For months now, Gun Shy Assassin has been bringing you an ongoing string of quick, casual, off-the-cuff interviews with the very talented Chris Adler — drummer for the one and only Lamb of God. Often, our conversations center around Chris’ life — and often, his obsession with mint cookie ice cream. Of course, Chris will continue to be checking in with Gun Shy Assassin from time to time with updates on what’s going on in his world, and he will occasionally answer some topical and ridiculous questions from me. Here now is another exclusive you will only find at Gun Shy: the eighteenth installment of Adler Chatter with Chris Adler.
This month marks a very special, yet sombre anniversary, as you all probably know. It’s the kind of anniversary that makes you immediately think back to where you were the moment you first heard about it, and how blown away you were by the sheer magnitude of it all. The world was forever changed by it.
Yes, we all remember where we were the first time we heard a track off of Nirvana’s Nevermind, which came out 20 years ago this week — and Lamb of God’s Chris Adler is no different.
“I remember I was driving to Roanoke,” Adler tells Gun Shy Assassin. “My girlfriend at the time went to Bradford University, which is about four hours from Richmond. On the weekends, I’d go to visit here, and there’s a couple of cool college radio stations along the way there, and I’d pick them up in my car. I remember Nirvana had put out this new album that just hit rock radio, and of course, it was massive right away.
“They were playing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ over and over again like it was the only video on MTV, but when I first heard that song, I was driving down to see her and I do remember it specifically because listening to it, I was just jamming my ass off,” Adler recalls. “I didn’t know who it was, because I caught it as it had just begun. But it was a great tune, and I was kind of white-knuckling it in my car and I got pulled over for doing over 100, and they took my license away and I didn’t get to see my girlfriend that weekend.”
What a story? I was on a 45-minute school bus ride when my friend Matt Potz played it for me. That dude was always ahead of the curve in those days.
“I remember hearing that song later, and I was like, ‘That’s the song I totally got busted for; I was jamming too hard and driving too fast,’ and my friend said, ‘Oh, that’s the band Nirvana.’ And I was like, ‘What? That doesn’t make any sense,” says Adler, who was a fan of Nirvana’s first album, Bleach.
“I was in the dorms in 1990 as a freshman in college, and my friend Nelson lived down the hall, and he was from Colonial Heights, which is about 20 minutes south of here, but he was much more of an in-tune kind of city kid,” Adler explains. “When I showed up, I was into my Megadeth and Metallica, Flotsam and Jetsam and Trouble, Testament — all that stuff. He was coming from more of the Dead Kennedys side. Anything on Dischord Records. That was his thing. So, we met somewhere in the middle and it really was over the Bleach album. That song, ‘Negative Creep,’ was like…it made such an impact. It was this dirty, punk-but-aggressive tune that somehow turned me onto this band.”
Chris went out and bought Nevermind because he still couldn’t believe the band behind Bleach would release a song like “Teen Spirit.”
“Of course, the album is laden with late-teen angst and all the good stuff that you need out of what kind of became the new Appetite for Destruction for a different generation — it was awesome,” Adler says. “I remember. I was a Bleach fan and at the time, I was playing bass in an alternative punk band, and Nirvana were the kings of that scene. You saw the girls doing this whole new wardrobe…everything changed with that record, and it wasn’t entirely their fault or responsibility, but it was a significant moment in music history, for sure.”
Just on a side note, Adler’s car at the time was an Isuzu I-Mark, and the license plate said “LIV2DIE.”
“The cop was not amused with that,” says Adler, who blames the speed on a downhill coast. “I was flying. Got caught in a speed trap. It happens to the best of us. I was doing 103, and will never forget that moment.”
What ever happened to the girl from college? I asked Adler if he’s been in touch with the girlfriend through Facebook.
“Isn’t that what Facebook’s for — to keep up with all your exes?,” he asks. “I keep up with her and all my friends from the day. It’s funny, because the bigger we get, of course, you hear from people in high school, and I had one friend in high school, and he has moved to China.”
Chris Adler is the drummer for Grammy-nominated metal band Lamb of God and the author of the book “The Making of Lamb of God’s New American Gospel,” a comprehensive behind-the-scenes narrative book detailing the early days of Lamb of God and the writing and recording of their New American Gospel LP; a forthcoming book will address the recording of As The Palaces Burn. Anything else you need to know about Chris Adler, you can find at his web site, Chris-Adler.com.