Vocalist Randy Blythe of Richmond, Virginia metallers LAMB OF GOD was interviewed on this past weekend's (January 20-22) edition of Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
To see a full list of stations carrying the program and when it airs, go to FullMetalJackieRadio.com.
A few excerpts from the question-and-answer session follow.
Full Metal Jackie: We're obviously here to celebrate the release of your amazing new record "Resolution". It was recorded in the earlier part of 2011 but when did you guys actually start thinking about the new music and coming up with ideas?
Randy: Well, Mark [Morton, guitar] and I have talked a lot about this recently. Mark and Willy [Adler] are guitar players, so what they do is play guitar all the time and I write, so I write all the time. The big difference with this record is that, frankly, it's the ability for us to capture the music on the guitar end via laptops. We were kind of late coming into the 21st Century or whatever, all of this technology, and as home recording tools are made more and more available to anyone with a laptop, I figured it out like, "Hey, I could just carry my laptop on tour and plug the guitar in on a day off at the hotel room." I mean, really, there's not much to do on days off, you just sit around in a hotel room in the middle of Indiana somewhere and look at the corn fields grow, so why not record some riffs?! So that process has been going on pretty much the whole time we've been touring on our last record, "Wrath", and we toured on that two to two and a half years, so they were documenting ideas and I was writing lyrics here and there. But as far as all of us getting into the studio or the practice together, that happened for them about four months after we got off tour in November. We finished up the "Wrath" tour with METALLICA in Australia and then they got together at four months and they're like, "We're in the practice space," and I'm like, "No way. You guys have fun. I'm taking a few more months off." They got together with our producer and just went through all these ideas they had already recorded and just started weeding through them, winnowing out the ones that were unacceptable, and that was in March maybe, so that's when we started pre-production. We've been writing some of this stuff for a few years now.
Full Metal Jackie What could you tell us about the song "Ghost Walking"?
Randy: I would think it's a more typical LAMB OF GOD song, which was probably the reason why we decided to put it out their first as the "single." It starts with a nice blues riff and Mark and I co-wrote the lyrics, he wrote most of the music. Basically, the song is about when you're going through a hard time, you have to do things to get through hard times, sometimes uncomfortable things you got to do, what you got to do, as they say, but after you've surpassed whatever obstacle you're facing, sometimes the old behaviors remain, and they're only useful at certain times. This song, particularly, Mark started writing from the viewpoint of a Vietnam veteran who had gone over to fight in Vietnam, which has always been a fascinating era to me, that era of our country's history, and while over there picked up a nice heroin habit in order to deal with the stress of combat and then came home and retained that habit. None of us went to Vietnam, I was barely born, but it's real-life stuff and I know some Vietnam veterans and they certainly had some problems after coming out of there and they weren't doing any sort of psychological preparation for them at that point in time to deal with the stress of combat or what happens afterwards, so we kind of used that as a metaphor for doing what you have to do to get though times of extreme duress. Once those times are over, you have to move on, and I don't know there's a lot of guys coming back from the Middle East, I don't know if our government is preparing them well enough to return to civilian life, which I think is really criminal. When these guys sign up, they sign a contract, they agree to a job and we should give them every benefit possible when they return to civilian life, whether that be psychological help, or medical help — any of that stuff. They go over there, train real hard and do a deadly job then come home sometimes and it's really hard for them to integrate back into normal society. It would be hard for me if I spent nine months in Afghanistan getting shot at to all of a sudden be going to Walmart. It's two different worlds so that's what that song is about, I hope that wasn't too long-winded of an explanation.
Full Metal Jackie: You mentioned the "Wrath" record earlier. What expectations did the success of "Wrath" create from the fans and also from the band itself?
Randy: We get asked a lot about that, about expectations. Do you feel any pressure to exceed your past success, however you define that? Really, we don't feel any pressure from anybody else other than ourselves; there's a lot of internal pressure, and it's not internal pressure like, "We have to sell more records or we need to chart higher or we need to go on bigger tours." When we write a new record, we feel pressure to write the best record we are capable of at that point in time, and we certainly want a record that we feel shows growth from the last record; we don't want to write the same record again and again, and I certainly don't want to have to come on the radio and say, "This new record is almost as good as our second one, maybe some of you will like it." [Laughs] We want to write a banger each and every time, so we're really, really self-critical and it's a pretty drawn out in that time and it's a painful process, so we feel a lot of internal pressure. But as far as from everybody else, not really, we kind of just block all that out. We love our fans, we love being able to tour and all that stuff, but we started this band because we're five guys who wanted to drink some beer and play some heavy metal, we wanted to write stuff that we wanted to hear, and that is the bottom line to why we still do it today. If we're happy with it, then we're happy, external pressures aren't really a factor.
