Tim Lambesis world exclusive interview: The As I Lay Dying singer breaks his year-long silence

May 16, 2014 by Ryan J. Downey

Tim Lambesis world exclusive interview: The As I Lay Dying singer breaks his year-long silence

You can’t control what they choose to do. They may yearn to have some sort of relationship with you, regardless. People have all sorts of complicated family bonds.
My attorney on the civil side said that the most significant parts of his relationship with his son have all been since his son turned 18. He's in his 50s. It makes me think, “Okay, at some point they're going to want to come talk to me and see what's going on. They may have a lot of questions, and they might not all be easy, but there's hope.”

Meggan filed a $2 million civil suit against you. What’s going on with that?
When it rains it pours. I was served with the restraining order the day after I made bail. Then I find out they’re fighting to make sure I won’t ever see my kids until they’re 18. And then there was the $2 million civil suit. Considering the cost of the attorneys, my debt to my parents for the bail bond… When I learned about the civil suit, I kind of laughed. “I don’t even have $20,000. You’re suing me for $2 million?”

People are saying you did this because your wife wanted your money.
I put my money into an attorney-run trust account. A judge would basically decide who gets what. I had already given up control of the money and my entire life savings.

The Tim I knew before all of this was always trying to plan ahead and examined every business decision. Part of the shock of this whole situation, for me, was, “How could he be this stupid? What did he think would happen? Did he think he’d even get away with it anyway? Was it supposed to look like an accident? Was there a plan?”
In that meeting, where the guy wanted this $1,000… I was curious to see what he came back to me with after he did his research, because I hadn’t thought that far ahead.

You had no idea what methods he may or may not have used?
All of that was to be determined. My lawyer told me I could fight this as entrapment. He also told me I could chase unicorns and believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. If we made the entrapment argument, but didn’t win, I would for sure get the maximum sentence. Not only that, but it looks like we’re attacking law enforcement, who will always have the judge’s sympathy. It’s also dragging the judge through this big long excuse story that would come off like I have no remorse. So when it came time for sentencing, the judge would say, “Well, based on your complete lack of remorse, I’ll give you the maximum.” I realized how empty the entrapment defense was. At the first opportunity I had to plead guilty; it was 10 months later when the judge had given any indication of my options. So I plead guilty. It wasn’t a plea deal, because there was no certainty about what my sentence would be if I plead guilty. It was more like, “For sure you’re not going to get the maximum if you plea.” But that was it.

The maximum is nine years. Do you expect to get, like, eight years and 11 months?
Well, it happens in blocks. I’m sure the sentencing will be wildly misreported.

There was an April Fool’s story online that you were already serving a nine-year sentence. And you had escaped from jail, Shawshank Redemption -style.
I know. One of my friends hit me up because he thought it was real. The judge has three options to choose from: three years, six years or nine. The way the credits work in California, you serve 50 percent of that time. So it’s actually one and a half years, three years or four and-a-half years.

Will the time you’ve served, plus the house arrest, count toward that?
It normally would. But we don’t want to bring that up during sentencing. The judge could take that into account, like, “I really want this guy to serve three years, so, I’m going to give him four because I have to give him one for the house arrest.”

I was shocked to learn nine years was the maximum; it seems too low.
Well, here’s what’s interesting. My lawyer pointed out that if this wasn’t entrapment, they would be charging me with conspiracy to commit murder. I’d be looking at 20 years. They charged me with solicitation to commit murder, a lesser charge.

What’s the difference?
Brett wasn’t a dude who was seriously considering helping me commit a murder. If he was, I’d be looking at conspiracy. So we know for a fact Brett was working with law enforcement in some way. That’s why I’m being charged with solicitation. The proof that this case was entrapment is actually right there in the charge itself.

So if this were someone who was planning to help make this happen and not just pretending, it would be conspiracy. You were conspiring together. But since you were the only person involved who thought any of it was real, it’s solicitation.
Exactly. And that’s the difference. My lawyers are saying, for your own peace of mind if it makes you feel better to know it was entrapment, yes, the charges prove that.

A week after your arrest, your first attorney, Anthony Salerno, pointed out Meggan’s brother is a San Diego sheriff’s deputy. The San Diego sheriffs are who arrested you.
Yes. Her brother is a Sheriff.

He said, “I don’t want to make accusations on this one unless I have some more information, [but] I think I’d be really remiss if I didn’t fully explore that. It’s at the bare minimum very coincidental, and it may be more than that.”
[Silence].

It does seem like a pretty big coincidence.
I won’t go down that line of thinking. I can’t. I don’t want it to be true. I’ve faced enough heartache. It’s easier for me to cope with everything if I don’t think about that.

Salerno’s interviews made a lot of waves in the press.
He really wanted to pursue the entrapment angle. We had to hire someone else, because we learned it would be like chasing the Easter Bunny.

