Interview: Lamb of God
Wed, 27 Jan 2010 16:09:39
Lamb of God's Randy Blythe truly is a heavy metal renaissance man.
If fronting one of the most important bands in the genre's history weren't enough, Blythe is now able to add acting to his resume. Currently, Blythe is in indie horror hell-ride, The Graves alongside Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects) and Tony Todd (Candyman, The Crow).
In the film, Blythe's character Deacon Luke is the cutthroat enforcer for The Church of Devout Ascension. He executes and exterminates with extreme prejudice, squaring off against the film's two heroines in some truly terrifying sequences. It's a blood-soaked and brutal way to begin a film career, and Blythe is rightfully very proud of his bone-chilling performance.
Randy Blythe sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for this exclusive interview. Blythe talks about how he became a "real" monster in The Graves, cranking Behemoth on-set to get into kill mode, upcoming book projects and so much more.
The Graves hits theaters on January 29th and don't miss Randy and Lamb of God this summer on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival!
What was it about Deacon Luke that grabbed you? Was there something about the character that resonated with you personally?
I actually tried out for a different part, Caleb, which Bill Moseley ended up getting. My acting chops weren't quite up to par for that. It's the first time I've ever really attempted anything like this. I tried out two different times over videos that I'd sent in to director Brian Pulido. Then I tried out in person with him and some of the producers. He said, "Well, you aren't quite ready for Caleb, but we have this other part if you're interested in it. It's a smaller part, and it's just pretty much pure evil. The guy doesn't have a nice bit in him at all!" That always appeals to me [Laughs]. Deaon Luke is not a nice person, and he doesn't really give a fuck what anybody thinks or wants, so that appealed to me.
Is there something absolutely delightful about playing a character like that because you can do anything?
Oh sure! On stage with Lamb of God, I have the opportunity to let out my dark side and embrace that. I exorcise demons. With Deacon Luke, it was definitely the same thing but even to a greater extent. Instead of being on stage and being this angry heavy metal monster, I really am a monster in the movie. He slits a woman's throat. That's pretty cool [Laughs]. I've never slit anybody's throat, but I've always wondered about it. You get to do that in a make-believe way on screen. I suppose it's embracing your worse aspects, which I've been known to do anyway. [Laughs].
Deacon Luke is basically the church's enforcer, right?
Yeah, Tony Todd plays the Reverend. He's pretty much got a stranglehold on this town. Tony Todd doesn't actually engage in physical violence with the constituents of his area—his flock as it were. Deacon Luke's job is to physically coerce them if necessary. There's always got to be that guy apparently in all evil, despotic regimes. It was fun to play that guy in The Graves.
Do you feel like you tap into a similar rhythm on stage and on set?
Absolutely! It was definitely a learning experience for me. I'm not going to say by any stretch of the imagination that I'll be up for an Academy Award for my acting [Laughs]. It was a big learning experience, but I definitely got to go to a darker mental place when I was filming the scenes. It required me to think, "Okay, now I'm this totally evil guy. Whatever comes out of me comes out of me, with no regard for anybody else's feelings or safety whatsoever." It's like the lid that society puts on you just gets taken off completely. You're like, "Okay, I'm going to do whatever I want. She needs her throat slit; kill her."
Was it really a trip to watch the performance?
I've only watched it a couple of times. It's the same thing with our music. Some guys when they get done recording a record, they listen to it relentlessly. I don't. I listen to it once or twice because if I keep on listening to it or, in this case, watching the scene over and over again, I'm going to start criticizing myself really heavily. I'd say, "I could've done this better, that sounds horrible or I look stupid there." Once something is down on wax, there's nothing more that you can do about it, except live with it. I tend to get really critical of myself when I review any sort of material that I've worked on. It was cool to watch for sure though—a couple times. I wouldn't watch it every day or anything [Laughs].
Did you have a favorite scene other than the throat-slashing?
