The metal band to return home after singer’s release from prison
Six years ago, members of the Grammy-nominated San Diego-based heavy metal group As I Lay Dying thought their career was over.
Lead singer Tim Lambesis was arrested in May 2013 for hiring an undercover detective as a hitman to kill his estranged wife. In the shock and trauma that followed, Lambesis pleaded guilty and served roughly two years behind bars.
The remaining members of the band—guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso, drummer Jordan Mancino and bassist Josh Gilbert—eventually formed a new band, Wovenwar, with vocalist Shane Blay.
However, after Lambesis was released from jail in 2016, a slow but sure path to rehabilitation, redemption and reconciliation with his former bandmates was put into motion when Lambesis publicly apologized.
This led to a reunion after a lot of reflection and communication between the band members.
“I can only speak for myself personally, but there was a strange relationship between Tim and I before this all happened,” Sgrosso says.
“But over time to see who he has changed into after serving his sentence and going into his rehabilitation process, and for the two of us to have the most positive relationship we’ve ever had is definitely the most ideal situation. I have to admit, it took a leap of faith on my side to believe and trust he became a better person. There was a willingness to forgive once he was seeking it from all those closest to him.”
Three months ago, As I Lay Dying released “Shaped by Fire,” the band’s seventh album in as many years. Sgrosso says despite past events, the musicians are still like a close-knit family.
“The word ‘family’ describes the level of interaction and dynamic between our band,” he says.
“While on tour, we’re living together, but also when we’re off tour, at home we meet up and work together. The cool part is now it’s more positive than it’s ever been between us all.”
Since reuniting with Lambesis to revive As I Lay Dying, Sgorsso says he and his bandmates have been ecstatic about the band’s new era.
“We’re all excited and grateful to have a second chance and another opportunity to do this band,” he says. “We’re making the most of it and are so lucky to have so many offers to tour, it’s incredible.”
As I Lay Dying is returning home to play Soma on Saturday, December 14. Sgrosso says San Diego shows are important.
“The hometown shows are always extra special for us,” Sgrosso says.
“But, sometimes it’s a little nerve wracking. We all get a little nervous because all of our friends and families are there and it puts a little more pressure on ourselves—and on our fans, too. They know us very well and we always want to throw the best show for them, which we do, and we still have a lot of fun doing it.”
The band is known for its intense live shows and this time will bring a taste of the new songs along.
“It’s been seven years since our last album came out, but we’re excited to throw in new material at our shows and challenge ourselves a little bit,” he says.
“The fans appreciate it, too. At each show it breathes new life into our set every night. So far the crowd reaction to the new songs has been great every time we’ve played them.”
Sgrosso says music has been a constant in his life and helped him get through the tough times.
“Music has always been a form of therapy for me,” he says.
“The best feeling I ever have is when I finish a song or a demo and I get excited for other people to hear it. Music has always been a big part of our lives. It’s just always been there for us. We’re always seeking new inspiration and influences when we’re not writing because it’s just a part of who we are. It’s our biggest passion in life.”
According to Sgrosso, the band plans to tour throughout 2020, including dates in Asia, India and Europe.
“We are eventually going to start thinking about writing music and how to release it, but for now we’re enjoying the ride of the new album. We look forward to all our shows,” Sgrosso says.
“We’re lucky to be getting so many offers and to have so many true fans still into our music.”
As I Lay Dying w/After the Burial and Emmure, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, December 14, Soma, 3350 Sports Arena Boulevard, Midway, $26.50, 619-226-7662, somasandiego.com