Lamb of God's Randy Blythe Looks to the Past to Write His Own Future
For over 15 years Richmond, Virginia based heavy metal band Lamb of God have been head banging and fist pumping their way to the top of the modern American heavy metal scene, to become one of the most successful, critically acclaimed bands in recent times. Lamb of God has earned a Grammy nomination (for 2009’s album Wrath), and and loyal fan base that spans the globe. Using traditional elements of thrash, melodic groove metal, and thick layers of bass and drums, Lamb of God is rounded out by guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell, drummer Chris Adler and frontman Randy Blythe. The band rages on after seven full lengths albums, numerous tours around the world and millions of fans, with a growing fan base every year.
Of course it wasn’t all easy. Like any other metal band, the band has had its turbulent, unfortunate times, but LoG have triumphed over misery, tragedy and other unforeseen circumstances in life, including the imprisonment of Blythe in 2012 in the Czech Republic for manslaughter for the death of a fan in 2010 at a festival. Blythe was charged and put on trial, where he was eventually acquitted. He even wrote about it extensively in his 2012 memoir Dark Days and talked to the press about it ad nauseam, so for this interview management was insistent the topic be left alone.
But, even though Lamb of God is in the middle of a nation wide tour with Corrosion of Conformity and Clutch, Blythe did take time over this 20 minute phone interview with the Weekly to talk about his pessimism for the looming presidential election, his smaller underground print magazine with partners Alex Skolnick from Testament and graphic designer (Tom B), his life as a writer, Lamb of God’s tours with Slipknot, involvement with this year’s Gwar BBQ in Richmond, and more.
OC Weekly(Alex Distefano): I understand that you will be playing this year’s annual GWAR BQ in Richmond, at the end of the summer?
Randy Blythe: It’s in August, and yeah. They have asked us a few times to play this special event. We’ve been friends with GWAR for many years. They took us out on our real first tour in 2000. Our schedule never let us play, we’re always on tour. This time we’re home in August. I know Eyehategod is playing too, and lots of other bands. I am looking forward to it. It’s an hour set we have, GWAR is headlining, so we’re going to have a blast crushing it before GWAR comes onstage.
Lamb of God has some tour dates with Slipknot in Australia, New Zealand and Japan later this year in the Fall months. How does it feel to play with such an elaborate band and a massive stage show?
We have some production, but it’s minimal. We had video walls in the States. But really, when you’re opening for a band like Slipknot, they have nine people you know. That’s crazy enough as it is. Trying to put on a big stage show isn’t really a big thing. Even when we headline it have some production but it’s not massive. Slipknot’s production is insane; all these hydraulic lifts, pyrotechnics, ramps, giant goat heads. When you play with a band like that you can’t outdo that kind of stage show. Even if we were allowed to it’s just not our thing I don’t know what we’d do. But when you play with Slipknot, you gotta put on your A game, they put on such an amazing show. We always come out swinging hard when we play with them we’re friends with them we’ve done it many times over the years and its always worked out and we’ve had great shows together.
Lamb of God was recently awarded by the RIAA(Recording Industry Association of America), when the 2004 album Ashes of the Wake was certified Gold, selling more than 500,000 copies. Do you think that physical copies of music, such as CDs and Vinyl Records will ever die?
CDs, yes I think they will stop making them. I don’t think it’s a viable form of music consumption really. With how much is all digital now. But with vinyl, it is viewed as collectors items many times, and can be a physical piece of art. But in general I like CDs, because honestly, I have a digital library, and music on the cloud, but I am sure like most people out there, I don’t trust the Cloud, and I don’t even know what he Cloud means. Is it one of those Big Brother type data overlord situations. If that breaks is my music gone forever? I hope physical copies of music, especially vinyl, I hope it stays I enjoy looking at it, holding it, the artwork, linear notes. But sadly today that’s lost. There are lots of young kids today who have never even owned a CD, or have no concept of album artwork. To them it’s just a little picture on an I-Phone screen, which is sad, because to me that was one of the best parts of music, the art work. I think these mediums of music will stay alive in underground niches.
Would Lamb of God ever consider performing an entire album live, and if so which would it be?