Yeah, there's a scene in which we're in this abandoned power station that's set up as his church. The two female leads in the movie are tied up, and they're sitting on this low concrete stump. I'm facing them. I was looking at them and intimidating them just for the fun of it. I was looking at one of them and I was thinking about this story that my friend Sammy from Goatwhore told me. He used to be in a band called Acid Bath, and they had a piece of art by John Wayne Gacy as their album cover for When the Kite String Pops. Acid Bath was on tour, and they went to visit Gacy in jail. Sammy told me that when he was there it was just really fucked up. He felt that Gacy was looking into him—like looking at him like he was a piece of meat, as if he wanted to eat him. It made Sammy intensely uncomfortable. Even though Gacy was restrained, Sammy met him and he was like, "Wow, this is the real deal. This is a guy who murders people because that's what he has to do—what his inner being compels him to do. If he wasn't over there in chains, he'd probably be eating me right now." During that scene with those two girls, I was thinking about that. I started looking at the girl up and down, like she was a piece of meat. We had to cut. We kept on filming things a million times, and she was like, "You're really creeping me out!" I said, "Good!" [Laughs] I thought the other girl was going to be freaked out and she was like, "Why won't you look at me that way because you're eliciting some sort of fucked up emotional response?" So I did. It was just really fun. In my head, I was thinking horrible, horrible thoughts, making it real. That's kind of neat because you don't get to do that often [Laughs]. Maybe I'm having Freudian slips here or something [Laughs]. You're like, "There's this beautiful woman and I could eat her liver with fava beans and a nice chianti." [Laughs] That was one of my favorite scenes.
You divorce her from her humanity in a way. Looking at someone like they're no longer a person makes for the ultimate terror.
Absolutely, you're an object for me to do with as I wish. That's what serial killers, people who mutilate people and all that shit do. That's really horrifying because those people exist. I don't know if werewolves exist or not, but I know John Wayne Gacy existed and he killed quite a few people.
Were you listening to any particular music to get into Deacon Luke's headspace?
That's a good question! I was listening to a lot of Behemoth. They're friends of ours. Nergal, their singer, is a very intelligent guy. He's somewhat into the occult aspect of things. He's a Crowley-esque, do-as-thou-wilt kind of dude. Before I would do my scenes, I was listening to one Behemoth song in particular, "Be Without Fear." Great question! I'd forgotten about that. The song is on The Apostasy. It's just an awesome tune to do whatever you want to. Their new album Evangelion is great too. Nergal sent me some messages when it came out. He's really into what he's done with that record. There's a web site with some sort of manifesto for the record that he's written with this occultist from England, I believe. Look it up! Behemoth are the real deal! We played a festival with them one time down in Kentucky or somewhere. It was this huge outdoor festival outside of the Waverly Hills Sanitorium. It was on America's Most Haunted Places! It was ridiculous!
As an aside, Devildriver's Jeff Kendrick actually gave you my first novel Dolor: Lila | Book I.
Oh yeah! I read it, and I enjoyed it! It was really cool! Jeff gave me that in Australia. He had a copy saved for me and a couple other people had the book. I was like, "Where's my fucking book?" [Laughs] I'm a bit of a bibliophile.
With the book, I wanted to explore the space between how heinous people can really be and how scary the supernatural is. There are two sets of fear in there.
Right! That's what's going on with this movie too. There's a supernatural element to it for sure. It's not just, "Oh, these monsters come out of the woods and rip people's heads off or whatever" though. There's actually the element of physical violence, particularly with my character. He slits one woman's throat. He chokes one woman out. He's a pretty mean guy. There's the reality of some crazed redneck dude who's going to mess you up if you aren't going to follow this preacher. There's also the supernatural element about the horror of the unknown and so forth.
You capture everything that people are afraid of that way.
Oh yeah! The boogeyman is real, you know?
The movie also has pulp-y and fun vibe as well.
