One of the heaviest US tours of 2017 is taking place this summer when the triple bill of Slayer, Lamb of God and Behemoth hit the road together. Fronting Lamb of God will of course be Mr. Randy Blythe. The rocker is also a photographer and book author—his recollections of his highly-publicized manslaughter case in the Czech Republic are included throughout his 2015 book, Dark Days: A Memoir. Blythe discussed all of the aforementioned subjects with me before the tour heads to the Theater at Madison Square Garden on July 27.
Let’s discuss the tour with Slayer and Behemoth. Is it as difficult opening for Slayer as everyone says it is?
For us? No. And I’ll tell you why. Our first real tour that we ever did we were opening for Gwar. And Gwar fans…they can be as passionate and as ruthless as Slayer fans. If you give them a chance, if they smell weakness, they will attack. And all you’ll hear is, “GWAR! GWAR! GWAR!” It’s certainly the same situation with Slayer—they will “SLAYER!” chant you off the stage, if you don’t come correct. When we went out on this tour with Gwar…we knew it was like that, so we played at a breakneck speed, three to four songs in a row…Never even gave them a chance, no space in between songs, to start chanting. And that sort of “hit it hard” and “hit it aggressive” mentality has stayed with us.
Touring Germany opening up for [Slayer]…that was interesting. We didn’t get chanted off the stage, but at that time, the German Slayer fans were very much there for Slayer. It was kind of like crickets. They’re looking at you like [says in German accent], “Why are you not Slayer? We are here to see Slayer?” [Our video guy] even made up this character called Baron von Nobody Cares. He was this German guy who would sit there and look at you and go, “Ah! You are not Slayer.”
When you open up for a band like Slayer, you have to come out and you have to be confident and hit it really hard. And that’s what we’ve done from the beginning, and it’s served us well. You can’t slack when you play with Slayer, that’s for sure. Their fans…God knows what they’ll do to you. [Laughs]
You’re also a photographer, who hosted a gallery in NYC.
I had a gallery show in New York a couple of years ago at Sacred Gallery over in SoHo…and that did really well. I just got back from Germany; my camera company, Leica, flew me over there for the release of their new MM-10. And they also flew my friend Nikki Sixx [from Mötley Crüe] over there because he’s a Leica shooter, as well. We had a really good time over there and I’m probably looking to do a gallery show in Boston and wherever I have time to do a show.
What do you usually take photographs of?
It depends on where I am…I’m not a guy who goes in a studio and sets up lights and creates a moment. I’m more of a street photographer. I carry my camera out. In my music and my writing, everything is so subjective. I’m trying to put my viewpoint across, because that’s what you do with art. Photography, I just go out and look at whatever’s around me, and shoot it. It can literally be anything—a coffee mug, a building, people, a landscape, a dog. Whatever I see that’s interesting.
Was writing your book, Dark Days, therapeutic?
It wasn’t! It wasn’t at all. It sucked. I had already come to terms with everything that happened so there was no therapy. It was just a matter of artfully conveying what I already knew had happened. I did learn a lot about the writing process. I had written for a long time, but I had never written a 500-page book before. I learned a lot about the discipline of writing. That’s the hardest part about writing, making yourself sit down in the chair every day and write. Whether you feel inspired or not. Inspiration doesn’t have much to do with professional writing. Discipline does. I think Somerset Maugham said [something like], “I only write when I’m inspired. Luckily, inspiration strikes at 9:00 every single morning on the dot.”