Interview with Randy Blythe of Lamb of God
Band Photo: Lamb of God (?)
Wednesday last week, I had the chance to catch up with vocalist Randy Blythe of Lamb of God for a long-overdue phone interview. I planned to catch them in person on one of the last shows of their US tour with Fear Factory in Washington, DC, but got bumped for a gig they had with XM radio before the show (note XM no longer has a metal station - BASTARDS!). Lamb of God have been touring their asses off since Ozzfest last year and therefore most of my questions were about touring and their latest album on a major label. Here's how it all went down:
Doug (aka deathbringer): So how long have you been back from your European tour?
Randy: We got back I guess about a week before Christmas, and we're taking a much needed break since then. We're leaving March 3rd first the first date on the 4th. And we've just been chillin' out because we were on the road for a long time, you know. Ever since Ozzfest started, we pretty much didn't stop, and it can get exhausting at times, so you gotta come home and recharge the batteries.
deathbringer: Yeah, no doubt. So refresh my memory - who did you tour with over there?
Randy: As I lay Dying and Throwdown.
deathbringer: OK, so you were with Throwdown on the US tour too, right?
Randy: We were with Throwdown for about six months. They're our boys. We did Ozzfest with 'em, we did the Fear Factory tour with them, and we did the UK tour with them.
deathbringer: Cool, so you guys are tight and you get along and everything?
Randy: Oh, we get along great. Dave, their singer, and Dom, their bass player, call me all the time - cool dudes, man.
deathbringer: So let me ask you about the European scene. Was this the first time you were touring in Europe or no?
Randy: We went to the UK. We had done a short tour in the UK before. We did two dates with Slayer and three other dates with Atreyu across the United Kingdom. This time we went back and did England Scotland and then Wales - we didn't go over to mainland Europe. That will come later this year.
deathbringer: Gotcha. So what do you think about the scene there? A lot of people seem to think that the European and even UK scene is better than the North American scene. What was the response like over there?
Randy: In the UK, we got a really good response. Even opening for Slayer we got a really good response, which is hard to do because their fans are notoriously very tough. [laughs]. I think metal is a little more accepted over there. But, you know, we have a lot of good bands on the stage and the scene is building up right now so I think it's all good. It's really just apples and oranges.
deathbringer: Your US tour with Fear Factory, Children of Bodom and Throwdown - that's a really diverse lineup. It seemed to be a theme, like Headbanger's Ball was a really diverse too. How did you arrive at that sort of lineup for that tour?
Randy: Well with that particular tour - or any tour in general - generally your booking agent, you know, there'll be a lot of bands looking to go out and generally the headliners are like "we're ready to tour, who else can we go out with that's ready to tour?" At that point in time Fear Factory was ready to go and - generally a booking agent puts together a package and we look at it and if we like it, we accept it.
deathbringer: So it wasn't really planned like that neccessarily?
Randy: Well, I'm sure our booking agent wanted it to be diverse. And that's cool. I like a really diverse bill, you know, I don't want to hear or see four bands that all sound the same. You know, it's boring. So if you get four totally different bands, which is what you got on that tour - a really well thought-out tour, you get more bang for your buck.
deathbringer: Yeah, I agree. It can go both ways. I just don't think it's that common to see that much mixture with fours bands that are that totally different on a tour.
Randy: Right, well it was a really good time. All of us got a long really well and partied a lot. Throwdown doesn't drink, but they hung pretty tough with us. So it was a good time.
deathbringer: So do you have any crazy stories form the recent UK tour or the last US tour to share?
Randy: Well, um [laughs]. I mean, every tour is pretty crazy with us. This last one we did in the US, we all went skydiving on Halloween for our 10 year anniversary as a band. We've been together for ten years right about now. That was really cool. It was one of the most intense things a person can do I think, is jump out of a plane at 13,000 feet. It was awesome.
deathbringer: Yeah, that's cool - I did that once as well.
Randy: [laughs] So you know. You know what it's like then.
deathbringer: So are you looking forward to going out with Slipknot and playing these bigger venues?
Randy: I like playing smaller venues and I like playing bigger venues. I don't really prefer either one, but it's gonna be a good time. We're playing Hampton Collesium, which is around here, and it's pretty cool for me and my guitar player Mark 'cause we grew up around that area. I actually saw my first big rock show there in like '86 - like ZZ Top. [laughs]. So it's cool - there'll be a lot of our friends and family there.
deathbringer: Let me ask you about that show that was cancelled out in L.A. because of the [band's previous moniker] Burn the Priest name. Was there any sort of discussion with them after the announcement or did you just move on and say "whatever"?
Randy: We just said "whatever." I mean, we're gonna make more money playing our own headlining show. Our fans will still get to see us. It's totally cool. It's their right - they own the venue - I just think they were being rather small-minded and didn't do their research. So screw 'em.
deathbringer: Let me ask you about the Machine Head dates that are coming out now. Is this like a regional mini-tour that you're planning or something bigger, maybe nationwide?
