Photo by Dixon Christie
Dixon: Hey man what's up?
Jordan: How you doing?
I'm doing super good. So how are you? You just getting ready to get on Warped Tour I guess eh?
Yeah we start in a week and a half, we start on the 3rd.
Are you looking forward to not showering?
We'll see. I hear there are some showers but it's just they are hard to find them.
A guy should modify some buses or trailers or something and he would be the KING of Warped tour.
Totally. On Ozzfest they have like a shower trailer that traveled with the tour. That was pretty sweet.
Yeah no kidding - you get to be CLEAN everyday.
Yeah I know. It's funny because you never know if the showers will have any pressure or they are hot or they are cold so you never know what you are getting with the showers. But a shower is a shower I guess.
Ok so the big news right now is that you guys are about to drop the new album, its called An Ocean Between Us and kids will be able to pick that up on August the 21st. Obviously you are getting very excited about that?
Yeah I'm very excited to get that out.
Can you tell us about the new album?
As far as music goes it's a pretty diverse record. There is a lot of thrash and there is a lot of melodic stuff, there's some darker slower stuff. It's really just a diverse record you know. Every band that we were influenced by have a part of this record in a sense so we are really excited to get it out.
I know you guys have been touring relentlessly, tell us about how you managed to find the time to write it all and how many songs you actually went into the studio with?
We started writing in September, recorded in mid March then the record just got mastered and in May and June was the mixing time on and off and it just got mastered so pretty much just got finished a couple days ago. But it was a long, long process.
Aside from the drum parts that you would normally do, are you involved in the melody parts and do you find yourself getting interested in doing that kind of stuff?
Yeah totally. Someone will come up with a riff in practice and I'll add a little idea here and there. I'm not a guitar player but I have certain ideas and certain riffs and stuff.
So tell us about how you choose the drum parts and everything that you put into the songs. Obviously you know the tempo that you want to use in the songs and then you just start jamming out a drum part and get more and more complex and put more and more fills and stuff in it as you drum it out more and more times.
Yeah when we first write a song it is just trying to lay down the basic beats and figure out what kind of beat goes where and then the more we practice it the more fills I add in, the more ideas I have. The more we practice usually the more ideas I have.
"Nothing Left "
Now as the song evolves, obviously like some people use notation and stuff like that, what are some of the tricks that you use to remember all the parts? It must get really difficult to remember all the changes as you build some of your songs.
Like I say its just practice, repetition and stuff like that helps you remember the song. You play it like a hundred times so mainly repetition.
You yourself don't use any notation practices or write down or score out the drum patterns or anything like that eh?
No, I mean I practice on my own but I don't write anything out while we are writing.
So is there a theme behind An Ocean Between Us, is there an overall concept for the album? Did you guys approach it thinking you wanted to do something that would have a cohesiveness to it or as it was influenced by all of the different bands you allowed yourself to be influenced by did you just say we want to get all these rock songs down and let them stand according to their own individual merit?
The record is definitely influenced by the bands that we like. Lyrically I think it's a different thing. We want people to think about everything that they have been taught and if there is reason to question it, question it. Essentially we want people to live their lives knowing that the things they believe and the things they hold dear are true and we just get people to think and also in the album there is a lot of lyrics with frustrations like with ourselves and struggles and things like that. But on the other end we know that there is hope and there is forgiveness and people can change.
And that's the overall message of As I Lay Dying anyways is that message of renewal and hope isn't it?
For the most part yeah. We try to make lyrics that can apply to many different things. We are all Christians in the band and that is our main focus and we do write about that stuff a lot but mainly just the struggles that we go through and the hope that lies on the other side.
You guys were recently featured on Metal = Life volume 2 which is a Hot Topic exclusive and benefits the Hot Topic foundation. Can you tell us about getting involved in non-profit endeavors like that and how important that is?
There is a couple of those that we get involved with, one being Invisible Children in Northern Africa. Basically these kids get taken from their parents at an early age, brainwashed and they have to fight for this rebellion basically against the government. It's a non-profit trying to protect those kids and get those kids out of the situation and try to change things over there. You can check on our MySpace we have links to all of that stuff that we are involved with and people can go check it out and get more information on each of the non-profits.
Is it helping? Do you find kids coming up to you and talking to you about stuff like that and how rewarding is it when you do get the kids coming up to you and talking to you about these matter that are more important than what they ate that day or the clothes they are buying, these matters of substance like spirituality and giving back to Darfur and other causes like that?
It's great and hopefully in the end it makes a difference. That's all our hope is that its get better awareness about this and then its kind of up to the person that learns about it to do something and we can do it as much as we can on our end but hopefully do get involved that hear about it and that's the whole goal.
What are you listening to, what video game are you playing or what are you wearing right now?
Well I don't really play video games that much. The newest record that I picked up is the new Megadeth record United Abominations.
