LAMB OF GOD’S RANDY BLYTHE, “I HONESTLY HOPE WE CANCELLED A TOUR FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING”
As previously reported, due to the terrorist attacks in Paris, and subsequent threats elsewhere, Lamb of God decided to cancel the remainder of their European tour dates over safety concerns. Frontman Randy Blythe has posted an in-depth statement regarding the band’s decision on his official blog page, Randonesia. Excerpts from the statement below:
“At the request of management, I have agreed to write a post concerning our recently cancelled tour of Europe. I wouldn’t have bothered to do this on my own, since a rather self-explanatory general statement has already been made explaining our reasons for leaving and that seems more than sufficient to me. The basic gist of the post was that something specific occurred that made some of us in the band feel that it was unwise to continue on with the tour, potentially putting ourselves, our crew, and large numbers of defenseless people in harm’s way. Simple enough. And I won’t elaborate on the details of that occurrence here, since I have no wish to add to the atmosphere of speculation and fear that currently surrounds terrorist activities in Europe. There are way too many ill-informed running mouths across the globe making an already tense, highly complex, and extremely fluid situation on that continent even worse. I feel pretty ridiculous even writing this (who knew deciding to cancel a tour after venues you have played start getting blown up would require any sort of explanation to anyone?), but since I have been asked nicely to do so by the people I employ to manage my band, I will. And as one of the band members who said, ‘I am done here,’ I will speak solely for myself, not my band as a whole…
…So here is what I have to say, and it’s all I’m going to say on this matter, PERIOD….
Obviously, no working band wants to cancel a tour, especially once it is underway — fans get disappointed, a lot of money gets lost by several different groups of people, a massive amount of time is wasted by all parties involved, it’s generally an all-around bad business move, and (trust me) it’s just a huge pain in the ass.
My band is not in the habit of cancelling tours, so unless there is a family emergency, we carry on regardless of almost anything. And lots of ‘interesting’ things have occurred in our 21 years of existence as a band. We have taken the stage five minutes after martial law has been declared (Bangkok, Thailand), we have been stuck in airports for multiple days unable to enter a country because the armed forces and the police force of that country have decided to go to war with each other (Ecuador), we have narrowly missed, driven through, or managed to maneuver around deadly natural catastrophes (earthquakes in China, floods in Poland, hurricanes here in America, and more). Personally, I’ve gone onstage with a broken arm, broken ribs, various broken toes, a broken nose, staples in my forehead due to a stagedive gone wrong. Hell, I’ve even been to prison in a foreign country, gotten out after a month, and played massive gigs a little over a week later. In fact, before the first night of this very tour had even gotten underway, I met a group of particularly unpleasant young people on a dark street and consequently played the first few shows with a banging headache.
My band and I aren’t even strangers to touring in an environment of terror. Just over a month after September 11th, 2001, we played in Times Square, downtown Manhattan, New York City (a lot of bands, especially European bands, cancelled tours of the States around that time, and I didn’t blame them — it was a seriously heavy time to be in America). But such is the life of a touring musician, so something really, really serious has to occur to make us cancel. And something really, really serious (and utterly heartbreaking) did occur in Paris, prompting several bands to go home early or cancel upcoming tours. I couldn’t blame them. But my band didn’t leave — we paid attention to what was going on, evaluated the situation the best we could, and decided to continue on with the tour. Despite some obvious concerns, it felt like the right thing to do.
Sitting in a hotel room in London, as I followed along in real time during the tragic massacre in Paris at Bataclan I could see the layout of the club in my mind, and I thought, ‘That is a terrible spot to be trapped in like that (which, of course, is exactly why the gunmen chose it). God help those people inside.’ It was sickening to me that people were dying just because they wanted to see a rock show, and what made it worse was that I could clearly envision it happening as it went down; I’d played that club several times before.
Eighty-nine people died in Bataclan that night, including one individual known to several crew members of our tour. The next day, the mood was serious before the gig, but all the bands got up and played their hearts out. It felt like the right thing to do, to try and raise people’s spirits. From the stage, I told the audience to try not to be consumed by hatred or to live in fear….
Then the band and crew flew to Stuttgart, Germany. We had originally planned to ride the ferry from Dover, England to Calais, France and from there make our way to Germany, but after the bombings and shootings in Paris, the French government shut the borders, and we figured either the ferry wouldn’t be available or it would just be a complete security nightmare, so we spent money on flights. Imagine my surprise when I talked to our bus driver the day of our gig in Stuttgart, asking him how crowded and hectic the ferry ride was. ‘Oh, no, it was almost empty,’ he said. ‘And when we got to France, we were just waved in — there were no cops there at the border or anywhere in sight.’ Umm… okay. That seemed just a little loose to me, given that just three days previously men who had traveled from a nearby different country had blown themselves up in Paris after massacring over 100 human beings, but I’m no security expert, so what do I know, right?
Right before I walked onstage in Stuttgart, I saw on the news that they evacuated a soccer stadium north of us in Hannover, Germany due to threat of explosives. I didn’t exactly feel relaxed going onstage that night, but it turned out to be a great gig, despite once again me having to stop the show so another injured crowd member could get wheeled out to an ambulance..And so we continued on through mainland Europe to Tilburg, Netherlands. Once again, it felt like the right thing to do.
