Imagining the horror Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe endured during his 2012 arrest in Prague, Czech Republic during one of their European touring cycles is something most cannot imagine. He shared his thoughts on his whole experiences being held in a Czech prison and his life in a book titled Dark Days: A Memoir, which was released this past July.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Blythe was accused of pushing a 19 year old Czech concertgoer Daniel Nozek who was stagediving during their show after repeated being warned not to come onto the stage. He was arrested and accused of intending on causing bodily harm to him by pushing him off of the stage and later hitting his head on the floor and dying from his injuries.
Despite all that he faced over this time period, things with Lamb of God has not changed much and more on his personal side. One could imagine facing possible prison time in a foreign land, and the burden that comes with that.
“At the end of the book I wrote the huge change for me was clearly when I got sober. That made me take a look at my life at what was good and bad about it and signs of touring in a positive manner.”
“As far as my day to day life, it’s none added because the whole thing was tragic. Beyond that nothing has changed. I’m the same dude. I think some people totally take that in the wrong way. I’m dealing with the situation in a totally different manner and it’s furthest from the truth. It’s a seriously tragic situation and it wasn’t a lot of fun to go through. It’s hard sometimes. You do the best you can. I’m not the only guy who’s done hard time and coming out. So there hasn’t been this big change. I just got clean and sober. I just tried to do the right thing and my moral compass.”
In order for Blythe to organize his thoughts and getting down on paper, he had to get himself away and in a place physically and mentally where he could convey what he was feeling and fully describe each scenario of what was happening at each moment during that time period.
“The hardest thing for me about writing the book is not thinking of how the story would go or how to put it artfully or anything like that. The hardest part for me of writing is sitting in a chair and writing. That’s the hardest part. It’s making yourself sit down to write it all out.”
“I think I heard somewhere in a quote say ‘writing a book is easy. Just sit and stare at the blank page until your eyeballs bleed.’ That’s really it for me is getting my butt into a chair.”
“The chronological order of the book is a structure that was provided. They provided it. It didn’t look like I was writing a novel but I had the plot. Everything is, not based on real life, but it was real life. The structure of the book was already in place.”
He goes into how moving from one point in time he describes back to another moment in his past references some of his rough times in his life, such as his struggles with alcoholism, amongst other topics, which he talks about quite a bit throughout his book.
“There are a few times where I go back and forth in times through my life. Those are [where I] explain my alcoholism. I explain what it’s like to be in the band and a couple other things. Those were for me varied ways to explain who I am, for people who didn’t know me or who weren’t familiar with my band.”
“Then I was talking about what happened to Dimebag Darrell. One editor was like ‘you really should have different friends write the book. These are writers and editors and they were giving me some feedback. This one guy, who was a music writer, said ‘you don’t need to explain what happened to Dimebag. You should just put a paragraph.’ “
“I’m like no you’re wrong because not everyone who reads this book is a heavy metal fan. So I had to explain for people about my world, like in Chapter Two about what it’s like to be a professional musician.”
“I always do that for two reasons. One: to actually explain it to people; and two: to dispel some myths. There are people today that think they’re billionaires and fly around in diamond plated helicopters. I feel it’s important for me to explain if it were a back story of a character. Regrettably in my book, I didn’t have time to really go through the plot of the book, I suppose, like showing certain things. All of sudden you’re out with this dude and you’re a professional musician halfway through the book – that’s not how it happens. The place sets the character, me being I suppose, my character to be protagonist I suppose and set them in place with where they were and what they get from it from within the reader’s mind.”
“So I had to leave Richmond and my life. I need quiet. I tried to write some on tour, which is an abysmal place to try and write. Some people can write in chaos. I can’t. But I sat down and basically wrote my journal I wrote in prison and it was pretty much a day to day journal. With that, it nearly provided me with a chronological timeline for events that happened in prison, because I wrote about them. Everything else was just a matter of court papers.”
Within his book, he describes some of the other inmates who were held at Pankrac with him. While communication was an issue throughout that time, he went into more detail about the environment he was placed into and the little contact he had with the other inmates.
“I was in there with people who were there for everything from tax evasion to murder to being in the country for a lack of a proper visa or domestic disturbance for stealing a lighter while high on drugs to rape. Some of the guys I got along with quite well. It’s kind of hard to bond with people when they’re not speaking your language basically. If these people spoke English at all, it’s very broken except for one or two people.”
“One of the guys was an Irishman who was in there for a tax fraud thing. He was in there for six months and hadn’t been charged yet. I got to talk to him a bit extensively about Ireland for a bit because I’ve been there a few times and that was nice. He was the only other dude who was a native English speaker in there. I only saw him an hour every day.”
“There were certain guys I got along with very well. There was a guy in our cell block who was charged with rape and no one got along with him. It’s true what you hear. Rapists and child molesters they aren’t thought of well in prison. They took him off of our cell block shortly because I think he was going to be dealt with. That’s what happens in prison.”
“I got along with my two cell mates. One of them drove me crazy. He was a bad alcoholic who did nothing but whistle all the time. The other one was a businessman. I got along well with them.”
“I mean…we weren’t there for summer camp. We were there doing time. Nobody was mean to me or anything. Everybody knew that I wasn’t some sort of broodish killer type of guy who had come to the Czech Republic to kill someone or something. I think it would have been a slightly different situation as a foreigner, had I been in prison and I’d gone there to murder a Czech citizen or something. I don’t think I would have been treated with any sort of friendliness whatsoever.”
“Overall, communication was a huge problem in there. Besides from my two cell mates, I only saw anyone else for one hour a day. Prisoners are only allowed out of their cell one out of 24 hours every day. It’s not like I had tons of time to sit around and discuss philosophy.”
He also insists that his relations within Lamb of God has not changed much either. While they had publicly shared some of their darker moments while on tour on past band DVDs with inter member fighting, he compared that to a dysfunctional relationship from being in a band for over two decades together.
“Nothing has changed. We’ve been a band since 1994 for 21 years. Supposedly it must be romantic to think all of these guys went through this and it brought them closer and it brought them so much closer. That’s not the case. We’re just a rock band. Things moved on as normal. Nothing like we’re reinventing the wheel.”
“Did it change the way we write the music? Did it change the way we recorded things? Did it change our relationship? I’ve known these guys for 21 years. They’re the same dudes. It’s that this happened and I went to prison for a little bit and we had to go through this. We’re not a brand new band. We’ve been doing this for 21 years.”
“It was a terrible thing and personally it has brought sadness and for the members of my band. But that’s it. It hasn’t made us play guitar any different. It wasn’t some sort of creative well to draw from for music. It hasn’t changed. We still get on each other’s nerves horrifically. How’s that?”
“It’s being in a band this long. It’s like a long marriage. It gets dysfunctional. I think it feeds what we do creatively. I’m still married to these same four dudes. It’s not like I woke up and I look different and started playing guitar different. The incident was just tragic.”
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