I just got to interview them actually.
Awesome, that's a great record and I love it. I'm a huge Megadeth fan and I was really impressed with this record. I've been listening to that pretty much every time I get into my car. As far as what I'm wearing right now, I'm wearing gym shorts and sandals and that's about it. I'm sitting out in the sun.
Lucky you. I'm in a basement. (wearing boxer shorts, arf!) You should get onto that tour because I'm sure that Megadeth is going to have another Gigantour in the fall. (Hopefully they will come to Canada!!!)
Yeah I think they are doing a headline run right now but I'm not sure who else is going out. We are planning on doing a headline tour in the fall. We hadn't released dates because we have to wait until Warped Tour is done. But we are going to be doing a headline tour, All That Remains is playing, Haste the Day is playing and I believe Through the Eyes of the Dead is playing. It should be a good tour. But honestly I think the only Canadian shows we are playing until next year are the Warped Tour shows which I think one is in Toronto and then one is in Montreal.
Yeah Montreal August 12th and Barrie, Ontario August 11th. Ok the last question is which of the following experiences have you had: have you seen the face of God, have you had an alien encounter or have you seen a ghost?
I'd like to say neither. I have never had any sort of alien encounter; I have never seen God in a physical sense. It might be kind of dull but I have never experienced any of those.
So do you hear the voice of God? Is God like that kind of unknown element for you or is it like something that you are as sure of as it is for me obviously. I am as sure that God exists for me even though I have never seen God's face I believe I have seen God's face in sunsets and all that hokey crap that I can go on forever... in my child's eyes and getting opportunities. That's where I would say I see the face of God but what is the tangible aspect of your spirituality, Jordan?
There's altruisms in what I believe mainly in historically and just choosing simple logic and reason. If God has never come down and spoken to me where I can literally hear him I think that in order to hear God you got to read his work. He provided the bible here as guidance to our lives and things like that so just learning through other stories and things like how God works. I've never actually heard the voice of God.
You want to hear something though, I ask this and I've asked this to hundreds of people now - evolution or intelligent design? And I asked about 100 bands and interview subjects on this and you know other than having 2 or so people saying intelligent evolution or they felt there was a combination between God creating the earth and our ability to evolve. I mean humans have to have the ability to evolve but almost 99.9 percent of everyone said evolution. Most people don't believe in a creator.
I think we learn more and more each day and I think there is more than enough facts and reason to believe in creation but I don't deny the possibility of some sort of evolution in a sense. I don't know whether like in Genesis God creating the earth in 6 days and resting on the 7th is an actual literal part of time done in a week. We don't know whether that is symbolic for a larger period time so there is a lot of different ways to interpret it. I definitely believe in creation for sure but as far as there being an evolution side I am open to new ideas but all the theories I say theories because they are not fully proven yet on evolution haven't really convinced me to believe in it thus far.
An artist friend of mine that believes that the Earth has only been around for 7000 years and God created the dinosaurs and man at the same time. Have you ever heard that creationist theorist?
I have never heard that. I have heard a bunch of different ideas and its hard because a lot of them are ideas. We have the bible which states certain things but people disagree on the way to interpret it so it's kind of a matter of what seems so logical at this time. That's all we can go on is what seems logical and feasible but I know there has been a lot of research and study lately about how old the earth really is so its kind of one of those things that is up in the air and we'll see once more information comes out.
Well do you find yourself interested in reading like aside from reading the word do you think that you would ever find yourself picking up existential books or philosophy or other books that don't necessary have any foundation in our Christian faith but that might edify your mind and you understanding of man's place in this world?
Definitely, I love reading. Since I've been home I am already on my third book. A lot of philosophy, theology, pure science. It's important to educate yourself in all areas and be able to answer tough questions. I think that's something that has been lacking and is getting better within the church just stressing the importance of a good education and having all our minds as Christians sharp and being able to answer the questions for skeptical people and being able to have answers to them. I think education is tremendously important and I went to college for about a year and a half and the band got so busy I never got the chance to finish but I definitely plan on going back once I got time. Like I say, education is so important and I encourage all those out there Christian or not it doesn't matter to educate yourself.
I respect the fact that you are willing to look outside just Christianity and that right wing mentality of Christianity might be that there is nothing else out there but I respect the fact that you are willing to look outside of it and say, "I want to know what everyone else thinks about it so I'm a more well read person on the subject".
I think it's important to challenge what you believe and in most cases it strengthens your faith and what you know. I really think it's important to challenge and read books that have both sides and another picture and to be able to make a reasonable and logical judgment about things. It's very important to get both sides and to get as many point of views as possible, solid point of views and be able to challenge yourself and find the cracks within what you believe and try to fill them either with the truth. Basically I try to find the cracks and other qualms of belief and just kind of go like that and challenge yourself so you are in a constant state of learning and expanding your mind and ability to think.
