DATE OF INTERVIEW:
AS I LAY DYING
20th October 2008
METAL DISCOVERY: Out of interest, have you ever had any feedback from fans who’ve said they’ve discovered Christianity through being into As I Lay Dying?
MD: If someone left the band, would you deem it essential that a replacement musician would have to be a Christian?
NICK HIPA: Erm…maybe things kind of along those lines but more so because our band is more positive I guess in approaching life’s situations. Tim talks about that in our lyrics, like he maybe talks about a more optimistic side - you know, like there is…for every valley there’s a mountain or whatever, you know, cheesy stuff like that…but put better! And a lot of people have come up to us and told us that just the lyrical content, and the overall vibe of the band, has helped them through some of their darkest times, and that to me is really cool because I used to turn to…I mean I still do, I always turn to music when I’m bummed or like when I’m upset or really pissed off, you know, I always put something on. It’s just we mean everything we say and we mean what we do, and it just matters a lot when something like that, like us just being ourselves and doing what we do, helps other people. So it’s cool because it makes you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile.
NH: No, I don’t think that would be our first priority, although we would be looking for someone who has the same sort of mentality we do about just respecting each other’s opinions and beliefs, because we actually, in the band we’ve got different ideas of how things are. But, as in life and anything else, you’ve got to…I guess connect on the level that you connect with your fellow man for just all the things you’ve got in common, and just understand that no-one’s the same, and no-one’s gonna feel that same about everything. So, for us, we don’t insist that our crew or people that work for us, share our same beliefs because, I mean, there are people that are surrounding us that don’t. You know, so it’s not a requirement.
(Nick Hipa on the concept of 'celebrity metal')
"...we were gonna do Denzil Moshington, which was like a Denzil Washington oriented rap-metal band!"
Nick backstage at Rock City, Nottingham, 20th October 2008
Photograph copyright © 2008 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: A stupid question I guess!
NH: Oh no, not at all, that’s a really good question!
MD: Have you ever encountered any animosity or prejudice within the scene for your beliefs considering metal iconography is predominantly rooted in the darker aspects of humanity?
NH: Yeah, well sometimes in the same way that you would get the word metalcore and people look at it derogatorily, and just assume they know what kind of band we are, and how we look and what we sound like. The same thing applies with Christianity because instantly people are like oh, Christian metal band, these guys are gonna be this way, they’re gonna be that way, and for metal…actually more fans than the metal community may turn them off. But as far as bands that we’ve toured with, we’ve never really encountered any of it. We’ve actually befriended a lot of people who don’t share our beliefs - we’ve done tours with Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth, and those guys are good friends to us. You know, for the same thing I was saying earlier, it’s just like you know what, we’re both like dudes who are stoked on music and are happy to be here, and we can have a beer together and have fun, and we don’t have to see eye to eye on everything.
MD: Like everybody in life, ever.
NH: Yeah, that’s just the way we are.
MD: Out of interest, are you aware of the Christian black metal scene, and I just wondered if you had any opinion on that, as I find it very paradoxical!
NH: Yeah, that to me is funny. I’ve never actually listened to it, but I’ve heard there is such a thing. That’s funny.
MD: I heard someone say once - what do they do, rebuild the churches?
NH: Yeah! You’ve burned them down, we’ll rebuild them! [laughs]
MD: I read in the FAQ section on your website that you were close to graduating with a literature degree?
NH: Yeah! [laughs]
MD: And you gave up due to lack of time through touring with As I Lay Dying…
MD: Do you have any plans or desire to go back and finish your studies at any point in the future?
NH: I do, definitely. I wanna go all the way with it, you know, I want to get multiple degrees, and eventually becoming a professor or something is my dream. But I feel like with school, and with music, I can’t…I mean, maybe I could, but maybe I’m telling myself right now it’s because I’m lazy, but I don’t think I could do both because I feel being in a band and playing music requires all of my attention. The same thing with studying, I don’t wanna like give fifty per cent to each because that’s all I have. You know what I mean? I really wanna have a whole day to play my guitar and do whatever than have to read and all this stuff but, at the same time, Jordan and Tim are taking classes. I don’t spend the whole day playing my guitar, but I play it a lot.
MD: You recruited Josh Gilbert on bass last year - is he a permanent member, because he’s not listed on your MySpace or website in the actual lineup of band members?
NH: Yeah, right now Josh is gonna be with us…like our commitment to him is gonna be ‘til the end of the album cycle, and for all practical purposes I would say that he is in the band, but we’ll have to see with the next record ‘cause I guess we consider the band to be the guys that wrote the last album and the one before and so…Yeah, he’s been with us that long and I guess I would say he’s a member because he does every single tour with us and takes pictures with us.
MD: Are there any bands out there you’d like to recommend to people who will be reading this interview, maybe from where you live locally, unsigned bands, or bands you think should be discovered by more people?
