Musicscan: give our readers a short briefing about as i lay dying, please. what are you guys doing right at the moment?
As I Lay Dying: Currently, we are in the middle of our three month long U.S. tour. We started on June 1st and will be gone till August 26th. There have been a lot of good shows including HellFest and Cornerstone Festival. The new CD came out on July 1st out here and since then has had a very positive reaction amongst fans. Ive really enjoyed playing the new material on tour.
Musicscan: what's your self-understanding of as i lay dying - what does your band stands for?
As I Lay Dying: We originally started this band to play music to the best of our abilities. We didnt necessarily want to play music that was technical for the sake of being technical, but we just wanted to play music that we love. I am passionate about the opportunity to play in this band because it is very personal to me. All of my lyrics are about things in life that I face while writing each record. All of us share a belief in sin and forgiveness, and that has been something that brings us together within the band. It reminds us of our need for humility. The band never really started with and agenda, message, or theme, but we do feel that there are more important things than music that we can learn from each other.
Musicscan: how did you first get involved in hardcore, metal, punk, etc...? what is your background? what have been the bands you were in the past?
As I Lay Dying: Most of us grew up on American hardcore and even a lot of punk. When we grew as musicians, we became more interested in metal because it had so much to offer us musically. Our roots are seen in our music although our sound has become increasingly metal. I am really into supporting our local scene and when I am home I go to more hardcore and punk shows than I do metal shows. Where I come from, those scenes are a little more down to earth. Before As I Lay Dying we all played in a number of bands. Edge of Mortality, Societys Finest, Tears of Frustration, Nothing to Lose & Point of Recognition are the ones that put out records.
Musicscan: you are from San Diego and this area is known for bands like swing kids, locust and drive like jehu. your band is different to those mentioned. you also have a hardcore-background, but your style is much more brutal and more metal-based. has it been one of your goals to set your band apart from those san diego-sound-bands?
As I Lay Dying: We never really thought about other San Diego bands when creating our own sound because all we cared about was playing music that we loved. Drive Like Jehu and many other San Diego bands are amazing bands that deserve credit. They likewise started with the same intentions. San Diego has a strong hardcore scene musically and even as a mentality. The hardcore background is very prominent within a lot of the upcoming bands.
Musicscan: for me personally your style of playing is aggressive, maybe a little sick, partly chaotic and yet melodic. the listener always have to expect the unexpected. that's what the songs are all about. do you agree? do you like to challenge your listener?
As I Lay Dying: Yes. There are so many different sounds within metal and hardcore, but so many bands either stick to melody or chaos. I dont see the purpose. If I wake up and feel that my life is bringing me to write a certain song, than I want to write that song. I dont want to ever say that we are only one type of metal through and through. As a whole we lean more toward certain sounds because of our personalities, but there are hidden and unexpected parts in everyones character. It is the unexpected within my mind that makes writing music fun for me.
Musicscan: your songs combine lots of different elements to create some kind of unique sound. how do you go about writing a record? what's your main focus creating new songs onto? is it an intentional drive to make the songs as varied musically as possible?
As I Lay Dying: We care to make our songs varied to a certain degree, but most of our variation comes naturally. Different music creates different feelings and vice versa. Life naturally has its ups and downs and our music creates different moods to match what we are going through when we write.
Musicscan: the new songs are on the one hand much more diverse but at the same time also more focused/ more in one line. do you feel it same way?
As I Lay Dying: I agree. There is a balance between melody and chaos that enables us to do both. It just wouldnt fit if we had 10 melodic songs and one chaotic song, or the other way around. We also created a balance to keep the record interesting from start to finish. I hope that we were able to create that feel. Aggression and emotion compliment each other very well.
Musicscan: there are lots of heavier, metal influenced hardcore-bands around these days. what sets as i lay dying apart from the rest?
As I Lay Dying: It is very true that the metalcore genre is constantly growing. Some bands try to force a certain formula. They want the chug music with the metal complexity. Our goal is just to write good songs that have a heartfelt feel. There is enough brutality, but not a lack of depth and emotion. Songwriting is something that we are constantly getting better at. A growing band is always an interesting one, so I hope to always progress.
Musicscan: in the past you have been a metal-band with hardcore-background. there always have been hc-elements. for the new records it's different... what do you consider yourself being as?
As I Lay Dying: In my view, hardcore is not as much of a sound as it is a perspective in reaction to mainstream ideals. That is still within us, but metal is something that is taking us over musically. I still appreciate the breakdowns and down to earth aggression found in hardcore however.
Musicscan: What bores you about heavy music and how do you try to avoid to play boring music?
As I Lay Dying: There are so many factors in making music and so many things that can make it boring. It isnt really something that I think about when writing, but I can name a few things I personally dont like. A lack of rhythm changes, false sincerity and passion, a lack of melody, too many slow parts or a lack of energy.
Musicscan: in the past you have often been compared to zao and your sound was in a way really close to them. "frail words collapse" is different and not very zao-like. what happened?
As I Lay Dying: Our first record was written in less than two months. That was the style of sound that I was into at the time and it shows. Weve come a long was as musicians since then and have spent a lot more time writing.
Musicscan: you have a really European sounding. are those BIG Swedish metal bands your main influences?
