Phil Sgrosso of As I Lay Dying says, "Why not."

Phil Sgrosso is exactly Six degrees from Kevin Bacon!

Phil Sgrosso from As I Lay Dying spoke with me near the end of their Decas tour celebrating ten years as a force in metal. I asked him why do a ten year anniversary album and tour? "Just trying to make it a special momentous occasion. We decided toward the end of this record cycle for the Powerless Rise and before we go away to start working on a new album to kind of keep something going, keep the fans keep giving them something to have while we go away for a while. It seemed like the perfect occasion, ten years, get a big tour around it, do a bunch of different things like cover songs, remixes, ... Why not?" Part of doing something special for the fans included doing a limited edition vinyl for the music store FYE.  Phil says, "Vinyl is one of the things that is actually selling consistently these days. Vinyl is doing pretty well. For me it's great to still preserve that whole integrity of album artwork. Where everything is going digital now you can still have a digital copy of the album art it's not tangible, it's not something you can hold. vinyl is a little bit more special.i guess.  It's definitely going to be just a limited run of it. Why not. It's something more for the fans to have."

 

The vinyl sound is near and dear to Phil's heart having grown up on Thin Lizzy and UFO. "It's definitely cool to have vinyl. The artwork is just bigger, has more impact I guess. This is what bands need to be doing more of so people are not just wanting to buy digital - buy physical to have something that they can have in their collection! It's more of a collectors thing like just something you can like frame it or put it on a shelf. Keep it with all your vinyl collections."

 

Part of making sure the fans have something special is the special relationship the band has with their fans. As I Lay Dying has seen many changes in the industry and they do their part to keep up. " I mean everything is changing with the music industry. There is no real solid template of how you go about doing things. It's always changing. Record sales are going down. What do you do to make sure people are going to want to buy your record? They are going to feel they need to have your record. If your live sales are going - just live sales in general go down, what do you do to keep kids coming back to the show? What do you do ? You can't really half ass it anymore. You really have to put in the effort with everything to make sure the kids are going to get what they want. To make sure it's worthwhile for them because if you don't give it to them there are a million other bands out there nowadays that want to do that for them. So that's the thing with just the whole on-line world. There's so many good bands out there. It makes some competition but also some people want that competition. It's heathy to have competition." 

 

Part of that competition comes from the change of being in a band and putting out really good music to having to be more of an accessible personality that just happens to be in a band. It seems that you have to do more than just play good music. Phil agrees, "Yeah, that's kind of what they are growing up with now. Knowing everything about artists they want to follow. It's not like, David Gilmore is my favourite guitarist.  But am I ever going to hear a tweet from him or anything or facbook? No! Nothing. There is, for me, having that like mysteriousness of them is what I love about the musicians that I grew up loving. I don't need to know their personality. I don't need to know that because it's just the guitar playing and musicianship of it. Nowadays yeah, kids are wanting more of that and wanting direct contact. In a way it's kind of weird I guess. As an artist or musician to put yourself out there because for me at least because I'm not a ... I feel like I'm a people person but I don't feel the need to go out of my way to like connect with people. I mean I'm just gonna keep doing what I'm doing and if they connect with me cool. But like I feel it's kind of phoney when you have to feel like you have to keep .... " Phil trails off, but picks it up again with this tidbit. "It's interesting though, I read this article the other day about how artists are being made these days. All the social networking behind it, all that direct communication it's just weird.  We did our DVD and that was for five, six years of a camera in our face on tour and all that stuff. I felt that that was a very genuine. The kids really experienced who we were by watching it."

 

So who is Phil Sgrosso? Phil is a vampire. "I like sleeping. This last tour Tim Lambesis and I always slept in.  Tim was usually until like 7 PM. We didn't go to bed until  8 AM.  I get up at 5. The sun is already down. So many days we wake up and it's dark already and it's kinda depressing thinking about that. We're vampires essentially." I inquired as to which type of vampire he was, the new-fangled sparkly kind or the classic Lost Boys. "Lost Boys for sure! I grew up with that movie. I don't know any other kind of vampire."

