AS I LAY DYING's TIM LAMBESIS Opens Up About Split With Guitarist NICK HIPA And Drummer JORDAN MANCINO

April 6, 2024

During a lengthy discussion on the latest episode of "The Jasta Show", the podcast hosted by HATEBREED's Jamey Jasta, AS I LAY DYING frontman Tim Lambesis spoke about the departures of longtime members, drummer Jordan Mancino and guitarist Nick Hipa. Both Mancino and Hipa were involved with part of AS I LAY DYING's lineup when the band reunited in 2018 after Lambesis spent time in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot against his estranged wife.

Asked if he sees "a road back" with Mancino and Hipa at some point in the future, Tim said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I would never close a door on anything permanently, because I think like concepts like 'always' and 'never' are very immature concepts. But I can just speak matter of factly that I think that sometimes when you've created enough hurt, so the very thought of me or sight of me, to some people, is a traumatic trigger and brings a high, high level of emotion to the surface. And I could say specifically as it relates to Nick — I don't know where he's at now in his life, but I do know that in our interactions, there was just constantly a heightened level of emotion. I mean, I could be trying to do the simplest thing in the world, like, 'Hey, I'm sending these files around to the guys in the band, 'cause I rearranged the song. I think this arrangement might be the better arrangement.' And it's, like, instead of advocating for the song, all of a sudden now we're talking about, 'Well, does Tim have the right to be doing whatever he wants with the song? And is he trying to call the shots again?' I'm not saying that he was even giving me a hard time, but I'm just saying as an example, all of a sudden this weird overthinking comes into everything, 'cause it's, like, 'Does this person have nefarious intentions in every single thing that he does?' And then I still have shortcomings as a human being. So then sometimes, he's looking at me, like, 'See, dude, you still screw up. You're frustrating me.' I'm not pointing the finger. I'm just saying the level of heightened emotions there just made an environment to where even our band therapist was, like, 'This is for the best, collectively.' And that's when everybody else was still in the band. And he wasn't choosing sides; he just was saying, 'Guys, sometimes this is just what you have to accept.' Somebody's creating a situation where everybody constantly feels like emotionally pushed into — whatever this person's emotions are, everybody has to accommodate that person's emotions. And if that's constantly what's happening, maybe it's just sometimes best if that person is not part of the equation. And it wasn't anything personal. Now, from his side, he could feel totally differently — he could have hatred for me. I think, if anything, he probably just kind of feels like neutral, just like, 'Ah, it's just better for my life if I just sort of go forward and don't have this constant trigger in my life.' And I sympathize with that, 'cause it's, like, man, I don't wanna be around somebody every day of my life, trying to live in a van and a bus with them where, every time they see me, they feel terrible about themselves. That sucks."

Regarding the circumstances that led to Mancino's exit from AS I LAY DYING, Tim said: "I truly don't know anything, because he just one day — this isn't just me; this is the entirety of the whole process — he just one day… We were trying to reschedule a tour that had gotten canceled during COVID. And we reached out and said, 'Hey, they finally wanna reschedule it for these dates. Can everybody confirm?' And then nothing. 'Hey, Jordan, what's up? We're trying to figure out what's up. You committed to these days originally. We're just trying to have the new ones.' Nothing. And then months and months go by later, and his attorney reaches out and says, 'Hey, Jordan's asked that only communication comes through me.' And I was just, like, 'Okay, well, what was the fight about?' I mean, I'm not gonna ask, at 400 dollars an hour, what the fight was about. I don't even care at that point. So, that's the mystery right there."

He continued: "If you worked at — I don't know — say you owned a tire shop, and that's it. You're just the owner of a tire shop, not even a band, but you've got five people working at the tire shop and one dude just doesn't show up to work on Monday. You call him, the next Monday comes around, he doesn't show up to work. Sixteen Mondays go by and this dude doesn't show up for work. So it's, like, at that point, you're not the jerk for saying, 'Hey, dude, we've gotta move on without you.' I mean, you're just kind of doing what you've gotta do at that point."

