As I Lay Dying Interview – London Koko


Phil Sgrosso interview, London Koko, November 26, 2010



How has the tour been so far? In Germany, specifically?

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 got here?

Oh, we actually found a Chipotle here. We have that back home. It’s always a special occasion when you find Chipotle while touring in the States. 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 on tour like? Their styles are rather different from yours.

Yeah, personally, I think everyone on tour is awesome. We’re sharing a bus with Suicide Silence. We instantly became 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. 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 U.S… I remember thinking that it was a pivotal moment in our career. 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–to play after all these amazing bands.

I read in an interview that you no longer wish to headline anymore in the future. Why is that?

Well, we’ve grown out of this idea of just headlining all the time, whereas there are so many bigger bands out there that we can support. Therefore, I think it would be nice to move on to better opportunities in the career and have bigger bands to hopefully take us out. We just got to this point where it is 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. Nowadays, many metalcore and deathcore bands have taken a step further into pure death or thrash metal. Can you see yourself going in this direction? Or do you want to try something 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 in 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 response 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 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 learned?

With anything that you are part of, it always comes down to communication. You have to realize that it’s essentially a team. You need to work together. You need to know what other people’s strengths are and respect each other. Of course, you go through your ups and downs every week. This is where good communication gets the problems solved.

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

Not really. I mean, the Grammy nomination was an honor, 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. However, 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.

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 means 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.

‘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 U.S. has anything to do with Christianity?

I think it has been molded that way. The Christian stereotypes in the U.S. 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. 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; it’s based on an upside-down way of thinking. It’s the belief that something new will change the world for the better, only if people weren’t so terrified of changes.

The audio version (unedited):

by P-chan

Many thanks to Phil

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