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Lamb of God’s Words of Wisdom: ‘You Have to Be Willing to Suffer’

[Photo: Travis Shinn]

Insofar as it’s possible, Richmond, Virginia’s Lamb of God have gone quietly about their brain-rattling business since forming in 1995, winning an army of fans without much hype or big hits. Led by frontman Randy Blythe, the groove-metal quintet’s ascent was punctuated in recent years by a tour opening for Metallica and an album, 2009’s Wrath, which hit No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200. On the heels of the band’s latest release, Resolution (Epic), Blythe, 40, shared what he’s learned so far.

Anybody who gets into music to make a million dollars is in it for all the wrong reasons.
I’m not a millionaire and that’s not a goal of mine and I don’t give a fuck. Even if I’m playing to, say, five kids in the middle of nowhere, it’s a very visceral moment of connection that most people don’t get to experience in their lives. If you want to be what you are, truly, then you have to be patient. And you have to be willing to put up with some unpleasant things and suffer. I did.

When I was about 22, me and my buddies decided we were going to ride freight trains out to California.
So we got on one that was stopped and rode for three days until finally a train worker saw us and asked, “Where are you guys trying to go?” And we’re like, “Uh, west.” And he was like, “This is the garbage train. It drives around Richmond and picks up junk and drops junk off.” So then we got on a different train and headed west. Riding freight trains, I learned to try and not control everything so much. Sitting on a train forces you to stop, take a look around at your surroundings, make sure you’re safe, and then just sit back and enjoy the ride.

You need older people who know what they’re doing and have been doing it for a while, and you learn from them.
We met some old heads when I was riding freight. Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your fucking mouth and listen to them; you might learn something. That’s what I’ve tried to do.

When I was a kid, before I discovered music, I liked to spend a lot of time in the woods.
And that’s something I still do. I go out camping and hiking a whole lot, hunting and fishing. I feel bad for kids who grow up in a completely urban or suburban environment and don’t ever have the chance to be out in the wilderness, because I think it teaches you a lot of things. You live in more of a self-sufficient way when there’s not much around you. You can’t just run to the 7-Eleven every five minutes, and there’s not too much sensory overload as there is in an urban environment, so you learn to entertain yourself.

I am a bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool, hard-core, cutthroat alcoholic.
I drank for a good 20 years. A year or two ago, I’d had enough and got sober. I always thought nothing could ever beat me. But drinking beat me into a state of submission. I tend to think of drinking like this: If my neighbor was a 14-foot-tall giant ninja, and I woke up every morning, walked outside, and said, “Hi, Fred the ninja, how are you doing?” And he’s like, “Oh hey, Randy, how are you doing?” And then if I rear off and kick him right in the balls, he’s going to beat my fucking ass. I did that every single day — I fought the 14-foot ninja every day — and I got my ass kicked every day. I can tell you from personal experience, if you’re an alcoholic, you are most definitely fucked. It’s never gonna get any better. Talk to somebody else who got sober. That’s what I did. I wouldn’t go to an orthodontist for back surgery, and I’m not going to go to someone who’s never been an alcoholic to ask for advice on how to quit drinking.

It’s about remembering what’s important. And for this band, it’s certainly our families and where we’ve come from.
My mother came to see us play in New York City [opening for Metallica in 2009]. She had never been there. She walked down to the middle of Madison Square Garden and just heard that incredible noise. I was happy to be in Madison Square Garden, but I was way more happy to have my mom in New York for the first time, to be able to pay for her flight, and to look at her face and be like, “Wow, my family is proud of me.” We’ve stayed in Richmond. We worked hard enough, and with a little bit of luck, it worked out.