As I Lay Dying: The Jordan Mancino Interview

September 26, 2010 by Chris Grosso

Saturday Sept 25th. It was around 1:15pm as I walked to my car and thought damn, it’s too late in September to be this hot. I got in my car, set the GPS, and headed over to the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT, where I would be meeting As I Lay Dying’s drummer Jordan Mancino for an interview. Upon arriving, and after a brief call to his super friendly tour manager Adam, I was met outside the tour bus by Jordan, who after finishing his cigarette, invited me in to sit down and do the interview. I made my way back through the bus, almost tripping a couple of times over various backpacks and books, before finally sitting down to get things started.

The Jordan Mancino Interview

TIS: Can you talk a little about what a typical day on the road consists of for you?

JM: Well, this is the start right here usually. I’ll wake up and make my coffee, then do the interviews for the day. Then I’ll go into the venue for a sound check and make sure all my gear is working. From there we have about an hour or so to go get food and then we’ll do a signing. After that, we have about another hour to relax a little. Then it’s time to start warming up and get ready to play the show.  Headliner tours are a lot busier than support tours or festival tours. We have a longer set and just a lot more going on in general.

TIS: What is one of your all time best memories from being on tour?

JM: There’s a lot of them.

TIS: I can only imagine.

JM: Yeah, some of the best memories are actually the cause of some of the worst situations.  I guess for anybody who wants to look into it further, our DVD has a bunch of that stuff on it. I think one of them would have to be getting stuck in the desert on our tour bus. It’s on our DVD. I was able to document the whole thing because I had my camera. It was one of our few days off while on Ozzfest, and we got stuck in the desert with our bus and trailer. Actually, we got stuck twice. Our bus driver seemed to think it was a short cut, but we were literally on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. These people drove by who clearly knew the road, and stopped to talk to us. We asked them where we were and they told us about 30 miles from any sort of paved road, and basically that we were screwed. He pointed out this big patch of mud where a Jeep 4×4 had gotten stuck and reiterated we were screwed. So long story short, we were out there all day and ended up having to push the bus and trailer out of the mud. It was quite an experience. It’s one of the best memories I have because looking back, it’s just really funny. Though at the time I was pretty miserable.

TIS: Well my next question, which I’m almost scared to ask now is, what is one of the worst memories you have from being on tour?

JM: I really hate flying, but it’s part of the nature of the job, you know? So we did a show last year in Sri Lanka and it ended up being a thirty hour travel day when all was said and done. It was really brutal. We drove to LA, which took a couple of hours. Then flew from LA to Dubai which was about 16 hours on a plane, followed by a 7 hour layover in Dubai, and then another 5 & ½ hours from Dubai to Sri Lanka. Then, we got stuck in customs for hours and hours, so by the time we got to the hotel is was like 30 hours later. Even at that point though, there were still some positives. But yeah, I hate flying.

TIS: I’m no fan of flying either, so I can completely relate. My next question is going back a bit to 2005 when you guys played Ozzfest with Black Sabbath & Iron Maiden headlining. How was that experience and did you get to hang out with them at all?

JM: Well the experience was awesome though we didn’t really get to spend much time with either of those bands. We got to watch them every night, but not really hang out.  On Ozzfest, there’s a lot of separation between the Main stage and the Second stage, and the all access laminates don’t get you on the main stage. Prior to Iron Maiden though, when bands like In Flames were playing, we could get up there and watch and hang out, but when Maiden or Sabbath started, the stage area was cleared, and I can completely understand that. At Ozzfest you have a couple hundred people working the festival who’d love to stand on the side of the stage, but obviously they have stuff to do, plus you can’t have too many people getting in the way.

TIS: When I listen to you guys, I hear a elements from bands like At The Gates, Slayer or even Early Earth Crisis. Would you say they’ve been influences on your writing style? Who else has influenced the band as a whole?

JM: Sure, those bands have influenced our style and have been an inspiration. It varies with every record. We continue to bring on more influences. But I think that those bands are an idea of where we base some of the stuff we write. Also European Metal and American Hardcore music, but on the hardcore end of it, it’s more of the mentality and not necessarily the style, more of the energy that hardcore bands have. We all have so many influences and we try to represent them in our music.

TIS: Jacob Bannon of Converge does your album artwork and I’m curious as to how you hooked up with him?

JM: Well, it was right around when we were putting out Frail Words Collapse. We really liked the artwork he’d done, especially being huge Converge fans, and we thought it’d be rad if he did our albums artwork. He’s very selective about the people he works with and luckily he was cool with working with us. We ended up using him with every record since then. It’s funny, because with this last record we tried to go with someone else. I won’t name names, but we’d decided to try a different looking album cover. After we got all of the roughs back, we decided that we liked Jakes work better and decided to go with something around the style of our previous records. Luckily he still continues to work with us.

TIS: What was one of the first great shows you went to and what was great about it?

JM: Hmm, that’s a good question. Man, I’ve been to a lot of good shows. I think it was really just any of the local hardcore shows in San Diego when I was younger, and obviously Jason Dunn was a very big part of that.  Those shows were great and you’d always see the same people and bands there every weekend. They’d be held at various churches or wherever. Actually, come to find out, the singer of Carnifex (one of the nights opening bands) promoted some of the shows I went to in the late 90’s with bands like Overcome, and he even promoted some of my old bands shows too, and didn’t know it.

