Interviewed by Rob Benny
Date: August 2007
I've had the pleasure of interviewing AS I LAY DYING front man Tim Lambesis. He is a great front man, well spoken and down to earth. This interview covers everything from the new album, the Warped Tour, to the state of marketing in an internet-dominated world. Enjoy! - Rob Benny
Rob Benny: Talk a little bit about the forthcoming album "An Ocean Between Us,” as far as its sound, direction, and how it compares to your previous albums.
Tim Lambesis: As far as direction goes, we're taking the best elements from all our albums, and putting it together to create the new album. It's darker than "Shadows and Security,” and has the same heaviness of "Frail Words Collapse" but without losing the melodic elements that have made up our sound. So, it's stretching the boundaries even further and I think our fans will really like it.
Rob Benny: I've noticed your new music on MySpace has been up already. To me, it has more of a 'live', 'energetic' feel to it.
Tim Lambesis: Yea, we put up the song from the new album on MySpace, and we had fans asking us "hey, what happened to all the melody?" (Laughter) So, we put up a second track yesterday, and fans were really, really happy that we didn't lose our melodic edge. We'll probably add more songs at different points, but I'd really like for them to listen to the whole album, because it's a lot more diverse.
Rob Benny: That's great. What bands have influenced the new album?
Tim Lambesis: We've got a wide variety of influences from each member. Phil has the Swedish, Melodic Metal sound that influences his writing while I'm definitely more into the American, thrashier and heavier end of the spectrum. Nick is more into experimental music that is really different from what we listen to. So when we take each idea from all of us, then focus on the main riffs, it all comes out great. You definitely can hear the combined influences in our songwriting and, it really makes our sound unique.
Rob Benny: Absolutely, so, how's ‘Warped Tour’ going so far? I know it's only your... first, second day?
Tim Lambesis: It's our second day on, and it's been really good. Well, yesterday we flew in and our tour bus broke down with all our gear. It didn't make it to the concert until 45 minutes before we had to go on, so that was hectic for us. But we're at the point now that, if it had to come to it, we can borrow equipment from another band and they'd have no problem with it. But so far, I really like how the fans have been reacting towards us.
Rob Benny: How do you guys feel about being one of the fewer Metal bands on the Punk dominated ‘Warped Tour’?
Tim Lambesis: It's a very new experience for us. Over the years, we've mainly played for a Metal crowd, and most of our tours we've done have been with pure Metal bands. So at first, we were wondering how the people would react towards us, but so far, we are amazed at how people are really giving us a chance, being one of the few Metal bands on a tour that's mostly filled with Punk rockers. It will attract a whole new audience that we never imagined we'd have before. So, we think things are going really well.
Rob Benny: What's the story behind Clint leaving the band?
Tim Lambesis: Ahh... well, I can tell you the short version, or the long version. Clint...he was on tour with us shortly after he was engaged with his fiancé. And while we were on our last tour, he decided that since he is engaged, he wants to pursue a normal life and career while spending more time to build his future. The rest of us, we're all gung-ho about writing and recording the new record, and then going on tour immediately afterwards, and it's certainly not the 'normal life'.
Rob Benny: Oh no, it's a commitment. It's a very serious commitment where you can't look back once you pursue it.
Tim Lambesis: Exactly, so, Clint came up to us and honestly said that he never thought of being a musician his entire life, and was just not passionate about it anymore. We completely understood, and he left at time where we were writing for the new album. He was not involved with the songwriting process as much so he left at a very good time, which worked out well for all of us.
Rob Benny: I see. So, on the ‘Warped Tour’, who are your favorite bands that you've seen.
Tim Lambesis: Well, I'm sort of biased towards my friends (laughter). Actually, I've always been a fan of the guys from THROWDOWN, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, and we get along. There are many great bands on this tour, but the two bands I mentioned are very different. They put on a really great live show too, and since they're sharing the stage with us, we get to check out their sets more often.
Rob Benny: I wouldn't say you're necessarily biased, just that you're supporting each other as musicians.
Tim Lambesis: Oh yeah... there's no competition amongst us either, and no infighting either which really works out for everyone. When we started touring on bigger festivals, there was always so much competition with the bigger bands. It was either see MEGADETH here or, any other well-known band over there. So, we're glad that on ‘Warped Tour’, at least with what we've seen, we're happy that is not happening anywhere near as much. We hope the whole scene does well and that every band gets something positive out of the experience.
