Randy Blythe, lead singer of Richmond, Virginia-based heavy metal band Lamb of God, spent most of the summer in prison in the Czech Republic. It happened due to a strange series of events culminating in late June, when he arrived in Prague to play a show. There, he was arrested by Czech police for the manslaughter of Daniel Noseka, a 19-year-old fan who had attended a 2010 Lamb of God concert in that city. Blythe allegedly pushed Noseka from the stage that day, causing him to fall and hit his head. Weeks later, the injuries he sustained caused him to go into a coma and die.
Fast forward to this year: After Blythe's bail of $200,000 had been posted, denied, doubled, then re-challenged by the prosecution, he was released from prison on August 3. Now back home in Richmond, Blythe awaits news of whether the case will go to trial in December; a conviction could carry a prison sentence of five to ten years. He has not granted many interviews since his return, but he spoke to us about his feelings, his plans to stand trial, and losing his own daughter to a heart defect.
Do you feel scarred by all of this?
I would say scratched, not scared. I try to keep a positive mind state. It drew a little blood, no biggie. It's just a scratch. It's just merely a flesh wound.
That's pretty amazing. To some people, five weeks in a foreign prison might seem like a stab.
Yeah, I think some people, it probably would have completely flipped them out. But I accepted a long time ago that my life is never going to be normal.
When did the weirdness start for you?
When I was young…My father, who's a very moral, moral man, was a minister of a church, and I guess when I was about in third grade, he was having these guys from this boys' home come to the church in this little Southern town down in North Carolina. And everything was all good, and everybody was like, “Oh, ok. This is great and Christian that you're bringing these poor, underprivileged boys there.” Until one day, they brought some of their black friends with them. This was kind of in the deeper South, and I can't even believe this went on during my lifetime…About half the church was still stuck in that old, racist thinking, and it caused a huge divide in the church, and my father resigned.
So, when I was young, I was kind of like, ok, things aren't exactly as they seem, at a very young age. And it's just been weird since then.
How's this incident in Prague going to affect the security at your shows going forward?
I have no idea…I don't think we're going to go out on tour and hire an army of mercenaries to stand in front of us or anything, but I'm sure that this incident — at least in the mind of club owners — more than likely has drawn some attention to the need for adequate security, for the band and for the audience.
What do you think draws people to that borderline dangerous experience at metal shows?
Well, I mean, I have 44 stiches in my forehead. Well, a scar now. There were 22 inside and 22 outside from, I think it was '97. We played a show in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Metal Fest, and one of the bands playing was Brutal Truth, one of my favorite bands from back in the day. They played my favorite song and dedicated it to me. I jumped up onstage and got overwhelmed. I was going to sing a line, and then I just said, “Screw it. I'm going to go off.” So I flew out into the audience and went through their hands and busted my head wide open and wound up in the hospital that night.
I've been going to shows since I was just in high school. Punk rock shows and stuff. And that type of dancing and stuff, it's a release. It's just a release. Nobody's trying to hurt anyone. Nobody's trying to inflict pain on anyone.
You've said you'll stand trial in Prague if you have to because you can understand how the young man's family must feel, as you lost a child yourself.
My first wife and I… we had a daughter together who had a heart defect. We knew that when the baby was in utero. And the doctors told us it's going to be no big deal, when [she comes] out, we'll operate on her…At about seven and a half, eight months or so, the baby went into distress in utero. So there was a cesarean section. She came out. She was alive.
But, due to the fact that she was slightly premature, she was too small for them to go ahead and operate on. So, she was alive for a while, and then they were like, “This isn't working out.” So, I said, “Well, let her go.”
It's something I really can't describe in words and nobody could understand unless they had to live through this. I know that this family [in Prague] is just going through the worst possible hell, and they have questions. So, despite the fact that I maintain my innocence, I feel ethically and morally obliged to do my best to provide them with some answers, if it goes to trial, to help them go down this road, where their pain can lessen a little bit.
It almost sounds like you're trusting that you're not going to be convicted.
I think we have a good case. I think it'll be hard for them to convict me on the charge that they have leveled against me because it's ludicrous. From what I understand, it's a crime of intent, and I certainly never intended to hurt anyone at any point in time during that show. But, life shows up and happens. Right? It shows up and happens. And if it shows up, and they give me ten years, I will have to deal with it as such.
It's frightening for me to think about. The fact of the matter that I don't want to go to prison for ten years in a foreign country or in America or in any country has nothing to do with the fact that I need to do the right thing. That's the whole thing, you know? I have to do the right thing. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to face myself.