An employee of the Oceanside Barnes & Noble who did not want to be named recounted the May 7 bookstore bust of As I Lay Dying lead singer Tim Lambesis this way: “It was about 2 p.m. My buddy was outside the store doing face-painting and the cops told him that he needed to stop immediately and go inside. Tim [Lambesis] was there with a friend just browsing. I saw one special task-force cop, two regular officers, and two undercover officers. They just pushed everyone aside and handcuffed him. It all happened so fast. It seemed like they were planning it out for a long time.”
A sheriff’s spokeswoman said in a release that Lambesis had paid an undercover officer $1000 to kill his wife Meggan, who lives in Encinitas.
The arrest of the 32-year-old metal frontman/entrepreneur, whose net worth is said to be $14 million, leaves unanswered questions. Most importantly, what will happen with his Grammy-nominated metal-core band and their nearly two million Facebook fans?
What about Modern Rebellion, the successful rock-swag clothing line Lambesis founded? And what of the recording studio he and partner Daniel Castleman launched two years ago, which has drawn metal bands from Australia (As Silence Breaks), New York City (Sworn Enemy), Pennsylvania (War of Ages), and Salt Lake City (Chelsea Grin) for extended recording sessions?
Lambesis Studios was launched in Lambesis’s garage in 2006. But in 2011, when most other local recording studios were folding, Lambesis rented space in an Escondido industrial park. “I built it from scratch,” he said at the time. “I think the only other new studio that has opened in the past five years is Sushifish.”
As I Lay Dying is now managed by 5B Artist Management and records for Metal Blade Records, which has sold a million As I Lay Dying records between their seven Metal Blade releases. Neither company nor Castleman would comment on what’s next.
Lambesis had two side bands. One was Austrian Death Machine, which goofed on Arnold Schwarzenegger. The other was Pyrithion. Longtime As I Lay Dying fans were not happy that Pyrithion’s demonic lyrics deviated from the positive Christian message of As I Lay Dying’s music and said that Pyrithion seemed to offer an anti-religious or satanic message.
In response, Lambesis recorded a five-minute interview video for YouTube: “Pyrithion concept & lyrics — accused satanist.” In the video, Lambesis admits that the lyrics were “darker” but that they represented viewpoints “that were not necessarily my own.” He said the satanic connections were just “crazy assumptions.”
One insider who has worked with Lambesis responded, “What struck me as different about it was that he didn’t say in it ‘Everyone knows I’m a Christian,’ which is what we expected him to say.”
At press time, Lambesis was still in the Vista Detention Facility, being held on $3 million bail. His next court hearing is June 10. On May 13, the Yahoo music blog quoted Lambesis’s L.A.-based attorney Anthony Salerno, who said that Lambesis may have been set up by the cops. “Tim’s wife’s brother, I understand, is a San Diego Sheriff’s deputy. I think I would be remiss if I didn’t fully explore that [because] that is a little bit...it’s at the bare minimum very coincidental, and it may be more than that.”
As I Lay Dying was to embark on a national tour at the end of this month with Killswitch Engage. The agency handling the tour (coming to San Diego all-ages rock club Soma on June 25) says that it will continue but with a band replacing As I Lay Dying.