Back in 2008, I won the Lamb of God “Producer Challenge,” sponsored by the band, Epic Records, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and Apple’s GarageBand. The band released a special edition of their album “Sacrament” that contained a bonus disc of the isolated audio stems (grouped by instrument) for fans to remix.
I was an active member of Lamb of God’s online discussion forum at the time (and I’m not sure if that counted against me or for me, to be honest). I shared some helpful advice with other users, and a couple of preliminary experiments with the stems there. I posted image files of tempo maps to some of the tracks, which I hope helped others sync their loops and effects.
I’ve been a fan of Lamb of God since their first album, so I was happy to fly to New York City to meet them, be at the premiere of their DVD, and spend some time with them live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio. They were all nice to me, and funny. José Mangin was, of course, awesome. I also met the legendary publicist Metal Maria Ferrero, a name that I was familiar with from reading countless liner notes since the 1980s. She was in the SIRIUS studios during our chat, and was embarrassingly complimentary of my remix.
It turned into one of those “Indians in Unexpected Places” days. During the call-in portion of the radio session, Faith from Arizona asked Randy about going to a sweat lodge. It was the third call: “I remember Randy saying that he wanted to go to a Native sweat lodge, I was wondering if he ever did that.”
Randy Blythe: “I have some Paiute friends who live out in Nevada and they have a sweat planned for me whenever I can get out there, they live out in Pyramid Lake, and I haven’t had a chance yet but I’m hoping to later this summer. Actually I called one of the dudes earlier this week, and that would be pretty damn cool.”
I’m not used to people who are able to not only name a tribe but can accurately identify where that tribe is. Kudos to Randy for having a clue, and even being respectful.
José asked, “Randy, what’s a sweat plant?”
Much laughter and several shouts of “Lodge!” ensued. “Ask this guy,” said Randy (indicating me), “he knows.”
“We have a winner here,” said Chris (iirc).
“He’s an authority, I would assume,” added Randy.
“What a topical call,” said Chris, before explaining the contest. After some more chatter, and my brief introduction, the band brought it back to the sweat lodge. “He’s Ojibwe,” said Randy; he knew from asking me earlier that day.
“Sweats are cool,” I said. “It’s actually one of the oldest ceremonies in the world. They happen in various cultures around the world, and here in Native Americas we do it a lot. It’s a good thing to do.”
I was surprised at having to field such a question, and I felt it deserved an answer though I was also trying to keep it vague. I’m not into supporting cultural voyeurism, nor do I endorse the idea that everyone is entitled to know everything—both despite and because I teach in universities.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the turn the conversation took.
“Is it like,” José asked, “you’re smoking peyote, sweating, or…?”
“No,” Randy and I said simultaneously. Someone (Chris, I think) asked “Why do you do it?”
“It’s like a purification ritual, mainly,” I said. “You go in. You pray. You go into lodge, it’s hot, they bring in rocks, they steam them up, and it’s kind of like a sauna, and it can go all night or last a few minutes.”
Another caller asked when the band would play “The Great Navajo Nation.” I guess I was surprised to hear Native topics come up, and mostly pleased at the level of Native representation during the show.
Afterward, we took a photo (see above: Willie Adler, Anabella P., Randy Blythe, niin sa, Chris Adler, John Campbell, and José Mangin). Then, I stood on the sidewalks of NYC smoking cigarettes and talking with Lamb of God. Randy is an avid reader, and asked me to email him a copy of my dissertation (which I did).
Here’s the winning remix: