Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe: ‘There’s Nothing Romantic’ About Losing Your Life to Drugs + Alcohol
Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show. The vocalist was on hand to discuss the 15th anniversary edition reissue of the band’s Ashes of the Wake album, but also delved into discussion on his songwriting inspirations, his involvement in the SunCult surf company with Dez Fafara and experiencing life to the fullest. Check out the chat below.
We’re here to celebrate the Ashes of the Wake’s 15th anniversary edition. So it's a new extended reissue. What do you reflect on when an anniversary reissue sort of gives you a snapshot of a period of your life?
I don't really reflect on it much until people start asking me questions about it. With this particular record, the thing that I remember the most about it really was that this is the first time I ever really got time to do vocals with the producer. Everything else was just like our first two albums. It was just like hurry up and get it done, you have like a day or a day and a half literally and that was our first two albums. Then with the record, As the Palaces Burn, I recorded in the middle of the night with an engineer because our producer Devin had to sleep. So this is the first time I had dedicated time with me and the producer to record vocals and I learned a lot about recording vocals and delivery and all that good stuff. Doing the albums before I was just kind of flying by the seat of my pants. Because of this, it was really an educational album for me.
Lamb of God are actively working on new music for the next album. What's foremost in your head right now in terms of what you want to say with these new songs?
I never speak about a new album until the new album is done, ever. So you know, the other guys who’re in my band talk about what they're doing. I don't speak. I don't kiss and tell. The baby isn't done yet, and you know when it's done. Then I'll talk about it. But you know, as of right now, it doesn't exist, you know. So I don't speak on that.
Randy, the music we identify with when we're kids usually becomes intrinsic to us throughout life. As you're making music now, what still resonates with you as an influence.
God, like all the bands I listened to when I was a kid — everything from the Bad Brains to Black Flag to Animosity-era COC. All the hardcore and punk rock stuff I listened to, I still listen to this day. Then getting into sort of weird music, some industrial, some goth music like Sisters of Mercy, Tones on Tail, Bauhaus, stuff like that. There’s a lot of dub reggae from the ‘70s, like dubbed out versions of culture. Prince used a lot of stuff like that. That's the stuff I listened to.
It still speaks to me to this day, that’s why I still listen to it. On the punk rock side of things, it's kind of interesting because I'm friends with all the bands that I listened to in high school now really, so it's kind of a new situation. I've gotten to know them as human beings and gotten to express to them how much that music means to me. So it still means a lot to me, I still listen to this day.
Lamb of God will be in Europe this summer, a world away from Virginia. How does traveling translate into a source of creative inspiration?
For me, lyrically, it doesn't really much. I tend to write about things from a more domestic perspective because that's really what I am qualified to comment on, what's going on in my world. Although I pass through Europe and Asia and all that other stuff, a lot of Australia, everywhere in the world except for Antarctica, I can't write a song really, unless I have extensive experience with the place, so I'm not going to write a song about France. I'm just not.
But as far as other forms of being creative, because creativity is certainly awesome, for me as a photographer to go out and shoot different landscapes and different cultures and the way people live … I'm basically a street photographer, so I love going out on the street in Europe and shooting and just noticing the architectural differences. The people carry themselves a certain way, their sort of social identity is a bit different in Europe, you know.
There's a cafe culture in Europe that’s missing in America because everything is so much closer there, you know the population is more densely packed in Europe. There's not as much real estate, there are not as many strip malls, as it were. So people still live in the cities and still eat and drink and live on the streets and the cafes and it's really cool. You see some interesting characters.
As a writer, you know I'm always finding stories wherever I go, and to see interesting characters. On the music side, it doesn't really affect me lyrically, but as a photographer and as a writer, certainly, it does.
Let's talk about SunCult, it's something that Dez [Fafara] has developed with you. How do non-musical projects outside Lamb of God change your perspective of what's possible with the band?
