoever. So again, that becomes a big positive.
Chris Adler: And one of the things that I noticed about myself and working with Machine, when I was coming up first couple of records, I was scared to death of a click track. I thought that I’m just a punk rock kid, I don’t know what I’m doing, that’s for the pros, that’s for the guys in modern drummer and stuff like that. But in working with Devin on the album before this, he insisted on it.
Chris Adler: But then working with Machine it was great because a lot of times what I like in a click track is not the standard thing. I would work with Machine all the time to have the click track be in six as opposed to eight, so I’m not on top of it, on the snare, or on the kick, and I could feel that syncopation throughout the whole thing. In fact, that came up with even some different films and drum parts because I was hearing this thing going on the track next to me, and it was really cool to have that concept of I’m syncopating with the click itself and then learning something else cool that I could do because of that.
Machine: Yeah. I’m always designing. My clicks don’t come from the computer, they come from like a sampler, a MIDI sampler. I have an array of sounds and array of things and I’m always programming the MIDI on the fly, for every band, for every click track, for whatever feels great to enhance their playing. That’s a big thing.
Chris Adler: Thank you.
Machine: Yeah. Everything about what I do, and you’ll see the studio next week, the design of it, everything is about for the player, for making their experience feel good, and feel comfortable, and play better you. Every design of everything I do is always, I play a little instruments. Sure. I know what it’s like to be on the other side, and I listen very carefully to my musicians and what they need. And it’s not too hard to figure out how to make systems that make people play great in a recording, in general.
Chris Adler: And there is some friction in that process, in that, when you start that, even though Machine is saying now, I’m working to make sure that the artist is comfortable, the artists before they get comfortable is obviously uncomfortable. So you have to trust that person and know it can be frustrating for me. Let’s say that the click is not on the time that I want, I don’t want to necessarily admit that. Is that a failure on my part? Even knowing, hopefully, that machine wants exactly what he just said to happen, it’s hard to say, “Hey, this just isn’t working for me” because that’s another blow to ego of your own, and maybe how this producer is normally set up to do something, and you don’t want to frustrate the process or spend any more time than necessary when you’re paying for it. So it can be a little challenging, but once everybody realizes they’re on the same team, it becomes a very friendly process.
Eyal Levi: It’s interesting you say that. I’ve had that issue with drummers quite a bit where the click track isn’t right in their headphones and they won’t say anything because they’re afraid of rocking the boat, and I wish they would say something. So I find that it’s my job to be a detective and really pay attention to their vibe and what they’re saying and how they’re reacting, so I can tell if it’s okay in their headphones because nine out of 10 times they’re not going to say anything because they’re just being polite, which is not good. But I get it. I totally get it.
Eyal Levi: So here’s a question from Don Kendall. So I guess this is more for your Machine, “When you set up drum mics for recording, what do you look for in drum room mics, specifically in metal? Is it just depth or vibe or something my simple brain hasn’t thought of? Do you do a ton of experimenting or do you have a go to starting point?”
Machine: I don’t have a go to starting point. I really use my ears as microphones to listen to that given drum room, that groovin’ environment, right? Because I had been in a lot of different studios actually. So when we’re talking about room mics, they’re capturing the sound of the drums as they are interacting with the room. So the room is part of the sound. So, the best thing you could do and this is like ghetto logic, you’re gonna hear this term a lot coming up from me, it’s ghetto minded, it means common sense things, your ears are microphones. So when you go into a new room, one of the greatest things to do is just take a snare and walk around and find a good spot for that snare drum in the room and then set up the kit and then just walk around high and low and find really good spots where the drum sound in the room.
Machine: Now, I guarantee you those are going to be great spots for microphones, right? And it’s taken years and I’m still developing this. It’s just then the understanding, and this takes time, dudes, I mean, just understanding the character of different microphones, where, when, “Oh, the ribbon. Oh these coals, these ribbons are going to be really cool down here, and then the many steps I can take with them later in the mix” and so on and so forth. Or when an overhead six feet, 10 feet above the kit, with this kind of mic is going to give me this, that just takes time, experimenting, trial and error. You guys are lucky because you’ve got these great shows, nail the mix and you’re an academy and all this YouTube shit, and you can go just see what everyone does, and you get a jumpstart on trying it yourself. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Machine: I didn’t have as much as that. I tried and failed and learned fast, I got to use my ears more and some of my personality to just do more of that. By nature I’m just a scientist. But I got to answer Don’s question. So Don, I got you sorted about how to figure out the room, right? Use your ear for certain spots. As far as different mics, if you want vintage, use ribbon mics, dude, that’s the sound. That’s the classic sound. They’ll come in dark, right? And then you’ll EQ high end into them on purpose, and that’s the sound. That’s the classic rock sound.
