Sure, their two-year jump from Southern California obscurity to Taste Of Chaos and multiple Vans Warped Tour slots may seem like an easy ride. But for BLEED THE DREAM-singer Brandon Thomas, guitarist Dave Aguilera, drummer Scott Gottlieb and bassist Keith Thompson-it’s been a lesson in hard knocks, not the least of which has been the loss of their friend and drummer, Gottlieb, to cancer on April 10. But Gottlieb’s spirit and playing both live on in Built By Blood, the band’s debut album for WARCON Entertainment (the label co-run by Vans Warped Tour co-founder Kevin Lyman). And they’re also a big part of what’s pushing Bleed The Dream to continue on, as Aguilera explains when AP catches him on the road during BTD’s recent Canadian headlining tour.

INTERVIEW: Aaron Burgess

Timing-wise, obviously there’s no way someone can predict an event like this, but for you, having to release and promote an album and then hit the road right after losing a friend, what are you feeling at the moment?

It’s weird. Scott was such a pro, positive guy, and he was so punk rock at heart-we know he’s looking down on us, and we owe it to him to do this. If we didn’t, we know he’d be like, “What are you guys doing? Get back on the road!” [Laughs.] But sometimes, you forget, you know? You have a great time and you’re laughing, and then, it’s just… For example, the other night, three kids walked up, and they all had shirts that said “Broken Wings” on the front and “Scott, Rest In Peace” on the back. It’s a roller coaster, really.

How did the whole experience with Scott-essentially being his brother, his cheerleader and his caretaker-affect the songwriting process for this record?

I’m a big fan of tearing songs apart and rewriting them until they’re right, but it’s funny: As anal as I am about the songwriting process, Scott’s even worse. We hadn’t played with him in six months because we’d been on the road, and then we came back to finish the songs we’d started writing with him when he got ill. He was finally able to play well enough to jam with us, and we got in the studio. We got this crappy place, smaller than a bedroom, in Crackville-North Hollywood-and we’re sitting in there, and, every song, he was just like, “This could be better,” and it was like, “Man, it’s good to be back with our writing partner.” But at the same time, I was like, “I forgot how much you frustrate me.” [Laughs.]

For the rest of the story, pick up AP 204 below…