I hope everybody here in the States had a glorious Independence day holiday. I definitely did some maxing and relaxing. I also spent a good time reading an advanced copy of Randy Blythe's new memoir, Dark Days. I'm about 20% through the book and any time he spends talking about his initial arrest or anything related to the prison my anxiety levels rise. It's a great read and I'm excited to have Randy sitting in on an entire hour of this coming Sunday's Metal Injection Livecast to talk about it.
If you can't wait for the book to come out on July 14th, Blythe posted six teasers on his Instagram page over the weekend. Take a gander:
The guard walked away, leaving the van door open. I guess he knew I wasn’t going anywhere—we were behind the prison’s tall outer walls now, and I was still in handcuffs. I slid down the seat a little toward the open door, but not too far. I wasn’t trying to get blasted by a shotgun toting guard during my first three minutes in prison. I craned my neck to see what I could of my new home. The outside of Pankrác actually looked kind of nice from what I could see—from my restricted vantage point, I saw a fairly neat-looking standard-issue European building. There were even some freshly painted flower boxes lining the short flight of concrete steps leading up to the clean, white building’s heavy front door. Maybe this place wouldn’t be as awful as Martin said. Soon the driver came back out with two cups in his hand; a coffee for him and water for me. I thanked him and drank my water in two gulps. He took my cup and sipped his coffee. “I am sorry this is happening for you,” he said in a kind voice, “I am a big fan of heavy metal.” I waved my hand-cuffed hands in a No worries, dude, it’s not your fault gesture and said, “Really? What bands do you like, bro?” “I listen to Bathory, Finntroll, a little Rammstein,” he said. “While we wait, would you like a coffee?” “That, my friend, would be awesome,” I said. He left and walked back into the prison. This was going much better than I had expected. Maybe there would be other early black-metal loving guards and inmates inside. Soon he returned with a mug of coffee with foamed milk on top. I’m a black coffee kind of guy, but I wasn’t about to ask this nice metal head guard to go fix me another. I took a sip—it was hot and tasted heavenly. “Thank you so much—I was dying for a coffee. What would you call this in Czech? Caffe?” I asked, using the fairly universal European term for coffee. “Cappuccino,” he said, with a raised eyebrow and slight grin, his expression saying “Dude, haven’t you ever had a cappuccino before?”
“What’s up, dude? I’m Randy. How ya doing?” I asked, trying a little conversational English to test the ol’ linguistic waters in cell 505. The man just stared at me. I went a little more formal. “Hello, my good man. This place is really something, eh?” I said. He continued to stare, not with malice, but there was incomprehension written on his brown face. “Bonjour, mon ami. Parlez vous francais?” I asked, hoping that what little I remembered from Madame Degnan’s first period high school French class might come in handy. This actually drew a scowl—he obviously wasn’t a francophile. I greeted him in Japanese, and I thought I saw a small glimmer of recognition in his dark eyes, but still he remained silent. This was just as well, as my Japanese is horrible at best. Spanish? No reply. I ran through most of the greetings I know from traveling around the world, even throwing in a little Jamaican patois just for the fun of it, but the man didn’t utter a word. Maybe he was mute?
Finally, I employed the time-honored technique I have embarrassedly witnessed American tourists use on disgusted locals around the globe: I spoke English as slowly and as loudly as possible. As all Americans abroad somehow intuitively know, the best course of action when speaking to a confused looking native of the country we are currently gracing with our presence is decreasing the velocity of speech to the speed of wood, while simultaneously increasing its volume to ear-blowing levels. This, of course, automatically grants the listener instant comprehension of our language. “HELL-O, I AM RANDY,” I yelled, pointing to my chest “I AM FROM AMERICA. RAAAAAN-DY. A-MER-I-CAAAA.
