AS I LAY DYING Guitarist Talks About New Album, 'Christian Metal' Tag recently conducted an in-depth interview with AS I LAY DYING guitarist Nick Hipa. Several excerpts follow: Overall, how would you describe the songwriting and recording process for (the forthcoming) "An Ocean Between Us"?

Nick: "It's almost done. We're in the final stages of mixing and mastering, so it's cool. The writing and recording process for this album... I feel was incredibly satisfying. With 'Shadows Are Security', I was still trying to find my place in the band and we didn't know what was next for the band. We only had a small amount of time to write that album, so a lot of it was just (guitarist) Phil (Sgrosso's) riffs and arranging everything. I didn't have that much input for that album even though I was there for most of it. I guess I added things where I could, more specifically with my lead guitar playing. On this album, we all had a complete understanding on how each member approached music. We all had a clear direction on what we wanted. I think we all left our mark on this record together. I just think it's the most complete album that we've done as a band. We recorded it with (KILLSWITCH ENGAGE guitarist) Adam D. He flew out to San Diego and just hung out there for a month and a half, which is about half a month longer than what he had planned… And that was really good, too because we approached this album as meticulously as we could. We already had everything written and recorded. As far as pre-production, we had the entire album written and were kind of in a place where we were like, 'I wonder how much Adam can actually add to this, because we're all pretty happy with it now…' When he came in, he helped us with things….but he didn't really change the structure of any of the songs… What he really added was the discipline of performance that he got out of all of us (laughs). When we would think something was great, he would think it sucked. I think Adam left his mark on this record by helping us sound like a really legitimate band." All things considered, do you feel this is the group's heaviest and most brutal effort?

Nick: "Yeah, I would say so. It's really intense and it's very fast. It's not as mid-tempo as our last one. Even though our last one was pretty fast, I think this one is a lot faster. In fact, we're gonna have to practice these songs pretty hard before playing them standing up, ya know? When you're in the studio struggling to play a riff, you're sitting down doing it, so standing up is a whole other story (laughs). It's good though, because I think we really pushed ourselves." In hindsight, how would you describe your experiences touring as part of Ozzfest?

Nick: "Ozzfest was amazing. That's one of my favorite tours that we did. It was an awesome opportunity for us to play to gigantic amounts of people. That was the first time that we consistently played for crowds of two or three thousand. On the personal side, it was incredibly fun because there were so many bands on the second stage that we were friends with…every day was like this huge summer camp where we just hung out with our friends. Then, at the end of the night when you're starting to wind down, you're like ‘…dude, let's go watch IRON MAIDEN and BLACK SABBATH…' It was the coolest thing that's ever happened to me. It's stressful and you've got like five minutes for a change over, so it can be looked at as a very miserable and stressful tour, but I just remember the good things about it." All things considered, do you feel AS I LAY DYING is a Christian metal band? It seems the group gets lumped into the genre without necessarily displaying a lot of the atypical characteristics…

Nick: "Yeah, we do. It's hard because a lot of the bands that are vocal about being Christian bands tend to cater to a very Christian audience…by pretty much playing every Christian festival under the sun and only playing with other Christian bands. All of us in the band are Christian dudes and we're vocal about it and I think our lifestyles and our lyrics reflect that. But at the same time, we also tend to opt to play in the normal music scene because that's what we love doing. I think it's just easier to give yourself that label and succeed in a Christian market than it is to do what every other band does and play in the real world. At the end of the day, we're just a band, but if you really get into it… we're vocal about what we believe in, I guess. Everyone has their own beliefs, but you don't necessarily label someone that type of band just because they believe that. I would say we're just a straight-up metal band that just happens to believe in all these things. I don't care about being lumped into a category. It seems like the harder you try to disprove something, the more you just kinda get thrown into it. We just focus on writing and recorded albums that we're stoked about and then just touring off of them. We leave the menial stuff to whoever feels like handling it."

Read the entire interview at


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