As I Lay Dying: Our influences are much more varied now, but there are definitely influences from bands like At the Gates and other European bands. I enjoy the melody in bands like Children of Bodom as well.
Musicscan: your sound definitely has evolved over the years and surely will keep on evolving. what will be next? how can you top this new record?
As I Lay Dying: We are still growing and learning. I think that all musicians should be. There are ideas that I have now that I cant wait to release, so I know that we will continue to outdo each record. Weve only been at this a little over two years. Im very happy with this record, but I look forward to writing new songs. Our ability as musicians and our ability to write songs must keep progressing. Otherwise, I dont see the fun in playing music.
Musicscan: as i lay dying is a band with christian background. i hope that i'm right? have you ever had problems with intolerant people while playing a show? i mean there are only a few "white metal" bands out there being on a bigger companies, sharing the stage with "black metal" bands...
As I Lay Dying: Weve had some intolerant people heckle us on stage, but those people arent usually the most intelligent people. Im dont care if people disagree with what we believe, because I love to discuss different point of views. I think that everyone should have evidence behind what they believe, so I dont take offense to anyone who would like to question me. I also like to hear evidence supporting other views. Arguments against me will either make me realized Ive following false beliefs or they will make my existing beliefs stronger. Faith and reason need to be hand in hand. We all have faith no matter what we believe.
Musicscan: speaking about your main values for life. what are they?
As I Lay Dying: I believe that we have all made mistakes and in tern should live our lives with a lot more humility than we do. Truth is more important than religion or peoples beliefs or anything else. I also believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Since He lived, I think that everyone needs to look into the evidence and decide who he was. My approach to faith and reason is very open-minded and I dont care or treat anyone different based on what they believe. Lastly, I think that it is important to have genuine relationships and friendships with people, and not to care for people based on a personal agenda or selfishness.
Musicscan: are there any principles you would never give up to?
As I Lay Dying: If I morally disagree with something, I will do my best to never give in. People do make mistakes though.
Musicscan: do you feel successful as a band? i only read very good reviews for your record...
As I Lay Dying: My feelings of success come from knowing we are doing the best we possibly can. Last week we played a show for 25 people and I was reminded that the reason I play music is because I love it. If musicians in mainstream music were paid less, then there would be much better music available because the only bands left would be the ones who are passionate about it. I may need to be reminded of this from time to time, but I want to play music for the right reasons.
Musicscan: i can imagine that it was an important step to sign metal blade. how did you get in contact with them. it's surely different to work with a small hardcore-label like pluto...
As I Lay Dying: It really isnt that much different on an artist relation level because theyve both been incredible people to work with. Metal Blade has the ability to distribute our CD more places, get us a good recording, and keep us on the road. Those are the things that have really changed for the better. I know that more people will find our about this record, but this record is also worth much more promotion than anything else weve released.
Musicscan: this whole hardcore-/thing-thing seems to be turning more and more professional. you also have improved your playing and the whole package. what do you think about it? is underground loosing its D.I.Y. identity?
As I Lay Dying: The D.I.Y. mentality is something that doesnt have to change as a band progresses or wants a better recording. I think it is the idea that if good people arent going to help me, than Im going to do it myself. Bands can be on a record label without giving into corporate people telling them what to do. The underground is about having different ideas and something important to say. Something to present that is contrary to mainstream thinking. We were confident enough in our newest CD that we started recording it and paying for it ourselves until we found the right label. A record labels money was not the only thing that mattered to us and that is why we are happy to be working with the people at Metal Blade.
Musicscan: ...and can you understand people pointing out on bands that become a little bigger. i cannot, but it's the same game every time. the locust are blamed for being on anti- now i read. this can't be true...
As I Lay Dying: The Locust havent changed. From what I know, they just want to play music and they wanted their music to get places. They are uncompromising about giving into change, but sometimes bands end up doing well on a big label. Their lyrics dont make sense to me, but if they get bigger and have a message, than more people might have the opportunity to change. Mainstream listeners are often compared to robots that do what they are told, but the mainstream music listeners wont have the chance to change if they are never exposed to other options.
Musicscan: what kind of people should be interested in as i lay dying? where do you see your potential listeners? it's not that "true metal head" i guess.
As I Lay Dying: We only have one true long hair in the band, so we may not qualify in all metal circles. I personally dont care who is into the disc and hope that anyone can enjoy it. It is difficult to say where it will do well in the long run because our older fans have been from the metal/hardcore crossover, the actual sound of the CD is metal in my opinion.
Musicscan: what kind of mix you see on your live shows? it should be a diverse crowd i think. i never saw you playing live so far. what is an as i lay dying live-show all about?
As I Lay Dying: There is definitely a mix. Some shows are more diverse than others. The hardcore kids come to dance and sometimes the metal kids think they are trying to fight. That can be bad news. For the most part, the guys in the front bang their heads and a few rows back the kids can mosh.
Musicscan: How much attention you put on Europe? is there a chance to see you playing live here in Germany soon?
As I Lay Dying: We want to come to Europe some time this year. I dont know much about Metal Blade Europe but they seem to be doing a great job. Once the CD gets around a little we will try to come out there in the spring.
Musicscan: your biggest wish to happen for the band?
As I Lay Dying: To be big enough that we can take all of our friends bands on tour as openers.