NH: Well, erm, there is a lot of bands that I really like…there is one band that I don’t think a lot of people have heard of called The Famine. You can check them out on MySpace - myspace.com/thefaminedestroys; they’re on our top friends actually. And those guys used to be in a band a long time that as a kid I would go and see play all the time, and they’re a big deal to me, so I suggest people check them out and, er…I don’t know, there’s just so much I can’t even think of it all!
MD: Well, that’s a good start, I’ll take a look at The Famine.
NH: Yeah, take a look at The Famine.
MD: What do you think of Tim’s Austrian Death Machine side-project?
NH: Er, you know, I think it’s fun. It’s a cool concept and it’s like very light hearted so yeah, I mean, I approve of it, I think it’s cool.
MD: Did you enjoy the CD?
NH: Yeah, yeah, I especially love the little funny bits in between. Our friend Chad does all the impersonations…
MD: Oh, I presumed that was Tim doing the Arnie impersonation.
NH: No, it was our friend Chad, and he actually used to be in the band a long time ago. But yeah, he does good impersonations and he’s one of the funniest dudes I know. I love that stuff!
MD: Has Tim tried getting a copy of the CD to Arnie in any form do you know or…?
NH: I have no idea, like I think he has, but I don’t know how it turned out. Arnold’s a hard man to get hold of!
MD: I guess he is, yeah! Even more so now in his governor capacity than when he was an actor!
NH: Well, yeah, being the governor of our state is a big deal.
MD: Are you aware of Arnocorps?
NH: No…oh, I have heard of them because Tim talked about them because I guess they do like the same thing.
MD: Their whole career is based on like an Arnie tribute band - they dress up as Arnold Schwarzenegger and sing lines from films in the lyrics.
NH: Yeah, I’m not too familiar with them and, you know, I’m not completely like familiar with everything Tim’s doing with Austrian Death Machine. I just know he’s doing it, I have the album, and I play a solo on one of the songs. But, yeah, I don’t know if there’s like beef between the two though, because I mean like, dude, someone else is doing it, and if there’s two bands in a genre, that’s something of a novelty these days!
MD: I was gonna ask, do you think there should be a new subgenre called ‘Arnie Metal’ or something, because it’s quite interesting there are two bands parodying Arnie!
NH: Well, Tim and I always joke around about celebrity metal, and that’s kind of what Austrian Death Machine is; it’s like a celebrity in a metal band. And then we joked about…you just pick anyone who’s been in multiple movies like, er…we were gonna do Denzil Moshington, which was like a Denzil Washington oriented rap-metal band!! [laughs] That’s something we would never like actually do but, you know, when you’re like actually just sitting there on a bus, we’re like let’s do celebrity metal! You know, and then you try and come up with Jean-Claude Van Damme ones and all these things, and then we’re like oh we’re here, let’s get on with life, you know! [laughs]
MD: That’ll be the next side project from Tim then?!
NH: Yeah! [laughs]
MD: Finally, what are your future aims, plans and hopes for As I Lay Dying?
NH: Well, our next plan is, in November we’re gonna be shooting some shows for inclusion in our DVD which I think we’ll finally have out next Spring and, after that, a few more tours for ‘An Ocean Between Us’ and then we’re gonna start writing again. And I think our only goals with this band is really simple, to just like put out albums that I think are awesome, you know, that we really enjoy, and that are, I guess, better than the ones before that, and then just become better live performers. That’s it, and just hope that we can continue to do this for a while.
MD: If not, then become a literature professor!
NH: Yeah, some day when it winds down, I think we’ll be happy with what we’ve already accomplished.
MD: It’s something cool to fall back on if it ever does wind-up.
NH: Yeah, yeah, you know, even when the band’s over and we can’t do this as our jobs anymore, I think we’ll all be playing music. You know, I can never not play guitar, so I just won’t be doing it for a living. I’ll just be riffing out in my bedroom again!
MD: Or to your literature students - “this is what I used to do”!
NH: Yeah! [laughs]
MD: Well thank you very much for your time.
NH: Yeah, no problem.
MD: Thank you very much.
NH: Sorry I wasn’t prepared or anything!
MD: Oh no, no worries, you were here and answered all my questions!
Official As I Lay Dying Website:
Official As I Lay Dying MySpace:
AS I LAY DYING DISCOGRAPHY
Beneath the Encasing of Ashes (2001)
As I Lay Dying/American Tragedy split album (2002)
Frail Words Collapse (2003)
Metal Blade Records Website:
Shadows are Security (2005)
An Ocean Between Us (2007)
Nick's band recommendation:
Thanks to Hannah Sylvester for recording the interview.
Thanks to Andy Turner at Metal Blade UK for arranging the interview
Cheers to Nick Hipa for his time in being interviewed
A Long March: The First Recordings (2006)