Machine: AKG 414’s, just generally really common mics. and make great, great room mics because I like them on figure eight often. I often like putting them near a wall. So one side of the figure eight, here’s the wall as well, that’s just a common thing that happens. But I inevitably, I’m not going to decide until my ears walk around the room, and I get to pick spots.
Machine: Is that enough?
Eyal Levi: That was great. Thank you.
Eyal Levi: All right. Eric Bert is asking this to both of you. “Can you talk about the symbol selection for this record? I’ve always struggled finding a balance of volume and tone, and the cymbals on this record seem to have been made for each other in terms of the pitch intervals and volume, particularly the high hats sound heavy without sounding too loud.”
Machine: That’s for you, Chris.
Chris Adler: That’s interesting. Yeah, well I think it’s very much the same process that Machine was talking about. I’m fortunate enough to have an endorsement with Meinl cymbals and going into the studio, I let them know and see if they can send me out some options, and we just kind of spend the time in the room, pick a particular song or maybe a verse or a chorus or whatever, and walk through that with as many options as we could get.
Chris Adler: One of the things that we came up with on Sacrament was even the hi-hats sound that he’s talking about, I had a different series of bottom hats to the top hat, meaning that not only we were trying different lines of hi-hats, we were taking the top of this and the bottom of that and seeing what difference that kind of thing made. So it just really a matter of time and just experimenting and hopefully having the resources to switch things in and out.
Machine: And you’re lucky to be endorsed by absolutely one of my favorite cymbal companies. Meinl’s are awesome.
Eyal Levi: They really are.
Machine: I didn’t quite get it at first. And then I realized later with certain guys coming around with Meinl, I was like, “Oh wow, these are awesome.”
Chris Adler: They’re huge.
Machine: To me, I don’t remember them as a kid. I just don’t know why. Maybe they were there. I just don’t remember them.
Chris Adler: They weren’t, well they weren’t, they were like student level stuff. You get them in the music and arts store for kids that are just starting. And so the company’s made huge headway in the market. My experience with them has been incredible and when I started actually, I was using all Zildjian’s and it took me two years to even find the right Zildjian’s that I wanted because I didn’t have a box of things to swap out. I just have to go to the store, hit it in the store, sound good, take it back to the room, sounds like shit.
Chris Adler: So when Meinl approached me, I didn’t have a full endorsement with Zildjian at all, but I was very hesitant to go with Meinl because it had taken me two years to figure out which Zildjian’s the cymbals that I wanted. And he said, “Okay, yeah, no problem. Let me send you some anyway” and blah, blah, blah.
Chris Adler: And called me up, and he said, “What do you think of these?”
Chris Adler: And I was honest with them. I was like, “Dude, these kind of suck.”
Chris Adler: And so he sent, he sent me some different stuff, like over about a year, Chris Brewer at Meinl, was sending me all this different stuff just to try out. And every once in awhile it was like, “Oh, that does sound better than the Z16” or whatever it was. And slowly I was placing them in, in my rehearsal space, and I said, “Listen Chris, I think we’ve got everything pretty much nailed down. This is actually going through all these series of things. These are actually closer to what … “
PART 4 OF 5 ENDS [01:56:04]
Chris Adler: Going through all these series of things, these are actually closer to what I have been hearing in my head the whole time than the Zildjian ones are, but there’s not a ride cymbal in the bunch that sounds anything like what I would want. And so, he called me back about a week later and said, “Would you mind flying over to Germany with me and talking to the owners of the company about what’s wrong with the ride cymbals?” I was like, “Well, I don’t mind, but who am I?” I think our record had sold 35,000 or something. It’s like, I know you have bigger artists than me. He’s like, “Man, I really believe that you are going to kinda make a dent in what you’re doing and I really want to get you over there in front of these guys.”
