The Best Of 2014: The Rock Star And The Hitman

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Wovenwar bassist Josh Gilbert is speaking to Classic Rock two days after playing to 9,000 revved-up Swedes, the climax of a European tour supporting In Flames. His elation then contrasts starkly with his mood on May 7 last year, when Tim Lambesis, singer for As I Lay Dying, the Californian metalcore band Wovenwar’s members then belonged to, was arrested after offering an undercover detective $1,000 to have his own wife Meggan murdered.

Gilbert had just crashed out after an As I Lay Dying Asian tour when his phone began to bleep with scores of text messages, asking if the news was true. “I’d drunk a couple of glasses of wine by the time I got a call telling me it was real,” he remembers. “I drank a couple more and went back to bed. The next day is when it really sunk in. It’s tough because you look back at almost a decade of your life spent working your ass off for one thing, and it’s for no fault of your own taken away. There’s always going to be a stigma. So I was pretty certain right then that this [As I Lay Dying] is behind me.”

Gilbert and Lambesis continued to meet in the year before the singer was sentenced. “It took me about three weeks to speak to Tim because I was upset and hurt and angry. It’s just weird to look at someone that you’ve known for so long, and know that they were capable of doing something like that. I’m pretty sure he apologised for what he did to the band, but we were really concerned with Meggan and the [three] kids. We pretty much lived with them when they would come on the road. Anger wasn’t the first emotion that I felt. I just felt so sorry, especially for the kids, to know that their dad was capable of that.”

Lambesis’s former bandmates watched in the courtroom as he was sentenced to six years in prison on May 16, 2014. The trial saw Lambesis blame his addiction to steroids, and even his now‑abandoned Christian faith, for his actions.

“We had noticed small changes in character, but nothing on the level that you would expect, with what that person was trying to do,” Gilbert says. “The sentencing was a really powerful day. The saddest thing was hearing Meggan’s testimony about the people on the internet who find some way to blame and throw hatred at her for what happened. They’re not thinking of it as a real-life situation. They’re thinking of it as an idol that they had and their favourite band being taken away from them, instead of the danger that four human beings were in.”

Lambesis’s ex-bandmates found relief from what he’d done by recording their self-titled debut album as Wovenwar in December 2013. Band relations even before the arrest “weren’t the most friendly or stress-free”, Gilbert recalls. Their fresh start with new vocalist Shane Blay has felt “liberating”, as quieter verses have given light and shade to their old band’s screaming assault.

“I don’t think it’ll ever be over for us,” Gilbert admits. “But we’re just trying to move forward with the band. Having this chance again, and knowing that we still have support out there, is the greatest feeling.”