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In 2007, As I Lay Dying rose with meteoric vengeance from the densely packed California metalcore scene with the release of An Ocean Before Us which debuted at #8 on Billboard's Top 200 and at #1 on the Top Rock chart.
It was an amazing year of breakthroughs for the San Diego band who had been honing their craft since their formation in 2001. They won the 'Ultimate Metal God' award from MTV and received a Grammy nomination for the song, "Nothing Left."
They continued to break ground playing major festivals across America and Europe including Wacken, Soundwave and Ozzfest and releasing albums that featured a mix of originals, previously recorded material and cover nods to the bands who were responsible in influencing their thrash tinged metalcore sound.
As I Lay Dying's cover of Judas Priest's "Hellion" & "Electric Eye" from the album Decas
For their up-coming album, Awakened, set for release September 25, 2012 on Metalblade records, As I Lay Dying brought in veteran punk producer Bill Stevenson. Backstage at Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2012, I talked to drummer and founding member Jordan Mancino about the new generation of metal bands and how they're bringing the genre full circle, harkening back to the original roots of heavy, aggressive music like hardcore and heavy metal, as well as the new direction As I Lay Dying is taking on the forth-coming, Awakened.
AS I LAY DYING Live Interview - Jordan Mancino - Mayhem Festival
With this new record we wanted to change things up a bit I think. Our relationship, the recording process, the writing process, picking a producer: pretty much everything under the sun. You know, we've been a band for over ten years now and I think we're at that point where it's time to change things up--not necessarily like... we're unhappy with where we are, because that's definitely not the case. But just trying to look for something to spice things up a bit.
I guess for starters, we were looking at different producers for this record and tryng to find someone that was a little 'outside of the box' for our genre and for us.
So it was a little bit of a tedious process because there are a lot of bands that, at this point in their career, they decide to work with someone 'outside of the box' and find someone too far outside and kind of shoot themselves in the foot. They get someone that doesn't even really understand where they came from and just how aggressive music really works.
As I Lay Dying - Cauterize (Official Lyric Video), from the upcoming album Awakened
One of the first people that we actually talked to was Bill Stevenson who is a very renowned punk rock producer, he's obviously the drummer from The Descendents, Black Flag, so there's a lot of history there.
Plus us being from San Diego, which had a huge punk scene and still does. We were very immersed in that growing up, so you know, it was cool for us to just be on the phone with him. But just talking with him, hearing his take on the past couple of records that we made and how he saw us, what he thought we weren't necessarily tapping into creatively; new areas that we could explore.
We just felt like it was a perfect fit. He was far enough removed from the metal scene and from metal producing, but he still understood how aggressive music really works. Obviously punk and metal and hardcore have a very similar type of, I guess, angst.
It seems like retro is the "new metal." In a way it's kind of bringing everything back around to where Judas Priest and Scorpions and Iron maiden and Slayer and Anthrax, all those bands, where they had their roots. It brings everybody back to the root.
Definitely. I think there really has been a resurgence in younger fans listening to some of the older bands that have been around for a while. Because bands like, using us as an example, pull inspiration from these bands and kids will go see a show, they'll like our band and once they start digging more they realize that, yeah, we're fans of Judas Priest or Slayer, Motorhead, Testament, all these bands.
Then they start listening to the older bands because they want to see where we derive our inspiration from. Which I think is, like you said, sort of making things come full circle and inspiring a younger generation of thrash metal. And I think it's cool. I think that's awesome.