And refining your belief system. You know another thing is that I just had this conversation today so I'll get your take on it. I was talking to some Christian women and they basically said to me that they were sick and tired of people using the grace message as a means to write off any kind of behavior that they had and how did I feel about that. My response was I don't care what anyone else does or how they interpret what they do. I don't believe that God would put into you a desire for certain things and then call them sinful and what's more I don't care about the dogma about what other people believe or how they believe it really only matters how it all works for me. What do you think about first of all what they said and then secondly about how your own faith is a personal faith or is something that you feel like you need to get plugged in at a church on order to be a fully functioning member of the body politic, the body of Christ?
I think God calls us to gather together as believers. I think any sort of cause or goal it helps when you have more people that are on the same page as you to get that done. So that's why I think the church is a good thing not to say I don't have things that I disagree with like I say, everyone has different ideas and things like that but we all come together for the same purpose and be able to agree with each other on that. Little doctrine issues here and there really aren't as important as the big picture. I do think what's right for one person may not be right for the other but I think that there are moral absolutes and I think the bible clearly can state those if you read the bible correctly it clearly states these moral absolute. There are always grey areas and things like that but I think there are a set of moral absolutes which I think every Christian if they read the bible correctly should be able to follow. Like I say, there are little things here and there like the bible doesn't state every person should listen to metal or every person should listen to Gospel music or whatever. I think here and there that its kind of up to the individual and what works for them may not work for someone else but as far as morally I do think that there are a set of moral absolutes that god has set here for us to follow.
I totally respect what you are saying. I think that if you for example played your music to Jerry Fallwell and he wasn't capable of hearing the lyrics he would say that was devil music even though he had no idea or interpretation of what you were, who you are, where it comes from or anything. So because everything is completely objective and subjective, personally I'm not sure that I feel that way about there being moral absolutes because what's morally acceptable say in one part of the United States even to be married when you are 21 in Southern States I is still acceptable to get married at 16 and sometimes 14. Murder is completely abhorrent but we are sending kids out to murder for freedom. So that's where it gets a little bit dicey for me Jordan and then I have to ask myself if you cannot break down these moral absolutes then is anything absolute? And that's a great existential question is who are we, what are we and what is qualitative and quantitative ability to judge anything? It's all based on your individual paradigm...
I see what you are saying but like I said I see cracks in that. For instance someone could argue say we are in a room and your argument is what is right for me may not be right for you, what's right for you may not be right for me and I could be like that's fine and then I walked out the door and I grabbed your stereo and walked out the door. Like instantly you would say hey what are you doing? I would be like nothing I'm just walking out the door and you would be like you took my stereo but you just told me what's right for you might not be right for me, what's right for me might not be right for you so in my mind taking your stereo something that is not mine is right in my mind but you would be like what are you talking about? You're crazy! So in a sense if you understand what I'm saying there has to be some sense of moral absolute.
But I think that your story also defends my position as well and I don't need to be right and I know you feel the same way. But the story defends my position in that how does one go about defining something as complex as a "moral absolute"? Sex before marriage, petting before marriage, kissing before marriage, which one is it? Gay sex, gay loving, women and women. It just to me, and you can correct me if I'm wrong but it gets too gray so seeing anything in black and white for me I don't know how to do it. I've tried wrapping my head around that question a million times and I just can't see any black and white.
I understand what you are saying but for instance with the story to me that is a very clear picture of a sense of a moral absolute, taking something that is not yours or anything. I think its reasonable and logical to agree with that. Like I say, if you were to say what's right for me is not necessarily right for you I can go steal your stereo and obviously you wouldn't enjoy that but that stereo isn't mine and whether or not I agree if stealing is right or wrong. Obviously its wrong to take something that is not yours so I do think there is a sense of moral absolute and there are a lot of grey areas. I'm not denying that but there are a set of moral absolutes that are very black and white which is murder out of cold blood or anger and different things like lying and I guess cheating. That is my point of view and I think that its all logical and reasonable to assume that and to believe that.
I have to agree with all of those actually. If get too much change at McDonalds I feel guilty about taking it, so I agree.
I think that's exactly what I'm talking about, the sense of a moral absolute. There are gray areas and obviously with that stealing is stealing and taking something that is not yours is taking something that is not yours that's a very black and white issue. I agree that there are some gray areas but for the most part hose type of situations murdering someone in cold blood and within anger is wrong. I think in that sense there are moral absolutes but I would never ever deny that there are moral absolutes.
The key areas for me because the theft one I agree with you but the key areas for me would be sex before marriage, masturbation, lust, feeling desire for a woman in your heart and mind and obviously murdering in cold blood we send kids to do it on behalf of the country and how is it sinful one way and not the other way. That is kind of a confusing area. Also smoking dope for kids and drinking. Those would be the areas that I would say would lend themselves for a little bit of difficulty in saying there are moral absolutes for smoking dope is wrong for everybody but drinking beer is ok once in a while.
