Interview with Phil Sgrosso from As I Lay Dying / 26th Nov 2010 @ Koko/London

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So how has the tour been so far? In Germany specifically! Did anything fun happen?

The few shows in Germany were great. The venues were packed; all the kids were going crazy. It’s great to be back there.

And now you’re in the UK where the food is unpleasant…I think I read on Tim’s twitter that he’s not keen on British food. What have you been eating mostly since you’ve been here?

Oh we actually found a Chipotle here. We have that back at home and usually when you find Chipotle while you are on tour in the States – it’s always a special occasion. I think everyone in the band went there today. Tim got himself four burritos! And yesterday in Norwich we went to Nando’s. So I guess we’ve been eating alright!

What are the other bands like? Do you get on well? Their styles are rather different from yours, aren’t they?

Yeah, personally I think everyone on tour is awesome. We’re sharing a bus with Suicide Silence and we instantly became really good friends and we’re having a good time together. And we’ve known Heaven Shall Burn for years, so it’s been a really fun tour so far.

Every year you guys seem to be touring with amazing bands. So which tour has been the most memorable so far?

I think every time we tour with Killswitch Engage, Unearth or In Flames. Every time we do tours or festivals together, it’s fun hanging out with those bands. But I guess one of the most memorable tours was when we opened for Killswitch and In Flames years ago back in the US… I remember thinking that it was a pivotal moment of our career to start and we were moving on to bigger and better things. And, I think it was in 2006, we played along with Cannibal Corpse, In Flames, The Black Dahlia Murder, Trivium, Machine Head, etc. That tour was probably one of the coolest for us as a headliner, you know, to play after all these amazing bands.

I read in an interview that you no longer wish to headline anymore in future, why is that?

Well, we’ve kind of grown out of this idea of just to headline all the time whereas there are so many bigger bands out there that we can support. Therefore I think at this point of the career it would be nice to move on to better opportunities and have bigger bands to take us out hopefully. We just got to this point where it is kind of exhausting to always do the same thing and we’ve been doing this for so many years. So we’ll see what options there might be.

People have always classified your music as melodic metalcore and nowadays many metalcore and deathcore bands have taken a step further into pure death or thrash metal. Can you see yourself going this direction? Or do you want to try anything experimental?

I think we’ve reached the point in our career where we need to make a big step forward, but I’m not sure if going more extreme is that step. There are already enough bands out there doing all that extreme stuff. But, you know, that distinctive melody throughout a lot of our songs is the big heart of our band…I don’t think we’ll ever abandon that. But we’re definitely at a point of our career where we should approach a different direction.

Your type of metalcore has always been one of the most creative and dynamic. So when ‘The Powerless Rise’ came out, which indeed is heavier than some of the previous albums, what responses did you expect from your fans?

Well, we obviously wanted them to be satisfied. I don’t think we did anything too unordinary. But for typical As I Lay Dying fans, I think we gave them what they wanted. ‘An Ocean Between Us’ and ‘The Powerless Rise’ are kind of two cohesive albums together; you can put both albums on shuffle and can go back and forth from record to record and still sound cohesive.

You guys have been making music together for ten years now. What kind of struggles have you all experienced as a band (also with members coming and going)? And what’s the most important thing you’ve learnt?

Just with anything that you are part of, it always comes down with communication. You have to realize that it’s a team essentially. You need to work together, and you need to know what other people’s strengths are and you need to respect each other. Of course you go through your ups and downs and when we have issues on a weekly basis – then this is where good communication gets the problems solved.

In 2007, you had reached the peak of your success with a Grammy nomination. Did that put any kind of pressure on you concerning everything that came afterwards?

Not really. I mean the Grammy nomination was an honour, in a way, to be acknowledged for the music you’ve created, but at the same time, we never expected anything more than just being nominated. Although it would have been a dream come true to get a Grammy. Though,  I think we don’t create those expectations. Our highest expectations are of ourselves and to push ourselves to become better musicians and become the best band that we can be, you know.

The song ‘parallels’ is very political, but what interests me is, you as a Christian band, also seem to be addressing existentialism, especially in the line ‘there must be more to life than to simply stay alive’. So I was wondering what philosophy is to you.

That’d be more a question directed to the lyricist of the band, Tim, but well, he has definitely created a lot of strong opinions in a humanitarian way. It’s about how people can make life better for everyone and create a different way of thinking and a new philosophy on life and ultimately how humans should interact with each other.

Also ‘The only constant is change’ is brilliant, too, because it’s so anti-conservative. But what do you say about people who stereotype it all by calling Christians Conservatives? This seems to be a big issue in the United States, right? Do you think conservatism in the US has anything to do with Christianity?

I think it has kind of been molded that way. The Christian stereotypes in the US have become a joke. They view it as a form of control. Politics and religion are brought in together – that creates a bad taste in my mouth… I think there needs to be a newer way of thinking. A lot has been done in a certain way and viewed in a certain way and I think it’s about time people start thinking for themselves and realize that things can be different. Also, take the song ‘Upside down kingdom’ for example, which is based on an upside down way of thinking. It’s the belief that something new is going to change the world for the better, only if people weren’t so terrified of changes.

Audio version (unedited):

 

by Paula Cheung, 2010 (c)

Many thanks to Phil www.asilaydying.com

deutsche Version auf Igelmetal.de

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