By now, everyone has read about the circumstances surrounding Randy Blythe’s month-plus detainment in the Czech Republic on suspicion of manslaughter. We’ve even gotten some insight into what that experience was like for Randy. But we often forget that Blythe’s bandmates were also detained in Prague and questioned by authorities.
For the first time, Chris Adler, Lamb of God’s crushing drummer, has spoken about that day in late June, when the band landed in the Czech Republic and were immediately questioned by authorities.
“It was pretty scary,” Adler tells Gun Shy Assassin. “Initially, when we got off the plane, they took us aside, and there was a SWAT team of guys and they were ready for what looked like the apocalypse. Ten guys in ski masks with machine guns. It was a scary scene.”
Lamb of God weren’t even on Czech soil five minutes before they were pulled aside by authorities. The band had just come from playing a number of European festival gigs, Adler explained.
“At first, I couldn’t wrap my head around the seriousness of it,” Adler admits. “I realized it was bad when they were pulling us aside, kind of one-by-one, and only guys from the group that we were. It wasn’t just a random immigration check that happens at a lot of borders; when you fly into some place, they’ll grab 10 to 20 people off the plane and just double check your passport or whatever.
“But when I realized it was one after the other, just band guys and one after the other crew guys…I assumed, since we’ve been doing this for such a long time, that maybe someone put something in their suitcase they weren’t supposed to have,” says Adler. “But they took us aside in this room. Initially, it was two sort of plain clothes airport-looking officers who were asking us to accompany them into this other room. That’s when I thought maybe someone forgot a joint in their bag or something. I didn’t know.”
It was late at night. Lamb of God and its crew were being detained. Confusion abounded.
“When we got into this room, that’s when these guys with ski masks showed up,” Adler explains. “That’s when it was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’ And that’s when they told us they were investigating potentially a homicide.”
Adler didn’t know what to think. “At first, I thought it couldn’t have had anything to do with us. We had been playing all these huge festivals, so I thought maybe something just happened at one of these festivals and they’re interviewing everyone who was backstage. Maybe some kind of accident happened with another band that we know…I never took it into my head initially that it had anything to do with us.”
That’s when police started questioning each member of the band. Randy was the first to be separated from the rest of the band.
“They pulled Randy aside and handed us all this piece of paper that explained in English that we were being investigated for this incident that happened two years ago,” says Chris. “The paper further said they required Randy to leave with them immediately, and they had us all in for questioning, which took most of the next day.”
Only Blythe was held overnight. The rest of the band and crew were allowed to stay in their hotel rooms, but were expected to return to police headquarters the next morning by 8 a.m.
“It was very scary, because initially you get this information that someone died, and that’s shocking and terrible on its own,” says Chris. “You feel really, really bad for this kid and his family…it’s terrible. But to also be concerned with the information that you’re being blamed for it and going to jail in Prague…it’s this weird combination of emotion and terror. For me, I just felt like a beaten dog. There was just absolutely nothing I could do.”
The band was questioned over the course of much of the next day, and released. But Blythe remained in custody. Adler says the band crossed the border in to Germany, and just waited for word of when Blythe would be freed.
As time passed, it became more and more evident he was going to be held in Prague for a while. The band returned to the states, one man down.
“We just came home, and started pooling our resources together to do what we could from here to get brother out,” Adler explains.
We’ll be bringing you more from our chat with Chris Adler in a future installment of Adler Chatter. Stay tuned.
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Chris Adler is the drummer for Grammy-nominated metal band Lamb of God and the author of the book “The Making of Lamb of God’s New American Gospel,” a comprehensive behind-the-scenes narrative book detailing the early days of Lamb of God and the writing and recording of their ‘New American Gospel’ LP. He has also released a new book that addresses the recording of ‘As The Palaces Burn.’ Anything else you need to know about Chris Adler, you can find at his web site, Chris-Adler.com.