Randy: You know what? I haven't talked to my guys at all. The only way I know about that is off of Blabbermouth. [laughs]. So I think there's definitely some truth to it. Rob Flynn of Machine Head is a really cool guy and he's given us a lot of props in the press. He's a cool dude. I'm sure it'll happen, I just don't know when or what. I think it's on the way home from the Slipknot tour, so I think it'll be just the Midwest.
deathbringer: Let me switch gears and ask you some questions about your latest album, Ashes of the Wake. What's your favorite song off that album to play live?
Randy: Um, Omerta.
deathbringer: Any reason?
Randy: It just feels good and it's not as hectic and fast paced. So I get a breather and I like the range of the song. It's a good time and the kids like that song. We always get a good reaction out of 'em.
deathbringer: What was the deal with that record - Everything I hear is that it was done through Epic, but it still has the Prosthetic logo on it.
Randy: You know, I asked someone that myself. I think it's because EJ and Dan, the owners [of Prostehetic Records], got points on the record when we switched our contract - we were still under contract - we had one more record left with Prosthetic - and when Epic came at us EJ and Dan wanted points, a small percentage of the sales from that in order to release us from our contract. It's a standard music business thing, so I think that's why the logo's on there. But Prosthetic treated us really well, so I don't mind. They're cool dudes and they're putting out a lot of really good bands right now.
deathbringer: So this was really an Epic record?
Randy: Yeah, it's Epic/Sony. This is totally an Epic record.
deathbringer: Did you work with Epic/Sony on the record? Their producers, their people as far as marketing or anything like that?
Randy: Fuck no, man. No way. When we signed, we were like "look, you can't change us, we're doin' our own thing." They just had deeper pockets than Prosthetic did and enabled us all to quit our day jobs and just focus on being musicians. So it's all good.
deathbringer: Why did you guys decide to follow up As The Palaces Burn so quickly after such a long gap between New American Gospel and As The Palaces Burn?
Randy: That's Epic. We signed to them and we had been made an offer for Ozzfest and they wanted a product recorded and in the bag before we went out on Ozzfest. So we were like "look, we've never done it this fast," but then again, we were all working day jobs before that - cooking and doing construction and all sorts of shit...bartending. So this time we were able to just practice six days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day and write a record. And we told them if it doesn't come out to our satisfaction, we'll sit on it and not go on Ozzfest, we'll sit at home and finish the record. There's always another tour, but if you put out a bad record, it's there forever [laughs]. So it was cool. We just put our nose to the grindstone and we're all pleased with the results.
deathbringer: Yeah, it came out really well. Is there anything else you could say about the writing process - how that differed? Was time really a pressure or did you just take it in stride?
Randy: Time was a press, but in order for us to do it in that amount of time we had to trust ourselves as musicians…and let go and trust that we as a band could produce what we like without being so painstaking. I mean it's always a growth process and at this point and time - like I said, we've been together for ten years - we all really just learned how to click together as musicians, so we're like "screw it," you know, "we work well together, let's give it a shot." But yeah, time was some pressure but we put the most pressure on ourselves. We had pressure ourselves to produce the best album possible and I think that's what we did.
deathbringer: You guys aren't exactly your typical MTV band, but you've gotten a lot of coverage with many less extreme bands that are in this New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Can you tell me a little bit about that? Do you have any insight as to how that happened? What was your reaction when you started getting coverage on MTV?
Randy: Well, it happened because of the musical climate right now. This so-called "New Wave of American Heavy Metal" or whatever - it's just a name the media put on a group of us that have been doing this for a long time like God Forbid, Shadows Fall, Killswitch engage, you know. We've been doing it for a long time and playing together for a long time, and from playing basements to playing larger venues, we - all of us built up a fan base who are kind of interchangeable. A lot of our fans like those bands. So we share fans and it just grew into a larger thing than most of us I think felt possible and the media took notice. With the return of Headbanger's Ball, with Jamey Jasta hosting it - he's agood dude and we've toured with Hatebreed and so have all those other bands, so it was just time. It's the right time, and we were in the right place. It only took us ten years to get there. [laughs]
deathbringer: What do you think you'd be doing it you weren't in Lamb of God right now?
Randy: Working in a restaurant, living at the beach...drinking beer, fishin'.
deathbringer: With all the touring you've been doing and the re-release of the Burn The Priest album scheduled, when do you plan to start working on new material?
Randy: I would probably say at the beginning of next year. The Ashes touring cycle will probably be 18 months, I guess. We want to tour on this record really hard. We want to go to mainland Europe - we haven't been there. We want to go to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South America. We gotta get out and support the record. So after we do all that, we'll come home, take a deep breath and start writing again.
deathbringer: Have you guys been approached to do Ozzfest again this year?
Randy: Nope. I don't think they want repeats. They generally don't do repeats except for like Black Sabbath and Zakk Wylde.
deathbringer: Yeah, but there are a lot of bands on the tour who maybe don't repeat year after year, but have been on it several times and keep coming back.
Randy: Yeah, well generally it's not year after year. And we did it last year, and it was a good year, and it was the best one ever in my mind - as far as the lineup goes - and if they're gonna beat last year, they're gonna have to try really hard and come up with some really good bands.
deathbringer: OK, well I've taken up enough of your time. Thanks for answering all of my questions and good luck on your tour coming up!
Randy: OK, thanks a lot man.
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