It wasn’t a surprise to hear vocalist Ben Jorgensen and bassist Anthony Dilonno of Armor For Sleep agree that Jersey has the best drivers around—they are from Jersey after all. Right before a performance at the Starland Ballroom, they took some time to discuss their new album, Smile For Them.
A few days after that show, they would be premiering the first single from the record on MTV’s TRL. It was interesting to hear their anticipation of the premiere along with their thoughts on the whole hipster movement ,along with music out there today.
Can you just give me a brief history of Armor For Sleep, what your vision for your sound was and also, where does your name come from?
Ben: We came together after our bands that we played with in high school fell apart, and we decided to join forces because I wanted to start a completely new thing. I think we just wanted to make something that pleased all of our tastes. And the name is just kind of something that I picked in the beginning that I wanted to leave as open-ended as possible, so that a few years down the line I still wouldn’t have an answer for, and that’s kind of where I am now.
And your video for the first single “Williamsburg” will premiere on TRL. Are you excited for that?
Ben: Yeah, knowing where we come from, it’s kind of bizarre to know that we’re going to be on TRL, but it’s awesome.
Anthony: It’s a new experience for us. This is a new thing that’s really cool, it’s a good way to reach out to new fans that I don’t think in the past would have heard of us.
And how do you explain Armor For Sleep to people who haven’t heard you before?
Ben: We kind of grew up going to shows in Jersey— it’s a big part of us. I guess we have taken a lot of different influences from the stuff that we grew up listening to and made a band based around them. So not to sound cliché, but I really do feel that if someone wants a really good description of what we do, they should just listen to us for themselves because I really do feel we’re not pigeonholed into any one genre.
Anthony: Screw that, come see us!
Ben: Yeah, come to a show.
Anthony: Exactly, you can listen to us, you can come to a show, you can meet us—that’s how people are going to get it.
Were you doing anything new on the album?
Ben: I guess it’s just an album about real life and I do think there’s something on here for everyone. There’s a song that anyone will be able to put in and identify with. I think that’s kind of how this album was made, more so than our last album. Like whether you come from the scene or come from a different place, I think we’re really trying to break down those walls and be an interesting band that anyone can appreciate.
And musically, where were you going on this record?
Ben: I think musically we were trying to challenge ourselves and do things that we have never done before.
Anthony: How I feel about concept records is, it’s awesome if it really works and there’s some things that come out of nowhere and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s such a good idea and that fits so well.’ But at the same time, there’s things where it’s like, ‘Yeah, you know that’s awesome, but we can’t do that because it doesn’t really like tie into everything else.’ With this record, there’s this message in every song, but it still comes together as an album.
Are you afraid that anybody from your fan base now might be upset that you’ve changed?
Ben: When we made our second CD, there were a lot of people who loved the first CD who were like, ‘It’ll never be the first CD.’ And I’m sure that when this CD comes out there are going to be people who are attached to the second and you know, that happens. But we’re confident that this CD can mean a lot to people and we definitely poured our hearts into it. So at the end of the day, you have to understand that just sometimes your fans get possessive about the past and don’t really want to move on.
So then, were you a little weary about going on MTV?
Ben: No, because in the end we’re, we got to keep trucking. We can’t let anyone hold us back or try and tell us what to do or what not to do.
Anthony: And we just want as many people to hear it as possible, you know. There’s no reason to try to shelter people from it just because of what other people are saying.
Ben: Yeah, I mean, we’re just really excited to be here. It’s kind of weird, we’re just four kids from Jersey that are having fun and writing songs that we think are cool.
So going back to the album, the first track, ‘Smile For The Camera,’ what were you going for there?
Ben: That’s one of the points of the whole CD, I guess since our last CD came out, our lives have kind of been changed by the effects of our record and what it means to have a lot of people observing you ,and it’s just kind of making commentary on people who kind of have the impression that they are trapped in their own reality tv show. I feel like now, people are totally consumed with a desire to be famous.