AS I LAY DYING: To Go Or Not To Go To The GRAMMYS, That is The Question

AS I LAY DYING members Tim Lambesis (vocals) and Nick Hipa (lead guitar) have posted blogs explaining why each one of them plans on attending — or not attending — this year's Grammy Awards ceremony, where the band was nominated in the "Best Metal Performance" category for "Nothing Left", the first single from the group's newest release, "An Ocean Between Us".

The 50th annual Grammy Awards will be held at Los Angeles' Staples Center on Sunday, February 10, 2007.

Tim Lambesis: "Ever since we were nominated for a Grammy, I've been torn between the feeling of honor and something else that has been hard for me to describe. Initially, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Who would have thought that our band would ever get noticed like this? But, I soon realized that most of this feeling came from the great sense of pride I was able to bring my parents, our record label, our manager, and the countless other people who have invested so much of their passion into AS I LAY DYING. People who I believe deserve this honor as much as I do.

"Then I started asking the question, 'Why us, why AS I LAY DYING?' I've never felt that the Grammys go out of their way to nominate bands that are actually the best at what they do. I think there have been only one or two of my favorite bands that have ever even received a Grammy. Obviously everyone differs in their taste in music, but I realize that I shouldn't care what a small group of people think about my band, good or bad. Why should we let anyone dictate to the rest of us which bands we should and shouldn't listen to? And, why is there opinion any better than yours or mine? The awards that truly mean something to me are the ones voted by the fans and actual music buyers. The people that support and keep new music going.

"So, a few weeks go by with me battling this question in my head when I find out that as a nominated 'guest of honor,' I am not able to have even my wife come with me unless I pay $600 for her seat. I know that someone has to help pay for the ceremony, but even a nominated artist trying to bring his better half!? This is when I first started thinking the Grammys might not be for me. Later, I also learn that our label, management and parents can't go unless they pay $300 for seats that are nowhere near where we sit. Basically, all the people that deserve to enjoy this 'special' moment along with the band are unable to do so. Our record label has always been the one at the forefront of great business and marketing decisions that help bring the band to a new level of notoriety. Likewise, our managers have helped to steer us in the right direction ever since we started working with them a few years back. Then there's our lawyer, booking agent, and countless others I could name that have played significant roles in getting us to this point. And, going to the very beginning, my parents deserve so much credit for helping me pursue my dream when no one else could see it. Now, not only is some out of touch elite committee telling us what they think good music should be, but then they try to make the artists they nominate pay a ridiculous amount for the event that we can't even enjoy with all the people that really made this possible.

"I think the Grammy ceremony exists to honor the Grammy brand itself and not the actual artists who most people think they are supporting by attending. The Grammys might need to charge for the $300 guests' seats, but in my opinion, I highly doubt they need to exploit the artists they nominate for the one $600 seat for spouses in order to pay for the production of the event. This is because I highly doubt the Grammys are just struggling to break even. If there is profit being made, we are paying for it even though it's the artists who create the public's interest in the event. Plus, metal is the category that gets the least attention, so not only are we being left out, but we're still asked to pay for the glamour used to represent all of the other categories.

"Wouldn't it make more sense to invest this money in the future of music by giving it to talented bands who can't afford to record their music or go on tour? The cost of a ticket and fancy dress for someone attending costs more than the entire budget of our first full length recording. I also want to be clear that I in no way am attempting to hold my view as the only way to see this. In fact, the other dudes in my band all plan to go and I sincerely hope they enjoy themselves. I also want to be clear that I am not professing to know exactly what the Grammy society plans to do with all that money....it's certainly possible that they do some good things with it, and if good reasons exist for them charging all of this money then I will be happy to change my point of view and post the Grammy's response in this blog. Until then, I feel that it would be irresponsible for me to just blindly follow what is accepted as the norm in this situation. I was raised to always question my beliefs and the beliefs of others...to question what society considers the norm. I always try to formulate my own opinions and do what I think is right based on the situation. I may not always end up doing the perfect thing in every situation, but as long as I learn from my mistakes and keep the best intentions I can feel good about the decisions I make in life.

"Anyway, now that I've made my decision, I'd have to say that I'm also kind of relieved that I don't have to figure out how to dress up like an awkward dude in a suit. I've also decided to put my money where my mouth is and donate the $600 that we would have spent on my wife's ticket to local San Diegans who normally couldn't afford the opportunity to create new music... people who are in in the same position we were in several years back. To me that's turning a negative into a positive.

"I welcome the opinions of anyone who is reading this. It's my intention to initiate dialogue and I think it is very important for my side of this issue to be represented. Most of the time, we just go along with things because they are perceived as good and comfortable, but I want people to know how the situation appears to me. Thanks for listening.

"Also, [what follows is] Nick's blog, if you want to check out a well presented case on why he's going to go. This isn't for the sake of comparing the two of us, since I'm married and he is not as well as other differences, but I think Nick intelligently represents the other side. Unfortunately, rarely do people who go to the Grammys, or any other event like it, take the time to think things through this well. For this reason I really respect Nick's point of view."

Nick Hipa: "So Tim has put a lot of thought into the Grammys, and inevitably he decided not to go. In doing so, he inspired me to ponder my own feelings and opinions on how I feel about being nominated for, as well as if I should even go, to this illustrious event. After much deliberation I decided on going...