Full Metal Jackie: What can we expect in terms of U.S. touring for 2012?
Randy: Well, that's being decided right now. In 2012 we're starting in Richmond, Virginia, and then we will hit the East Coast of the United States, the Northeast coast, we'll do D.C., Philly, New York, Boston and one Canadian gig up in Toronto. They're just warm-up shows in small clubs so as to give the fans a more intimate taste and for us to get our chops back up, and it's always a lot of fun in a smaller venue when you can actually see the people and interact with them. After that, we go to Asia, Australia, South America, over to Europe for some summer festivals, and as of right now the plan is to be doing some touring in the U.S. hopefully in the late summer of 2012 and that's as far as I know right now. The touring packages and so forth are being nailed down as we speak.
Full Metal Jackie: During the 2012 world tour, LAMB OF GOD is going to be shooting a feature film, documenting fans and their personal stories. Whose idea was that and how did that come about?
Randy: The film basically shows the other side of LAMB OF GOD because, for me, music was so important as a young man, underground music, it was the first time I felt identified with anybody. I was not identifying with whatever people were listening to on Top 40 radio — no way, it was garbage — so I found a community of like-minded people via the punk and metal scene, and I used that to deal with growing up and all that stuff and I still do today. We've done a bunch of DVDs where it shows what it's like to be in our band and we're pretty honest about that. We aren't only trying to show the glitz and glamor and stuff. Our manager kind of came up with the idea for this, he's been thinking about it for a few years and he's like, "Let's turn the camera outward, let's show how this music affects your fans and particularly in areas of the world where perhaps there's some tension, whether it be political or economic strife." It will turn the camera outwards from us and put it back in the hands of the fans, which is pretty cool to me, because we've always been a really hands on band and have had a pretty open line of communication with our fans. It's kind of giving them a little bit of camera time, not just us, and demystifying the whole rock star aspect of things. We wouldn't be doing this is it wasn't for the fans, so let's hear some of their stories, because we're getting tired of ours. There's some stuff on our website where people can write in and I'm really looking forward to meeting some people and talking to them. The greatest compliment I can get from our music is when some kid comes up to me or anybody comes up to me and says, "You know what?! I was going through a really rough time in my life and your music helped me get through it," and I've made a few really good lifelong friends that way. Music helped me so much, so if I'm helping someone in some way, then I consider my job done and done well. So I'm looking forward to doing the movie stuff.
Full Metal Jackie: I can only imagine that putting together a LAMB OF GOD record is a process. Is there anything that you can tell me about whether it's a song or even something non-musical that affected the finished album the most?
Randy: What affected the finished album the most… Well, a few things. For my part, laying down the party hat after years and years and years, I recorded the last record "Wrath", sober but had on and off periods of sobriety since then. It's been quite a while since I've imbibed any mind-altering substances, so things have been improved on my part, my attitude and my ability to write sharper lyrics; that's kind of affected to overall arch of the record. Mark played some solos. I'm not a guitar solo guy, I really don't care about them. A lot of the times I think it's kind of wanky stuff, but he played some stuff I really liked and another big thing on this record that really changed and made it a lot more cohesive was Willy really stepped his game up as a songwriter, he became a song writer. Willy was always the insane riffer guy who can write crazy riffs and stuff, but this time he really brought his A game to the writing process and I think the record really reflects that. It's a lot more cohesive than our last record, in my opinion, and it's just my opinion. Overall, it just feels like a more solid record to me, and I think that's the result of everybody being in a room, in a really good serious headspace about their parts when they brought it to the table. Also, we brought in Josh Wilbur, our producer, very early in the pre-production process, so he kind of acted as a buffer between the sometimes tumultuous escapades that occur when we write a record. When you write a part and you spend so much time on it, sometime you really don't want to let it go, so you're like, "Oh, it's my baby," having an objective, outside observer who, while we had the final call, we trust Josh. I's the third record we worked on with him and having an outside observer saying, "You guys are crazy; just play this," or just saying this or that, better is better, without us getting ego involved in the way, was really helpful to the process.