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Kerby's Exlusive Interview With Lamb of God Vocalist Randy Blythe

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Thursday, June 2, 2005 @ 11:39 PM


Standing in the Shadow of the

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Last month’s forced cancellation of LOG’s scheduled appearance at the Forum as a supporting act on the ‘Subliminal Verses’ tour was problematic for at least a couple of reasons. The official story circulating in the media was that the primary group owning the facility believed that Lamb of God’s previous moniker Burn The Priest—was so incendiary that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the up and coming metal band from Richmond Virginia to perform in their Los Angeles venue. This was to be the case even though the group hadn’t gone by that name in years and were, in fact, sharing the stage with Slipknot—a band known for a certain amount of deviant behavior in their own right which has included such lyrics as:

“One of these days, I’m gonna get you bitch,
find your body
in a valley
in an alley
with a .45 chrome to the back of your dome
havin’ everybody wonderin’ what the fuck is goin’ on
where the fuck did you go
never be back again.”

Whether this banning was truly the result of the band’s previous name or if it had anything to do with LOG’s outspoken political beliefs is unclear, but the fact is that Blythe and the boys ended up having to headline a different show that night at a nearby facility—granted, it turned out to be for more money, but that was hardly the point. The result was that this may have been the most blatant act of censorship or attempted censorship directed at a metal act since the days of the PMRC.

The recent success of Lamb of God’s major label debut Ashes of the Wake could be considered more than a little bit surprising considering many doubted whether or not the band could manage to make a record that was appealing to a wider variety of metalheads without alienating their longtime fans. Sure, there is always going to be a contingent of people dying to cry “sellout” every time their beloved favorite group jumps from an indie label to one that might get them more distribution, but Ashes of the Wake turned out to be about as successful a record as a band in LOG’s position could have made. The success of the album has resulted in the band landing some of the metal’s highest profile touring slots including a spot Ozzfest, the aforementioned ‘Subliminal Versus’ Tour as well this summer’s ‘Sounds From the Underground’ tour. Being on the road as long as these guys have been doubtlessly poses constant challenges, not the least of which comes in the form of heinous, discolored phlegm which a recently awoken Randy expelled ounces and ounces of throughout our discussion. The resultant fluid was collected in a plastic Pepsi bottle that I’m sure I could have sold on Ebay to some sick bastard. In any case, fighting fatigue and illness, Blythe still managed to go onstage that night and deliver a solid set in front of a sold out venue---for the thousands in attendance, that’s all that mattered. With the type of intense touring itinerary Lamb of God keeps, it will probably take more than a group of zealots or some buttery infection to alter their path of their live intensity. Regardless of the moniker this group goes by, their trademark mayhem and musical brutality is sure to impact all who listen.

KNAC.COM: Has any record person every told you to be less political? Has it ever been a topic for discussion?
BLYTHE: They haven’t, but a radio DJ did one time. First off, we don’t consider ourselves a political band. We just write about whatever pisses us off whether it’s my next door neighbor or whatever. As of late it has been the President and the administration in general that has pissed us off. Anyway, I did an interview with this guy who said, “I really don’t think it’s your job to discuss politics.” I’m like, “What!? Why shouldn’t I?” He said, “Well, you don’t have a board of advisors like the President does.” I’m like, “Well, then you’re a DJ, and it’s your job to spin my fucking records.” It pissed me off, so I let him have it.

KNAC.COM: Who gets to decide whether someone’s occupation should define how he lives his entire life either?
BLYTHE: Yeah, well…I hate to refer to myself as an “artist,” but music is an art form. Historically, all art forms have been used as a means of expression for protests. I don’t really feel obligated to say a certain thing—I just feel obligated to make music that’s true. I don’t write happy music because that would be false.

KNAC.COM: What about a remake of The Monkees Theme?
BLYTHE: No, none of that shit. [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: C’mon. You couldn’t do anything with that?
BLYTHE: I would do a Barry White remake. “Never Gonna Get Enough” would be good.