Rob Benny: Excellent… in recent times, the internet has been having a tremendous impact on the Music Business. Major labels are worried of crumbling, Indie labels are growing immensely, and sites like MySpace and iTunes are giving many younger bands the opportunity to market music. What's your stance on this new state of music marketing?
Tim Lambesis: The way I see it, music in general seems to be less controlled by the Major labels. Indie labels are expanding and ever growing with much more power than ever. Years ago, many bands would never have the exposure they have now if they were on an Indie. But nowadays, thanks to the internet and with people getting sick of commercial radio, there are plenty of opportunities for bands on Indie labels to become huge. I mean, they may not sell as many albums, but they may make up for it with T-Shirts and other merchandise.
Rob Benny: I agree. There's plenty of room for growth without having to be pre-packaged and manufactured on an Indie label such as Metal Blade.
Tim Lambesis: Absolutely, I mean, it's great that we can get on the phone with the owner and talk to him about our music, recordings, merchandise, and any changes we want to make. We've had the pleasure of talking to a few Major labels throughout the past year, but in the end, we decided that we'd rather stay and put out our next album on Metal Blade. If you are newly signed to a Major label, you don't have that ability to talk to anyone on a one to one. First, you'd have to talk to your A&R guy, who would then have to talk to his boss, and his boss would have to go to the chair holder for a yes or no answer. It's such a long, drawn out process, and we're not a band who's going to settle for writing pop singles. We're not looking for that approval; we want to put out great music that we truly believe in without having it watered down.
Rob Benny: Exactly, It's very cool that you guys get to make the music that you want, and that you truly stand behind it. So, speaking of which... how have you guys felt about having to share the stage with bands who use darker themes in their music (relating to evil subject matter)?
Tim Lambesis: Well, I'm one to say that if a band truly believes in something and stands up for it, even if I don't agree with it, then I respect them for defending their position. But I realize that I believe in one truth, and realize that I can't be right and have everyone else with views that are different be right at the same time. So, I believe one is either right or wrong. But at the same time, I don't think it's a good idea to take the diversity out of the music. Somewhere along the way, someone is going to develop a certain "theology" or way of defending their beliefs through music. While some do it because they are convinced it's the truth, others do it just because they think there's more than one option out there...
Rob Benny: I've noticed that in your lyrical themes in your last few albums, too. Seeking to send the message of that ‘one’ truth that you defend, while expanding your horizons as musicians.
Tim Lambesis: Exactly, I mean... we've played shows and shared the stage with bands who are "Satanic,” and since we're all Christians, it's totally the opposite of us. Many bands use that imagery as a joke, they are just kidding around, Yet their fans take it so seriously. At that point, where do you draw the line and how far does one really go? But I like that we are different, and that our stage show can attract a wide range of fans through our music who can relate to our lyrics.
Rob Benny: It's interesting you say that. Most fans of Metal think of bands like STRYPER or CREED when they hear the term Christian Metal mentioned. Yet, your lyrics have a lot more substance and avoid coming across too over the top or "preachy.”
Tim Lambesis: Yea, I feel that when STRYPER came around and put out "To Hell With the Devil,” it came across in a humorous cheesy manner. And when that happens, it's hard to take that message seriously and internalize it to make a positive change on your life. But when I write the lyrics, I focus on deeper, more personal aspects. I know that I can only change myself, and my lyrics allow me to grow, as a musician and as a person. And when I hear of fans talk about how my lyrics have an impact on their life, it makes me extremely happy.
Rob Benny: Glad to hear! So, where do you see yourself, as well as the band, in the next 5-10 years?
Tim Lambesis: I don't have any huge unreasonable goals of AS I LAY DYING being the biggest in the world. I would really like to see us all continue to be passionate about the music we create and put out. Because I feel that if we're not happy or truly devoted to the music anymore, I'd say that we should not continue. But, I feel that we're extremely happy about what we're doing. If we can put out 4 or 5 albums in the next 10 years that people will really like, then it's all worth it.
Rob Benny: Definitely, any last words you'd like to add before wrapping up?
Tim Lambesis: The new album, "An Ocean Between Us" is coming out very soon. It's more diverse musically and lyrically, and now that we're on ‘Warped Tour’, more people will have a chance to be exposed to our music who have never heard us before.
Rob Benny: Tim, thank you very much for your time, it's been a pleasure!
Tim Lambesis: You're welcome, Rob!