After spending 37 days in a Czech prison, Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe returned to the United States earlier this month, and in the time since, he’s been readjusting to life in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia — a task that’s proving tough, considering he’s still facing manslaughter charges and, if his case goes to trial, could spend five to 10 years behind bars.
Still, every day, a bit of normalcy returns. Beginning Friday, Lamb of God will be back on the stage, playing the two-day Knotfest in Iowa and Minnesota. It’ll be their first shows since Blythe was arrested on June 27 in Prague, and needless to say, he’s looking forward to getting back up there and just letting go. (“Playing is pretty cathartic for me, and I’ve got a big ball of weird emotions going on right now,” he told MTV News.)
So, on the eve of Lamb of God’s return, we’re rolling out more of our interview with Blythe, which took place one week after he had settled back in Richmond. And though, at the time, he was wary to talk about what may lie ahead — there has been no trial date set for his case, which involved the death of a fan at a show in 2010 — he was more than willing to talk about everything that had happened since the day he was taken into custody, beginning with the bizarre series of events that occurred at the airport in Prague.
“When I first got arrested, for about two minutes, it was very, very surreal at the airport. There were these guys with machine guns and masks, and they looked like they were there to catch a terrorist, and I was like ‘What is going on? This is not reality,’ ” he said. “None of us had ever done anything to warrant such a show of force, and I looked at my bass player and I started singing some Kool & the Gang … you know, ‘There’s a party going on right here.’ And he goes ‘No no no, this is serious.’ To be honest, I thought there had been some sort of mix-up, I thought maybe someone had put something in our luggage or something.”
Soon after being taken into custody, Blythe found himself in a Czech prison, which is where the gravity of his situation began to set in. Still, he said that he never allowed himself to worry … mostly because he maintained his innocence, but also because he wouldn’t allow himself to start pondering what might happen.
“For me, I always try and maintain the mentality that this is reality, wherever I am, and I have to deal with it as such. And I’ve found that if I let my mind start going into these unknown, potentially awful futures, then I would just sit there and become an emotional wreck,” he said. “And the way I look at it, yeah it is kind of scary, but before I went to this prison, a month earlier, we had a day off in Krakow, Poland … and I had taken a bus to Auschwitz by myself, and toured the place … and that kind of stuff makes you realize ‘OK, I’m in prison, they want to give me 10 years, that’s nothing compared to atrocities that have occurred, and are still occurring in some places.’
“I had food, I had clothes on my back, and I had shelter over my head, you know, I’m not in the Middle East. I’m not in Syria, having people drop bombs on my neighborhood. I’m not in a concentration camp,” he continued. “So I tried to keep things in perspective.”
While his bail was being challenged by the Czech prosecutor , Blythe remained behind bars. And over the next six weeks, he remained largely unaware of what was happening in his case — mostly because he couldn’t read the Czech newspapers that were covering it. So he relied on those on the inside to fill him in on the details.
“My fellow prisoners could read about this in the papers, and when we would go out for a walk, an hour each day, they’d tell me what was happening,” he said. “I learned the first time the prosecutor’s appeal for my bail was rejected, I learned about it from a prisoner. And one day I go out and they’re like, ‘Ozzy Osbourne has said something good for you,’ because there was something about Ozzy coming out in support of me in the paper.”
And though he was finally freed earlier this month, Blythe said that his manslaughter case is always on his mind and he maintains that, if necessary, he’ll return back to the Czech Republic to stand trial. Partially because he feels it’s his duty (“It’s the correct thing for me to do … this poor young man’s family deserves some answers”), but also because he’s determined to clear his name, particularly in the Czech media, who he says portrayed him unfairly.
“Every day, the media was saying something different,” he said. “And some of the Czech media certainly wasn’t kind to me, they really sensationalized some things when I was first arrested. There were reports that I had murdered a woman, that I was kicking some dude’s head in, all this nonsense … I want to set the record straight.”