When Jasta pressed Lambesis about Mancino's involvement with AS I LAY DYING, suggesting that the tire-shop analogy was "unfair" because Jordan had "equity" in the band, Tim said: "The band was started by me. Jordan has quit on a couple different occasions back in the day. He was asked to be in the band by me. If he wants to say… I'm not gonna… the legality of it, 'cause some of this stuff just gets insane. If he wants to say, like, 'Oh, I'm owed a portion of ownership of this,' that's totally fine. But the band exists to make music and perform music. So you can't just one day say, 'I don't wanna do those things, but I wanna make money from them.' That's absurd. Any judge in the world is gonna be, like, 'Dude, you're out of your mind.'"

Jamey then noted that "some people get a severance from employment or get a sunset clause, if they had equity,' to which Tim replied: "And that's something we can figure out over time. I think that that's actually the easiest thing in the world to just say, 'Hey dude, here's all the books. You see what we make. There's not one dollar that's hidden from you. What do you think is a fair way to handle this?' And as long as whatever that is is based in some sort of actual reality to where, like, the person's not delusionally thinking, like, 'Hey, I need, I need 20 million dollars to be bought out of this band that I didn't even start.' Once that kind of thinking gets into the equation, it's just, like, 'Hey, dude. I don't even know what to say to this.'"

Jasta went on to say that the other members of AS I LAY DYING's classic lineup lent Tim "a lot of credibility by making the jump" and trusting the singer and vouching for him publicly, which therefore provided value when it came to promoters booking the band. Lambesis said: "I have a lot of feelings about this because I don't really try to go around inserting my version of the story. I do very few interviews. My life is simple. I just wanna play music. I started this band. I was the primary songwriter at that time, on guitar and everything. I just wanna make music. I just wanna perform music. The foundation of the band was, like, we perform music, we play music. And if somebody doesn't wanna do that, that's totally fine. They can leave. But the machine keeps going, 'cause this is what I started, this is the foundation of what I started. And so it takes a certain amount of faith or trust, I guess, is the word or good faith from me toward them to actually ask them to play with me again. And that's one of the things I think has been misunderstood this whole time, is when I first got released from incarceration, every manager I talked to was, like, 'Do not do the band with those guys, because what will happen is' — not all of them, but a couple of them — 'is that you can tell just speaking to them for five minutes, the amount of emotion around this topic, they're gonna be able to get past it for a certain amount of time, and then without proper, actual healing and therapy, dedication to these kinds of things, it will fall apart and they will leave. And then people will think you were the bad guy. You're the reason that they left.' And so I had to actually just say — I said to multiple managers, 'I don't care about that. I just wanna do it anyways. Even if it hurts me in the long run, I just wanna do it.' And I forced a square peg into a round hole for those dudes to all come back together…. The amount of faith for me to say, here's two guys that have never been significant songwriters in the band. Behind the scenes, they've never changed the outcome of an album. And I'm going to go ahead and rebrand them as an integral classic-member lineup that's, like, this band cannot go forward without these guys. And they have the potential ability to go burn me later by them leaving and being, like, 'Oh, it's just not the same as it used to be. And the band just feels different to me now.' And I don't know — whatever comments could be made, they're welcome to have that opinion. But, to me, it's just, like, dude, behind the scenes, nothing changes whether you're in this band or not. Phil [Sgrosso, guitar] and I still just keep writing records like we did since 2004."

Tim went on to say that he "would happily give away half my money, no problem, to just enjoy what I do with my life. So that's what it comes down to. Hey, maybe the public likes a couple of these dudes way more than [they like me] — not maybe. Almost certainly. I'm very self-aware. I'm certain that these people are more likable in a public square. I just kind of, when it comes down to my quality of life going forward, it's just, like, dude, you mean I could just write music, record music and perform music without it being a constant amount of drama and difficulty. That sounds awesome. How much money do I have to give away for that to happen? That's cool with me. And I don't mean that resentfully or angrily. I think what they did was a very sincere effort. Like, 'I think I can make this work.' They tried it. They got into the nitty gritty of, like, 'Wow. I feel triggered every day on a regular basis. This is not sustainable. I probably don't wanna do this, actually.' After a year or 18 months or whatever it was of just trying to push this thing to happen, it is completely understandable that they're, like, 'Man, I don't feel as good about this as I thought I maybe would be able to grow to do.' And, man, I'm super thankful that they like gave it a shot at all, and I knew that it could potentially hurt me, and it did, just as everybody behind the scenes like predicted with me and they said, 'Don't do this 'cause this is exactly what's gonna happen.' All those things happened, and I still don't regret it, 'cause it's, like, you know what? I got a chance to know beyond doubt that I tried my best and they tried their best and now we don't have to wonder, like, 'Oh, I wonder what would happen if we tried to all get back together.'"