Chris Adler: So, I go over there. It’s round table, big German dudes in suits, and they’re like, “Okay, so what’s wrong with the ride?” I thought it was amazing.
Eyal Levi: What is not metal enough about this ride cymbal? They are made from metal. Yes. So, I do not understand.
Chris Adler: Not only do they fly me over there and have this meeting. They then kept me there for, I think about a week, and we went into the facility and tried all these different things where they were able to change alloys and sizes and all this stuff and I was just so impressed with knowing that I was not top tier drummer or in a top tier band, that they were making the effort in every way to improve what they were doing. That was in … shit, 2003.
Chris Adler: So, obviously, it’s come even further since then and I think every cymbal company makes a great line of cymbals, but the relationship I have with them and their proof of dedication to their product really impressed me and I wouldn’t even consider changing. Ever.
Eyal Levi: I don’t think you could go wrong with any of the big ones, but I can just say specifically with Meinl, it took me a second to catch on ’cause, I guess, my studio was endorsed by Zildjian and the drummer in my band plays Zildjian and my brother, who’s a drummer, played Zildjian. So, it was just that’s what I was used to, and I had spent a long time getting to know what I liked in a recording with those. But more and more drummers would start coming through that had Meinl endorsements, so I was forced to start using them.
Eyal Levi: At first, I wasn’t sure ’cause it was different, but over time grew on me. Now, I fucking love them. They’re great. I think they’re phenomenal. I just had to figure out how to work with them, and I think they’re fantastic.
Chris Adler: It’s basically we’re telling the same story.
Eyal Levi: Yeah. That’s just echoing it. So, alright. Here’s one from Jason Alford. Whose idea was it for the typewriter sample on the kick? That was brilliant. It blew me away.
Machine: Mine. Alright, I mean, so look, here’s the thing. In my planning and education for recording Lamb of God, I was given … I asked for records to learn about metal. And one of the ones about, in the category of records to learn about production, I googled … who’s the most mind blowing metal production? One of those was this band Meshhugah. I was very, very envious of their kick sound. It was so cool sounding to me and it was so signature, most important thing, so signature to that band and I just, I wanted so badly for Lamb of God to have that. I wanted … I thought they were important enough and Chris is a legacy drummer in the making. I think it’s really important that Chris has a signature kick. Such an important instrument in metal.
Machine: We tried so hard. Chris and I, we taped things to the kick drum. There was so many failed experiments to finding what’s gonna be our signature things. When you put on that Lamb of God record and you hear this awesome drummer, you know it’s him.
Machine: And it’s all based on failure. And basically … Then I just started listening to … You know, this [inaudible 02:00:45], I mean I sampled this, I sampled that. I tried taping this thing to the kick drum, that to the kick drum, and I just realized to myself. You know, a lot of this, what this actually is, is when I listen to various records, the [inaudible 02:00:59] portion kinda sounds like one of those old school typewriters. That’s kinda what it sounds like. So, I was like, “Let me go on the internet and download a tic-tic-tic-tic.”
Machine: And then, I blended that in and that sounded really metal to me, in with the regular kick drum sound and slightly unique. And yes, it happens to be an old school type writer sample.
Eyal Levi: Wow. I thought the question was facetious.
Machine: Did you know, Chris. Did you know that I did that?
Chris Adler: I knew … we had talked about, you had a millisecond of a glass shattering. This kind of sound design-
Machine: That didn’t work.
Chris Adler: Right, and what Machine and I actually had a conversation about this last week, where he said basically the same thing. I was really going for that Meshuggah sound, which, of course I love as well.
Machine: Or your own Meshuggah sound [crosstalk 02:01:53] but like …
Chris Adler: What we got to, even with what Machine just said, was getting to that ended up being a failure, and he was telling me, “You know, I kinda feel bad. I wish I would …” and I was like, “Dude, it’s not … if we had achieved it, that exact sound, then there would be nothing special about what we did.” So our failure was actually the biggest success we could have had.
Machine: Mm-hmm (affirmative), well said.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, absolutely.
Machine: As many things [crosstalk 02:02:20] are, as how many things are invented. By the way.
Chris Adler: Yeah, sure.
Machine: And you get something else. But yeah, I wasn’t … Meshuggah was a guide, and it was a guide because it was so stand out and so signature, but the intent was never to copy Meshuggah. I just wanted, the [inaudible 02:02:37] was to have our version of a signature sound.
