One would be hard pressed to argue that the members of As I Lay Dying don’t shred really friggin’ hard when they play. Science has done studies confirming they do.

For as intense of a performance as they give, it could easily be extrapolated that the band members bring that same “go big or go home” attitude to every aspect of their lives. Pull the San Diego natives away from their second home on the stage, however, and they’ll show themselves to be … kind of boring.

In a scene that often feels dominated by rock star clichés of excess, be it an excess either of debauchery or soapboxing, maybe boring isn’t such a bad thing, though. When they aren’t busy melting the collective faces of audiences, the band members can usually be found with girlfriends and wives or bro-ing out with whichever other bands they’ve hit the road with and sometimes the occasional journalist.

“Even though we’re not that old, I think we’re one of the more seasoned bands,” says guitarist Nick Hipa. “Other dudes are out here going crazy, and we just keep it mellow. That stuff is fleeting, I just like hanging out with my friends, watching bands that I love.”

Having grown into their roles as quintessential main stage headliners, the band has had ample opportunities to indulge in hedonism, but Hipa and his band mates have more important things to do with their time. And if the ever lengthening press schedules and lines of fans at waiting to see the band play or get something signed by them are any indication, the fivesome likely don’t have the time or energy left to get into too much trouble even if they wanted to.

With the release of their last album, An Ocean Between Us, now a year and a half under the belts, Hipa, bassist Josh Gilbert, singer Tim Lambesis, drummer Jordan Mancino and fellow guitarist Phil Sgrosso are confident their latest effort wouldn’t warrant any less.

“We wanted to make a diverse album that encompassed all sorts of elements of things we like in metal and not make it a straightforward melodic metal album with breakdowns,” says Hipa. “I couldn’t really listen to [Shadows Are Security] the whole way through without getting burnt out on it. I thought it was cool because it was more of a concept album, but I wanted to create something that was an interesting listen the whole way through.”

Taking a more inclusive approach to writing, fully utilizing the varied spectrum of influences each of the band members brings to the table, proved to be the secret to success.

“This was a more complete songwriting process. Before, it was mostly Phil and Tim, and I was there for a lot of it, but it wasn’t as band-oriented as it was on this album.”

And as Hipa reveals, pulling together as a unit couldn’t have been more integral at that point.

“We had lost [former bassist Clint Norris] and were stressing because we didn’t know who was going to produce our album or who was going to be our new bass player,” he says.

On a more personal level, he continues, “I had a ridiculously rough end of the year. We were right in the middle of recording the album, I had a birthday, my grandpa died, my girlfriend of seven years broke up with me, and it all happened at once. It was a very emotional time for me, and I played a lot of guitar during that. I feel like a lot of things I brought to the table during that time period were very moody and when I hear certain things, I still remember how I felt when I wrote it.”

Feigning an exaggerated emo intonation for effect, he adds, “It sounds so cheesy and cliché, but it was like, ‘this is all I have.’”

To his credit, at least he can laugh about it now, given that his outlet proved to be as cathartic as was necessary. But even knowing the impact playing music has had on him, Hipa still finds himself a bit in awe when finding others relate to his band’s work similarly.

“When you meet someone that tells you that, it’s powerful,” he says of fans expressing their emotional attachment to certain songs. “They’re Tim’s lyrics, but we’re all together in one accord with everything the band is about. I can’t believe or understand that our band could mean that much to kids. That’s one of the most rewarding parts of being in this band, because we’re not a bunch of dudes who just want to hook up with chicks and party every night. There’s a lot behind everything we do, and it’s cool to think that our band matters to kids and is something positive.”

Along with that, of course, come the fans inspired in their own musical pursuits by the band’s music, which Hipa admits is equally as strange for him still.

“When we do signings, kids will say ‘You guys are a huge influence on our band,’ and I’m very vocal about saying ‘I’m not that sweet, you need to check out this and this…’” he says. “Listening to certain metal guitar players, they said, ‘If you really want to hear what a good guitar player sounds like, listen to these people,’ and that’s how I got into different classical and jazz guitar players. That’s how it is for musicians though, unless you’re a jerk, you don’t really recognize yourself as being sweet.”

Quick to deflect attention away from himself, Hipa’s ability to stay grounded becomes easier to trace when he talks about his family.

“There are two quotes that I repeat to myself often that come from two different schools of thought, one from each of my grandfathers. My Irish grandfather always told me growing up to never stop aspiring. Then there’s my Hawaiian grandfather, who always told me, don’t sweat the small stuff. It used to bother me so much, but there are so many things in life you can get bent over that just aren’t worth it.”

With a big laugh, Hipa closes with his own all too appropriate words of guidance, ready to impart on his future offspring.

“I’m going to tell my grandkids to keep it brutal.”



For more information, visit asilaydying.com.