Tim and his bandmates recently completed the recording process for their next studio album. The LP will mark the group's first with its new lineup, featuring Lambesis and longtime guitarist Phil Sgrosso alongside drummer Nick Pierce (ex-UNEARTH),bassist vocalist Ryan Neff (MISS MAY I) and guitarist Ken Susi (ex-UNEARTH).

In September 2022, Lambesis told Metalshop TV about AS I LAY DYING's recent lineup changes: "I think for our fans, they think that the changes happened all in a very short period of time, but they actually happened over the last two years. The first change was on guitar we invited Ken Susi to fill in for us. And that was about two years ago that we invited him. But then, of course, the pandemic happened and so we had a lot of breaks until we had a tour again. So Ken's been rehearsing with us, or talking about rehearsing with us, for the last couple of years. And on drums we have Nick Pierce, who joined us. Nick Pierce was previously in UNEARTH; Ken is from UNEARTH as well. And Nick stopped playing with UNEARTH and coincidentally at the same time we needed a drummer, because our previous drummer hadn't been communicating with us; he went very isolated once the pandemic hit. And so there wasn't an argument or anything like that; it was just a situation where when the pandemic hit, he decided to take a new direction in life and kind of cut himself off from the rest of us. And we decided we wanted to keep going forward. Phil and I had been the ones writing the songs all these years, so when Nick Pierce left UNEARTH, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to have him perform with us. And then Ryan came from MISS MAY I. He was the last guy to come in. And he didn't come in until a couple of months ago. Our bass player, Josh, previously left, and he's with SPIRITBOX now. And when he decided to go perform with SPIRITBOX, we called up Ryan, who was with MISS MAY I. And Ryan Neff was on tour at the time. And then we asked him, 'Can you start touring with us as soon as this tour is over?' And he said, 'Well, I'm only gonna have three days off to rehearse in between tours.' He said, 'If you guys want me to do it, I'll make sure I come prepared.' And he had a lot to learn in three days, but he pulled it together. He's a very, very hard-working guy."

In June 2022, Jordan announced that he would sit out AS I LAY DYING's tour due to "a number of ongoing internal issues" that "have not yet been resolved."

Mancino's announcement came less than a month after AS I LAY DYING's longtime bassist/vocalist Josh Gilbert revealed that he was leaving the band. In a statement, the remaining members of AS I LAY DYING said that Gilbert "decided to exit" the group "to pursue other musical opportunities."

Josh was the second AS I LAY DYING member to leave the band in less than a year. In August 2021, Hipa confirmed his exit from AS I LAY DYING, explaining that he could no longer justify being part of "a superficial pursuit" of the "story and meaning" that the band's 2018 reunion was built upon.

In May 2014, Lambesis was sentenced to six years in jail after pleading guilty to paying a San Diego police officer posing as a hitman $1,000 to kill his wife. Approximately two and a half years later — on December 17, 2016 — he was discharged from a California detention facility and was transferred to the Division of Adult Parole Operations.

In June 2018, AS I LAY DYING played its first show with Lambesis in five years and released a new single. Lambesis also owned up to his crimes in a long apology on the band's Facebook page after his release.

The return of AS I LAY DYING raised some questions, particularly since Hipa categorically denounced the band's disgraced frontman as a "sociopathic narcissist in definite need of rehabilitation" in a social-media post back in 2014.

In September 2021, AS I LAY DYING released a new song called "Roots Below" which was originally a B-side leftover from when the sessions for "Shaped By Fire".

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