The next day after breakfast, Tom Selleck popped by #505 with a present for me: a paper bag containing most of what had been in my wallet and pockets when I was arrested. This was a wonderful surprise, as I had several things that I would be extremely grateful for in the coming days. There were a few hair ties, business card sized pocket street and subway maps of New York City, a plastic Fresnel magnifying glass card, various scraps of paper and business cards, a pack of flints for a Zippo lighter, a small book of spiritual readings I carry with me wherever I go, a small change purse I had bought in Christiania (an amazing anarchist city that lies inside Copenhagen, Denmark) that contained a pair of ear- plugs and six Willie Adler signature lamb of god guitar picks, and a pen and my small Moleskine notebook. I was ecstatic to have my journal and a pen, and after I had put my loot away I tied back my dreads, sat down, and immediately began writing.
Reading this journal now is a strange experience for me, because it details not just the mundane day-to-day occurrences of prison life, but my mental and emotional state as well. As I read this small book, I can actually feel the sharp fear that pervaded my days. I can also see my attempt to stay positive and grateful in the face of it, and I can step outside those feelings now in a way I couldn’’t in prison, to analyze them and my actions. I am grateful for this…
The following day after breakfast, I sat down and began to make a journal entry. A few seconds after I had written the date at the top of the page, it suddenly sunk in what day it was—July Fourth. I have been around the world many times, and for all its faults, there is no other country like America. I would not choose to call anywhere else home. For me, my country is its people, not its government, and sitting in that cell on July 4th made me feel a rush of longing to be amongst my people. I wanted to be with my wife and friends, grilling hotdogs and hamburgers, drinking a cold NA beer and watching the kids run around in my buddy Erik’s backyard, then going over to Byrd Park in Richmond to sit on a blanket and watch the fireworks.
I turned back to my journal, noted that I would never take the 4th of July for granted again, then crawled back under my sheet to take a nap…
I travel the world, getting paid to go jump around and holler like a buffoon in exotic places most folks will only dream of ever seeing. It’s really quite astounding to me, every single time I think about it. I still can’t believe people all over the globe look forward to me and my band coming to their countries and doing our ridiculous hirsute song and dance. Amazing.
But I still don’t consider myself a rockstar, at least not a real rockstar. Real rockstars are filthy rich, have legions of beautiful women or men (or both) throwing themselves at them, and can’t walk down the street without getting hassled to death. Real rockstars get invited to weird stuff like fashion week parties in Milan and the White House. Neither the President nor anyone with a last name like Gaultier has called yet, so while I am quite well-known in the genre of music I play, I am not a real rockstar.
I prefer the term budget rockstar. A budget rockstar resembles a real rockstar in many superficial ways, and many budget rockstars try their best to maintain the appearance that they swim in the same pool as the big boys and girls, but there are some very big, often insurmountable differences. A budget rockstar cannot afford to blow his extra cash on diamond-plated teeth, a garage full of Porches and Lamborghinis (we would never even qualify for financing for a set of tires), or obscure impressionist art from Micronesia. A budget rockstar will probably never meet, and definitely will never date, a super model. A budget rockstar will never own a private jet or yacht, nor be accepted into some weird club for enthusiasts of said luxury vehicles. A budget rockstar will never utter the words “Hold on a sec, Preston— my house keeper in Malibu is on the other line.”
It was the rare time when my band and crew did not pile into the tour bus for yet another long, cramped drive— instead we had flown to the Czech Republic from Norway. This meant we had what was left of the day to roam Prague, a rare luxury I planned on making the most of. Touring bands grinding out the European summer festival circuit don’t see much except for one muddy backstage parking lot after the other. The rest of the time is spent driving from one country to the next, making mostly futile mental notes to come back one day and actually visit some of the beautiful countryside that’s glimpsed through the dust-coated windows of a rented night liner as it ferries you to the next show. Being a tourist doesn’t pay too well, but you can make decent scratch driving through all that gorgeous scenery if there’s a 40,000-person gig at the end of the day’s road. European travel for most professional bands isn’t full of sight seeing, it’s full of actual travel. Overnight drives, gigs during the day, and on “days off,” really long drives. There are worse ways to make a living though…
I love the term budget rockstar! Randy's book is a must-read for any Lamb of God fan. It comes out next Tuesday, July 14th and can be pre-ordered now on Amazon.com.
Video Content Presented by Qello Concerts: