Randy Blythe Avoiding Bandmates Until Next Tour
Having recently completed this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Lamb of God are in the middle of a well-deserved month-long break. That means the band members — vocalist Randy Blythe, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, bassist John Campbell and drummer Chris Adler — have all gone their separate ways in their spare time before reconvening for a South American and Australian tour that starts in Sept. 26 and runs until Nov. 21.
“Basically we’re just avoiding each other right now because we’re gonna see each other plenty soon,” Blythe told Noisecreep. “We tour so much. We’ve been on tour well over a year off and on, and we know our s— so well we really don’t need to practice. If we need to do a new song for the set we just run through it at sound check a few times and then we’re good to go.”
Having toured as a band for over 15 years — first as Burn the Priest, then as Lamb of God — the Richmond, Va. quintet has honed its craft to a razor-sharp point. Yet as professional as they are on stage and in the studio, what keeps them angry and edgy is conflict … with each other, with the world around them and as bystanders to the chaos of local and world events. Ask Blythe what pisses him off and you’ll likely get a curt and smarmy reply: “What d’ya got?”
As Lamb of God prepare to continue touring for their latest release, the compilation set ‘Hourglass’ (available in many different formats), we talked to Blythe about biking, fighting, hanging with Hatebreed, what he still remembers from 15 years ago and staying unpredictable.
What have you been doing with your down time?
Not a whole lot. Hanging around, riding my bike around town.
You’ve gotten into cycling?
No, I have a Vespa scooter. So I just get bored and ride around a lot at home and when we’re in different towns on tour.
We pictured you as more of a Harley guy.
I’m trying to stay away from motorcycles for now. I’ll probably get one when I get bored in a year or so, but they’re trouble. When I was younger, one of my best friends had a Harley and I had bought it from him and had it about a day and a half and then he took it out and got wasted and wrecked it. At the time, he was leaving town and moving to Alabama. He said he’d sent me a check and I never saw a check and I haven’t heard from the dude since. So I kind of got a sour taste in my mouth about motorcycles. Plus, my [scooter] goes almost 50 miles per hour and I’m just cruising around town. I don’t have time to go on long trips, and that’s what I would want to do on a Harley. I’ll get one, I’m sure, when I have a year off.
It doesn’t seem like that’s gonna happen any time soon. You guys are always on the road. Do you still argue a lot on tour or have you learned how to make peace when you’re in the bus?
We’re five opinionated mother f—ers. Things get really complicated when we start discussing sets because somebody wants to play certain songs that other people don’t want to play. Nothing is really easy with Lamb of God, ever. An argument could erupt over Taco Bell or Burger King at any moment.
What songs are you horrifically sick of playing?
All of ’em [laughs]. No, none really, any more than the others. Even ‘Black Label,’ which we always end with, is still cool because kids go off hard on that and I know that’s the end of the show. Really, we play ’em all so much it all just runs together for me.
What was the highlight of Mayhem for you?
I love watching Hatebreed. I’ve seen them eight million times and I could watch them every day for the rest of my life. And I love to go on what we call a ‘Hatebreed holiday,’ which is where I ride on their bus instead of our bus and just hang out with them. We just put on our party vests and start trashing. Really, one of my favorite things to do is to stay up all night and watch [guitarist] Frank ‘3 Gun’ [Novinec] at about 6 in the morning when he’s at his peak condition and he starts blasting Blue Oyster Cult and completely loses his mind. He’ll air guitar and sing and act like he’s playing in front of Madison Square Garden. He’ll jump up on top of tables in the lounge and starts breaking shit. A lot of s— gets broken on Hatebreed buses. It’s f—ing hilarious.
Your latest release, ‘Hourglass,’ celebrates 15 years of unholy destruction with Lamb of God. What do you remember about 1995, the year of the Lamb?
Well really, they started in 1994, so it has been more like 16 years. But can I remember back that far? Not very easily [laughs].
Do you remember what movies or TV shows or pop culture phenomenon you were into in 1994?
I know nothing of pop culture, so I can’t say what was popular then any more than I can now. But ’94 was the last year I rode freight trains. That was really big for me. I remember getting off a freight train and going to see Burn the Priest for the first time play instrumental. I was just getting done spending a couple years bumming around the country and doing a lot of fun, carefree things. And then I joined the band … let’s see. Black Label Beer was really big in 1995. That was a huge part of all of our lives. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember 1995 too much [laughs]. But the really big thing for me that year was joining the band and starting to play shows. My whole life switched and I started turning into a frontman, I guess, that year. Or at least, I learned how to stand in front of people and scream like a moron without being totally terrified.
Who were your biggest inspirations as a performer?
I loved Henry Rollins and Nick Cave. David Yow from the Jesus Lizard was a huge influence on me because he’s just nuts. I’ve seen them so many times. He’s such a f—ing freak and it’s just disturbing to watch it. He’s an old man now and he can still pull it off. I just love the way he deals with hecklers. He completely destroys them when they f— with him. At the last show I saw, this guy was f—ing with him in the front row, and Yow just took the mic and smashed it right on the guy’s forehead. And he was scolding him like a school teacher. He said, “That’ll teach you a lesson, you whippersnapper.” And the dude’s sitting there bleeding out of his head. He’s just an amazing man.
There aren’t many dangerous or even unpredictable characters left in metal.
I don’t come from the metal scene, so I don’t know that much about past great metal frontmen. I come from the punk scene. And I miss the element of danger when you used to go to a show and you never knew what was gonna happen and you never knew what the frontman was going to do, or the band. I used to roadie every now and then for a band called Buzzoven, and they were real out of hand. Their singer Kirk [Fisher] was completely out of his mind, always getting into fights. You never knew what was gonna happen and it was really exciting. I think that kind of goes back to the Black Flag days.
Does being unpredictable keep performing fresh for you?
Well, doing the same old thing again and again, it’s hard not to fall into a rut. I certainly like amusing myself, and being unpredictable is a lot more amusing to me than doing the same thing over and over again. I like when you never know what’s gonna happen when you see these bands, and you might get a story out of it instead of, “Oh, I came and got whiplash from banging my head.: I wanna see some dude do something f—ed up. But I don’t get as much of a thrill — a knee-jerk reaction out of shocking people — as I did when I was 16 and I had a big chip on my shoulder the size to match my stupid Mohawk. I’d go into a store and people are looking at me. I’d be like, “Why are they staring at me?!!” Duh, ’cause you’ve got a two-foot high green Mohawk, you a–hole. But that seems really childish now. We all go through that stage, but there’s still a little devil inside me that does smile when someone gets disturbed.
You used to speak your mind on stage about the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. Do you think being political on stage can impact an audience?
I don’t know. Right now, I’d rather do that lyrically. No one goes to a heavy metal show to hear some dude up there preaching. I’m not a very good frontman as far as the whole talking to the crowd things goes, anyway. It’s something I’ve had to learn how to do. It’s kind of painful for me. But as our audience has grown it’s something my band has talked to me about. I miss the old days when you just jumped on stage and threw beer bottles at people, mostly. But I don’t really want to listen to anyone preach, so I try not to preach. I’ll say some things every now and then, but mostly I try to deliver what I’m concerned or distressed or angry about through my lyrics. The world hasn’t stopped being a f—ed up, chaotic, angry place, and in fact it’s only getting worse. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I keep doing this.