Lamb of God is kind of on autopilot at this point. I'm not saying we don't put work into it, but like I pretty much know what's possible from God. Nothing really changes my perspective of that, honestly. As far as other projects, I think it's good for people, at least for me — some people are content to be the dude in the heavy metal band. I'm not. That's not enough for me because it's really a limiting art form for me. I can't express a lot of different things that are just as much a part of my life, if not more than Lamb of God, say in Lamb of God's music. Like I'm not going to write a song about surfing for Lamb of God, I'm just not going to do it.
We write kind of angry, socially conscious songs, that and personal songs... that’s it. I'm not going to write a song for my wife for Lamb of God. But I think it's good for people, at least for people like me to be active in other areas of their lives, for their creative life, because if you just do the same thing over and over and over and over again, you get bored of it. At least I do. Some people are fine with just doing heavy metal. I'm not. I get bored of it pretty quickly. That's why I write and do photography.
And now with SunCult, It's pretty cool because it kind of brings in some of the heavy metal aspects of things. Dez and I are both surfers. He's been surfing a lot longer than I have. I've only been surfing like five or six years and I started posting pictures on Instagram and stuff. I was surfing and he was like, ‘Oh you surf? We have to surf together.’ So we started surfing together. I knew he had this brand already started and I was repping the shirts onstage and stuff. So after a while he's like, ‘Dude, do you want to be a part of SunCult?’
So they brought me on as a partner and I help out with some design stuff, obviously, and spreading the word through my social media. With some of my connections in the surf ski world, we're going to put clothes on people's backs and stuff. But it's been a really awesome thing to think about different designs and talk to Dez and his family and we all go back and forth and then take it to our artists and all of a sudden you have this thing that was in your mind and it's on a T-shirt and it has nothing to do with your band. It's absolutely another creative outlet.
The surf culture, there's a million surf brands, like Billabong and Hurley and all that stuff and they've been there forever and we aren't that. We aren't trying to kind of take over the surf brand world or whatever, because it's its own thing. We're just for the darker people who go to the beach, the evil ones, you know. So it's a lot of fun. Because you know, metalheads and punk rockers like to go to the beach and surf too and all that stuff. So that's kind of the audience we're going for. It's our sort of weird lifestyle agro beach, as it were. It's just been a lot of fun working on it with him.
Randy, your life has taken many turns — some dramatic ups and downs. What do you appreciate most about the way your life experiences have shaped you as a person?
Well, I haven't had a boring life, that's for sure. I haven't led a safe life. That's just not for me and I like following my passions. Overall the most important thing to me and it's shaped the way I am, it's come at a pretty high price, is the clarity that comes with sobriety and that didn't happen overnight. I drank and partied for a long, long time. But it's been a hot minute since I've had any sort of mind-altering substance outside of coffee or E-cigarettes even. I didn’t quit regular cigarettes.
That just has provided a great deal of clarity to me about what's important in my life, what's really truly important and I'm super grateful for that. I'm super grateful that I came to that clarity before all my shenanigans killed me because every year I lose friends, particularly in this business of the music industry. I lose friends to drugs and alcohol. It’s needless and it’s foolish and there’s nothing romantic about it.
I hear about people that die young from drug overdoses or alcoholism or whatever and then they enter this sort of romantic [view] in midst of it and it's really it's a sad, sad way to die. Those people would be a lot better off if they had lived because who knows what else amazing art they would have created. That very easily could have been me. It should have been me many, many, many times but I somehow decided to say it was not my time.
So now here I am. I'm just grateful that I'm still alive and able to do a few different things in an artistic way and it puts a roof over my head and provides me a pretty satisfying life. So I'm grateful.
Thanks to Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe for the interview. Pick up the 15th anniversary edition of Lamb of God’s ‘Ashes of the Wake’ via the band’s website, and find their tour dates there as well. For those interested, SunCult’s products can be found at this location. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s radio show here.
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