As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis isn't ashamed to admit it: He's an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, through and through.
"I love watching his movies," the singer told Metal File last week, just as his band prepared to hit the road as part of this summer's Warped Tour. "I don't see how you could put an Arnold movie on and not be entertained. Even the lesser of his films, like [1994's] 'Junior,' the ones that were goofy and sort of out there for him, they're still pretty great."
But Lambesis' unusual adulation for the Governator extends beyond his action-packed DVD collection. In fact, his appreciation runs so deep, the "Twins" thespian inspired Lambesis to strike out on his own, with a new side project inspired by Arnie, called Austrian Death Machine. Lambesis plans to release his band's forthcoming debut album, Total Brutal, on July 22.
In essence, though, it's really a Lambesis solo LP. Not only did he write all the band's songs, he performs all of the material on Total Brutal, which was recorded inside his home studio in between As I Lay Dying tours.
"This is one of the albums where the recording took longer than the writing process," Lambesis explained. "I actually wrote most of the songs in about a week, because I just wanted to write 'em all before I ran out of time between tours. Then we went on tour for a while, and I came back and started recording the tracks. Because it's not a full band, and just one person, it was a lot harder to get everything right. When As I Lay Dying records, everyone knows their parts perfectly well, and they're all more than capable of playing everything perfectly. In my case, I had to pull a little studio magic to make everything right. It's a solo project where I'm trying to do everything, and there's no shame in a little ProTools trickery."
The idea for Austrian Death Machine — which Lambesis hopes to tour with this fall — came to him during a casual conversation with some friends backstage while AILD were on the tour.
"I think an Arnold one-liner came up in the conversation, and I was saying how amazing it would be to start a band where people were actually piling up at the front of the stage to sing along to those one-liners," he said. "It was just a thought at first, but about a year later, I had some time off, and so I just made it happen. I wrote as many songs as I could, recorded them, and now, I have a full album. It actually surprised me how easily it came together, because it was something that I just did on a whim. And it sort of surpasses my own expectations.
"[Austrian Death Machine] is a chance for me to show, musically, what I'm capable of," he continued. "I didn't try to write the most technical music in the world; I just wanted to write music that had a certain type of aggression that I think Arnold would want to sing over. A lot of [As I Lay Dying's] fans don't realize that, in addition to being a singer, I'm also very involved in the songwriting process."
Total Brutal will feature 17 tracks, including "Come With Me If You Want to Live" (which boasts a guitar solo from Killswitch Engage's Adam Dutkiewicz), "Who Is Your Daddy, and What Does He Do" and "It's Not a Tumor." Producer Jason Suecof (God Forbid, Trivium); AILD's Nick Hipa; Haste the Day's Jason Barnes; and Daath's Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler all contribute guitar solos to the effort. While Austrian Death Machine's songs do feature some of Arnold's most famous lines, as provided by a Schwarzenegger impersonator, the actual singing is handled by Lambesis.
"Part of what I wanted to do with this band was do things stereotypically on purpose," he said. "Every band wants to be unique and avoid doing what's typical for the genre. In this case, I wanted it to be absolutely typical, so it's everything you'd expect to hear from a metal band, everything that embodies metal, and I think that's what makes Arnold the perfect frontman. At least as a character in movies, he embodied everything that's metal: He's a huge, muscular guy, and he knows how to win a fight. I think the ability to poke fun at heavy music, while at the same time writing really brutal music, is a fun combination. I'm really proud of the record came, and I think As I Lay Dying fans will definitely be able to latch onto it. It's less melodic and more thrash brutality. It has a little more of a tough-guy feel — on purpose."
For Lambesis, working on the Austrian Death Machine record wasn't nearly as intense as his work with AILD, because he didn't have to endure the same emotionally draining experience he does when he writes lyrics for that band.
"Everything in As I Lay Dying is really very passionate for me, vocally and lyrically, and there's a lot of conviction behind what I write, so I wanted to do something that was a little bit on the lighter side," he said. "I felt Arnold was the perfect guy to be in a band with. He's the most brutal guy in the world, and his movies are just pure testosterone. It seems to be perfect for the genre of metal — this brutal warrior who is able to destroy all these villains."
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