Lamb of God's Randy Blythe on Why New Album 'VII: Sturm und Drang' Isn't a 'Prison Record,' His Heavy Memoir and the Downfall of Digital Culture
Neo-thrash group Lamb of God’s seventh album, VII: Sturm und Drang (July 24, Epic), is not a “prison record,” says singer Randy Blythe, but it very well could have been. In 2012, the Virginia quintet’s frontman spent five weeks in a Czech jail after being arrested for the death of a young fan he pushed offstage at a Prague concert two years earlier. Now, after a 2013 acquittal, Blythe, 44, is back to business, releasing Dark Days (Da Capo Press, July 14), a memoir about the experience, and an album that mostly skirts it. “That would have been opportunistic,” says Blythe of the latter. “Besides, this is heavy metal, not gangsta rap.”
Why did you include only two songs about your time in prison on VII: Sturm und Drang?
Those [include] lyrics I started writing while I was there, so they’re 3 years old now, and that’s it. And it’s not like I really delved too deeply into that experience when we were working on the album. It wasn’t something I wanted to sit in. I wrote a 500-page book about it -- I kind of covered that ground.
What sort of challenges did you face in writing the memoir and revisiting those memories?
Believe me, it wasn’t fun. I wasn’t in a big hurry to write a book about the worst experience of my life. When the idea was proposed to me, I had just been found not guilty, and my first feeling was, “I don’t want to deal with this right now,” because I could still smell some things from the prison. I was having these really intense, almost sensory, memories. But my agent said to me, “Those memories are going to fade.” And he was right. So I’m glad I got it done. And now, if someone asks me, “What was it like?,” I can say, “I wrote a book about it! Go pick it up. It will answer all your questions.”
On the album, you take aim at the Internet on “Delusion Pandemic.” What irks you about it?
I’m not a Luddite, but what I see for the most part on the Internet is, like, a mash-up culture, or a remix culture. It’s this endless process of regurgitation. To me, it doesn’t seem to require the old cognitive gears to grind too hard. The song also deals with the fact that people are quickly losing touch with what it’s like to be a human being without having a little screen to look up the answers to all of life’s questions.
How do you think the rise of digital culture has affected Lamb of God?
It has definitely changed the nature of a show. You look out from the stage, and at any given moment you see hundreds of people watching you from just a few feet away -- through their cellphones. It’s like, “You’re missing the experience! You’re missing life!” It bums me out. Sometimes I wonder if they would know how to wipe their own f---ing asses without their phones.
Listen to Lamb of God and more music from this issue on the Spotify playlist below:
This story originally appeared in the Aug. 1 issue of Billboard.