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Ozzfest Special: Interview With Lamb of God Vocalist Randy Blythe

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Tuesday, September 28, 2004 @ 8:49 AM

Lamb of God and The Wall of De

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In just a few short years, Richmond, VAís Lamb of God has risen from the far reaches of the underground to the forefront of the new breed of metal that is fixing to bust wide open. The bandís brand new third album, Ashes of the Wake, cracked the Top 30 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, selling 35,000-plus copies in the week following its Aug. 31 release. An impressive debut, to be sure, and one that would have been downright astonishing had not the bandís Terror & Hubris DVD opened at #32 on the Billboard video chart earlier this year, setting the stage for what was to come.

After two albums with Prosthetic/Metal Blade, Ashes was issued through the giant Epic Records, a label whoís track record with extreme bands is hardly stellar ó as Kreator and Cradle of Filth can attest to ó but which at least keeps trying. Looks like this time they have a winner. And thanks to another unlikely mainstream ally, MTV2 and the resurrected Headbangers Ball, Lamb of God ó and a host of other heavyweights, from Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall to Dimmu Borgir and even Deicide ó are getting a chance to be seen and heard by a whole new audience, instead of merely preaching to the converted on the underground club circuit.

Not that the club circuit hasnít helped Lamb of God immensely along the way. After swapping monikers from the Burn The Priest to the provocative, but less inflammatory, Lamb of God, the quintet of college buddies toured ceaselessly behind 2000ís New American Gospel and 2002ís As the Palaces Burn. And it was during tough slogs with everyone from Gwar and Amen to Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under that people began to take notice of Lamb of Godís quirky thrash metal histrionics.

With frontman Randy Blythe leading the charge with his attack dog presence, ominous lyrics and flame-throwing voice that is equal parts Cookie Monster growl and hardcore bellow, Lamb of God certainly was hard to ignore. And when matched with bandmatesí Willie and Chris Adler, Mark Morton and John Campbellís equally ferocious performance and deft blend of dexterity and raw power, the band proved to be a most formidable and versatile act.

Lamb of God headlined MTV2ís ĎHeadbangers Ballí tour in 2003 and was invited to be a second stage act on this summerís recently concluded Ozzfest. Despite having to hustle to finish Ashes before joining Ozzfest, Lamb of God was able to triumph on both accounts, producing what can honestly be described as a ďhitĒ album and stealing a lot of the Ozzfest thunder from much more established acts.

Phoning in during the midst of Ozzfest from Buffalo, N.Y., Randy Blythe offered the following on his bandís emergence from Nowheresville, metalís new champions and the infamous ďThe Wall of Death.Ē

KNAC.COM: Is this a show night in Buffalo, or a day off?
RANDY BLYTHE: There are no days off on this tour (laughs). The show weíre playing tonight is with [Ozzfest second stage mates] Every Time I Die, Unearth and Atreyu. Itís Every Time I Dieís hometown, so I think itís going to be a pretty big show, I think.

KNAC.COM: How have the ďOff-FestĒ shows been going, have you been getting big crowds?
BLYTHE: Oh yeah, most of them are selling out. I think the smallest we played was like 600 to like 2,300 people.

KNAC.COM: Did you just get the record done and get out there?
BLYTHE: Yeah. The first night of the tour we did a show in [Richmond] Virginia at this place called Alley Katz with our friends RPG and Byzantine, it was like a warm up show. And right after than we left directly and hopped right on the tour. It was really tight scheduling, but somehow itís worked out okay. Things have been going really, really well, and when we get back Iím going to be home for two days and then Iím going to England with my girlfriend for like 10 days just to relax, be with her a little bit, then weíll get back and weíll hit the road again.

KNAC.COM: I keep reading about ďThe Wall of Death,Ē which seems to be the talk of Ozzfest.
BLYTHE: Well it was early on. But someone at Clear Channel or something, from insurance, saw it online and contacted Sharon Osbourne and said, ďthose guys are maniacs they canít be doing that anymore (laughs).Ē They were saying itís way too much of an insurance risk. We havenít really been doing it that much at all because people have been getting severely injured.
Itís really cool and the kids yell for it every day, itís like ďWall of Death! Wall of Death!Ē We like everyone to be rowdy, and a good violent crowd is always a good time at a metal show, but we donít want anyone to get hurt. Thatís not what weíre about, you know. So we kinda laid off on that.