I woke up in a great mood around 1 or 2 p.m. on the day of the Tilburg show (I like Holland, and always enjoy my time there), went into the venue, ate lunch and began looking online to see if there was a camera store nearby. Sometime later that afternoon, soon before the band was scheduled to soundcheck, our tour manager called us together, closed the dressing room door, and said, ‘I’ve got some news, and it’s not good.’ He then informed us of a specific occurrence that made me immediately say, ‘F–k this, I’m not going on that stage tonight.’ At that moment, it no longer felt like the right thing to do anymore, not at all. It did not feel like the right thing to still stand on stage and tell people, ‘Don’t worry about it. Come on in and enjoy yourselves. There’s no need for concern.’ It did not feel like the right thing — not for myself, not for the people I employ, and not for our fans. Things had quickly changed — it felt foolish, it felt irresponsible, and it felt potentially very, very dangerous.
As I mentioned earlier, I do not wish to add more rumors or speculation to an already tense and constantly shifting situation in Europe, so I won’t go into details. Suffice it to say, this new specific piece of information (not some nebulous news story about the generally pensive atmosphere pervading Europe at the time) gave me enough to pause to think, ‘I am not going to chance endangering the lives of myself, my crew, and the 1,800 or so fans expected to show up this evening by going on with this show. I can’t tell these people they are safe in here. It does not feel right, screw this, I’m out of here.’ Furthermore, what I had just been told made me think, ‘Even if it’s nothing tonight, I’m not going to go through this every day. Our job is done here for now. It’s time to go home…That was my judgment call. I stand by it…
Shortly after our tour manager told the club manager we had decided not to play, the venue put a press release saying the gig was cancelled, and our crew began to pack up everything onstage. The doors never opened to the general public, and I feel very, very good about being part of the decision that caused that. Why? Because, aside from some grumpy fans’s feelings, no one got hurt that night…Maybe cancelling the gig was all for nothing. But maybe not. And if things had gone badly, afterwards while I sat talking to the cops (because in all probability, once guns started going off, I would have made it out the nearby back exit while the fans and maybe some of my crew got stuck inside and gunned downed or blown to bits like those poor people in Paris), I would have said to myself, ‘You got some specific information. You knew there was something potentially sketchy. You didn’t feel right about this. Why didn’t you just cancel the show, you stupid, selfish, idiot?’
…I hope that the situation in Europe and everywhere else calms down, posthaste (and yes, I know that an attack could occur in America — obviously, I’d feel better about being at home to help deal with it the best I could, or at the very least die on my native soil). I hope no one else dies anywhere on the planet (and this is a global problem) because some misguided maniacs with suicide vests and Kalashnikovs decide to martyr themselves over their twisted interpretation of divine will. But yesterday at least 21 people died in Mali during a hostage situation at the hands of terrorists, and as I write this, Milan, Italy (where we were booked in three days) is on high alert. And the city of Brussels (where we were scheduled to play next week) has been placed on the highest possible alert, with governmental officials telling people to avoid high concentration areas like sporting events, train depots, airports, and… concerts. Downtown is basically shut down, and I’m more than happy we won’t be filling a concert venue there (or any other place at the moment) for something to potentially go terribly, terribly wrong. The way I feel, to do so at this particular time seems not only risky to myself, but irresponsible to our crew and fans…
…one typical and very widespread online reaction I saw (and was completely baffled by) was, ‘ISIS wins! By not playing, they are letting ISIS win!’
‘By not playing, they are letting ISIS win’? People, do you have any idea of how colossally stupid this sounds? Please crawl out of the hive mind echo chamber for a second and try to use your own head for a change. These are ROCK BANDS trying to play a gig without being gunned down onstage, not Navy SEALS assaulting a mountain stronghold in the Hindu Kush. You aren’t going to stop a bullet with a ripping guitar solo — Jimi f–king Hendrix couldn’t do that, even if he resurrected and came back to rock Europe one more time…Almost 100 people died horrific deaths just over a week ago, screaming with terror as they were gunned down like fish in a barrel simply because they were crammed into a club trying to have a good time at a rock show. These were real human beings, not blips in a Twitter feed. Tragically, more people might die before it’s over. I hope not, but overall the situation in Europe doesn’t look good at this second.
I encourage those of you who don’t agree with my assessment of the situation to immediately book a ticket to Belgium, walk around with picket signs in front of Ancienne Belgique (the club we were booked to play in Brussels) and yell at them about how they aren’t properly fighting terrorism by closing their doors. I’m sure your presence there will do the people of Brussels a ton of good…
…Right now, several of my friends remain in Europe on tour. I hope they have good gigs, I hope they stay safe over there, and I hope (most importantly) that they return home safely to their loved ones. It is their decision to stay, and I respect that.
…I honestly hope we cancelled a tour for absolutely nothing, so that people can point their fat little fingers at this later and laugh their heads off at my unwarranted concerns. I would rather be ridiculed by the entire online virtual peanut gallery of pinheads than take chances on myself or anyone else getting hurt or killed (and yes, I include even the dummies who are mad and still can’t understand why we cancelled) because I ignored what I felt was the smartest move given our circumstances.
I can deal with people disagreeing with me and my actions, no problem. I could not deal with a news story that reads, ‘Hundreds die at LAMB OF GOD concert; authorities say potential warning signs were ignored by band.’ Then people would have something of actual consequence to bitch about, not a few cancelled heavy metal concerts. ‘How could those fucking American morons play a show when they thought something might happen? Why didn’t they cancel? Now there are dead people everywhere. What a bunch of ASSHOLES.’ No thanks. Better safe than on CNN.
Y’all stay safe, and let’s hope this mess gets sorted out soon.
That is all I have to say.”
Read Randy Blythe’s entire statement, here.
additional source: bravewords.com