Armor for Sleep Interview
Armor For Sleep Interview – Leeds Cockpit – 13 December 2005
Armor For Sleep are a band that I have an awful lot of time and respect for, and have done for quite some time now, so it was an absolute pleasure to catch up with front man Ben Jorgensen before the show for a chat.
E. This is the sixth date of your UK tour. What has been the highlight of this tour so far?
B. I guess the Manchester show was awesome, that has probably been the highlight so far. All of the shows have been awesome, but there was just this crazy energy there. I felt like it was the most connected we have been to the British fan base.
E. What are your plans once the UK tour has ended? Are you touring elsewhere, or concentrating on writing?
B. We have been on tour for pretty much a year straight, so we’re going to take January off and start writing our next album, and then we go on tour again at the end of January for two months on our headline tour of the States.
E. Your debut album Dream To Make Believe was released in 2002, and the follow-up What To Do When You Are Dead this year. How have your lives changed over this period of time?
B. Um, I think our lives have changed like, just the obvious things like we’re on tour a lot more and there’s a lot more stuff to do with the band, a lot more press. I think it’s just kinda put us in this weird place where the band stuff is all we do, you know what I mean? Like at first we were all willing to make our lives the band, and now, we don’t have a choice! There’s no turning back at this point.
E. Have you seen a big increase in public interest over the last few years?
B. Yeah, since the new CD came out it’s like we have a whole new fan base and I think it upset a lot of people who liked our first record a lot. It wasn’t really publicised, so they were the people that went out and found out about it on their own. When our new CD came out it had a bit more press behind it, so a lot more people were coming to our shows that didn’t know us from the first album and I feel like some of the fans who were there from the beginning didn’t like that.
E. You have supported many other great bands over the years – how does it feel to be headlining now?
B. It feels cool, you know? Like after headlining a show it’s gonna be weird to go back to supporting a band again, because you kinda get used to playing at a certain time and everyone being there to see you. So to go back to supporting would seem like a step back.
E. What To Do When You Are Dead is a very mature and thought-provoking album
E. Did you decide on a concept and write around that, or did your writing develop in that way more unintentionally?
B. Um, well I started writing our songs for this album, and for some reason the first few songs that I wrote lyrics for were from the perspective that I was dead and I was like well this is really weird, but it’s what’s on my mind right now so I’ll just leave it and once we get to the studio I’ll change things around. And so I started kinda like thinking about stuff like that and then I went to some book stores and I started reading up on people’s views on the paranormal and people’s thoughts on ghosts and everything, and I found it really interesting that people spend so much time thinking about and planning for what to do when you’re dead. So I kinda decided to stick with the idea and so a bunch of things happened at once that made me want to go with that idea.
E. How do you all get along together whilst touring? I imagine it can get pretty intense when you are together 24/7!
B. We actually get along a lot better than any band that I know, like, when we’re on tour we share the same hotel room together and we’ll stay up until like five in the morning just talking and laughing. I don’t know any other band that gets along as well as we do.
E. Have you all known each other a really long time?
B. Yeah, we’ve known each other since we were all like thirteen so you know its cool, we’re having fun.
E. How would you describe your sound?
B. It’s always a weird thing for me to think how other people perceive us because I know it just comes out of us, you know? Like we don’t think about it, so I wouldn’t know what to say.
E. Who are your own musical influences?
B. We all come from different backgrounds of music, like Nash and PJ used to listen to Silverchair, and I came from a more punk rock and hardcore kind of thing. I guess at the same time bands like Saves The Day were from New Jersey and so we listened to a combination of hard rock and the early emo stuff that was around New Jersey.
E. Are there any new bands that have caught your attention recently?
B. There’s a band called Backwards American Dream from Seattle that we just toured with a little bit
E. What is on your IPOD at the moment?
B. I downloaded a lot of Aphex Twin before I came here – it’s good for plane rides, you can just put it on and zone out. And bands like Air, I downloaded a lot of albums earlier, just like spacey relaxing music on that I can put on and not think about, you know?
E. What was the best gig you have ever been to see?
B. I guess one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to when I saw At The Drive In play the Firehouse in New Jersey. It was one of their last shows there a couple of months before they broke up, and it was like five dollars and there were just a few hundred people there.
E. If Armor For Sleep didn’t exist, what do you think you would be doing now? Have you or any of the other guys had any strange jobs before?
B. I don’t know, I mean everyone was still in school before this. I know that I would probably still be going to school, I was gonna be an English major and write a book. I know that for me, I could never have an office job, I would try to be a writer or something on my own terms. I have only had two jobs in my life. I worked at this Law Firm for a lawyer and his wife, and one summer they went on vacation, and so there was no-one in the office. I had to just stay there and answer the phones and if there was a client I would call him at his beach house. But I was the only person in there and I only had to do anything when the phone rang! So every day I came in there, I took off my jacket and I slept on the floor and put the phone next to my head. I slept all day and if somebody would call it would wake me up, and I would answer the phone, and then go back to sleep!
E. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?
B. The first wish would be to have an infinite number of wishes! Probably, the first wish I would want to fly, the second wish, I would wanna be able to stop time and the third wish I guess would be for world peace or something like that.
E. What would you like the future to bring for Armor For Sleep?
B. I hope that our next record is really good, I have and idea of what kind of record we want to write.
E. Any idea roughly when we can expect that to come out?
B. Probably like, the fall – probably September/October time. The thing that makes me happy about the first album is that we knew what we wanted to do, and I feel that we went out and did that album that we were all talking about. So I hope that we go out and make the album that we all want to make again.
E. When you are writing do you find that some of you try to pull in different directions musically?
B. Everyone’s got their own little spin on things that they want to put on it, but it’s more about finding a middle ground that makes everyone happy. It’s like, I hope that we’ll all be able to see the same thing.
E. How do you write together? Do you all get together and thrash it out as a group, or do some of you bring your own ideas to the table and work from there?
B. I’ll pretty much get the ball rolling, like I’ll write a lot of stuff in my room and then I’ll come into practice and show it to them so we have something to work off of. But once it’s kind of on the table everyone takes their knife and starts hacking away! The only part that is really done exclusively is when I write the lyrics. I don’t tell anyone what I’m doing and I just show up to the studio and everyone’s cool with it. Everything else is pretty collaborative.
E. If you could leave us with one thought about the band, what would that be?
B. I have been wondering what people look for in a band these days, I mean, there is so much emphasis on fashion and guyliner, you know what I mean? Like hair metal – it goes away after a while. I already see kids nowadays starting to just be annoyed and realising that none of that is real, you know what I mean? So I just can’t wait for the day when that’s completely gone and we can just get back to enjoying the music again.