KNAC.COM: I saw that same clip online, and I could see where they might be worried about the insurance risk. It looked like the crowd at the last Woodstock right before they started destroying everything.
BLYTHE: Itís pretty intense when you do that and youíre standing there in front of 6,000 people and you look out and see them just destroying each other. Youíre like, ĎHoly crap, I made that happen.í (Laughs)

KNAC.COM: Has the Ozzfest experience been worth it for you?
BLYTHE: Itís been really awesome, itís done great things for our record sales. And the whole thing is we already knew all of the bands on the second stage. We had either toured with them or played shows with them and we were already all friends, everyone knew everyone and the people we didnít know ó and there were only two or three bands we didnít really know ó weíve all become really good friends. So itís like a big, retarded, beer-soaked summer camp for the family. Itís a lot of fun.

KNAC.COM: The new recordís coming out at the perfect time, right when Ozzfest is wrapping up.
BLYTHE: Right. I believe the last Ozzfest date is the 4th of September and our record comes out the 31st of August. Itíll be a good time. The new Revolver just came out and we got the cover of that, big article in there. Weíre getting a lot of press right now, so hopefully itíll help pay the bills (laughs).

KNAC.COM: Have you been playing any new material?
BLYTHE: On the Ozzfest dates we only have 30 minutes, so we play like seven or eight songs and power through them. We play one new song called ďLaid To Rest,Ē the video of that just premiered last Saturday on Headbangers Ball. On the Off-fest dates weíre playing ďLaid to RestĒ and another one called ďThe Faded Line.Ē Then, in the fall, since the record will be out, weíll throw in a lot more new material.

KNAC.COM: I just saw something about a tour with you guys and Fear Factory?
BLYTHE: Yeah, thatís what I hear. I heard itís Fear Factory, Children of Bodom, Throwdown and us. Itís pretty much confirmed, but I canít say 100 percent. But that will start in October.

KNAC.COM: With the rush to get the album out and go on tour, was there enough time to do the album the way you wanted to do it? Are you happy with the way it turned out?
BLYTHE: You know every band always says, ĎOh, our record is the best record weíve done so far.í Because they donít wanna say ĎOh, well our last recordís better than our new one.í But we are all extremely happy with it. Really, itís the only Lamb of God record I want to listen to at all, I actually enjoy listening to it. I donít like listening to our music because I hate hearing my own voice in my head and we play these songs so much, itís like, ĎGod I want to go chill out and listen to some Barry White or something.í The production on it is really awesome, the producer, Machine, did an awesome job. Heís the best guy Iíve ever worked with vocally, definitely, he got some really good stuff out of me.

KNAC.COM: What his effect on the rest of the band, the musical side of it?
BLYTHE: I think the big difference on this record, one that Iím very, very pleased about, is you can actually hear the bass. This record is really, really thick. As soon as you put it on, youíll know it. I think that all of our other records, especially the last one [As The Palaces Burn], sounded kind of thin, there wasnít enough low end of it, not enough clarity in the bass. I think that is the major musical difference. He [Machine] didnít take and twist the riffs or anything, he just got us in there, threw some little quirks of his own into it, but mostly he just let my dudes do their thing and got the best performances out them as he could.

KNAC.COM: Were you working with a dramatically larger budget, or not much more than you had before?
BLYTHE: No, it was a larger budget (laughs). We donít have to work right now. We all quit our jobs, except for our drummer Chris [Adler], whoís insane and who likes to do a million things at once.

KNAC.COM: What does he do?
BLYTHE: Heís a computer dude. He runs a computer system for the university that we all attended. He started doing computers there at school and eventually started getting paid very well for it. And every time he leaves, heís like ĎOkay, Iím not gonna leave for a tour again for a while, I promise,í then heíll turn around when he gets back and tell him heís going. And they keep on giving him raises (laughs). Itís like, ĎWhatís going on, I need a job like that.í
I think this tour and coming back just for a short amount of time, is going to be the last nail in his working coffin, as it were. Heís going to have to kick back and just do Lamb of God.

KNAC.COM: You guys tour a lot as it is, are you going to be doing more this time?
BLYTHE: Iím pretty much saying goodbye to this year. We recorded the record at home, except for the drums that were recorded in Jersey, it was nice to be at home with our women and families and stuff. And then we hit Ozzfest and stuff keeps on rolling in and rolling in and rolling in, so Iíve pretty much resigned myself to living on the road for the next year or so.

KNAC.COM: How were you guys able to literally come from out of nowhere to be where you are right now?
BLYTHE: The music scene in Richmond is incredible, thereís incredible bands there and theyíre all hugely diverse. And itís influenced us a lot, the local scene. But only a few bands from Richmond, however awesome they have been or are, have bothered to go out and do the work. People in Richmond are more concerned about being the best band they can. Basically they donít give a crap about getting on a label or touring or anything like that. And thereís really no label or industry in Richmond.
For us, we started getting attention when we started getting a pretty big following in the northern cities, particularly Philadelphia, and industry people kind of saw us there and the ball started rolling. We also got some help from a guy named Jimmy Stewart from MP3.com, he pushed us and we went to No. 1 on that and people started paying attention. Itís like constant work and touring for nothing (laughs) and being broke and eating dirt.