KNAC.COM: Do you think your political views had anything to do with what happened regarding the banning from the Forum last month? It just seems sort of odd that LOG is targeted because of a band name they had years ago when Slipknot is still allowed to headline. Isn’t their image a little darker or controversial?
BLYTHE: Yeah, I’ve wondered that myself about whether or not there were ulterior motives that come from our quote-unquote political views. I’ve done a little research, and I get the feeling they’re a fairly right wing organization. We don’t even have any anti-religious lyrics. Yeah, they don’t seem to have a problem with Slipknot going, “I’m six, six, six.” So yeah, I don’t know if they haven’t done their research.

KNAC.COM: That is the strangest part of this—how can a group who wields that much influence and possesses that much money, not have access to information regarding the other bands on with the rest of the bill? It doesn’t seem possible.
BLYTHE: Really, I haven’t worried too much about it because we have gotten a lot of press out of the deal and probably sold a few more records because of it. We headlined our own show in Pomona instead.

KNAC.COM: And made more money from it.
BLYTHE: Yeah, the ticket charges were less, and I think our more hardcore fans were happy to go there and see us for less. Fireball Ministry was also playing.

KNAC.COM: How do you deal with the difference in performance time between the supporting act role and that of a headliner?
BLYTHE: I love playing shorter sets.

KNAC.COM: Why? You just get it out more quickly?
BLYTHE: Yeah, because personally, after 40-45 minutes, I get tired of any band. When we do headline, we will play for an hour and fifteen minutes or even an hour and a half sometimes. Some people like that, but I’m a big fan of short and sweet. You know, just go in, swing, connect and get out. I think the show is that much more intense when it’s shorter like an explosion.

KNAC.COM: You can’t think of anyone you’d like to sit through for like a three or four hour Bruce Springsteen type set?
BLYTHE: Hell no—especially not me. I do admire him for being able to do it though.

KNAC.COM: When you’re only playing for three quarters of an hour, it doesn’t leave much time for diatribes on Aids or Rwanda, does it?
BLYTHE: No, as a matter of fact, the way we play is that we’ll play three songs all the way through right off the bat. Then, we’ll stop for a minute and say who we are and then start another three. We started playing that way on our first big tour with GWAR who are friends of ours from Richmond. Their fans are notorious for just wanting to see GWAR—they are like Slayer fans that way. If you give them any chance, they will just start chanting “GWAR, GWAR, GWAR,” so we decided we weren’t even going to give them a chance to start.

At this point… asks to excuse himself to go and blow a heinous snot ball from his nose and insodoing thanks me for not asking him any “stupid fucking questions.” Mostly because of this comment, the conversation switched gears, and we began discussing the media in general.

KNAC.COM: Give me a typical Dubuque, Iowa beat reporter question. “How did your band start?”
BLYTHE: We were just talking about this—me and some guys from Slipknot, and the number one question--which I fucking hate--is, “What’s it like being on tour with Slipknot?” I mean, what do you think it’s like? We came up with many different answers like, “No one is supposed to know this, but underneath the masks, they are all women.” We also like to use, “It’s one big gay fest.” Sometimes, we’ll pretend like we don’t know who they are or tell them, “It’s a Lamb of God show with a bunch of clowns running around.”

KNAC.COM: Do you think you could probably propagate a pretty good hoax?
BLYTHE: I was just talking to them about that. I was just trying to think of a really good one to come up with. Another moronic question for an interviewer to ask is, “What was it like being on Ozzfest?” Well, it’s like a Lamb of God show with Ozzy Osbourne running around.

KNAC.COM: Where does the conversation go from there? If it starts off that way, and you’re irritated—
BLYTHE: It doesn’t go very far. I just start giving very short, stock answers. I try not to not be rude because some of these people are very young, but they obviously haven’t done their research. I actually interviewed Kerry King after the Ozzfest tour, and the first question I asked was, “What really annoys you about interviewers?” He was just like, “People who don’t do their research or who keep asking the same questions over and over.”

KNAC.COM: That is the part about people who have been in the business for twenty years that I don’t understand. I don’t know how they couldn’t arrive at the point where they are just sick to death of the press and the questions.
BLYTHE: Or, you get the people who tell you, “Hang on while I go get my pen and paper.” Then, during the phoner, you keep having to wait while they hand write the answers.

KNAC.COM: Really?
BLYTHE: Yeah, dude. It’s terrible.