TIS: No kidding?

JM: Yeah, it’s totally random. We were talking about how cool the scene was between the years of ’97 and 2002. There was just something really cool about that Southern California hardcore scene. It was pretty rare, and it’s no longer there, at least to the extent that it was back then.  Everyone would just go out to shows. You’d go to school and flyer each other’s shows and it was just a really cool community. We were just talking about how special that was last night.

TIS: So the members of As I Lay Dying are Christian, though you guys aren’t necessarily a Christian band. A lot of your fans aren’t Christian and actually have a negative perception of Christianity. Where do you think the reconciliation of that is with them?

JM: I think it’s the music. I think all of our fans, whether they would agree with us theologically or not, like our band because of the music and not just because of what we’re preaching. I think it may add to the devotional or psychological connection that our fans have with us, but really, it just comes down to liking good music. There’s a lot of Christians out there, and I don’t think that all those people necessarily listen to Christian music just because it’s Christian, you know? And I think that’s the same way for any other person who listens to music nowadays. I think it’s very rare to find someone so selective, regarding the motives of a band, that they won’t listen to a band because they’re Christian.  The times have changed, people are more open-minded and accepting of things they may not believe in.

TIS: To follow up on that, there are still those dogmatic Christians who say that Christ is the only way, and those who don’t believe are going to face eternal damnation. How do you feel about that?

JM: Well every person has their approach to life, or what they figure the meaning of life is, and they want to share that with other people. Our idea of Christianity is more education based. Whether or not it comes down to eternal damnation, I think people use that as a scare tactic to try and make people believe something they really know nothing about.  We’re just about educating people and feel like there are a lot of truths in Christianity which are subjective, and I think there’s a lot of truth with God and Jesus that are very objective, and can be interpreted from person to person. Then there’s some things that are fact and undeniable, and those are the things we try to educate our fans with. Not the subjective things where some guy says that his Pastor says you’re eternally damned if I have tattoos or listen to metal. That stuff is just so silly to us. Maybe it has some legitimacy to him, but that’s not the stuff that we’re about.

TIS: So I know you guys aren’t a “hardcore” band, but being in the genre that you are, you’re subject to fall under that umbrella. Today’s hardcore, with certain exceptions, has little, to nothing to do with the style and ethics of the original bands like Black Flag, The Cro-Mags or Minor Threat. It seems to be a slickly packaged commodity available for purchase at your local mall next to Justin Bieber & Katy Perry.  Do you feel that for As I Lay Dying’s success to continue, you need to compromise in certain areas?

JM: No, not at all. I mean just because something is accessible it doesn’t necessarily mean it loses its meaning or motives. I think Black Flag is a perfect example, as are other bands, both past and present, who have larger than life characters and found their way into the mainstream. It doesn’t mean they lost what they originally had though. I think people realize and respect it more which is pretty cool. I don’t think that lifestyles and attitudes should be selective to their audiences. I think that if people are going to connect with them, then they will. I guess the availability of our style of music being in record stores and magazines pushed next to all these other mainstream artists only helps to spread what this scene originated from. The independent thinkers, and the people who supported their communities. The really positive stuff that comes from hardcore and hardcore music, and now fuses itself with metal. But no, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all.

TIS: So you guys don’t feel pressure from anyone outside of the band to do things a certain way?

JM: Not at all.

TIS: That’s great.

JM: Yeah, I think we set ourselves up in a way that we have control over everything and we do what we want to do. We have an awesome label and awesome management, along with everyone else who works with us, and helps supports us to do that.

TIS: Before we wrap this up, is there anything new on the horizon for you guys?

JM: Well, we’re coming up on the bands ten year anniversary and we’re putting together something really special for the fans. It may be a special tour or something else, we’re still throwing around ideas for right now. So for the fans, keep an eye out. We’re trying to put something pretty sweet out for you.

TIS: Cool, thanks a lot for your time.

***For More Pictures From As I Lay Dyings Show, including photos of opening acts Unearth & Carnifex, visit my Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/theindiespiritualist***

As I Lay Dying Website: http://www.asilaydying.com/

Metal Blade Records Website: http://www.metalblade.com/english/content.php

Thanks to Metal Blade Records, As I Lay Dyings Tour Manager Adam, and their merch guy Justin!


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Chris Grosso is a public speaker, writer, recovering addict, spiritual director, and author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster) and Everything Mind: What I've Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening and the Mind-Blowing Truth of it All (Sounds True). He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Huffington Post, and Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, and has spoken and performed at Wanderlust Festival, Yoga Journal Conference, Sedona World Wisdom Days, Kripalu, Celebrate Your Life and more. Chris is passionate about his work with people who are in the process of healing or struggling with addictions of all kinds. He speaks and leads groups in detoxes, yoga studios, rehabs, youth centers, 12-step meetings, hospitals, conferences, and festivals worldwide. He is a member of the advisory board for Drugs over Dinner.
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