KNAC.COM: The first time I saw you was when you were opening up for Gwar like four years ago at the 9:30 Club [in Washington, D.C.], it might have even been on Halloween.
BLYTHE: It was on Halloween.

KNAC.COM: And you had a broken arm, I think.
BLYTHE: Yes, I had fallen off a roof the fourth day of that tour. Gwar, by the way, those guys helped us out a lot, as well. Theyíre from Richmond, theyíre established. They gave us a chance, took us out, and showed us how to tour and how a real tour works. But yeah, Iíd gotten pretty drunk at a party in Ohio and ended up falling off a roof. It sucked. I was on mad amounts of pain pills on tour -- it was the only way to get through it.

KNAC.COM: Iíve seen you guys a couple times since then and you put on a pretty physical show, so to run around in a cast couldnít have been much fun.
BLYTHE: It sucked. All the blood in my body would rush to where my arm was broken in my wrist and it was like excruciating. Iíve toured with broken ribs, a few other broken things. It sucks, but you gotta do it, you know.

KNAC.COM: Any injuries on this tour?
BLYTHE: Yeah, there was a pretty good wipeout in Dallas. A member of a certain band, which I wonít name, had commandeered one of those Ozzfest golf carts, and had a rope trailing behind it was towing people on skateboards. And I got up to like 30 miles an hour and he made a pretty sharp turn and I did not make the sharp turn (laughs). And I hit the ground pretty hard, so Iíve got a pretty good amount road rash. Nothingís broken, yet, knock on wood.

KNAC.COM: Before you signed with Epic, did you have other big labels enquiring about you?
BLYTHE: I donít think they were the only one, but they were the first one. There was some bidding going on and so forth and we just got the right feel from them. They werenít trying to screw around with us and make us go commercial and they put the right number for us in front of us. And we went with it and itís been good so far.
Majors donít usually sign bands like us and our A&R guy, when he met us, before we got signed, he said, ďLook, Iím not really interested in this type of music. I donít want to sign10 or 11 bands like you, I just want to sign the one that I think is the best in this particular genre.Ē He had been to see us and somebody in his office had brought us to his attention, some intern or something, and it went from there. Itís been all good so far.

KNAC.COM: Epic just had Cradle of Filth, but for only one album.
BLYTHE: I think there was some kind of screw up in the marketing strategy with the Cradle record. I donít know exactly how it went down, but I know Cradleís with Roadrunner now.

KNAC.COM: Their albumís coming out a couple weeks after yours is, so thereís going be some good extreme music around this fall, which is nice.
BLYTHE: Yeah, Shadows Fall is putting out their record Sept. 21 I think. Their bass player, weíre really good friends with them, called me and had heard a rumor of our release date and confirmed it with me so that they staggered their release date so we wouldnít be going head to head with each other. So everyone wins.

KNAC.COM: Theyíre a lot like you in that they come from an area thatís not really known for its music scene and they went out and worked and worked and built it all themselves.
BLYTHE: Thatís what you gotta do. None of us ever really pursued labels. We never were like ďOh weíre gonna go get signed.Ē Itís that we did it by ourselves for so long that people started paying attention and thatís good.

KNAC.COM: Was there ever any kind of feeding frenzy around you?
BLYTHE: As I recall, before we got signed to Prosthetic, there were quite a few labels coming at us. I believe my drummer or my guitar player (Willie Adler) kept all the contracts, heís got like five or six contracts sitting on his mantle. I try not to pay too much attention to the music business aspect of things because it bums me out, itís such a crappy business, itís so cutthroat. You never know whatís going on in these peoplesí minds because they want to make money.

KNAC.COM: Does Epic seem to have a fairly decent marketing strategy for you?
BLYTHE: For this tour, Iíve met a lot of our college reps and different Sony employees across the country and they all seem to say -- I know itís probably their jobs to say this, but -- Epic seems to place a pretty high priority on this record because right now, the music scene is at a state where our type of music is starting to blow up. And I think they want to strike first and kinda get their foot in the door with it.
From what I understand they have a really good marketing strategy for us, but once again, as I was saying, I donít pay too much attention to that stuff. I donít really care how many records we sell, I donít really give a shit because we donít make this music to impress anyone. Weíre lucky enough to do this for a living now, but that was never the focus, the focus was always the five of us sitting around and writing the tunes that we wanted to write and playing them. Thatís how it is. And if things donít go well with a major, oh well, weíll still be playing music.

(Photos by Sefany Jones/ KNAC.COM)

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