Vocalist Aaron Bridgewater Talks About As They Sleep's Rise To Contender Status In The Death Metal Realm
Young Detroit death metal outfit As They Sleep just dropped its second full length record, "Dynasty," this past November on Solid State Records, and subsequently hit the road on a brief stateside tour to promote the album. Full of the band’s signature melodies and new era death metal heaviness, “Dynasty” is already generating a buzz in the death metal community. The Motor City five piece appears ready to leave the metalcore nuances of the band's debut, "Blacken The Sky," behind and make a strong move toward becoming the next youthful, breakout death metal group in the American scene and beyond. As They Sleep’s vocalist, Aaron Bridgewater, recently spoke to MetalUnderground.com about the band’s new CD, the band's musical style, and plans for the future.
Joe Reviled: Your new album, “Dynasty," just came out in November. How has the response been thus far?
Aaron Bridgewater: Awesome, people really seem to dig it.
Joe: What is your reaction when you read reviews of your recorded material or live performances?
Aaron: Usually I'm pretty geeked at how good they are! I mean, we are definitely really fortunate to have so many awesome reviews on the new record.
Joe: How does “Dynasty” differ from your first album, “Blacken the Sun," and how has the band progressed since that release?
Aaron: Hmmm, well, BTS was written over the course of five years all while rotating members. “Dynasty” was written within a year and by all of the same people. As far as progression goes, heavier, faster, grittier.
Joe: How was the tour that followed the release of “Dynasty?"
Aaron: Stellar! I love the West coast man. Although we did have a few mishaps with the van, that's never fun. As a matter of fact it sucks.
Joe: The lyrics on “Dynasty” focus heavily on history, tyrants, ancient battles, mythology, fallen empires, and apply these things to contemporary issues. What led the band down this lyrical path?
Aaron: Well, I suggested a concept album revolving around the fall of Rome and it all sort of spawned from there. I think there is a lot of similarities between the U.S. and these ancient empires as far as how they collapsed and the path that we're currently on.
Joe: How do you rate the importance of tying lyrics to relevant contemporary themes versus lyrics that have no basis in modern day current events?
Aaron: Really, it's all personal preference man. Our next record may be way off topic, who knows.
Joe: What sorts of themes would you like to focus on lyrically on your future albums?
Aaron: No idea man! Ha. I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
Joe: You hail from Detroit, home to such bands as Walls of Jericho and The Black Dahlia Murder. How much of a role has your local scene played in shaping your sound?
Aaron: Well, I wouldn't say it was so much of the local sound that made us who we are. It was more our old school death metal roots that really did the trick.
Joe: In 2009 As They Sleep was chosen as the “Next Great Metal Band” in a contest sponsored by Metal Blade records and Metal Hammer magazine. What did winning that honor mean to the band?
Aaron: It was a huge honor, unexplainable. It definitely got us plenty of much needed attention.
Joe: The name As They Sleep alludes to working hard to achieve great things while others sleep. What are some specific examples of how your band aspires to outwork the countless other metal bands in the global scene?
Aaron: Honestly, working hard at the business end of things has a lot to do with it. This day in age, just knowing how to play well doesn't cut it. Also, establishing relationships with the right people is another big part of what we do.
Joe: You have spoken of the “brighter elements” of As They Sleep’s sound that makes it unique. How does the band go about incorporating such elements into its sound and why are they important to your sound?
Aaron: Incorporating these elements is key to us, mainly because it helps define us. Brighter elements, meaning more riffy or colorful riffs mixed in with traditional death metal is what it's all about for us. I don't really know how we go about it, it just kind of happens, ya dig?
Joe: As They Sleep have recorded a cover of Johnny Cash’s hit “I Walk the Line.” What was it like recording a death metal version of such an iconic song?
Aaron: A lot of fun actually, a little weird, but fun. We didn't know at the time how well received it would be when we were doing it, but the fans ended up loving it! And we love it when the fans love stuff... Err, whatever, you know what I mean.
Joe: Where will the touring cycle for “Dynasty” take you and who will you be touring with?
Aaron: Hopefully the world, and hopefully with everyone!
Joe: What are the goals for the future for As They Sleep?
Aaron: Tour, tour, tour, world domination, tour.
Joe Henley is a freelance music journalist and editor currently living in Taipei, Taiwan. In addition to pulling vocal duty in a death metal band, he maintains a website on the Taiwanese metal scene and writes regular features on the touring bands that come through Taipei for a local monthly music magazine.
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