LoG bassist John Campbell (the heavy metal Santa Claus!) filled me in on how Blythe is doing and where the band goes from here.
“Randy is doing well as far as I can tell,” Campbell stated. “The case at this point ... we’re waiting to hear from the authorities, what they want to do; proceed to take this to trial or whether they don’t feel like they have enough of a case. It’s completely in the hands of the Czech Republic.”
“I’m not sure completely what’s happening with this, but I was told that the Czech authorities had contacted the US Justice Department years ago about this case. If that’s true, I certainly wish our government would have informed us about what was going on.”
The band wasn’t aware of what was going to happen as they landed in the Czech Republic that day. A lot of Americans were outraged that their own government let one of its own be locked up for over a month without a formal charge, due to the Czech authorities believing Blythe would be a flight risk. There didn’t seem to be a lot of mainstream news coverage about the situation either, except from the loyal, close-knit metal community.
Due to Blythe’s incarceration, there were many cancelled LoG shows. But the band will finally get to do their first proper tour for their latest release, Resolution, in the States on a 38-date run starting October 30 in Phoenix.
This isn’t the first time this band had to face confrontation. Before the band was changed its name to Lamb Of God, they were known as BURN THE PRIEST (BTP). But the band decided to change their name to Lamb Of God because people labeled them as a Satanic band. Soon after, the band was banned from playing certain venues, ironically protested by religious groups because of their new name, but it actually worked in the band’s favor.
“The fact that we were banned ...” Campbell begins. “It got picked up by the AP news service. So a little blurb went around and that’s when a lot more people heard about Lamb Of God, because we were banned.”
As Burn The Priest, the band was a four-piece instrumental metal band, but getting Blythe really solidified the band’s sound, especially at this point because they finally had an actual vocalist.
“I think we’ve always been an accurate representation of who we were at the time. We were always pushing ourselves really hard. We never tried to be anything but a heavy metal band. It was really about playing heavy, brutal riffs. And at that point in our career ... drinking a whole lot of beer!”
Campbell knew from the beginning of BTP the band’s sound was developing even before the switch over to LoG. But they didn’t always have its distinct sound, some where a long the way, something clicked to where a definite formula started to work.
“The sound was there from the very beginning. But I remember a friend of mine worked in a music store in St. Louis came up to see a show and he asked me to show him how to play the ‘Laid To Rest’ riff (from Ashes of the Wake) because he said every kid who walks into the music store picks up a guitar and plays ‘Laid To Rest.’ At that point, I started to realize that maybe we did have something with substance to it.”
With every LoG album, the band has moved forward. Their sound has developed naturally, but a conscious effort to do better with each album is what the band has tried to achieve.
“To push ourselves and broaden the definition of what it is we do as a band. Everything we do is organic growth from the very beginning. That, and a lot of hard work and quite a bit of luck has been our secret to success and that works on multiple levels.”
“We do what we do and the records we make are the representation of what we are at the time. It would’ve been impossible to make Wrath if we didn’t make the records before it.”
Although LoG didn’t invent the concert ritual the Wall of Death, it has become a staple at its live shows. The crowd up front is separated by sides, then on command, charge each other as they slam and mosh together, usually to the tune of ‘Black Label’ from New American Gospel. It’s quite the sight to behold. I wondered what it looks like from Campbell’s perspective from the stage.
“Frightening! To be completely honest (laughs). I would never take part in such a thing, but the kids love it.”
“I’m into the live performance. I like to check out the crowd beforehand. I warm up before we play and I do my best to generally kick ass playing bass. Playing a whoop-ass show in front of a bunch of people and playing songs that you’re proud of is an incredible feeling. It’s an adrenaline rush and probably a whole bunch of other neurochemicals kicking off from the brain. There’s really nothing better. That’s what drives me.”
With the recent tour finally going to take place, it will surely keep the band busy through 2013. But in light of what just happened to Blyth, the band has no intention of ever playing Prague again anytime soon.
“My personal feelings ...” Campbell concludes. “I’d prefer not to return to the Czech Republic.”