By MIKE CHAIKEN
Randy Blythe is best known as lead singer of heavy band, Lamb of God.
However, Blythe leads an artistic double life.
Not only is he a musician with a top band, which will perform in two shows in Connecticut over the weekend, he is an accomplished photographer with several gallery exhibits—including one in New York City— to his credit.
“It’s very much divorced (from my work with Lamb of God),” said Blythe of his photography in a phone interview from Calgary, Canada. “That’s what I like about it.”
(Lamb of God is touring behind “Legion: XX,” released under the band’s original name Burn the Priest. It is described as a collection of songs reflecting the greatness of the classic punk, hardcore, crossover and noise artists that influenced the band in their formative years. It features songs originally performed by Cro-Mags, the Accused, Bad Brains, Big Black, Agnostic Front, Quicksand, Ministry, Melvins, S.O.D., and Richmond punk band Sliang Laos.)
“I love making music,” said Blythe. “I love our fans. I love that I get to tour the world.”
But, Blythe said, “When you become well known for one thing, you become a caricature of yourself.”
“We’re (Lamb of God) an aggressive metal band,” said Blythe. “In real life, I’m a mellow surfer dude.”
“As I get older, perspective becomes more important to me,” said Blythe. “Photography is a way for me to artistically explore a different perspective.”
When he writes lyrics, said Blythe, they are subjective—they are a chance to put his own viewpoint out in to the world.
Photography is a way, however, to be more objective about the world, said Blythe.
Blythe said he’s not a studio photographer, trying to create reality. Instead, he likes to capture the reality around him.
For the most part, said Blythe, he does not go out with his camera, intent on shooting something in particular.
Oftentimes, he will go out with his camera in hand, and he will see what he can get. “There’s no pre-meditated purpose.”
“I’m a street photographer,” said Blythe. “I shoot instinctively.”
Later on, he said, when he looks at what he photographed, “It helps me understand myself in that moment.”
One of the few exceptions to just shooting what he sees was when he attended the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C. He attended the event with his camera, specifically, because he knew what he was going to see there. “I knew I was going to see a lot of upset youths.”
But he wanted to be there to document the event. “We’re in a historic time. There has not been a youth-led protest (like this) since the Vietnam War.”
Blythe said his skills as a photographer have improved since he first took up a DSLR. Initially, he kept his camera on the automatic setting and would “spray and pray.” Now, he uses a digital rangefinder camera that shoots black and white only and has only manual controls—giving him control over things like depth of field and speed of the shutter.
“It slows me down,” said Blythe. “You have to compose (the image) differently.”
“It’s like the different between driving a car that’s fully automatic and a Ferrari with a manual shift,” said Blythe of the rangefinder vs. his DSLR. “The results speak for themselves.”
As for his preference for black and white images, Blythe said part of the reason is what he perceives as his own limitations. “I’ve only been shooting now for seven years,” said Blythe, and he said he isn’t as comfortable in shooting color as he is in black and white.
Additionally, he said, he likes black and white because it shows the strength of the subject and composition of the photograph.
“With color, you can make anything look pretty,” said Blythe.
Although he has only been shooting for seven years, Blythe said he feels his photography has evolved since he began.
When he looks back on his images from the earlier days, Blythe said he found that he over edited the images—mostly compensating for what he didn’t know.
Now, Blythe is intent on getting the images right in the camera. That way editing of the images will be minimal.
While some photographers favor zoom lenses to capture candid street images from afar, Blythe shoots with lenses that require him to get in close to his subject. And he prefers it that way.
Blythe said he likes to be able to engage with his subjects as he takes their photograph. He likes the intimacy he can achieve by forcing himself to get in close.
Currently, Blythe is working on pulling together an art book with his photography. He also has plans for an art exhibit in New England this coming September—although the exact location is still not ready to be announced.
Lamb of God performs twice this coming week in Connecticut.
On Friday, June 1, they will perform at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville with Slayer, Behemoth, and Anthrax at 5 p.m. For more information, go to www.MoheganSun.com.
Then on Sunday, June 3, they play the Dome at the Oakdale in Wallingford with Behemoth at 8 p.m. For more information, go to Oakdale.com
For more information about LambofGod.com, go to www.Lamb-of-God.com. For more information about Randy Blythe, go to www.RandyBlythe.net