There has been talk about it. Our drummer has always wanted to do As the Palaces Burn. But that’s never been my favorite album. I mean I guess we could but I don’t know. It makes me feel old. The first time we played with Slayer, years ago in London they played the entire Reign in Blood album, and as a fan that was amazing. But with Lamb of God, as a musician, I’d have to say maybe; I don’t know. you never know and can never say never. We have a hard enough time putting a set list together. But I would think if we did it it would be Ashes of the Wake, so yeah.
As a fan of hardcore and punk rock, what are your thoughts on the recent announcement that the original Misfits (Jerry Only, Doyle and Glenn Danzig) will reunite, at least for a few shows?
I knew that was going to happen before it was announced. I think it’s awesome. Those guys haven’t played together in over 30 years. They have had a contentious relationship over the years too. I get along great with Doyle. I am friends with him and Glenn Danzig as well. I am friendly with Jerry, I don’t know him too well though. But I’ve been a huge fan of the Misfits since I was a kid. Given the nature of their history, I think it’s great they are finally getting out there and doing this, they had a volatile history. But, life is too short to not work these kinks out. I can’t wait. I was into the Samhain reunion years back, I went on the road with them and shot photos. It’s very cool for me as a fan to see that happening.
Tell us about your involvement as an editor and photographer with Alex Skolnick from Testament in the underground print magazine, Unbuilt.
People can Google Unbuilt to find it. It’s a very small limited edition arts and culture lifestyle magazine. It’s me, Alex Skolnick, and this very cool cat Tom Bejgrowicz who does graphic design. It’s just us taking our interests other than our jobs as heavy metal musicians, in a small print medium. People can order it online, it’s easily found.
I read magazines, but newspapers, eh not too much, much of the news I consume is online. I read the NY Times from time to time. News today is so immediately accessible. But the quality of the journalism does suffer. But with the Twitter era we live in and everyone’s short attention span that’s how it goes today.
Do you have any advice to aspiring writers out there?
My advice to a writer is that if you want to write then write. Be well read, quality writing is the language that is inevitably going to influence your writing is going to be cohesive and grammatically correct. That is something else suffering in this day of text messaging. Someone actually said ‘LOL to me the other day in a real life conversation I was like are you kidding me??!??! This is driving me nuts! Are people really too lazy to say laugh out loud? Don’t ‘LOL’ me! The hardest thing about writing to me, when I wrote my book was sitting down daily to a face a blank page. It’s a discipline.
Aside from your book, (Dark Days: A Memoir, 2015) do you have any other writing projects you can discuss with fans?
Yes actually. I have a few books I am kicking ideas around with my publishers. A novel I am working on too. But, I am co-writing a movie with my friend Rob Fenn and Billy Bob Thorton. It’s called You, Me and the 63. I am also shooting all the behind the scenes photography for it. It’s fun but it’s going to keep me busy.
Not to get too political, but do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the current state of the world and the looming presidential election?
I mean the election is looking pretty grim. Everything is a mess. From the train wreck that was the Republican party’s nomination process. The establishment doesn’t like who the nominee is. And it is pretty much the same with the Democrats, Hilary is having a hard time gaining traction over young people. There was this obituary printed recently in the Richmond area newspapers it went viral, but it said that a woman who died faced the prospect of voting for Trump or Clinton, and chose to instead pass on and be with her Lord. I feel that way sometimes, I understand where that lady was coming from. This election has changed the way things are going to run. There is not a lot of statesmanship coming out of anyone, particularly the Trump side. Anyone who communicates best in 140 characters or less is not someone I want running my country. it’s more like a professional wrestling match, not a presidential election. So far, I am not impressed with either though, Clinton or Trump. As far as the world goes, I swing widely from day to day and even sometimes minute to minute. Sometimes I think this is the best thing in the world, others I think we’re all going to Hell in a hand basket.
Tell us about this current tour with opening bands, Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity.
LA and Southern California treats us really well. This tour has been amazing the shows are all going well. It’s not a straight metal bill which I like the bands are good I have been a fan of COC since I was 15 and I used to see Clutch play every week almost for $5 it’s cool to see them grow. It’s a grown man tour, lots of gray beards and longhairs. People should roll through it will be an awesome time we love playing in LA the OC and Southern California!
Lamb of God perform Saturday, May 28, at the Fox Theater, with opening bands Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity. For tickets and show info, click here.
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