We dig into the mind of L.O.G.’s iron-throated frontman on the eve of their new album release.
Randy Blythe, screamer and front man of Lamb of God, is an interesting and volatile character; especially when it comes to the complicated relationship between himself and guitarist Mark Morton. In an interview with Crave Online Blythe talks about the changes Lamb of God have made in the recording process as well as the new sound his voice is undertaking as time wears on.
By Johnny Firecloud
Lamb Of God have returned with their seventh studio album, Resolution, released January 24 via Epic. Produced by Josh Wilbur, the album is a raw and deeply introspective leap into the darkness, a relentless assault on the senses that comes with a power-metal band at the top of their game pushing the boundaries of the genre – as well as their own legacy.
CraveOnline caught up with frontman Randy Blythe about the new album, his singing techniques, his sometimes volatile but central friendship with guitarist Mark Morton and more.
I’ve been laughing all morning about this Dutch interview you did, where the guy was totally hammered and trying to keep it together enough to ask you questions.
Oh god yeah. It was his boss’ idea that he show up drunk, so he pounded a bottle of Jack Daniels. That was a very edited interview, too. It took a long time. He was a massive fan, and got completely wasted. It was in the morning, too. I’ve had many mornings like that.
I’m a big fan of the new record, really looking forward to seeing you guys beat some ass this year. But right out of the gate it comes off as a very unhappy album, lyrically. It’s very introspective.
It’s a really introspective record. Mark and I wrote the lyrics together, and in a lot of our past records we made a lot of statements about the outside world or other people surrounding us. And I think you have to be fair if you’re an artist, and examine yourself just as much as you examine the world around you. Nobody likes a pedantic jerk screaming all the time – you have to look at yourself. So this record, Mark and I explored the parts of our psyches and the areas o our minds that we aren’t very happy with.
That being said, for me, I don’t find it an unhappy record at all, because I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s just an honest expression of the dark parts of our inner blackened souls(laughs). People have it a lot worse than we do. But a lot of the writing for me came out of me looking at the world as a forty year-old man, a year or two sober, taking a look at where I am and thinking, ‘What the fuck?’.
No matter how negative our lyrics can be construed as, the whole point is that we express ourselves creatively, and we make these experiences universal enough so that if there’s a kid who’s having a hard time, he might read that and take it, internalize it and say ‘Ok, I feel this way, and I’m not the only one.’ That’s what music did for me as a kid. The greatest compliment I can get from anyone is not ‘Oh, you did a killer job on this record’ or ‘Your vocals have improved…’ – no. The greatest compliment I can get from people is ‘I was having a really hard time in my life and your music helped me get through that.’ That’s huge to me. That’s what music did for me, and to think that I can do that for someone else is a wonderful, humbling and exhilarating sort of feeling.
I wanted to talk a little about your creative trust with Mark (Morton, guitarist) specifically, because it seems that your relationship with him allows for that extra push – there’s a lot to be said for the mentoring philosophy, of someone directly telling you “I know you can do better” – when usually there may not be a fucking soul who would say that to your face.
Mark and my relationship as lyricists is something that I really value and cherish. He and I are really tight friends. Obviously we’ve been in a band together for years, but we were also roofers together. And when you work on a roof with someone, where they’re holding a rope and if you fall they’re at the other end, you develop a lot of trust in that person. I have a very deep and very abiding trust in Mr. Morton that comes from being in a band and comes from working with him. It’s a visceral trust. As far as the creative process goes, with us when we do lyrics and stuff, it’s never been a pissing contest between us. Mark can say to me ‘I like this about that song you’ve written here, but that line is garbage.’ And I’ll say ‘Ok, I’ll try something else.’ We have a very open line of communication as far as our writing is concerned. He’s the same with me on the flipside.
We have a saying in the band: Better is Better. It doesn’t matter who brought it in and who made it better – better is better. We try to use what serves the music the most, and not get bent out of shape.
That’s a really selfless approach from an artistic standpoint. I can’t imagine many musical collectives making that process work easily.
Well it’s been a real learning process. It wasn’t like all of a sudden we came out like Ghandi. There was a lot of arguing and a lot of fighting, particularly in the older days. But we just have a very easy, very comfortable relationship.
You said recently in reference to your voice that “My instrument is changing” – aside from the struggles of aging, how does that affect your vocal preparation? You’re doing some different stuff on these tracks.
When I’m recording, now I’m a lot more cautious with my voice. If your throat is fucked up, the only thing that’s going to fix it is vocal rest. No amount of hot tea, no amount of chloraseptic… those are band-aids. That might get you through a show, but if you’re making a record and your voice is getting blown out, you have to stop. Recording vocals for this record took a lot longer than we thought it would. The ideal thing for me would be to record for three days and have two days off. Because it’s like any muscle – if you’re lifting weights, you wouldn’t work the same muscle group for eight hours a day without any rest. You would just destroy it. For me it’s the same thing with my vocal cords. But that’s not what we did – time restraints got in the way and such. But I’m a lot more conscious of how my throat is feeling these days, so we made sure to put some breaks in there.
For a show, and preparing for a show and recording, it’s the same thing. I do a vocal warm-up that I got from Melissa Cross, a lady out of New York that I go to sometimes…
You’re on her Zen of Screaming DVD, right?
Yeah, I got that (laughs). I use her bass warm-up. I’m a bass baritone. Every now and then I’ll screw up and miss a warm-up, and I can get through a show, but I notice it if I’m lazy and I don’t do the warm-ups, my throat starts hurting more, and my power certainly isn’t there. Doing the warm-ups, it makes you perform the different techniques you can use in order to maintain your sound and now blow your throat out. It’s like muscle memory, reinforcing that by warming up every day. If I don’t do that I suffer.
Singing with Cannabis Corpse had to feel like a bit of stylistic schizophrenia, too. How did that happen, anyway?
Oh man, that was very interesting. I completely destroyed my throat – actually to the point that I was nervous. Their singer and guitar player had parted ways with the band, and I go skateboarding with their drummer Josh. He’s my skateboarding buddy. And I was sitting on the shitter one day, and he sent me a text message saying that Nick and Andy had left the band. I’m texting back and forth with him, like ‘That fucking sucks, bro, do you have shows booked?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah…’. I was like ‘Damn dude, I’d fill in for you, but I’m doing this Lamb of God thing.’ He asked if I was gonna be around for this Corey Smoot benefit show, if I would be in town, and I just started laughing. I’m like ‘Yes I will, I’ll do it.’ All this took place over text message while I’m on the shitter.
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