Your new attorney, Tom Warwick, started talking about steroids.
You asked me earlier about detoxing from steroids in jail. The depression I was feeling from the situation, plus the hormones, plus the isolation… I’m not trying to make this a “poor me” moment. But imagine despair like you’ve never felt, heightened by these chemical imbalances. That’s why I feel like I’m talking about a different person—a person who was suicidal, insane. Change someone’s hormones that dramatically and they may not actually be a different person, but they will certainly resemble a different person.

After your release, a neighbor of your parents named Charlene Walker told a local news crew that Meggan and your father had been in a loud shouting match outside.
That just straight-up never happened.

Meggan wasn’t there yelling, “It’s not about the money”?
No. It was a highly emotional time for my parents. Maybe she heard my mom yelling at my dad about which attorney we should hire. “It’s not about the money!” I don’t know. I wasn’t there for that conversation. But Meggan had no interaction with my parents whatsoever. So that’s a straight-up lie.

Are you familiar with the blog Public Shaming? They have a Tim Lambesis page setup. It’s full of screen caps of your fans saying things like, “Thanks to that stupid bitch, my favorite band has been fucked up forever,” and “His wife probably deserved it.” When you put up that Tumblr blog of yours, why wasn’t the first thing we heard from you something like, “Please leave Meggan alone.” She was said to be in hiding.
I did the Tumblr thing because I was going insane in isolation for all of those weeks. Then I got home and was alone most of the time. I didn’t see anyone during most of the day. People had gone to work. I’d see my family in the evenings. That was about it.

Tim Lambesis interview 2014

Did anyone from As I Lay Dying come to see you?
No. Well, Jordan [Mancino, drummer] came by once. We talked for a little bit. It was really emotional and we never got anywhere. He was here for maybe 30 minutes. We just scratched the surface. I thought he would come back, but he never did. Maybe he thought I was nuts.

I was sitting around doing nothing but thinking. I wanted someone to talk to. I can’t talk about my court case. I can’t talk about this or that. So I’m going to start a book club, more or less. “Here’s what I’ve been reading. What are your thoughts?”

It doesn’t sound like you were thinking rationally again yet.
Honestly, yes, I was still a little bit off balance and a little nutty. I was also sorting through some really important and powerful topics but I wasn’t really ready to have a conversation about them. So I was just rambling on without a point. I just wanted some human interaction. I was researching a lot of the questions that had driven me away from faith. I wanted to get other people’s takes on the things I had been reading.

Natalie Zina Walschots wrote an editorial for The Toronto Standard called, ‘It Is Safer in the Dark: What the Treatment of Meggan Lambesis Tells Us About Violence, Victim-Blaming and Silence.’ She wrote eloquently about the concept of ‘The Evil Ex.’
To answer your question about why I didn’t tell people to lay off, as far as I knew, she wasn’t in hiding or scared for her life. A mutual friend of ours was walking down the beach on Memorial Day weekend. He saw Meggan on the beach, right out in front of her house, on one of the busiest beach days of the year. She clearly wasn’t in hiding.

Walschots wrote that “the evil ex” is right up there with zombies and Nazis as a pop-culture punching bag. She noted that sometimes, it’s a heartfelt exploration of hurt, anger and sadness; some are even classics, like Converge’s Jane Doe. But The Evil Ex loses her name. She’s vilified. She’s said to be “crazy” and all of that.
As much as I’m heartbroken and forever scarred by the alienating behavior, I do think deep down, if you remove the hurt from the situation, Meggan is a good person and she just wants to be an incredible mother. I don’t think of her as a bad person. What she said was hurtful on a level I will never be able to describe. But I have to believe she regrets saying those things.

So you talked with Jordan. You didn’t hear from anybody else from AILD?
Jordan did return my phone call. The other [band] guys didn’t return my calls when I first came home. I eventually did speak with Nick [Hipa, guitarist], really briefly. I mean, really briefly. In both cases, we never got to the details. I thought they were establishing communication, as if we’d eventually be able to talk about all of these things. But then it was almost like there was some sort of group thinking going on. It was like they all decided, collectively, not to talk to me. They cut off all communication. I sent a very long, very formal apology to all of them, trying to make amends, acknowledging how heavily my actions had impacted their lives. I got no response, so I sent another one out.

In the second one, I was just like, “Look, I know I don’t deserve forgiveness. But I just want to begin this process…” I got really brief responses from Nick and Jordan, acknowledging they had received it. Jordan said everybody just needed more time and that I was kind of hassling them, like, “leave us alone.” So I just stopped bothering them. The last email I sent was just like, “Guys, I’m not looking for a business opportunity, or to make everything okay so we can make more records together. I just considered you guys friends for a long time…” I just wanted to reach out on a friendship level. What I really needed during this difficult time were my friends. I thought they just needed more time. These emails were spread out. The last one was like nine months after I was arrested.

Looking back, I did a poor job of respecting their wishes, letting them speak when they’re ready. I kept trying to reach out. I made things worse. I take responsibility for that. I realize six months is a short period of time for some people, but for a guy sitting at home by himself on house arrest… [ Laughs.] I was living in my own bubble.

