Every band waits for their moment. They wait for that one moment where all of their talent and hard work suddenly pays off and they stand on the brink of something huge...at the precipice of great opportunity. This is where New Jersey foursome Armor For Sleep stands now, clutching in their collective possession a dynamic, compelling third addition to their ever-evolving catalogue of music. The record, Smile For Them, a vastly diverse assortment of 12 tracks, is the impetus propelling the group to take full advantage of the enormous possibility that lies ahead.
Sweat makes everything taste sweeter. After forming in the suburban utopia of northern NJ in 2002, catalyzed by singer/guitarist Ben Jorgensen's songwriting and desire to form a band centered on it, Armor For Sleep began slowly building the massive, supportive fan base that they have today. The release of the group's debut, Dream To Make Believe, in 2003 on independent label Equal Vision Records, thrust them on tour where receptive listeners were attracted to the genuine, personable sensibility of the band and their music. But 2005's critically acclaimed concept-based follow-up, What To Do When You Are Dead, set them far apart from the other bands swimming in the deep sea of "emo" bands, and put them distinctly on the top of the bubbling genre. Selling over 220,000 records to date, the album solidified the bond between band and fan, and eventually piqued the interest of Warner Bros, and drew them to add Armor For Sleep to their roster in 2006. The band signed to Sire, home to many legendary bands including The Ramones, The Smiths, Depeche Mode The Pretenders, as well as Against Me! Tegan & Sara and Regina Spektor.
Now backed by a heavy-weight record label and driven by a sincere motivation to create something truly meaningful, the foursome set their sights on their major label debut- a memorable, layered disc that defies expectations and shatters generic barriers. Armed with what Jorgensen calls a "junkyard of ideas" compiled since the recording of What To Do, Armor For Sleep penned a record that grapples with the current state of reality and strives to ascend the band's sound to new levels, by, as Jorgensen says, "challenging ourselves more than we ever had."
Recorded between April and June of 2007 with producer Machine, also the man behind What To Do, Smile For Them surges with dedication for its craft. Soaring from the upbeat, hook-laden rock of opener "Smile For the Camera" to the darkened, synth-garnished atmosphere of "Hold the Door" to the palpable ache of the propulsive "Somebody Else's Arms" to hushed acoustic ballad "Lullaby," Smile For Them touches on an incredible array of emotions and styles, deftly proving that Armor For Sleep can go anywhere and everywhere all at once. Whereas What To Do was an introverted story about a character stuck between life and the afterlife, Smile comes from the opposite standpoint... it comes from a perspective of observation on an internet obsessed, reality TV infatuated generation. Contained within the album are songs about a friend caught in the vicious cycle of drug use, someone who is trapped in a self-imposed reality TV show, and a venomous but light hearted song about the hipster infestation of New York.
"I think this definitely has a wider range of sounds and types of songs on it," Jorgensen elaborates. "It's a collection of us trying different things. I think it will be surprising, but it will also be more rewarding to give our fans an album that's so ample. I think it will be evident that we really pushed ourselves and tried to make a roller-coaster of an album." He continues, "We started the band after the events of 9/11, and on some level, this is the first time we've taken a look at what's going on around us and tried to grapple with how weird it is to be a kid growing up right now. There are songs about a tough relationship of mine that was in a state of meltdown during the recording of the album, but itís all written from a sort of state of daze that I was stuck in while writing this album."
The fans- the most important aspect of Armor For Sleep beyond their music, perhaps because it's becoming increasingly rare to see bands fully and wholly connect with their listeners on a personal basis- are certain to expand in number as Smile For Them dances its way into circulation...because right now, with the support of their label and their fans, they stand on the verge of something almost-terrifyingly massive.
"We've definitely taken the long road in a time when so many bands pop into existence and sell a million records right away," Jorgensen concludes. "We've been around a long time touring and building a fan base. We still haven't had our opportunity to be heard by an entire generation of people. This is our big moment to come out to everyone. This is a big step for us and we've been waiting since we became a band to have a way to get an album like this out to everyone. This is our time to really be heard and be noticed."
Which means they'll have plenty of reason to smile for everyone.