I got you, I think those are definitely the gray areas and I think anything that affects your ability to make a sound judgment I think is not a good thing. For instance abusing alcohol, abusing drugs, things like that no matter how much a person says they can control those types of things for the most part they are just kidding themselves. I think that someone is going to have a full bottle of Jim Bean then obviously they are going to be in a position where they cant make a sound judgment and they are going to be affected by the alcohol and I thin that's bad. I don't think that drinking alcohol is wrong like a beer or whatever as long as it doesn't affect your ability to make a judgment. I think from a Christian point of view a good thing to live by is not do anything that will affect your judgment but at the same time just from a health standpoint its realty important to be able to make a sound judgment when you need to. You never know what's going to happen and when its going to happen and if something terrible does happen and you need to make a quick sound judgment and if you have had a bottle of liquor you aren't going to be in the state of mind to make that judgment that could possibly save another life of your life or stop something from happening. That's not necessarily just a Christian perspective, I think that's just a health perspective and something that will benefit the person and the world around them I guess.
So you are saying with regards to drinking there are no moral absolutes in that area, you can't create an absolute when it comes to drinking?
I think that anything that affects our judgment is bad. Even Jesus drank wine, drinking alcohol is not a bad thing but drinking to the point of where your judgment is impaired. Being of a sound mind all the time is what I think is important from a Christian perspective. You never know for instance if I was on this conversation talking about this stuff and I just finished a bottle of liquor off obviously I'm not going to be able to answer these questions well enough than I would if I am sober which I am now. So its like I think there is a difference and just being prepared for all situations at all times, just being as prepared as possible and being at a point of inebriation is not a good way to prepare. Like I was saying I think there are moral absolutes but there are a lot of gray areas and I think its important to use sound logic and sound reason and use the bible and literature and things like that and opinions from people that you respect to clear up those gray areas for you. Like you were saying about the dude that listens to metal that would think that its satanic or whatever obviously that person is just uneducated in that area and I think naive. Not to see that he's not saved or going straight to hell, I'm not judging him by any means but the more educated you are in a certain area the better you can understand it whether or not its good or bad. The person that doesn't understand metal thinks it's the devils music is obviously uneducated in that area. That's what I do for a living, I play metal so in a sense I feel very educated in that area so I can understand the matter and I could never make that type of a judgment that he would make because I am educated. If he was more educated in that area then I'm sure he wouldn't make that type of a judgment. It kind of goes back to the education thing and just being well read and being open to different types of things. Not necessarily open to the point to where you are in a negative way where you feel in a sense of relativism but being open to learn about certain things and being able to make logical and reasonable choices.
I know, knowledge is king and the more you know the better your position is going to be on something and the better equipped you are going to be able to discuss it with people and have some kind of substance behind what you are saying. Well I know that you and I can talk about this all day and I want to say thank you very much. I know its cliché to get off on these spiritual matters with you specifically because you are Christian but I think it's a matter of substance and always rewarding so I would like to say thank you very much for you generosity in response and next time we'll do it on camera and bring out a bunch of books and talk about why we like what we do.
Definitely, there are so many great books to read and just to mention the one I just finished actually it covers a couple of those topics but its called Love Your God With All Your Mind. It's written by this guy name J.P. Moreland, he's like a professor at a University and it's a great book, it offers both sides to different things, it offers secular point of views, it offers like creation point of views and for anybody that is intrigued by these topics I think that's a great book to read and likewise for you. Just since we talked about that stuff I would like to leave people with sort of information or literature to find out more about the subjects so they feel more educated about that. Also Lee Strobel he does Case for Faith, Case for Christ, Case for Creator. He's a great writer, he's originally a journalist, he's either agnostic or atheist so he is really good at pointing out both sides and answering questions so those are all great books. So anybody out there that wants to get more information about that stuff those are great books and offers both sides and there is no biased opinions as far as I can tell and great literature.
Thanks so much Jordan.
Until next time take care and I probably will be talking to you soon.
(Addendum form Dixon: "Hey all, as a sidenote, Jordan and I have spoken quite a few times and in this chat, particularly, we were quite self indulgent. I hope that it helped a few people to get them thinking about spirituality and philosophy or just learn more about Jordan. I don't advocated either side for you, and would never preach my beliefs, it's always way more important to learn what other people believe and let them decide for themselves... It's rare that I get to talk about deep spiritual matters with bands, and believe me, after doing a thousand boring as hell interviews, talking about anything of substance is a very much welcomed pleasure, so please forgive our indulgence. Thanks to Nexopia for printing this and you for reading it. If you have comments, as always, send them to me at my Nexopia page!")
Interview by: Dixon Christie, PunkTV.ca