Chris Adler: Right.
Machine: And that had the presence and the character like how that one was just so cool. You know?
Chris Adler: I think we did it.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, definitely mission accomplished on that.
Eyal Levi: So-
Eyal Levi: Alright, so moving on past Sacrament, there’s a few things I just wanna cover. And Chris, you said you had some sort of announcement, so I wanna make sure that we don’t forget that. So I wanna, I’m just asking, wondering if you wanna do that now or later.
Chris Adler: Now’s fine. So-
Eyal Levi: So what’s on your mind?
Chris Adler: Well, in that I’m not very good at sitting around doing nothing, so if the band’s not on tour, or if we’re not writing and we’re not recording, I’m still playing a lot of drums, going to the gym a lot, but I kinda find a lot of down time and I don’t wanna allow myself that and get in trouble or something.
Chris Adler: So, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and just kinda waiting for the right band to kinda come around, but I worked for a long time … a product manager and digital sales guy at Epic Records is a guy named Jason Lekberg-
Eyal Levi: Oh, I know Jason. He’s great. He’s been on the podcast, actually.
Chris Adler: Oh, cool. You know, we keep in touch once a month or whatever. We send each other a list of bands like, “Oh, have you heard this?” Kinda thing and then we’ll kinda debate back and forth, and I guess it was about a month ago, I was having one of those calls with him and we both, at the same time, said I don’t really have a list this time. I just have one band. And he’s like, “That’s crazy, me too.”
Chris Adler: Well, so, the band that I was referring to is this band called Discarnate from the UK, and-
Eyal Levi: Oh, they’re sick.
Chris Adler: Dude, I have not had goosebumps like when I’ve listened to their newest record since I heard Symbolic, and every time I listen to it, it’s still just still goosebumps over and over. So he and I are talking about this. We both independently go out to see the band, who totally crush it live as well, and get to know the guys. They’re super cool, they’re super fun. And but just talking to them about the things Jason and I know about and they’re just still a fairly young band and realizing they really don’t have a team of any kind working with them and the drummer’s doing much of the work.
Chris Adler: They are signed to a small label in Florida, but there’s really not anybody kind of behind them, so Jason and I decided to start a management company just for this band. It’s called Kintsugi Management, and we’re heading down to Florida to talk to the label people. We’ve had meetings with everybody else around their, in the UK where they are, and the people they have over here in the US. And we’re starting it up, taking them on. We’ve done the deal with them and really looking forward to working with these guys over the next couple years, in that we both know most of the pot holes around the world, both in business and touring, and I really wanna help these guys because they are incredible and they’re still friends.
Chris Adler: And I see them playing to 12 people for a bag of chips, and it’s like man, that shit will burn you out so fast, and there’s so much talent in this band that I wanna kinda help ensure that they have the ability to have somebody else kinda doing the fighting while they can continue to be friends as long as possible and keep writing stuff.
Eyal Levi: That’s awesome. You know, Jason actually showed them to me maybe a month or two ago. I heard them and I, whatever song it was, I listened to it like 10 times in a row and was like, “This is fucking great.” And I hit him up immediately, was like “I want them on Nail the Mix. I don’t care if they’re not huge. I want them on Nail the Mix.”
Eyal Levi: And Jacob Hansen, the guy who mixed it, he’s phenomenal to. So, they, for not being big, they sure found a great mixer. But I hadn’t heard something that fresh in a really long time.
Chris Adler: Yeah, it’s like they have a, you know I don’t wanna continue the process of more and more sub-genres, but they’ve got this kind of death groove thing going on, and they totally own the lane. I mean, there’s nobody else doing it like this, and the songs are just undeniable.
Eyal Levi: It reminds me of like a modern … You know, remember Impossibility of Reason, Chimaira-
Chris Adler: Yeah.
Eyal Levi: It reminds me of how heavy that was for it’s time, but like a modern version with death metal vocals with some dying fetus in there. It’s really groovy.
Chris Adler: It is.
Eyal Levi: In a good way.
Chris Adler: So that’s it. We’re really excited about getting to work with these guys, and hopefully everybody will be hearing a lot more about them now that they’ve got some muscle behind them.
