The members of Wovenwar made it to a very important anniversary recently. It's been a year since the band rose from the ashes of the now defunct San Diego Christian metalcore act As I Lay Dying. Most bands would consider that a feet in itself. But for drummer Jordan Mancino, guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso, and bassist Josh Gilbert it's been a chance to escape the horrific headlines that plauged the former outfit. At this point, they'd rather not talk about Tim Lambesis, the band's singer charged with soliciting an undercover detective to kill his wife of nine years. After pleading guilty and being sentenced to six years in prison, it was up to the rest of the band to figure out how to cope with the drama and get back to doing what they do best–rocking the fuck out.
They seem to have hit their stride with Wovenwar, and their new singer Shane Blay. With a new stable of thunderous, melodic riffage on their self-titled debut album, they've already begun the process of reminding fans of the old band that they're back and ready to drag your ass back into the pit and get things swirling again. Recently, they've toured the U.S. opening for Black Label Society and are looking forward to spending the fall in Europe supporting In Flames. Of course, their SoCal fans have few different opportunities to see them this week, starting tonight in OC with a show at Chain Reaction. They'll also be playing Friday at Soma in their hometown of San Diego and they'll be in L.A. at the Roxy on Saturday. We recently spoke to drummer Jordan Mancino about moving past the old band nightmare, finding a new singer and writing new songs.
OC Weekly (Nate Jackson): Considering it's been a year since you started Wovenwar, do you feel like this has been sort of a new chapter for you and your bandmates who were also in As I Lay Dying considering all the insane stuff you went through with your old singer?
Jordan Mancino: We're completely devoted now to starting a whole new book. This is our band now, this our priority, it's not just a project, it's our passion. The decision to start the band was based on some unfortunate events, but we've all been set on making this our priority since the beginning of it.
What was it like for you to step into a new band with your producer like Bill Stevenson, who worked on your previous stuff?
We actually worked with Bill on the last As I Lay Dying record and we had such a great experience with him. And when we started this band, we felt like Bill was the perfect person and even more fitting to do Wovenwar. So we hit him up to come into the studio and we couldn't ask for a more perfect situation when it comes to him working with us. His history and ability and talent makes him one of those producers who is extremely active in the studio in a way that compliments our critical natures and the capabilities of the band as individuals. He's helped me on not just my drumming, but my vocal capability as well. He's also a really knowledgeable songwriter and he gets it. He's not all about doing cookie cutter arrangements. He really gets into a song and sees where it takes him and where we want to take it and then just refines things from there.
Musically did you embrace any new musical approaches or techniques to create the Wovenwar sound?
The four of us have been writing together for so many years that we're a pretty well oiled machine at this point as far as getting in the studio and the creative process. We know each other's strengths. So the main focus musically was to capture all of that. But the biggest part of this whole thing was Shane [Blay]. And we had written a small amount and had a couple of rough song ideas before he was in the picture. We made a very conscious decision not to get too attached to anything before we had that fifth member. We felt like it was important to shape the sound as a collective, not a collective and a fifth member. We were all involved before Shane was in the picture but when he came to join us, all five of us were equally involved in writing the songs.
How did Shane join the group?
We didn't really solicit any new vocalists right away, but we had a list of people we were thinking about that might be a cool fit. And one of our guitarists Nick [Hipa] randomly brought up Shane. And I've actually known Shane longer than the other guys in the band. We played shows back in the day with his old band, well over a decade ago. I always thought he was an amazing guitar player and didn't realize what great vocal capabilities he had. So we sent him one of the demos that we had and him and Josh work together on the vocals and when we heard him, we said "ok, cool!" Like we knew what we were looking for when we found him. As far as his personality, he was the perfect fit and he comes from the same place we all do. It kinda all made sense.
Upcoming plans for the band this year?
For the rest of the year, we're planning to stay busy on the road. And then after this Black Label Society tour, we'll have the California shows for the release week, then we're heading over to Euroe to do some festivals and then touring with In Flames and we should have some more stuff planned toward the end of the year. But our goal for the next couple of months is to put the record out and reconnect with our As I Lay Dying fans. Whether or not they are into the new band, it's still important for us to reconnect. Through the festivals and the support tours, we'll have the opportunity to do that.
Do you guys field inquiries from fans as that the new band was developing and keep them aware of what was happening with you guys as things were unfolding with Lambesis's trial?
I think most people understand why we've been MIA publicly over the last year. It's a stressful situation and we try to be respectful of all the parties involved. Even if others have decided to go on rants and raves, we've just continued to take the high road out of respect for all parties involved and our fans. We feel it's important to keep things on track and focused and not get in this public soap opera. It's never been about that for us. It's always been about the music and the community.
Wovenwar performs tonight at Chain Reaction at 7 p.m. For full details, click here.