Mark Morton is a busy fellow. When not preoccupied laying down killer riffs for US metallers Lamb Of God, he's recently developed his own eponymous solo project, presumably just to make sure he never has any time to spare what-so-ever.
When his 2019 star-studded debut album Anesthetic – which included turns from the likes of the late Chester Bennington, Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix, alt-rock godfather Mark Lanegan and Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, and which we called " an all-star show of force and soul" – culminated in a string of acoustic shows in the summer of the same year, a new love for his songs in this raw, stripped-back style was born. Now, having enjoyed the performances so much, Morton is taking his full acoustic show on the road.
Here, he joins us for a chat about what we can expect and what he has coming next.
While Anesthetic might be a detour from your Lamb Of God material, it still packs a hefty load of metal. What made you decide to take it on the road acoustically?
"Last spring and summer I had the opportunity to perform two short acoustic sets, one at the Sonic Temple festival in Ohio and one at the Download festival. Both of these were a blast to do and were very well received. That experience left me with the feeling that I wanted to do more shows with that kind of vibe, so it all started there."
Was it a challenge to re-imagine the album in such a raw and stripped down format?
"It was a bit of a challenge but one I enjoyed. Quite a few of the songs from Anesthetic translated pretty smoothly to an acoustic approach, but there were a few that we had to adjust a bit. We won’t be playing the entire Anesthetic album because there are a couple songs that just don’t make much sense being forced into an acoustic version."
Can you tell us anything about the new material you will be debuting?
"Yeah! I have a five song EP called Ether coming out later this month, in Jan. We’ll be playing everything off of that in the live set."
Does this mean there are plans for a follow up to Anesthetic?
"Yup! Ether has three brand new originals and two covers, featuring some stellar guest vocalists. Lzzy Hale, Howard Jones, Mark Morales and John Carbone all gave amazing performances."
What songs will you be covering and what made you pick those specific songs to cover acoustically?
"We’ve got a list of a handful of covers but we’ll probably decide on a night to night basis what gets included in the set."
Is there a musician alive or dead who you would love to collaborate with but haven't yet?
"There are so many! One of the greatest joys of doing my solo work is getting the opportunity to collaborate with so many incredible artists."
We can't not mention Lamb Of God... Can your reveal anything about the forthcoming album?
"I can tell you that it’s coming soon! We’re thrilled."
The world was shook when Chris left the band. I understand if this is a tough topic as he was one of the founding members of the band and you guys have such a history as bandmates we just wonder if you guys are still in touch?
"It would feel sort of gossipy for me to talk about the dynamic between Chris and the band after his exit. Our relationships as bandmates were very public. Those relationships outside of the context of the band are, and should remain, private. Chris’ new projects deserve to not be overshadowed with gossip... as do ours."
Have the band dynamics and/or songwriting processes shifted a lot since he left? How is it working with a new drummer?
"The songwriting process really hasn’t changed much at all. Lamb Of God songs have always started with guitar riffs that either Willie or myself bring in. From there, we start jamming and building things up. Art Cruz is a phenomenal drummer. That’s why he’s here with us. We’re stoked for the world to hear this new material."
Mark Morton heads out on tour in the UK on January 08. Check out full dates below:
Jan 08: Bristol Thekla, UK
Jan 09: Manchester Academy 3, UK
Jan 10: Glasgow SWG3, UK
Jan 11: Birmingham Academy 2, UK
Jan 12: London Underworld, UK