As I Lay Dying
'Dying To Succeed'
As a wise band once pointed out, what happens on the road always comes home. Sure, you can read into the darker side of that sentiment, but if you’re talking about the San Diego quintet As I Lay Dying, for whom the road literally has been home since day one, the never-ending trail of unfamiliar cities, stages and faces that comes with touring has only cut a path toward something brighter.
Formed in early 2001 to realize the developing musical vision of ex-Society’s Finest guitarist Tim Lambesis, As I Lay Dying first took shape as a trio, with (now-former) guitarist Evan White and drummer Jordan Mancino rounding out the lineup. One month into their lifespan, the group hit the studio to record their first album, Beneath The Encasing Of Ashes, released that June.
Released by Pluto in August of 2002, As I Lay Dying’s split CD with fellow San Diegans American Tragedy offered the first sign of where the band was headed. The band’s Metal Blade debut, Frail Words Collapse dropped on an unsuspecting public July of 2003.
Enter 2005. Strengthened by the road, creatively on fire, and with their lineup both solidified and contributing equally to the songwriting process, As I Lay Dying enter Big Fish Studios in Encinitas, California (the same place they’d recorded Collapse), at the beginning of January. With Lambesis at the production helm, along with help from bandmate Phil Sgrosso, and engineer/co-producer Steve Russell once again behind the boards, the quintet sequestered themselves until spring and emerged with their leanest, meanest and most focused effort yet, Shadows Are Security.
I met Jordan Mancino (drums) outside their equipment truck, where he escorted me over to a few bins and boxes. He took the large trunk, leaving me with the blue Rubbermaid container.
It’s been said that even though mainstream acceptance eluded you for those opening years that sonically the band had united the classic "Göthenburg sound" … please explain this more "If we do, we do. I dunno," he laughs. "I mean, we are influenced by Swedish bands, but we are influenced by American bands as well, you know what I mean? Like hardcore bands and stuff. I mean, I guess I would agree ... but I don't know."
Having been on tour nearly since the band’s conception back in 2001, what do you miss most about a ‘normal’ life? "I mean, to us, this is normal life. You know what I mean? We're the same as everyone else, we just play music. We do what we do. You know what I mean?"
At this point, the rubbermaid box I was sitting on began caving in. So he offered to share the trunk he was sitting on with me, which I happily moved to.
Where does the name of the band originate and what else could it so easily have been called? "We just liked it, you know. We got it from the book. We just really liked the way it sounded. It really has no meaning. You know, the meaning of the book and the meaning of our band really have nothing to do with each other. When you read the name you can tell it's a metal band. It also, you know, it's kind of poetic in a way and it kinda makes you think a little bit."
Please explain your choice of new album title, ‘Shadows Are Security’ "Um, I think it's like ... I could explain it, but I'd rather have Tim explain that one. He wrote the lyrics and stuff like that, you know what I mean. The central concept of the record is like, recognizing out need to change and our need for forgiveness, you know what I mean?"
If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated As I Lay Dying at their musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "Well, we don't really write songs, like, you know. We don't really write songs, we write songs as like a whole, like a whole album, you know what I mean? I don't really think there is one particular song. We do some chaotic stuff, some melodic stuff, It's really just all one song."
A lot of Christian Rock sites have you listed. Would you classify yourselves as a Christian Rock band? "I mean, we're Christians and we're a band. I think people just say or use the term 'Christian Band' as a marketing tool and we don't want to be marketed as Christians, or as a Christian band. We just want to be marketed as a 'band'. I mean, we are all Christians, but we are a Band."
Who created the cover art for 'Shadows Are Security'? What was the inspiration for this image and how does it relate to the CD? "Jake Bannon did it, so it would be a good question for him. Jake Bannon [vocals, Converge] does all the art for the band. He does great work. It's all very interesting. It really fits us well I think. He came up with the whole concept of the image."
How did you end up with Metal Blade Records? "Well, we signed to a record label named Pluto Records and put out a full length EP. After that we sent out press packs to a whole bunch of record labels including Metal Blade. We just really liked Metal Blade. It seemed like they just really understood what we wanted to do. And it was like we wanted to be a part of their label, and they wanted to be a part of our band, so ... you know."
What is the most outlandish thing a fan has done to get your attention? "I don't know. I'm trying to think. I mean, people do crazy stuff. Nothing too crazy you know? People do tend very violent sometimes, it's weird. I'll be walking down the street and someone will like grab me and be like "Hey! I know who you are!" and I'm like ... "Sweet. Don't grab me though." I mean, we love meeting all of our fans, it's great. It's just a little awkward though when someone just comes up and grabs you. It's like, "Alright dude, you don't have to grab me man, take it easy." It's good though. I mean, we love meeting our fans, we like to meet everyone we can, it's just strange sometimes."
Do you have a funny, possibly embarrassingly story you can tell us that may have happened to you on this road to stardom?! "I always get asked this question and I always kind of just draw a blank. But yeah, you know, it's like lots of stuff happens. Never anything too crazy, but, uh... We got stuck out in the desert once, that was fun. Yeah I mean it's like stuff always happens you know. It keeps life entertaining, the unpredictability of life."
For fun, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! [After a long pause, Jordan finally speaks] "I don't know. That's a hard one. Perhaps Culture Club?," he jokes with a laugh. "It would probably be Whitesnake's 'Here I Go Again'."
Finally, if you truly were laying there dying, what would your last wish be?! "I don't know. I probably wouldn't be here if I was."
Interviewed by Natalie Borsh
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