As I Lay Dying: We did not want to go radio friendly like our peers

As I Lay Dying have proven to be the kind of band that only gets better with time. On each successive release they have become more polished, more melodic, more groovy, yet, somehow, more heavy as well. Their latest release, ‘The Powerless Rise’ has been met with critical acclaim all over the globe, so we caught up with bassist/backing vocalist Josh Gilbert for a short chat before the band began their summer festival run.

AA: The new record is out and it’s got rave reviews everywhere. How did you approach writing this one? Was there ever a point where you thought about whether you should stick to the sound you have or try and progress things?

Josh: I think everyone thinks that this is what As I Lay Dying sounds like so there’s a certain group of parameters that each song would have. But at the same time I think all those parameters were pushed a little further than they were on previous albums and everyone consciously tried to push the limit.

I guess that’s the challenge of it – writing something that still appeals to the fans but is something you’re still proud of. We’re constantly writing, we all play guitar including Jordan and Tim, so basically we just keep writing riffs and bring them to practice and see what everyone thinks of it. Months and months go into each song and we have 10-15 songs we’re working on at any given time we’re writing.

AA: Tim’s obviously been quite busy with Austrian Death Machine while As I Lay Dying was having time off. Did the songs he wrote there have an influence on ‘The Powerless Rise’?

Josh: On this record Tim had a lot less musical involvement. People think this record became more aggressive because of Austrian Death Machine but what it comes down is that there was a conscious effort to not do what our peers have done, which is water down the sound into something that is more radio friendly. I think it’s confusing people because a lot of heavy bands water down their sound more and more as their career progresses but on this record we wrote songs that were a lot heavier than our previous ones. I understand why people would say that but it was definitely unrelated.

AA: This was also the first record where you were involved with the writing process from day one. Are you more proud of ‘The Powerless Rise’ than ‘An Ocean Between Us’?

Josh: It’s like a trophy. When you are more personally invested in anything you’ll be more proud of it. I feel more proud of the performance I put into this record, definitely. I’m sure the other dudes would feel differently but it’s the first full record I was a part of, so I’m really stoked.

AA: You’d mentioned on the DVD that singing on the previous record had really pushed your voice. Was it easier this time around?

Josh: It was a lot different this time because on the last record I showed up about three weeks before they started recording and they were like ‘Here’s what you’re singing’ and I didn’t have much input. This time I had a clean slate to start out with so I got to do what I wanted. Tim would give me the lyrics and I would play around with it a little. When someone else comes up with the melody it’s cool for them to sing but it can sound really horrible with your voice, but in my case I had to do it anyway last time. It ended up being really rushed and a lot of the takes weren’t what I wanted them to be.

This time around it was different. I had my good friend Joseph McQueen engineering my vocals so basically I had unlimited time. We had two studios going this time as well so there wasn’t a battle between vocals and guitar recording like it was on the last record

AA: And with the record now out, you’re heading back on tour. Like Brian Slagel said, you guys have to be forced off the road and not onto it!

Josh: I’ve been in the band for about three-and-a-half years now and we were off for nine months writing our record and by the end I was going crazy wanting to be on tour again! The line between which one is home starts blurring! Sometimes you get burned out on tour and by the last week you just want to get home but there’s never a time when I start a tour and think ‘Holy crap I don’t wanna be here’!

If you want to stay consistent and stay relevant the best way to do that is to tour. Nowadays we get to go to crazy places like Indonesia, Thailand, even Sri Lanka. We can never run out of places to play so we can stay on the road for as long as we want and can.

AA: So the plan to take over the world is going well then?!

Josh: We’ll see how the new record does and I’ll let you know after that!

     

About Abhijeet Ahluwalia

Abhijeet Ahluwalia – I’m a freelance journalist who goes back and forth between London and Bombay. A huge metalhead, but I have an eclectic taste, from reggae to punk. Oh, and Manchester United are the greatest team in the world. Follow me on Twitter or drop me a line via Email.

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