For the new single, ‘Williamsburg,’ I think Brooklyn. So is it an attack on the hipster culture?
Ben: Yeah, in a stupid way. Obviously it’s a generalization of hipsters, but…
Anthony: On paper.
Ben: Yeah, but I mean, it’s supposed to be tongue in cheek. A lot of people say that we’re hipsters and my real problem is people that go around and proclaim that they’re hipsters and say that their kind of music is cooler than any one else’s kind of music. I don’t think we’re trying to start a war or bring down the hipster move as a whole or start some stupid kind of revolution.
Because you’re from Jersey and in close proximity to Williamsburg, do you encounter a lot of those kinds of people?
Ben: I guess yeah, I’ve been going to New York City since I was really young and going to shows there. Growing up a little bit and spending more time there, you kind of see more of that, and we definitely were part of going to the whole Misshapes thing when that was around. It’s bad news and, honestly, I had a friend who kind of got caught up in that whole thing and actually ended up dying and overdosed on drugs. So that’s the more serious tip of that.
For the cover art, why did you choose to have a child in the midst of the photographers?
Ben: I just thought it was a cool image, when you have the innocence of this little kid who’s just trying to mind his own business on one side. And then on the other, it’s this oppressive camera crew that’s getting in his face.
With past albums there’s always a recurring theme of death and the afterlife. Was it the same for this record?
Ben: I think that the last two albums were very introspective and lyrically were just about the things that you think about when no one’s really around. And I think this CD in contrast is what happens when you kind of open your eyes, and a lot of it is observing. It’s about a lot of different situations that happen in real life, where the other ones were more fantasy based.
I’ve read that you guys like to make albums in a fashion much like those put on vinyl. Did you have a side A and B for this one?
Ben: I feel like it ended up coming together at the end, that a song called ‘Snow Globe’ kind of ended up being the end of side A and ‘End Of The World,’ which is actually a song that was originally going to start the record, is kind of the start of side B. I think that both of them are like mini albums that are put back to back.
Anthony: That’s what we should have done. How funny would it have been to release a double EP?
Ben: Yeah. [laughs]
You used the same producer for this album as your previous one. Why did you decide to go with Machine again?
Ben: I think what it came down to was that he had the best ideas for this album. Of course we worked with him really well last time, but it was a totally different record and we weren’t going to go with someone just based on the fact that we worked with them before. And I think that Machine had so many ideas to make these songs really get to where they needed to be, and he’s just a really talented person who we connect with.
How do Armor For Sleep albums come together?
Anthony: Usually Ben will come in with something musically whether it’s a part or a part of a part and then, we’ll all be together and we kind of all throw ideas at each other for the different parts of the song until it comes together musically.
Ben: Yeah, and on this one, I think we were doing a lot more like kind of writing in the studio. We were definitely jamming in the studio right before we recorded stuff.
Anthony: We really wanted to have a full array of songs, things that you hear from the first note and you were like, ‘This is Armor For Sleep.’ We went through about 40 songs.
And what would you say are your inspirations?
Anthony: I think we’ve become our own inspirations. I mean, we’re very comfortable with the songwriting process because we’ve done it for two full records and for close to 65 songs. But when I listen to music, I’ve started thinking about what’s missing. I think about what is it that I want to hear, and that’s what I think we try to incorporate in the band.
And then what do you guys feel is lacking out there in music today?
Ben: I think one of the themes of this CD is substance. I think with the whole reality tv thing part of, I think the point of why we’re on the offensive so much is because it’s such a vacant cultural phenomenon. The whole point of that is that there’s no real plot, it’s just somebody’s life.
Anthony: I think the musical standpoint is substance too. There’s so much that’s become so normal it’s like, okay, we’ll have a catchy intro riff with like a verse that goes to the chorus to another verse to a chorus again. Bands have these very catchy melodies, they do a lot of stuff with vocal harmonies—that’s great. But I mean, it’s not really about the instruments as much as we like it to be, which is why you’ll hear a lot of interesting stuff on this record, whether it’s programming or different things on the different instruments that we play.
Smile For Them is in stores now. Armor For Sleep will be playing at the School Of Rock in Hackensack, NJ on Dec. 28. For more visit armorforsleep.com
Photo Credit: Pamela Litky