As I Lay Dying's Tim Lambesis: 'Maybe one in 10 Christian bands we toured with were actually Christian bands'

Tim Lambesis(Photo: Kamphuisgijs)

His arrest and subsequent six year prison sentence for trying to hire a hitman to murder his estranged wife shook the world of Christian metal core.

As Tim Lambesis serves his time for the crime, the As I Lay Dying lead singer has plenty of time to chew over his actions but it seems that process started before he was put behind bars.

Just before he went down, Lambesis gave a lengthy interview with Alternative Press in which he spoke about the breakdown of his marriage to Meggan Murphy Lambesis and how things got the point where he wanted to have her dead.

He also opens up about the awkward tussle he and the other band members experienced after losing their Christian faith while still selling records as a Christian band.

The interviewer, Ryan J Downey, picks up in particular on a YouTube video recently posted by Lambesis in which he talks about the lyrics to his song, Pyrithion, which led some fans to believe he had become "satanic".

Lambesis rubbished the idea in the video, insisting he was a Christian, but Downey asks whether he was just "lying by omission" because he knew people thought he was a Christian.

"Yes. If you say, 'This is what I believe, you can count on this. If you believe the same things, I'm on your team,'" says Lambesis. 

"A lot of Christian parents said, 'Yes, you can buy this As I Lay Dying CD, because they're a Christian band.' They don't even think to actually check the lyrics. So when you change your views, you kind of owe it to the fans to be honest."

Lambesis admitted he struggled to be upfront about losing his faith because he was afraid it would dent record sales. And as far as the YouTube video on Pyrithion goes, Lambesis says he was "trying to put out a fire".

"I was afraid it would affect As I Lay Dying sales, which would affect my overall income. I was trying to put out the fire by saying the easiest thing, 'I'm not a Satanist!'.

"Truthfully, I was an atheist."

And he wasn't the first in As I Lay Dying to stop being a Christian, but two others before him had already come to that conclusion.

He goes on to say that his "strategy" was "cowardly", and that two of the songs on the record were actually about accepting that "life has no purpose".

But it's a strategy Lambesis clearly doesn't think is that uncommon in the Christian music industry. Most bands fronting as Christian are, he suggests, not actually Christian and are instead just presenting themselves as faithful to pick up a regular pay check.

"We toured with more 'Christian bands' who actually aren't Christians than bands that are. In 12 years of touring with As I Lay Dying, I would say maybe one in 10 Christian bands we toured with were actually Christian bands," he said.

"We talked about whether to keep taking money from the 'Christian market'. We had this bizarrely 'noble' thing, like, 'Well, we're not passing along any bad ideas. We're just singing about real life stuff. Those kids need to hear about real life, because they live in a bubble."

But with the band more or less having lost their Christian faith, the pretence just started to feel more and more uncomfortable. Lambesis recalls an interviewer at one festival asking one of the band members to share their testimony.  The question was quickly deflected onto one of the other band members who was still a Christian at the time.

"We laughed about it afterward, but we were only laughing because it was so awkward," Lambesis said.

"When kids would want to pray with us after shows, I'd be like, 'Um, go ahead and pray!' I would just let them pray. I'd say 'Amen,'" he says.

"If praying while I have my hand on their shoulder makes them feel better, I didn't want to take that away from them.

"When they would specifically ask me to pray for something, I'd say, 'I don't really like to pray out loud, but I'll take that with me to the bus.'"