Lamb of God's John Campbell on Randy Blythe's Manslaughter Charges, Why They Changed Their Name From Burn the Priest
[Editor's note: On Monday, Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe was formally indicted on manslaughter charges relating to a 2010 incident at a show in the Czech Republic, for which he will stand trial. This interview was done before that verdict came down.]
To say that 2012 has been an eventful year for Virginia metal band Lamb of God would be a gross understatement. In June, lead singer Randy Blythe was arrested in Prague on charges of manslaughter. Whether he will have to stand trial remains to be seen, but the band is back on the road and plays the Palladium Ballroom tomorrow.
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We caught up with Lamb of God's bass player John Campbell between gigs in Texas, and he updated us on on Blythe's situation. Campbell also discussed his sword-brandishing stint in military school and the fame of the "original" Lamb of God.
How is it being on the road after all that the band has gone through this year?
It's great to be back out here doing this because when we were met by a SWAT team and homicide detectives in Prague coming off a plane, it was unclear for quite some time whether or not we'd played our last show in Norway, where we'd flown from. And then Randy was incarcerated for almost 40 days... So to actually be out here and be playing shows on tour is amazing. But, that being said, there's still some uncertainty in what's going to happen.
When Randy got out of prison, it sounded like the trial was going to be in December.
My understanding is that we will hear something by the end of the year as far as what's going to happen with this next step. And the response could range from "Forget about it" to "Here's the trial date; show up ready to face the stiffest of penalties we can throw at it."
Your band faced some controversy earlier in your career due to its original name, Burn the Priest. It's surprising to us that Burn the Priest would be more controversial than Lamb of God.
I agree that [Lamb of God] is maybe even a little more blasphemous and potentially offensive than Burn the Priest because Burn the Priest is kind of silly. But personally, I like Lamb of God just because it's taking a phrase and turning it into a proper noun. I guess people are culturally aware of it to begin with because of all the write-ups that the previous Lamb of God got in the Bible.
We read that you went to a military school.
I did, matter of fact: Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Virginia. It's a boarding school in the mountains of Virginia. It was started back in--oh, God, I'll be in trouble if I can't come up with this--1879, I want to say, and it's been continuously run since then. When I was there, there were about 200 other kids there from seventh to twelfth grade. You have a room, a roommate, uniform, formations, rank. Before I was out of there, I was carrying a sword around.
Does that mean you were "shipped off to boarding school," as the saying goes?
Well, failing seventh and eighth grade back to back is not necessarily a way to get yourself doing anything else. But I made them up in summer school, so I graduated when I needed to. The problem with me was that I didn't want to do any homework. But I could go to class, pay attention, and then when the test came, I could get an A on the test. And that always kind of ticked the teachers off because I would absolutely just sit there with nothing to turn in for homework. I put in zero effort outside of class.
Were you playing music instead of doing homework?
No, no, no. I was straight little-kid-fuckin'-off. My dad had always had guitars and banjos, and he had a baritone ukulele, and that was the first one of his instruments that I actually picked up and learned how to play a chord on, but never anything too hardcore. Never spent hours closed in the room hammering away. I didn't really start playing music very much with people until I moved out of the house and went to college.
So you lucked out--you met the right people!
[laughs] You have no idea. Yeah, definitely, I did luck out.
Lamb of God play the Palladium Ballroom tomorrow, December 7, with Hellyeah, In Flames and Sylosis.