Eyal Levi: That’s killer. So, speaking of that, you not liking to stay idle. One thing that I’ve heard about you for years now … way back to even 2005 when my band almost signed to Prosthetic and E.J., E.J. the main guy at Prosthetic was telling me about Lamb of God, he would basically talk about you a lot. He’d be like, “Chris is the business guy in that band. Like, that guy’s a brain. Like, that wouldn’t … nothing would be happening unless, without his, without his mind.”
Eyal Levi: And he’d say things like that and then … and I paid attention to that, and so then I remember a few years later, the producer edition or whatever it was called for Sacrament came out, and I was like, “Wow, that’s a really good idea.” That was way ahead of it’s time. And I just paid attention to Lamb of God marketing, and I know that there’s a whole team behind it, but obviously, I also knew that none of that stuff happened without the band. None of that happened independently of the band.
Eyal Levi: And so the guy told me repeatedly that you were the guy int eh band who was behind a lot of that stuff, and so I followed you, and that you’re an avid clinician and I heard that you and your wife, I don’t know if you guys still do this, had started a company that ran fan clubs-
Chris Adler: Yup.
Eyal Levi: For bigger bands. I remember hearing about that in like 2008, 2009 and so I’ve always heard that you were a very entrepreneurially minded musician. And so I just wanted to talk about that a little bit and see if you define yourself that way, or where that even comes from.
Chris Adler: Yeah, I’m blushing. Certainly part of it is not wanting to just be idle. But it’s from the outside, I’m sure as we all know, this whole thing is a lot more glamorous than it is on the inside. So a lot of the things that I got into were certainly creative ideas, but they were out of some necessity of having either the band stand out a little bit in doing things a little bit differently. Taking tours, putting tours together that some people would say didn’t make sense, but it allowed, at the time, kids that were coming to the, to our show, to not see basically the same band four times in a row, having other bands on the bill. And also, expanded our fan base quite a lot by turning their fans onto kinda who we are.
Chris Adler: But, for me personally, then I went into, I wrote a couple books about kinda the making of some of these albums, and have always been answering the phone to working with other projects and doing whatever I can. Not only to keep myself busy, but again, it’s as big as Lamb of God is, or however big you think they are, we are all kind of just a couple days away from getting back on the roof or being a bartender or finding a second job.
Chris Adler: It’s just really, by the time everything kind of trickles down and is divided by five, there’s just not a lot there. So, I gotta eat. I gotta pay the rent. I wanna feed my kid. Make sure she’s got her school supplies and shit like that, so it’s far from lifestyles of the rich and famous. I have to keep busy, really out of necessity.
Eyal Levi: But yeah, sure, but a lot of musicians in, at similar levels or a little higher or lower of whatever, a lot of musicians also have families and lives but don’t do all that stuff. Like, they just rely on their band. Which I think is really stupid, but I’ve learned that I can think that it’s stupid but I think that some people are just wired to be entrepreneurial and some people aren’t. And you can’t make someone be that way, so I think, I just think that some people just have that in them.
Chris Adler: And I think-
Eyal Levi: And some don’t.
Chris Adler: We may have talked about this a little bit earlier, but even talking to my mom or dad about the same kinda thing, I’ve always told them that my brother, Willy, is incredibly talented. In fact, he has all the talent, but he didn’t really get any of the motivation, and I got all the motivation and very little talent. So I was motivated to not only kind of figure out how to play the drums and do it really well, but that obviously carries over and spills over into every other aspect of my life where the …
Chris Adler: I don’t know, man. I think you’re right. I guess I’m wired that way. I just can’t sit around and play games or whatever. I’m very interested in finding a way to navigate this creative endeavor and keep us all afloat.
Eyal Levi: Do you … One thing I know that it’s like this for me, and I’ve talked to a lot of people who are also wired this way, but honestly, I have big visions for the future. Always have and have always followed the, whether or not people told me they were unrealistic. If I logically could see them working out. If I could reconcile it with my own doubts, but at the end of the day, one of the biggest motivators for me is abject fear.
Eyal Levi: This could all fall apart, and I’d have to get a job or bad shit would happen. Life would fall apart. It’s just this never ending fear of just things going away.
Chris Adler: Right. Yeah, I absolutely have that, too. I mean, there’s no 401K in this, there’s no monthly salary. It’s really based on whatever work you put in. Hopefully you’re able to take something out. But like you said, something goes wrong, somebody breaks their wrist, falls of a bike, like whatever. It could all be over very, very quickly.
