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Creating a new 'identity': Interview with Nick Hipa of Wovenwar

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Months after the conviction of As I Lay Dying vocalist, Tim Lambesis and over a year since his initial court appearance, the remaining members of As I Lay Dying have reformed themselves into a new beast, Wovenwar. On their recent tour with Kyng and the legenday Black Label Society, we recently got a chance to talk with guitarist Nick Hipa about the new band, the old brand, and what’s next for Wovenwar. Hipa shows us exactly why the description on his Instagram is totally accurate, and he is “a pretty deece dude.”

How did writing for this record differ for writing an As I Lay Dying record?
NH:
I think it was a lot more open for better and worse. Normally when we went to write an As I Lay Dying record we knew we knew. We had a very good understanding what As I Lay Dying was. We were a very specific sort of band and we always kind of wrote in a fashion that honored the sound we had developed, but always tried to expand it a little bit. There’s honestly a little bit of security in doing something like that because you’re like, “this is our sound and we know the fans are gonna dig this, but to please ourselves we’re gonna try and do different things and make it cool, but we’re not gonna stray too far because we want to deliver a certain type of sound because that’s why people support us.” With this band it was completely opposite. We had to start another band. We can’t continue to do As I Lay Dying because we don’t have singer and you can’t just replace the person that’s lost. So, we started another band and one of the decisions that we made was that we didn’t want to confine ourselves, no pun intended. Now we can just do what ever and we can explore all the things we like about music because there’s no expectation because this is a brand new band. So, we threw away the mentality of honoring what’s expected of this machine that we’ve been building because it doesn’t exist anymore. We just wrote freely and naturally…We just threw caution to the wind.

How did you guys go about creating your sound?
NH:
The development of our sound was completely natural. It was also based around the way that we developed the sound for As I Lay Dying. Trying to hone your music on a foundation of everybody’s absolute strengths and talents. You have five guys in a band. What do these five guys do best and you take that and you put it together and that’s what your band sounds like. With Wovenwar, we have an entirely different skill set with Shane. Shane can scream, and he’s got a sick scream when he tries, but he’s far more comfortable and I think sounds best, when he’s singing. So, we were writing these songs and because his voice is able to go over so much more than just a blast beat, or a fast punk beat or down beat, we have a lot more dynamics in our sound. I feel like it’s a lot more open and expansive because of that and I naturally made things less aggressive and extreme. We were able to have more ups and down and not just one speed at like 10 or 11.

What motivated you guys to move forward after the scandal and fallout?
NH:
Well, I think it’s because we never lost our love for music. I think when a lot of bands break up it’s because they’re over it and they want to do other things in life. We loved As I Lay Dying. We loved what we had done and we wanted to get better, and literally over night that changed. It was something that happened and we had nothing to do with. We kind of got placed in a situation…We don’t lament over the past. You don’t stay bitter, you don’t give up. You keep your course, and our course has always been to just get better at writing music together, constantly create and perform, because that’s what makes our hearts whole and what we love doing. So, after about a month of getting our personal affairs in order and just dealing with a lot of the stuff behinds the scenes; we had a more professional talk like “What’s next?” Across the board, nobody wanted to stop making music, and so, we just started writing again together. That’s how we handle life, by making music.

What is it that you loved about putting this band and record together?
NH:
I think the foundation of that is that we have the most unified spirit. We are all of one accord and firing on the same cylinders. Towards the later years in As I Lay Dying, I think focus was being lost by specifically the person that’s out of the mix. You know, if one person’s focus isn’t in it and you kind of don’t have everyone working toward the same thing- whether it’s somebody being more self interested or caring less about it or just changing- it makes the dynamic less pure and honest and cohesive. We have that now. I feel like the best part of music and being in a band with people that I love ad respect, is that you have this camaraderie and togetherness. It just feels so good to have written a record with guys like that and to be touring with these dudes. They’re my brothers and it’s just translated on all levels internally.

Will you finish this sentence? If it weren’t for music…
NH:
If it weren’t for music I’d be lost.

So, it’s always been...
NH.
It’s been my compass. Ever since I was a kid, when you’re a kid you don’t know that you don’t know what you’re gonna do; you don’t know anything, and the older I get the more I realize I don’t know anything. I’ve always had music, I’ve had music to listen to suit moods that I was in I was in whether I was sad, or I was angry, or happy. You know, music can be a companion to that. Then, because I loved it so much, I wanted to play it. I wanted to channel those same emotions into my own stuff. So, I have things in life that I can’t deal with and I don’t know what to do; I have guitar to pick up. So, it really has always been that thing, that best friend, that constant. I can’t imagine who, or what, I would be without it. So, to sum it up, I would be lost.

For the gear heads out there, what are you into these days? What’s in your rig?
NH:
Man, I love so much gear and I’m always bouncing around! I’m playing some Les Pauls with various Seymour Duncan pickups like the black winters, or the distortions, or the Mick Thomson blackout. Those are the pickups that I’m rotating between. I have a Gibson Les Paul Shred, which is like a lower-end studio guitar with a Floyd, but it sounds incredible and plays so well. So, that’s been a guitar that I’ve been rocking onstage lately. Then, I have a ‘93 custom that I’ve been a fan of, too. I’ve got a bunch of amps at home that I use for recording, but on tour I’ve been using the Matrix power amp and the Fractal Axe-Fx II. It’s a very common set up for guys, because it’s such an efficient way to travel.

What’s next for you guys?
NH:
We do European festivals in August and then we go back to Europe with In Flames in the Fall Which is what I’m really pumped about. I hope that after that we continue to do tours. We do another full US tour; we go to some of the other places like Australia and Asia. AS many places as we can go where people can hear our music that we can go to before we are ready to record another album. For me and the rest of guys the dream would be to just tour of this album and have it go well and then be able to record another album and tour off that and have it go rad, and to continue that cycle for as long as possible.

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