The movie doesn't take itself too seriously. It's a horror movie. It's not a splatter flick, per se. There's a fair amount of bloodshed. We aren't trying to do Schindler's List or anything here—which is real horror. It's a horror movie so there is some campy stuff to it, particularly with the character Momma. You'll see her. She definitely has some camp to her, and that type of stuff is fun. I know Brian is a big fan of that, so it definitely comes across.
If your latest album Wrath were a movie what would it be?
It would be a much better version of 2012. It would be an accurate version, starting off with our current geo-political situation and descending into the end of the world.
"Choke Sermon" and "Reclamation" leave the listener with a lot to ponder.
Well, "Reclamation" is about the end of this planet and what's going to happen if we don't stop fucking it up. I really believe human beings are currently a disease upon this planet. I'm certainly not blameless in polluting the environment. I live in the city. I drive a car. I have to have a tour bus to go on tour, but I try to be a little more conscious with my actions and my consumerism. The way the world is getting treated, I think it is going to eradicate us, or we're going to eradicate it.
Lyrically, you've always reflected what's going on in the world while examining yourself. It's personal and universal.
Well, thanks! I believe each person is a microcosm of the universe as a whole. It's easy to sit and point fingers at what's wrong with the world when you're not looking at anything that's wrong with yourself. That's reality. Everybody's flawed. Nobody's perfect. It's pretty cathartic to write about that kind of stuff in two ways. First, it's cathartic for me to get whatever I'm pissed at in the world off my chest. Then, it's cathartic for me to bleed a little bit onto the page about some of my fucked up problems as it were. I think people identify with that. Our fans do. When they see my writing, the reaction is, "This dude's touring the world and he's put out records, but he's just as fucked up as I am." We're all just people. So I think that there's an element in our music that allows people to identify with it. If they do so, I think we've succeeded.
The great thing about art is you do get to share it with the world at the end of the day. Hearing those reactions is truly priceless.
Absolutely, the biggest reward I get out of doing the music is if someone comes up to me and says, "This song you wrote and these lyrics helped me get through a hard time." That's what music did for me growing up, and it does to this day. I don't know if I can live without it really. It's a huge reward for me when people do that.
"Vigil" from As the Palaces Burn was a big influence on my first book.
That's really cool to hear! It ties back to the movie in a way and how I got involved with it. Brian is a Lamb of God fan. A mutual friend of ours, JC, who owns a comic book store down in Toledo, Oh called JC's Comics, took Brian to OZZfest in 2004. He said, "You've got to check out Lamb of God." Brian was watching us play. He's a comic book author as well. He does Evil Ernie and Lady Death. He ran Chaos Comics in the '90s, which, I think, was largest independent comic publisher. Brian's a pretty prolific comic book writer, but he said a whole story line started unfolding in front of him while he was watching us. It's really neat for me to have my music influence art, particularly writing because that's something I'm into as well. Music has certainly influenced the stuff that I write as well. That's a huge compliment, thanks a lot.
Would you ever think about writing a book?
I'm working on it right now. First of all, I'm working on a graphic novel script. I wrote the introduction awhile back for the second trade volume of a series called DMZ for Vertigo. This guy Brian Wood writes it. I'm a fan of his. Somehow he found out that I liked the series, and his editor approached me about writing the introduction to the second collection. I did, and the editor was like, "That's really good. Have you thought about writing anything yourself?" That put it in my mind to do so. I've been outlining that and world-building right now. I'm outlining a novel right now too. I'm trying to script this graphic novel and outline a regular prose novel at the same time. It might be a little too much. I need to take things off my plate a little bit and do one thing at a time [Laughs]. I do a lot of things at once, but it's what I'd like to do eventually for a living when I'm not doing the Lamb of God thing. I really don't think I'm going to be Mick Jagger, 60-something years-old up there screaming, "Who gives a fuck?!" [Laughs] I don't think my body will take it. Hopefully by that time, I'll settle down into a nice little book life of sorts.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…