Eyal Levi: Or hires a hit man to kill their wife. You never know. Sorry. Had to go there-
Machine: So, I’d like to just interject for like, for anyone listening that’s thinking about being more entrepreneurial, right? ‘Cause in Chris’ story about Willy, saying he’s not motivated … Me, Chris, he’s motivated. He has times where he’s more or less motivated, but I think, ’cause I see so many guys and they’re getting into so many things. I just want to say, of one, from experience, in life experience, one big, key thing that was left out here was one’s ability to handle multiple moving parts.
Machine: So, some people are motivated, and some people are, like me, are extremely motivated, but then there has to be the CEO mind factor, which is the ability to handle multiple moving parts. Right? And that doesn’t mean that you’re stupid or not, because we, you have to be very OCD and very super focused if, say, you wanted to be a brain surgeon, or a rocket scientist. You really, you couldn’t even pass the courses or get there, but some people, those same people could not be CEO of a company and deal with multiple moving parts and seed more things from the outside, or be able to surrender faster, or [bulba 02:15:14] and that is another type of smart person.
Machine: So yeah, in addition to motivated, it’s one’s ability to be able to juggle like that. To be able to, their brain wired to be able to handle those multiple moving parts.
Eyal Levi: I’ve heard it referred to as T shaped people or I shaped people. Where as an I would be, like you said, the brain surgeon or the guitar virtuoso or something. Someone who, all they can focus on is that one thing, the one thing that they live for. That they put all their energy into, and if that one thing fails, they’re kinda fucked. But they’re better at that one thing than anybody else.
Eyal Levi: And then you get the T shaped person, which is more like what I am. We’re pretty good at one main area, which is music. I’m a pretty good guitar player, but never even close to as good as the really great ones. I was pretty good at mixing and engineering and all that, but never as good as the really great ones.
Eyal Levi: But, I can envision multiple things happening at the same time and the big picture, and know how to get things going and all that. And the, yeah, that’s what you mean by the CEO mind, I’m pretty sure-
Eyal Levi: Is what they would call the T shaped person.
Machine: Right. [crosstalk 02:16:37] Right.
Eyal Levi: Where there’s the one main thing, but then there’s several other things that they can do as well that, I mean, maybe they’re not the best in the world at them, but they know how to put them all together in a way that works for moving things forward.
Machine: Right, and then you’ve got Chris Adler who is the best at one thing, and T shaped, so what’s up with that, Chris?
Eyal Levi: Freaks.
Machine: What, are you a fucking martian?
Eyal Levi: Freak, freaks of nature.
Chris Adler: Well, I don’t get a lot of sleep, so. Yeah.
Machine: And you’re motivated.
Eyal Levi: And, You know, I didn’t-
Machine: And you’re so motivated, it’s scary.
Chris Adler: I didn’t mean to insult Willy. Obviously he’s motivated to be an [crosstalk 02:17:15] incredible guitar player. It’s just, in comparison.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, yeah. And maybe he just doesn’t want as many moving parts.
Chris Adler: And a lot of, I mean, it’s the struggle. I mean, none of it’s easy. So if you are that I shaped person and things are going well, why create the frustration of trying to do something else.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, and it’s hard to. If you wanna be like, say you wanna be a guitar virtuoso, there really isn’t brain power for anything else. You have to, you gotta go all in. You can’t really do anything else. It’s the same reason for why the guitar virtuosos are not the best writers, for instance. It’s not that they’re not talented enough, it’s just they chose to take those hours of the day that they have for creativity and put it into guitar playing.
Eyal Levi: That’s, you know, they can’t really focus on business too much, or else they’re not gonna get their practice in.
Chris Adler: Right.
Eyal Levi: And if they don’t get the practice in, they’re not gonna be the best. So-
Chris Adler: And that’s something that people ask at my clinics, and something I started talking about, where I get asked a lot like, “Who do you think is the best drummer in the world?” And I always say, “I don’t know his or her name, but I’m pretty sure they’re in their mom or dad’s basement practicing 24 hours a day and no one’s every gonna know who they are.”
Eyal Levi: Right?