People choose their friends. They were in a band with me because I was a meal ticket. It was an opportunity for them to make a good income. We were business partners. They made it clear there’s no concern for me on a personal level. And that’s actually okay. The person I was wasn’t somebody worth being concerned about, to be honest. The person I was in the last six months or so before my arrest, I wouldn’t be friends with that person. I don’t take it personally. But it doesn’t make it any less sad. It’s sad to think of all that time put into those relationships and now there’s no personal concern, no friendship.

 

As I Lay DyingDo you think it would change things for them maybe if they talked to you?
I honestly think they’d feel a bit differently, if not entirely, if they took the time to get to know the person I am. But on a practical level, I’ve got to move forward. If they’re not willing to speak to me, we shouldn’t be planning on playing in a band together. They’re doing their own thing already. At some point after all of this, we’ll have to reevaluate As I Lay Dying. Whether or not As I Lay Dying will continue is a future discussion to be had.

There are a lot of people involved in the business of a band.
I’ll just say this: they made it very clear that we were business partners and nothing more. It’s heartbreaking on a personal level, but there’s nothing wrong with doing that. I have to respect it. It’s their choice. But when there are business decisions to be made, I can’t sit waiting around for answers from people who won’t speak to me. I’m definitely not going to wait for a five-person consensus, if it’s just business. The ownership of the As I Lay Dying business is actually only two people. It’s Jordan and I. We used to make things more democratic, even though Jordan and I had veto power. But for whatever minimal business that’s left, it’s Jordan and I. I would never jump back into a van or a bus [with all of them]. I want to be surrounded by people who are trying to make each other better on a personal level and aren’t just trying to make good music.

There was a brief public exchange between you and Phil on the AILD Facebook page. People were anxiously waiting to hear from you about this whole situation. And then the first thing you have to say is, “Hey, buy this sweet As I Lay Dying guitar from me!”
I have huge debts with my parents. I started selling all of my gear. I sold tons of guitars, amps, all kinds of things. I was having dinner with my dad and he said, “Why would you just let a piece of history be sold without the buyer having an idea what it's from?” This is coming from the guy I owe over $150,000. Maybe the person buying a guitar would be more appreciative of it, if the information was out there about how it was used.

It was similar to the more recent statement posted on As I Lay Dying’s website. It read as though it was from “the band.” But the rest of the guys quickly disavowed it.
The guys who aren’t owners in the band knew about a week before [the post] they are no longer part of As I Lay Dying. It wasn’t anything personal. But because there’s no new AILD business, it doesn't affect their bank accounts. There’s no more or less money for them. The band wasn’t communicating, so it was stripped to its most basic setup. The other three guys shouldn’t have been hurt by it. It doesn’t hurt them financially.

It seemed like they were pissed you had taken the wind of their sails with the unveiling of Wovenwar. They also said they had no prior knowledge of the statement.
It’s true they had no prior knowledge that the statement was going up. But they knew the information that was in the statement. [Nick, Josh and guitarist Phil Sgrosso] definitely knew they were no longer in the band. It wasn’t shocking to them that we hadn’t been a Christian band in a long time. The way they were trying to be mysterious about what their new band is, it created difficulties for me. It was important to clarify the rumors in the clearest way possible, to the people on my side, from a legal standpoint.

I suppose that’s more important than a marketing rollout.
Yes. “The other four guys have a mystery new singer.” That doesn’t clear up anything. It could be interpreted like they were still going to call it As I Lay Dying. I had to clarify that it wasn’t As I Lay Dying. It’s a completely different thing, with a new singer.

A lot of people online thought Josh would take over as frontman.
Yes, there was a lot of stuff like that. The first clip they posted online had Josh singing! It was actually an As I Lay Dying B-side. That was deceptive. It definitely lent the impression they were moving on as As I Lay Dying, cause they weren’t saying otherwise.

It was inappropriate for your first public actions to be starting a Tumblr or selling an old guitar. Their mystery viral marketing felt awkward, too. It’s certainly not their fault they were put in that situation. It’s yours. But it felt strange to see “cool” marketing.
It was strange for their first post to be an As I Lay Dying B-side. It was a song we had all rejected at one point. Now they’re marketing a new record with that? Given everything going on with me, it created more questions about AILD, in a situation where rumors were already flying. Addressing the issues in a matter-of-fact way seemed smarter.

Metal Sucks had a field day with the idea you posted about yourself in the third person. They did a whole “Dear Diary” satire on you, which was pretty funny.
I own the website, but that doesn’t mean I wrote the post. Our former management represents Jordan, but they don’t represent my side of As I Lay Dying. It’s totally normal that I would have a representative post something for me, just like any band would. Yes, I provided the information. Yes, it was information only I could have given someone. But I mean, when Jordan’s management makes a statement on his behalf… That’s what’s tricky. I mean, Dio owned the Dio band name. I would imagine he had people posting things on the Dio websites for him. Is that really so far-fetched? I could’ve responded to their statement responding to my statement, but that would’ve made it worse, not better. Yes, at this point, I have a couple of people helping me represent my career. I don’t know who is going to be my manager. But I have people who are temporary. >>>

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