"If someone were to straight up ask me, 'Dude, so why are you going to go the Grammys?' my response would be and has been, 'Yeah for sure! It should be fun! I'm going to try and holler at Beyonce! Also I heard John Paul Jones is doing something with the FOO FIGHTERS!'

"Now in all of Tim's thoughts, the one I agree with most is that the awards meaning the most are without a doubt the ones voted on by our fans. Awards like San Diego 'Artist of the Year' and MTV2's 'Rock God'; those are important to me because 'the kids' voted for it. Our fans are the ones who afford us this blessing and opportunity; I don't think any of us take it for granted. My differences of opinion start with the idea that the Grammys are voted on by 'a small group of self-proclaimed musical elites' and anonymous music industry bigwigs.

"My initial dilemma in early December, though, was the same as Tim's: I was trying to decide whether or not I should even be honored by the fact we got nominated. Specifically because I felt like the dudes that do the voting have no idea what is really going on in metal, and if they did, they would have picked better bands who put out better albums for this category. It started to bum me out because I felt like it was an award with no real merit as far as 'Best Metal Performance' goes. Then I started thinking that I know two people in the Grammy society: Metal Blade president Mike Faley and sound engineering revolutionary Kevin Puig. Both dudes I love and respect because not only are they good dudes, but they are both passionate in what they do as well as genuine fans of music. My assumption is that all the categories from 'Best Latin Pop Vocal Performance' to 'Best Spoken Word Album' probably have their own Mike Faleys and Kevin Puigs. If the entire Grammy association is composed of people like them, only with different musical backgrounds, then I guess I do consider it a honor that they recognized our band. We stuck out because our label and publicists put us all over the place, because we wrote a better record then our last, because we toured heavily, etc. To me, it means that we are all doing our jobs right, to the point where all these people in this society had to take notice.

"I don't think its right to demonize the Grammy society. They're not telling us what is and isn't good music, I think they're casting votes on who is doing what they do well... or maybe standing out the most... Now obviously they all don't know much about metal because I can't think of a single awesome thing KING DIAMOND or SLAYER did THIS year. I attribute this to the Mike Faley and Kevin Puig theory... an example of my theory is that there is probably some sort of Latino fansite bemoaning the fact that Carlito Esperanza's 'Mis Hermanas Quincenera' didn't receive a nomination nod although El Fuego Pantalones got nominated for 'El Gatos es Delicios', even though it was a bonus track added in 2007 to an album they had come out with in 2006. The real Faley and Kevin, who are familiar with the currents happenings of rock and metal, probably don't know much about Latin music, but they get to vote on it anyway because they are a part of the collective society. So my understanding is that we aren't exactly being nominated by our real peers, as in the ones who know what's up in metal, but maybe just our proverbial peers in the entire music community.

"I do think its unfortunate that we would have to pay such large amounts of money to bring guests. In all honesty I would have brought my Mom if it was free, but when I found out it was $600 to bring her to something that would be 'kind of cool' rather then something extremely important to me, I opted not to. She had told me that she WOULD go if it was a huge deal for me, but didn't really have any sort of desire to just go for the experience. It's not a huge deal for me, plus at the end of the day it is an awards ceremony... meaning we're going to spend a lot of time just sitting there.

"In trying to figure out WHY they would charge us to bring people, I came up with a plausible explanation: I started thinking it would be flat-out wrong if they charged any nominee to go to the ceremony. And if they didn't charge any nominee's supporters (family, friends, managers, agents, etc.) then how would they be able to pay for the ceremony itself? The production, the venues, the performances, and the presenters, that's got to be a lot of money. If everyone I wanted to get in got in for free, and so did everyone else who got nominated, then who pays for it? It is this thinking that made me give up on being bitter about them charging us.

"It is worth it for me to represent everyone who cares that I'm going though. Both of my Grandpas would have been insanely proud. This sort of nomination would have been all I needed to overshadow the fact that I didn't quite finish college haha. I'm even wearing one of my Gramps' old suits in his honor. I'm pretty sure my Grandma will be stoked to see a photo of me chilling on the red carpet in one of his stylish threads.

"Finally and honestly, I think it will be kind of fun to go. I'm looking forward to watching all the performances, as well as attempting to finagle my way into a high-profile interracial celebrity relationship.

"All seriousness aside, it just seems like a good time, which goes along with my response to the question in the beginning. All the words in between are my efforts at explaining how I am attending with a clear conscience.

"So in closing, I understand Tim's reasoning not to go, our opinions on the matter differ, but I harbor no ill-will or bitterness towards him... only respect for standing by his convictions."

"Best Metal Performance" Grammy nominees:

AS I LAY DYING - "Nothing Left"
KING DIAMOND - "Never Ending Hill"
MACHINE HEAD - "Aesthetics Of Hate"
SHADOWS FALL - "Redemption"
SLAYER - "Final Six"

A four-minute backstage interview with AS I LAY DYING conducted by Altitude's metal show "Metalogy" can be viewed below. The band discusses the trials of working with Adam Dutkiewicz from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE on their new record, their biggest pet peeves, their last meal, and why they hate "I Love New York" so much, among other topics.

AS I LAY DYING recently completed a video for the band’s new track "The Sound Of Truth". The clip, a sequel to the story in the video for "Nothing Left", was filmed in Los Angeles while the band was between tours. It was directed by Brian Thompson.

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