Chris Adler: So, there has to be a point where you kind of open things up a little bit, and maybe that is a bit of a detriment to being, you know, the world class player, but again, what’s the point if you’re, can’t get out there.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, kinda no point in my opinion. At least for me-
Chris Adler: Right.
Eyal Levi: Personally.
Chris Adler: There’s some self-satisfaction, but it’s not going to get you very far.
Eyal Levi: Correct me if I’m wrong. I think that I saw you say somewhere that for you, drumming isn’t so much about drumming. It’s more about, means to an end, and being able to perform the stuff that you’re working on, rather than the person who just is all about drums all day long, 24/7, just drums, drums, drums, drums, drums. Obviously you worked your ass off on drums, but it was more like, “I’m playing these songs on this tour. Like, get awesome at these.” Is that accurate? Did I read that correctly, or am I inventing that?
Chris Adler: I’m not sure if I’ve said that, but I’ve never really, I think we talked about this earlier as well, drums really aren’t my thing. I don’t have a favorite drummer. Well, I guess Stewart Copeland would be. But I really play drums the way that I wish I was able to play guitar. It’s not necessarily my passion. I mean, there is a lot of pride in what I do, and I want to be as good as I can, but it’s almost out of necessity because that’s what this band needs. And prior to this band, I was playing guitar and bass. So, starting playing drums in this, it was, “Well, we need a drummer.” And then me not wanting to be embarrassed as a shitty drummer, so busting ass to put that together, but also keeping my day job, which at the time was a IT job, and blowing up the band online as much as I can on the old IRC boards back in the day. And starting to talk to labels, management companies, that kind of thing. So-
Eyal Levi: Yeah, Chris Adler’s really entrepreneurial. Matter of fact, he, when he got the deal on Epic and that’s when we met, in the hotel. And then, literally kept his IT job literally right until I think I very first came for pre pro, for the very first record. That was the day, or the week he quit his whole other job. A full time job while he was inventing what modern day social media techniques and booking techniques and all this entrepreneurial stuff on how to actually break this band.
Eyal Levi: It’s, Chris deserves so much of the reason, the responsibility, for this thing starting. From all I’ve learned from all these guys.
Chris Adler: Thanks, man.
Eyal Levi: Well, that’s exactly what I mean then. That type of person is not gonna spend 14 hours a day on an instrument. They’re gonna, they’re gonna spend enough time until they can do what needs to be done, so that, yeah, so that you don’t embarrass yourself and so that you can take pride in it, but not to the point where it’s getting in the way of all these other things that you also have to do in order to fulfill the big picture, ’cause someone like you sees the big picture in a way that other people don’t.
Chris Adler: Yeah, I mean if I have an hour of free time, I’m not gonna sit around doing flamadiddles. I wanna make sure I know how to play the song, and then let’s see how we market this in other ways and kinda keep up with what’s going on.
Eyal Levi: Yeah, the thing that the T shaped people have that the I shaped people don’t is that vision, and the understanding for how to work all those different elements. So without them, nothing moves forward. And so, it’s a, they both need each other, I think, but-
Chris Adler: Yes.
Eyal Levi: But, it’s not, this whole jack of all trades thing is total bull shit, in my opinion, because you need someone who can, who has their hands in all pies, who understands where it’s all going. What it could be. What it will be. All those things. Otherwise nothing happens.
Chris Adler: Right. Yeah, I mean I definitely have a vision of, you know, a larger band moreso than I have a vision of, you know, BPMs on my feet.
Eyal Levi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Makes sense. Makes total sense. That’s what I was curious about. Well, looks like we’re out of time. I know that we could probably keep talking for another few hours, but I wanna be respectful of time considerations and this has been a long Podcast.
Eyal Levi: I wanna thank you both for coming on, being so open and just taking the time. It’s very awesome of both of you. Thank you.
Chris Adler: I’m flattered [crosstalk 02:23:16] to be asked. It was fun.
Machine: And you’re very welcome, sir. Any time.
Chris Adler: This episode of the Unstoppable Recording Machine Podcast is brought to you by Isotope. We craft innovative audio products that inspire and enable people to be creative. Visit isitope.com for more info.
Chris Adler: This episode is also brought to you by Sonarworks. Sonarworks is on a mission to ensure everybody hears music the way it was meant to be, across all devices. Visit sonarworks.com for more info.
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PART 5 OF 5 ENDS [02:23:56]