Lamb of God's Randy Blythe was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The band just released a super deluxe edition of last year's self-title record, which includes a bonus live disc taken from Lamb of God's 2020 livestream performance.
Blythe discussed what it was like to perform a Lamb of God album in its entirety for the very first time and the thrills and challenges that came with doing so, despite not playing in front of a live audience.
Always socially and politically conscious, the frontman also spoke to the knee-jerk reactions of both the political left and right while urging a need to take a step back and assess the situation in full before passing judgement.
As one of metal's most outspoken figures, he also noted that some may mistake his stances as conforming to either a left or right ideology. Blythe does not define himself as a liberal nor a conservative and feels he embraces certain characteristics of both, which he admitted may surprise some fans.
Elsewhere in the interview, the vocalist spoke about being a creative and how he is naturally equipped to handle the isolationist aspects brought on by the pandemic and quarantining.
Read the full interview below.
How does the immediacy of performing an album give it a different perspective compared to the building process of writing and recording it?
With this one in particular, it's the first time we've ever performed an album front to back out of any of our albums.
When you record an album, generally you don't record it in order and you don't even know the order of the album — or, at least, my band doesn't — and I know this is true for a lot of other bands, but not all bands. You don't know the order until you're done. So you sequence the album after everything is recorded in order to see what flows best.
In a live setting it may not flow the best, especially if you're throwing in songs from other albums. It was a really interesting experiment to to perform the whole album front to back. You have different tunings and all that other stuff to see how things flow.
It was a really cool experience doing that and I really quite enjoyed it. It's like telling a story because the album builds naturally both sonically and lyrically and that was very much intentional. I hate recording [laughs] I prefer playing live in general.
Lamb of God, "Memento Mori" Live
The latest Lamb of God album was released in an especially contentious election year. Being a writer, photographer, and lyricist, how has the aftermath stimulated your creative voice?
We had already written that album before the election.
There's political commentary, but it's in a much broader sense than any specific president or election. I was trying to look for causes — not effects — of the polarization that occurred in our country; not necessarily a snapshot of exactly what is happening.
Since the election, it's been a sit back and watch and see what happens process. It's not like I need to write about this immediately because the news today changes so rapidly.
We had a weird election, we've had a pandemic, we've had natural disasters… all this crazy stuff and it's all happening so quickly. I don't feel the immediate urge to comment on it and I think that's a problem in our society, specifically with social media — everybody's so quick give their opinion. Why don't we sit back and watch the long-term effects of what has happened and then draw a judgment there?
Lamb of God, "Resurrection Man" Live
You're not afraid to be confrontational about social and political issues. How has that painted an inaccurate picture of your personality and temperament?
Some people would think I'm a super duper liberal in all aspects and that's not true. In some ways I'm quite conservative. There are changes that are definitely necessary in so many ways in our society, but I do think in many ways with this rampant spread of technology there's a lot of good values that are being abandoned. Some people would look at that and say all that stodgy conservatism [rhetoric], but I don't care.
I don't define myself as liberal or conservative or Democratic or Republican. Just because you speak on a certain issue… that's a problem in our country today on both the left and the right — the knee jerk reaction that if you disagree with some sort of issue (things are so polarized right now) then automatically you're painted as A or B and that's idiotic.
That's simply moronic.
We're all human beings and I think people are existing in these echo chambers, particularly because they're isolated lately. They're sitting in these digital echo chambers of negativity and it's just reinforcing their biases.
As far as an inaccurate view of my personality, I have no idea of what people really view my personality as. My friends tell me I'm a pretty mellow guy, so I don't really care what people think of my personality. It's not my concern. It's really none of my business. My business is to act in a manner in accordance with my moral compass, which I would like to think is empathetic and correctly calibrated.
Randy, when you're not onstage, there seems to be a bit of an isolationist aspect to your lifestyle. How has that benefited you in a year of quarantine and social distancing?
I have friends — I don't live in a cave by myself when I'm not onstage, but I keep a pretty tight circle.
As far as how this has benefited me, I'm not just a heavy metal musician guy.
Artistically, I write and I do photography. I write for other bands and have other projects. I'm not saying that the quarantine, lack of human contact, particularly with my family, has not been rough, but for creative types, we all have something to kind of lean into when we're by ourselves.
When I sit down to write, I don't sit down with my bandmates or my family — I sit down at a desk by myself. So in that sense, nothing has changed.
Having been raised for a good portion of my youth by my grandmother who grew up in the depression, I was made very aware that that was her experience. She's 100 now and I heard lots of stories, from the depression, living through World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, she lost her husband at a young age, she's a country woman… she's a tough lady.
That was my sort of internal paradigm mentally that was set for being able to handle difficulties. It's not that this has not been rough on people and people have died and people have lost their businesses, which is horrible, but when I hear some people complaining that this is like prison, I'm sitting at home going nuts and I'm like, "No, this is not like prison at all."
If you've ever been to prison, you know that having Netflix and sitting on your couch and ordering Uber Eats is not the worst thing in the world. It has not been a good time for anyone, but this is not, by far, the worst thing humanity has ever faced.
Another thing is newscasters constantly throw it out the term, "in these unprecedented times." It makes you want to strangle them because none of this is unprecedented. Even just in the United States within the last hundred years or so, we've had pandemics, we've had crazy elections, we've had natural disasters, we even had violent toilet paper hoarders in the '70s.
So, none of this is new. It just means that it hasn't happened in our very short lifespan. If you pay attention to history, you learn that this is just the endless repetition of the cycle of humanity and we've just got to sit tight. We're going to get through it. It's not "unprecedented." Learn the English language, please.
The live concert industry has been on an indefinite hiatus. Removed from the actual grind of being on the road, what have you found yourself missing the most about touring?
Obviously, I miss seeing different places. I love to travel that's one of my favorite things about being in a band is traveling. I've been lucky enough to go to all the continents except for Antarctica and had some wonderful experiences with some beautiful people.
As a musician, what has really affected me after putting out the new record, which was very well by the fans and the press, is I've missed is going out and playing those songs and trying them out to see which ones are going to make it into the setlist and which ones really connect with the audiences. Going out and playing that in front of audiences and feeling that sort of exchange of energy is what a live show is.
If you're doing it right, it's a massive form of communication. The more energy the audience gives off, the more energy we give off and the better the show is for everyone.
It's sort of like a person to person contact in a weird way. Just feeling that energy from the audience and seeing them enjoy themselves, that's super, super, super gratifying when you play in front of an audience and you can tell they're having a really good time. You're like, "I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."
I'm doing what I enjoy and people are getting something out of this that they need. It's that relief. So I really miss that, but I think it's going to happen sooner rather than later.
Thanks to Randy Blythe for the interview. Get your copy of the deluxe edition of Lamb of God's self-titled album here and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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