Lamb of God interview (Monster Riffs Week)
© Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis
When it comes to monsters, Lamb of God's 'Redneck' riff could give Godzilla a run for his money. The riff's creator, Mark Morton, talks to TG about the birth of a modern metal behemoth...
Birthing the giant
Where did the inspiration for the 'Redneck' riff come from?
"I was trying to incorporate some blues-influenced, Southern swagger into metal. I was thinking about some of the older music that I'm into, like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers; taking that mixture of pentatonic blues and chromatic passing notes and fusing it into a metal riff. That's where my head was at."
Do you remember the 'birth' of the riff?
"I had introduced the song 'Descending' when we were writing for the 'Sacrament' album . I fought for it, and it wound up being a pretty well respected and popular song, but initially within the band that song wasn't wildly popular. So I remember thinking the next one I rolled in with had to be a firecracker."
So you brought in 'Redneck'?
"Yeah. I was sitting in my den before practice and I still hadn't come up with anything. We start practice around noon and it was about 10 in the morning. I was playing the guitar, seeing what I could come up with, and within an hour or so I had written 'Redneck'."
Riff-writing the Mark Morton way
Was the song complete when you took it to the band?
"You'd get a different answer depending on who you asked! But yeah, in terms of the riffs, the guitar parts and the layout, I pretty much had the vision for that one from start to finish."
Did the recording of 'Redneck' go as smoothly as the writing?
"Machine, our producer on that record, took a liking to the song and really wanted to make sure everything went down the way he thought it should. Everything went smoothly. It usually does for us. We don't tend to hit a lot of snags in the studio."
What gear did you use to record the riff?
"The guitar I used on it was my '75 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. That's pretty much my studio guitar. As for amps, the Mesa Boogie Mark IV is our mainstay but on that album we did a lot of re-amping through amp modellers and that kind of stuff. I can't remember which filters we ran through. That's more of a production and engineering issue. On the 'Wrath' album  we used Mark IVs, but on 'Sacrament' there was a lot more of the digital stuff going on."
© Paul Hebert/Corbis
Groove over technique = a monster riff
Do you think 'Redneck' is a challenging riff to play?
"I don't find it particularly challenging in terms of technique. I suppose it depends on your skill level. It's probably more simple than most of our stuff and would fall in the below average category in terms of the technique required."
What makes a riff a true monster?
"Sometimes the simple stuff hits harder. That's the big difference between me and Willie [Adler]. When he writes riffs he likes them to be really challenging... fast and tricky. I don't think I'm necessarily from that school. For me, I'd rather a riff made my head bop a little bit. I can pull off some tricky stuff too, but to me it's more about the groove."
Finally, what do you think it is about the 'Redneck' riff that hooks people?
"It's got a cocky swagger to it. It makes me think of being a kid and breaking beer bottles in the park. It has that rowdy feel to it that connects with people. I wish I could write 20 more of them! It's one of my favourite riffs I've ever spit out."