 

Phil Sgrosso is a food connoisseur. "I love food. I love food very much. My favourite food is sushi then Mexican food and BBQ. I had really good BBQ  from a place called Dinosaur BBQ. It's in Long Island. My wife is from Atlanta, so down in the south it's all about the BBQ.  LOVE dry rub. In Nashville we have dry rub and it was amazing. But, I like a little sweet spice sauce too. You know, with some sweet tea. But we live in San Diego so Mexican food is it and I'm half Mexican, my mother's side. I've always had good Mexican food and San Diego has the best Mexican food I want to say in the world... except we played in Mexico City once." That was a bold statement to make, so I pressed him further. "In Mexico City we've had the best tacos we've ever had. But my reasoning for why San Diego has the best is because California has good ingredients. It's not like Mexico. There is no regulation going on."  That makes sense because most people in California involved in the food industry are Mexican. Phil continues, "But that's the thing. You have all the cooks! The cooks that come up from Mexico and you have all the good fresh ingredients from California. That's why. But it's not north of San Diego, don't even mess with it, no good Mexican food. So it's all San Diego."

 

Phil Sgrosso is also a movie buff. "Before I was in a band and doing music full time I didn't really have any goal of what 

else I'd want to be. I probably would have gotten into movies, movie production or something. Just working on set, doing I don't know. I love movies it's another passion. Just knowing everything this movie with this actor. My brother and I used to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon growing up. Just knowing certain producers and directors and writer  so when I hear about a movie - oh that looks really good. I always go on Imdb, who wrote it, who produced it , everything.  This adds up to whether I'm going to see it. Sometimes I'm like, this writer? I'm not going to see that crap. But I think just movie production in some way would be great. And LA is not very far from us so it's somewhat feasible." I asked him just how many degrees of Kevin Bacon was he. "I don't know. It's more than 6. I'll say." I did a little digging. It's exactly six. Phil was interviewed by me (1). I shared pizza with Rod Roddenberry (2). Rod is Gene Roddenberry's son (3). Gene Roddenberry IS Star Trek on which John Reese Davies had a role on Voyager (4). John Reese Davies was in Raiders of the Lost Ark with Karen Allen (5). And Karen Allen was in Animal House with Kevin Bacon (6). 

 

With his love of the technical aspect of movies, it's surprising to learn that Phil doesn't have an active role in As I Lay Dying videos or webisodes. He tells me, "It's obviously intimidating too like we meet a director the day of or maybe once before.We Kinda want to give them their space and let them do what they are doing. You don't want to be naggy and stuff. It's a visual art obviously but if you can tie music in with it, like scoring movies would be something that I would love to do as well. It's just visually appealing from a sonic standpoint.  Just hearing the music it's just more impact, more punch. But the videos, I'll just play guitar. I'm usually the guy when the video is sent for approval I'm the one giving them edit points. Hey the snare head is off. The fingers are moving when there is no guitar playing. Maybe that would be something, be an editor. Cut this up and make sure everything looks like how it's being played. The new webisodes we've been doing on our website, Nick Hipa, our guitar player he's been filming most of it and editing all of it himself. Nick kind of took over the role of doing all the video, webisodes and all that stuff; taking charge of that. I'm focusing more on the merchandise. So everyone has their little thing. Nick's doing a great job with the video stuff so."

 

Phil Sgrosso would love to have a bar someday. A rock bar of course. He says there are not too many of them in San Diego where he lives. " You go to Europe and it's every where. You love it coz you're going to a rock bar. It's a rock bar, you're gonna hear good tunes and hopefully good beers. We have great beers in San Diego, micro breweries. The number one micro-brewery destination right now. San Diego we have Stone. We have AleSmith. Lost Abby. Mission. Just tons of, just popping up everywhere. So it's becoming really popular. I just think it would be nice to have a bar with all local beers and pulled pork would be great. There is actually a place that just opened up that is doing the exact same thing. The owner is from Alabama so he's got food and everything is great. Flying Pig in San Diego - making a shout out".