Before we sit down to talk with metal titans Lamb of God’s grouchy-yet-likable frontman, Randy Blythe, we’re warned by his people that we’re not to discuss his incarceration in a Prague prison five years ago, events that led to his 2014 memoir, Dark Days. This proves a little tough, not least because we had only recently read the book, and it’s frankly brilliant. In turn hopeless and hopeful, it’s an almost unbelievable tale.
We’re happy to tell Blythe that we adored the book and move on, though. After all, the man himself has had to return to the States and pretty much pick up where he left off. He’s wonderful in conversation, a witty cynic who will chortle contentedly while simultaneously sneering with derision. For example, when we point out that it’s been nearly two years since the last Lamb of God album, VII: Sturm und Drang, and ask if there’s another one imminent, he almost chokes.
“Fuck, no,” Blythe says. “I try not to think about it. I hate recording — hate it, hate it, hate it. When and if another record comes about, I’ll talk about it then. As of right now, I’m just trying to get through the end of this tour cycle.”
This is a guy who had his freedom taken away in Eastern Europe while charges of manslaughter were leveled at him (and later rightly dropped), talking about “getting through this tour cycle” and hating recording with a heavy-metal act. One has to imagine that he’s suffered through tougher nights than those spent trying to get the best out of his band.
Bless him, though, it’s all part of his charm. And some of that cynicism comes with time. After all, Lamb of God has been active since 1994, and Blythe has been with the group since ’95.
“This has been a long time,” Blythe says. “I guess you see it in the fact that younger bands will say that we influenced them. That makes me feel old. But I don’t really think about our status or whatever. That’s not really my thing. I don’t care. I don’t care what people think about us. I just don’t care. People don’t like to hear that sometimes. They’re like, ‘You don’t care?’ And I’m like, ‘Fuck no, I don’t give a shit if anyone likes us.’ As long as I enjoy what I’m doing, I’m happy with it. What other people think of our band is really none of my business.”
The band’s lineup has barely changed in all of that time, and it hasn’t changed at all since 1999. That’s rare, and Blythe typically puts it down to laziness and stubbornness.
“A huge ball of seething, mutual hatred that really ties the whole thing together,” he says. “Nobody wants to be the guy to leave or screw it all up, because then everybody else can blame that guy. ‘Oh, he fucked it up — haha.’ It’s like when we were back in the van touring, dude. We had a stupid rule that irritates me to this day now that I think about it. Most touring bands, if you’re trying to get to a show, you’re in the van, and someone’s got to pee, they’ll use a Gatorade bottle or whatever. In our van, that was not allowed. We’d be going along, and despite the fact that everyone had to take a pee and we had plenty of time to get to the show, nobody wanted to be the first guy to say, ‘Pull over, I’ve got to take a pee.’ Because then everybody else would be like, ‘You’re really screwing this up.’ That sort of weirdness is probably the reason why this band has been together for so long. Nobody wants to be the guy to fuck it all up, because everybody else would be like, ‘You suck.’ We’re not a fun bunch of guys. We’re a bunch of guys trying not to piss ourselves. That’s why we stay together.”
That’s the sort of honest insight that Blythe will just offer up, making a conversation with him such a pleasure. He’s doesn’t always enjoy life in a band, and he’s open enough to admit it, regardless of how zany that sounds to the many people who would kill to be in his position. It’s not as glamorous as one might think. Lamb of God certainly isn’t Mötley Crüe, and that’s partly why Blythe has no plans to follow Dark Days with a book about his band.
“I’m already writing another book, but it’s not to do with music,” he says. “I’ll never write the Lamb of God book. You know why? Because it’d be boring. If you want to read a good rock biography, read The Dirt, by Mötley Crüe. If you want to read about wild and crazy times with drugs, women, and reprehensible behavior, just read The Dirt. No one will ever top it. After you read that, it’s like, what’s the point? What’s the point of reading about five guys from some small town in Virginia, cruising around in a van trying not to pee? It’s boring in comparison to Mötley Crüe. That era no longer exists anyway. There’s not the money for it, and everybody has cell-phone cameras, so you can’t get away with anything anymore.”
With Lamb of God, it’s all about the music. The crushing, brutal, uncompromising metal music. We get to see the musicians on August 2 when they hit the 1STBANK Center with thrash vets Slayer and Behemoth. Both bands are old friends of Lamb of God’s.
“We’ve toured with Slayer several times,” Blythe says. “We see them quite often. When we play festivals we cross paths. We’re friends with their crew. If you’re a modern metal band, an aggressive band, and you’re not influenced by Slayer or you say you aren’t, you either don’t know anything about the history of metal or you’re lying. Behemoth are great dudes. Nergal is a buddy of mine. He’s a really smart guy with interesting views on life. They’re just fun to watch live. They wear all this crazy shit. I’m always grateful when I watch them that I don’t have to put that stuff on, but I love watching it.”
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Blythe isn’t ready to give anything away about the Lamb of God set during the interview (“Maybe we’ll do Britney Spears covers — I’ll get dance moves and a Justin Beiber haircut”), but he does know that once the current tour cycle is over, he needs a break.
“I’ve got books to write, waves to catch, photos to take and a life to live,” he says. “It’s time to take a break. I don’t know what they’re doing, but I know what I’m doing, and it has nothing to do with heavy metal.”
Lamb of God, with Slayer and Behemoth, 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 2, 1STBANK Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, 303-410-0700.