KNAC.COM: How often does that happen?
BLYTHE: It happens a good 25% of the time. They either are writing it out or trying to type it while I’m talking to them. It’s terrible, and I hate it—it’s like go to Radio Shack and get a recorder. Is it that big of a deal? That’s often how you get misquoted, too.

KNAC.COM: Is it pretty rare though that you would get misquoted?
BLYTHE: I’ve seen it a couple of times where I’ve been, “What the fuck was that?” You know, like I’d never say something like that.

KNAC.COM: What do you mean? The words aren’t put together the way you would normally say them or the statement itself is just out of left field?
BLYTHE: Everything is different. I guess they heard something else or wrote down something else or something. It’s just crazy.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of reading certain items, I read an article today that suggested that you might be a little disingenuous in some of your statements regarding the Wall of Death. It made it sound as if you aren’t really against it happening, but that maybe someone is putting you up to saying that it isn’t something you endorse anymore.
BLYTHE: Well, I don’t know about that whole topic, man. Our guitar player, Mark [Morton], hated it from the start. He would just turn around—he couldn’t even watch it. I guess someone at Clear Channel saw it, and Sharon saw it, and the Osbournes shut it down on us. I think we would have shut it down on our own though eventually. People were getting really fucked up… but the kids were calling for it. Some of them still do it on their own.

KNAC.COM: Then, what do you do? Stop them?
BLYTHE: No. [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Isn’t that part of the allure of a rock show? Doing things you aren’t supposed to?
BLYTHE: Yeah, when we started seeing kids getting really fucked up, we’d just preface it by saying, “Look, if you don’t know what’s about to happen, get out of the way because all hell is getting ready to break loose.” Kids were getting really fucked up, and we were seeing some really bad injuries. I don’t want to be responsible for anybody dying, but fuck, whatever. You’re at a heavy metal show—shit happens.

KNAC.COM: If there wasn’t a certain amount of danger to it, would kids be as interested in going to the shows?
BLYTHE: Kids get [dragged] out of here every night. It sucks that they get hurt, but if you’re here, and you’re gonna mosh… that’s why I went to shows. I came out with plenty of black eyes and fucking loose teeth and messed up noses and shit. If you want safe, go to a Backstreet Boys show.

KNAC.COM: When you were going to concerts, who did you enjoy seeing perform?
BLYTHE: My favorite show was in ‘88, I believe. It was Bad Brains—it was fucking brutal. They were just amazing. Their lead singer is a complete space alien—they were fucking amazing. I also loved seeing C.O.C., Agnostic Front and the Vandals in Virginia Beach. There were a lot of gnarly punk shows. I also saw Slayer back in the day, too.

KNAC.COM: There has been a lot written about your punk style background, but you had to have big appreciation for metal, too.
BLYTHE: Sure, my kid brother got me more into the metal side of things. I started off with Black Sabbath and worked my way to death metal stuff like Obituary and Bolt Thrower. I got into early Napalm Death, and a lot of the crossover bands were really influential to me like COC and DRI.

KNAC.COM: People always want to make it seem like you have to choose one over the other because of certain expectations people have. Along those same lines, you’ve said that the initial reason you changed the name of the band from Burn The Priest is that you wanted to give yourself a little more room to express yourself and not be placed in a niche.
BLYTHE: I think the name Burn The Priest didn’t necessarily limit us lyrically, but I do think it limited peoples’ perception of us. That was one of the major reasons for the change besides the personnel change. It just felt very limiting. It was like “Burn The Priest” was a kid’s name for a band.

KNAC.COM: Did you get a specific grouping of people who would show up to those shows who might not now or vice versa?
BLYTHE: We were kinda being lumped in as a Black Metal band to some people. We were just basically tired of it and just wanted something a little more enigmatic, I guess.

KNAC.COM: …And Lamb of God could be the name of a religious group.
BLYTHE: Sure, people ask us all the time if we’re a Christian rock band.

KNAC.COM: That would be a short interview, right? Or actually, that might be the start for one of those hoaxes--
BLYTHE: Yeah, we had an interview with a girl named Lucky in North Carolina whose interview was not so “lucky.” She started out by saying; “This is Lucky from so and so dipshit.com. I’m talking to Lamb of God who used to be called ‘Kill the Priest’ who has recently undergone a reChristianization.” Then, she goes on and says, “Don’t you think Christian Death Metal is an oxymoron?” I was like, “I don’t know because we aren’t death metal, and we haven’t been reChristianized. How much research have you done?”

