Lamb of God's Randy Blythe: Survivalist, Wakeboarder
Lamb of God's journey through ultraviolence
By Austin Powell,
11:50AM, Fri. Feb. 16, 2007
Since delivering the New American Gospel in 2000, Lamb of God growler Randy Blythe has preached his politics and personal hatred from on high. Now he takes Sacrament with Into the Void.
Into the Void: I spoke recently with Joe Duplantier from Gojira, and he told me the first time you guys met, you lit a fire in the backstage area?
Randy Blythe: We were using our primitive survival skills. We had been sending some e-mails back and forth about what type of wood to bring, because I was teaching him how to make fire by friction. He brought the wrong kind of wood to get a really good ember, but we definitely got a lot of smoke in the dressing room. When he comes to the States, I’m going to show him the right type of woods to use and so forth.
ITV: Where did you learn your survival techniques?
RB: I’ve read a lot of books, but the guy who taught me most of it was Cody Lundin, who wrote a really good book, 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, which you can get at Barnes & Noble or whatever. He came out to one of our shows and taught me fire by friction with a couple of different methods. Whenever I get the time, I’m going to go out to his school in Arizona and spend a week or two in the middle of the desert, living on bugs and rats and stuff.
ITV: How did you first hear about Gojira?
RB: Our drummer, Chris [Adler], kept talking about this French metal band. Of course, my brother, who actually lived in France for quite a while, he was always turning me on to French hip-hop, which I cannot stand. I love hip-hop. I love rap. But I don’t think the French language is suited for it. When I think of rap, I think of someone like Chuck D from Public Enemy that sounds kind of hard. It’s hard to sound tough in French, I think. So my brother was always trying to turn me on to this French hip-hop, and I just couldn’t get into it. Then Chris kept going on about this French band, and I was like, "If it’s anything like their hip-hop, I don’t want to hear it." Then one day we were going up to his parent’s lake house to go water-skiing, and he was playing this music, and I was like, "What the fuck is this? It’s amazing." From that moment on, I’ve been fanatic about them. Chris was right all along.
ITV: Lamb of God has been pivotal not only influencing the sound of Gojira, I think, but also in introducing them to the States, so I’m glad Chris gave everyone the heads up.
RB: They’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, so I’m really looking forward to touring with them. I’ve seen them three times – France, Minneapolis, and D.C. – and they have not disappointed yet.
ITV: Do you water-ski or wakeboard?
RB: I wakeboard. I don’t do either super well. I’m more of a skateboarder, so naturally I levitate toward the single board, but I can ski. Chris is a better water-skier than I am, but I can take him on the wakeboard. Make sure you get that in there.
ITV: The last time we spoke, which was before the first Sounds of the Underground [tour], I asked you if, after looking back and watching Killadelphia, if there were any moments you regretted or anything about your life you’d like to change. Your response at the time was basically, "No fucking way." Then I read that you had gotten sober and then heard Sacrament, which is so much more personal and introspective than previous Lamb of God records. What brought about all of those changes?
RB: There’s been a lot of focus on me being a drunken clown instead of the band. And that’s cool and all, whenever you drink and drink and drink, that side tends to come out, especially when you drink in excess like I used to. At times, I tended to not handle it so well. I really don’t regret any of that stuff, and I can’t really regret including any of that stuff in Killadelphia; it sold a lot of DVDs. It showed humanity in the band that a lot of videos like that don’t provide. As far as sobering up and chilling out, I think there’s a time and place for everything, including being a complete wasted idiot. Those moments come and pass, but I’ve got a wife who gets tired of dealing with an incredibly inebriated loud mouth. It was just time to chill out. I don’t really regret anything; it was just time for a change.
ITV: How was the process of writing Sacrament different for the band than past albums?
RB: My band, in general, would like me to be more involved with the writing process. Since I don’t play an instrument, it’s hard for me to be integral to the musical aspect of it. Whereas they’ll play a riff a thousand times and argue over the 16th note, and I’ll sit there for three hours and not really have an opinion on the matter. It all sounds the same to me. For me, the writing process was different in that Mark [Morton] and I both decided to take a step away from the political aspect of things. We tried to do that before Ashes of the Wake, and it didn’t work out. This time we really set out to not be political, and it worked. I was looking deeper within myself and finding the dark places and trying to find a way to convey that in a way that’s applicable to our situation as well as others, thereby making it universal.
ITV: With Sacrament, Lamb of God has achieved a pretty rare feat in that they’ve gained a whole new level of success without changing the intensity of their sound. At this point in your career, what's more surprising to you: The band performing on Conan O'Brien or being up for a Grammy?
RB: Being up for a Grammy. Conan will come and go. We’re flying out for that tomorrow night, but that’s much more about what’s hot right now. Who knows, maybe polka will be big next week, and they’ll have some of that on there. To get nominated for a Grammy, you have to sort of have had a lasting impact for that year, enough people within the academy must have heard about you in order to gain a nomination. It’s pretty surprising.
ITV: Now that you've shifted away from the politics, do you see the band ever going back there in the future?
RB: Sure. I still pay attention to politics. I was reading something about Condoleezza Rice recently from the cover of Time magazine: “Why Iraq and Iran are forcing Condoleezza Rice to rethink U.S. foreign policy and deal with the world as it is.” That’s an indicative headline for the way this administration has run the show this whole time. They aren’t dealing with fucking reality. The rest of the world hates the United States. It hates our policies, and George Bush has just blindly blundered forth invading places. It’s no wonder that his approval ratings are shit. He’s going to be remembered as the worst president ever. I’ve been saying it all along that he’s an extension of the Reagan regime. As you can tell from my babbling of the mouth, we will get back into politics.
ITV: I look forward to it. It’s important, especially with the audience that Lamb of God reaches, that there’s an informed band voicing their opinions.
RB: I’ve been afraid of being labeled as this Bush-bashing political band, and that’s bullshit. We all pay attention to what’s going on. It’s not a knee-jerk reaction or anything. It’s real, and it’s there. However, you can only stand on a soap box and scream for so long, so we went with a more personal viewpoint on Sacrament.
ITV: For as long back as I can remember, Lamb of God has always been on really solid tours. What role does the band play in that?
RB: With Gojira, obviously, we had a great deal to do with that, since everyone in the band is such a huge fan. This is only their second tour of the States, and we really wanted to try and open the door for them. We believe in them as people and want to give them the same shot that other people gave us. Machine Head - we’ve known those dudes for a while. I got an advance copy of their new album, The Blackening, and it is fucking awesome. It’s the best thing they’ve done since Burn My Eyes. Trivium – they’re a young band that management worked onto the bill. It’s going to be a good show, definitely something for everyone.
ITV: I was watching the video Lamb of God has on MySpace where you parted the crowd like the Red Sea and then just let the battle erupt, and that shit looked absolutely insane. Has there ever been a time when the violence in the crowd was just too much?
RB: We don’t orchestrate that anymore due to a number of factors. To put it bluntly, as we get bigger and more popular, more and more people will become involved in something like that, and it got to a point where our guitar player, Mark [Morton], hated it. He wouldn’t even look at the crowd. It was pretty fucking scary, man. People were getting seriously hurt, so we stopped orchestrating it. Kids will still do it every once in a while on their own, and that’s their business. You put this in your article: Anyone that’s coming to the show should expect violence. Take care of yourself. We don’t want anybody to get hurt.