METALCORE FAVE AS I LAY DYING ISN’T SIMPLY ONE OF THE
MOST INFLUENTIAL FAITH-FUELED BANDS IN THE GENERAL
MARKET—THE WAY PROJECT 86’S ANDREW SCHWAB SEES IT,
THE BAND IS “THE TEMPLATE FOR THOSE WHO WOULD
FOLLOW.” THIS IN MIND, SCHWAB DONNED HIS GUISE AS A
MILD-MANNERED REPORTER FOR CCM MAGAZINE AND
DELIVERED THIS INSIGHTFUL STORY.
Cornerstone 2006. The sun sunk over the mosquito-infested treeline as I approached the mainstage natural
amphitheater. As I rounded the crest of bandana-ed/pierced/hair-dyed bodies to catch my first glimpse of
the stage, I felt a sense of anticipation that you could nearly cut with a blade.
Perhaps it was the fact that night was falling. Or perhaps it was the 1200 Marshall half-stacks on the stage
that had the kiddies all riled up. It could have even been the ego ramps and banners that completed one of
the most elaborate stage settings I have seen since Slayer.
The air of anticipation.
Then again, maybe it was something a bit more profound, unbeknownst even to the band about to take
the stage, who donned the aforementioned metallia (yes, I said metallia—my new descriptor for metal
paraphernalia). I was analyzing the curious buzz of thousands of drones inside my mind when As I Lay Dying
then took the stage — minus their lead singer — for a lead-laden intro.
Classic double-bass infused with double guitar solos and riffage. The hive began to rumble with expectation. Bodies swirled in mass. Arms flew. Chaos. It bordered on phenomenon.
As the show crescendoed to the singer’s entrance, I asked myself, “What makes this band so special?” After all, their supposed genre — metalcore — had become the new, nü-metal, albeit a few steps still from finished. It had become the sound of every local opener from Kalamazoo to Petaluma. Yet this band had seemingly stayed a cut ahead of the glut…
From my vantage point, when front man Tim Lambesis took the stage, I saw a younger, tougher, more handsome Glenn Danzig. Smoke swirled around his gladiator-like frame, as his quintessential, longhaired,Thor-of-a-self appeared 12 feet tall. His growls careened off the hillside like 200 chainsaws cutting throughiron rails.
For an hour this band solidified itself as the “it” band of the moment in heavy music.
Pretty much every successful rock band has a charismatic front man. As I Lay Dying is no exception. But
more than just charisma, a crafty, wise philosophy has propelled career sales past half a million. They have
toured with everyone from Killswitch Engage to In Flames, playing major slots on everything from “Sounds
of the Underground” to “Ozzfest” to “Warped Tour.”
Their new release, An Ocean Between Us
, is a continuation of their pummeling sound, with more polarity,
more melody and more brutality all at once. It debuted in the Top 25 on the Billboard 200 sales chart,
scanning almost 35,000 copies its first week.
But this band is more than just stats. It is a new template for what
heavy bands of belief can accomplish if the vision is sound. They are
an example of sound decision-making and career direction
at an apex.
In speaking to Tim Lambesis — we had crossed paths many times
prior to this on festival stages — I realized soft-spoken demeanor and
contrite spirit might just be the foundation for this band’s impact.
Talk about where you went sonically on the newest,
We have always been lumped in with hardcore bands, but our
approach has always been decidedly metal. The technicality has always appealed to us with metal, along
with the melody. This album isn’t just all screaming or breakdowns; we really tried to explore dynamics a bit
more this time. The heavy moments are heavier. The darker moments are darker. But the singing is definitely
more present. Take a song like “Within Destruction” versus a song like “Forsaken.” “Destruction” is almost
thrashy — the opposite of melodic. The other is almost entirely sung vocally.
How has the process of crafting your
music changed since your inception in 2001?
In the early days I wrote most of the songs. Not
just the lyrics and vocals, but the music, too. If you
listen to our early material, you sense that one
person was behind most of it. Not that I dislike
playing guitar or writing, but it’s so much more
interesting to have the entire band’s input on the
songs. That’s how we try to do things now. It makes
the album much more compelling from front to
back. And I don’t think you can listen to two or three
tracks to understand exactly where we are going
with this release. You have to listen to the whole
album to get a sense of the entire picture.
How has the band evolved from a
Funny how you say “evolved.” When I was
coming up listening to music being made by
Christians seven or eight years ago, I watched bands
be very vocal about their faith early in their careers,
only to “tone it down” as they achieved more
success. That always bothered me — like they
changed who they were to get “bigger.”
We have always taken the opposite approach. We
wanted to make music that was the best it could be
and build a solid reputation as musicians and songwriters by going through legitimate channels.
Then, if we could earn people’s respect, we could
share our beliefs in such a way so it would be
received more openly. We are more outspoken
about our faith now than we ever have been before.
I definitely feel like there is an intelligent way to
present what you believe. We just want to be smart
and not alienating. There are a lot of Christians who
turn people off, and there is a right way and a wrong
way to portray faith.