KNAC.COM: Right, but how would you come up with a story like that on your own?
BLYTHE: The funny thing is that she was doing an internship for MTV. I was thinking her career as a VJ wasn’t going to last very long.

KNAC.COM: You had to know that when you guys changed the name of the band that it was going to be controversial because people were going to say that you just did it to achieve acceptance by the masses, yet, can you imagine this music ever really being that accessible?
BLYTHE: No, I mean, we could do other things, I guess, but that wouldn’t be us.

KNAC.COM: Whenever you hear criticism of the band, what form does it usually take? Does it come mostly from the Internet, or do you hear comments in person sometimes?
BLYTHE: Well, I don’t really pay that much attention to our press even though most of it is positive. Since most of it is positive, I don’t want to start believing it. I don’t want to start thinking that I am the “leader of this ‘new wave of American heavy metal’” or whatever they’re calling it these days. If you start believing that shit, you get a big head and end up like Axl Rose or something.

KNAC.COM: If it’s negative, it still doesn’t have an effect?
BLYTHE: Yeah, don’t buy the record or don’t listen to the record if you don’t like it. I don’t care.

KNAC.COM: Has the success you guys attained been way more than you could have imagined?
BLYTHE: Of course. Who would have every thought we would ever be on a major label and playing stadiums?

KNAC.COM: There were even other bands in Richmond who many thought were on par with LOG as far as musicianship went—why do you think it is it that you guys got signed? Is it part luck or is there something else that is tangible that you can take responsibility for?
BLYTHE: You feel fortunate. I just think, “Thank God I’m not working construction anymore or working in a restaurant.” I think persistence is the main key, and most people don’t have the stamina to basically live like shit for ten years in order to see where it takes you. You just basically have to believe in what you do. We all do. You have to be good though as well—you can’t just go out and suck for ten years.

KNAC.COM: Although the situation is much better for you now, it still isn’t a walk in the park, is it?
BLYTHE: It’s a job. None of us are rich or driving Benzes. I can pay my bills now and pay the rent on my apartment.

KNAC.COM: And you don’t have to hold a day job—what was your worst job?
BLYTHE: I was working at a temp service over service, and I busted up the floor of a slaughterhouse with a jackhammer. That sucked. I also did evictions in Portsmouth, Virginia, and that wasn’t cool. There were guns being pointed at us some times.

KNAC.COM: Did that take away any sympathy factor you had?
BLYTHE: No, it was depressing. There were some people who were very vocal about being removed from their homes. I don’t blame them. It sucked. Don’t ever to evictions—it sucks.

KNAC.COM: Do you think that most of the angst in the music comes from say, experiences you have had, or do you think it is just something that pervades your emotions in an even deeper way?
BLYTHE: I think ever since I was a little kid that I have felt a little different that most of my peers. I felt kind of alienated, and I think that has just built up over the years.

KNAC.COM: Of course high school had to be pivotal.
BLYTHE: Oh yeah, of course. That’s when I first started getting into punk rock. I was a fuckin’ nerd. I still am a nerd. I was just with some other geeks and losers and got into the punk scene. That’s what started it.

KNAC.COM: Do you think it would be the strangest thing for your classmates to all know what has become of you?
BLYTHE: Yeah, sure it is. We played our hometown recently, and I ran into some people at Hooters, of all places, after a show. People were like, “It’s him, it’s him!” I’m like, “You hated me in high school—go fuck yourself.” [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Were these people fat? Did they drive mini vans?
BLYTHE: Oh yeah, there were a couple of fat bastards there.

KNAC.COM: Did that make you feel good?
BLYTHE: Oh yeah. You can’t let it get to far to where you become smug or self satisfied though.

KNAC.COM: Ok, let’s do a philosophical question: you’re at the Hooters, and the best-looking girl in high school is there. She still looks great. She absolutely hated you in high school, but now she decides you are worth a little time. What do you do?
BLYTHE: Well… I am currently engaged. [Laughs] We’ll put that aside for a second. Theoretically though, I’d take her, do her raw and send her on her way.


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