What Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe Was Most Surprised By When Playing With ‘School of Rock’ Kids
The Metal Tour of the Year's second leg has been underway since early April, with Megadeth, Lamb of God, Trivium, and In Flames bringing metal to the masses all across North America. Randy Blythe, naturally, is out with his bandmates, but it wasn't too long ago he played with a bunch of School of Rock Kids, who left him blown away by the experience.
As the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show, Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe discussed his collaboration with the School of Rock in Doylestown, Pa. earlier this year where he performed his band's songs with a group of young kids. The singer even shared some details about his upcoming second book.
"I showed up and these kids were so well rehearsed and they were so engaged," said Blythe. "They were not messing around with their phones or TikToking, or trying to prove via social media that they were hanging out with some dude from a metal band. They were there to make music and it was really encouraging to me because the digital world is so distracting."
The Metal Tour of the Year continues through late May, with its final stop being in Quebec City, Qubec May 19.
Read the full interview below.
Randy, you are a punk rock kid who grew up to front a metal band, what values and ideals of those communities are ingrained in you for life?
Obviously, to question authority. More importantly is thinking for yourself, not taking everything at surface value. That’s a process I have to remind myself to undergo constantly, not taking everything at surface value and to try not to make judgment calls based on appearances only. Even questioning my long held assumptions, that’s something I’m working on as I get older and older.
Lamb of God are not only back on tour with Megadeth, but both bands collaborated on a cover of “Wake Up Dead.” What makes you kindred bands?
Megadeth are one of the spiritual authors of the type of music that we play. Them, Slayer, Anthrax, and Metallica — the vaunted “Big Four." We have a lot of different influences in my band, but, especially for the guitar players, because Megadeth is a very guitar oriented band, there’s a healthy amount of Megadeth influence, I would suppose.
What [Dave] Mustaine was doing in the ‘80s definitely has influenced my guys and we had Chris Poland play a solo on one of our earlier records as well so there’s definitely a connection. We’re just one of many bands in the continuation of the genre of music that Megadeth and those other bands really created, as well as other bands around that time as well.
Lamb of God + Megadeth, "Wake Up Dead"
Recently, you participated in a School of Rock instructional workshop. What aspects of imparting knowledge were unexpectedly fulfilling?
I went to the School of Rock in Doylestown, Pa. and it was such a pleasant experience. I showed up and we covered three or four Lamb of God songs that they chose. The School of Rock people had me pick four songs that were influential on me, too, so I did a Corrosion of Conformity song, “Hungry Child” off the Animosity album, sort of in honor of my [late] friend Reed Mullin. That is a hugely influential song for me as a singer. I’ve been listening to them since I was a teenager.
I did a Jesus Lizard song, because it’s not as simple as it seems. Then I did a Stooges song, “Down on the Street”, and I did a Bad Brains song.
I showed up and these kids were so well rehearsed and they were so engaged. They were not messing around with their phones or TikToking, or trying to prove via social media that they were hanging out with some dude from a metal band. They were there to make music and it was really encouraging to me because the digital world is so distracting.
That was really the most rewarding thing to me — working with kids who were fully engaged in what we were doing and expressing themselves creatively.
I’m from the era before computers and cell phones were so ubiquitous. To say, “Oh these kids, all they do is play on their cell phones..." to a great degree that is true, but once again I need to question my own assumptions and I need to remind myself that it’s foolish to just make these blanket statements.
It was really refreshing to work with a 14-year-old person who would look you in the eye and not constantly be playing with their cell phone. I didn’t see cell phones — we were there to work and make music together and it was just a really engaging experience. The people there were super cool and the kids were very, very talented. There was one dude who was singing with me and I was a little embarrassed to be singing with him because he’s 15 and he’s just got these pipes. I’m like, “Jesus Christ, I am outta here."
You’re reportedly writing a second book. What do you enjoy or dislike about the craft of writing prose as opposed to writing lyrics?
Well, they’re two different things. I always say that writing a book makes writing an album look like going to kindergarten. It is a much more intense, much more sustained, and much more nerve-wracking extended creative effort. There’s pros and cons to it and the thing that I dislike about it, just as a lazy bum, is that I’m having to do it all by myself.
If there’s something bad in the book or if it doesn’t work, I can’t blame it on my bandmates. We really are a democracy and if someone is unhappy with something then we won’t move forward with it creatively if they’re really emphatic about that. That being said, we make a lot of compromises with each other to work together as a band.
So, if there’s something I don’t particularly like in one of our songs or on an album or a song that I’m not feeling and the rest of them love the song, then I’m like, “Oh well, so be it.” It’s part of the business of being in a band. And then if it comes out and people don’t like it I can be like, “Well it was their decision."
When you write a book and screw up something, and something’s not good, or something later doesn’t pass muster, that’s on you.
Conversely, it’s the same thing I like about it because I don’t have to bounce my ideas off of anyone else. I say exactly what I want to say without having to go through any kind of filtration process with anyone else. It’s just me, so, in a way, it’s a much more purely creative process because it’s just you and the blank page. But it is nerve-wracking, it really is.
Also, as I get older I just enjoy quiet more and more and writing is a very quiet and solitary activity, at least for me. My ears don’t ring after writing a book. They sure as hell do after writing an album.
Music, writing, photography, and now acting in The Virginia Bitches, it seems like communication is central to most of your pursuits. Why is connecting with people so important to you regardless of the platform?
As much as I would like to lie to myself and say that I can be on an island and I can be fully self-sufficient, I’m a human being and I think that [connection] is an intrinsic part of our nature. We are social animals. That’s the only reason why humanity has survived at all — because we are social animals and we rely on community.
If you look at us as a species, we’re pretty ridiculously weak compared to most other species in the natural world.
We don’t have fangs or claws and we’re not particularly strong or fast. Think about a cheetah. They’ve got all that and we don’t have any of that, right? If it was just you and a cheetah, you would lose. But if you have a community, you can work together to face any obstacle. I think it’s not so much this [mindset of], “Oh, I think I really need to connect with people” type of thing — I think it’s an automatic part of being a human being.
Unless you’re going to be be some sort of a monk in a cave and meditate your life away — and there’s nothing wrong with that — but there’s only so many people in the world who can do that. The rest of us have to live in the real world and so I have to communicate with people.
Thanks to Randy Blythe for the interview. For tickets to the remaining Metal Tour of the Year shows, head to this location and follow Lamb of God on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify. To find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show, visit here.