Armor for Sleep Come Back to Life on Anniversary Tour

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If there’s one thing I love the most about the recent trend of reunion and anniversary tours, it’s the community. When Armor for Sleep released their classic sophomore album What to Do When You Are Dead in early 2005, I was a 21-year-old college student who made relentless road trips to see my favorite bands. My friends and I would pack into small, sweaty venues and sing and dance along to our favorite songs until our throats were raw and our bodies were sore.

Times have changed, to a certain extent. Although I still frequent shows, the vibe is different. Whether I like to admit it or not, I’ve lost much of the youthful excitement and abandon that used to radiate from within. A good concert experience still delights, but it rarely takes me to that place of wonder.

That’s why I find myself smiling when the opening notes of “Car Underwater” play through the speakers at The Metro in Chicago. I spend half of the set singing along to some of my favorite songs and the other half looking around and taking in the experience. It feels as though I can relate to everyone in attendance – an audience of grown-ups who still remember what it feels like to be a kid in love with the music.

As odd as it seems that a crowd of several hundred adults would sing along so loudly to songs of death, despair and regret, there’s something touchingly therapeutic about this night. Armor for Sleep existed as a unique mix of dark, thoughtful emo churning amidst rabid melodic sensibilities. What to Do When You Are Dead was one of the most distressing and expressive releases of its time, but it was also one of the most appealing.

Hearing these songs once again causes me to reflect on how far I’ve come while reminding me that the journey is far from over. As a young, lost college student, Armor for Sleep’s story of suicide and the painful revelations of the afterlife dug deep at my own insecurities and uncertainty. Although the years have brought maturity in many ways, some of those fears still persist.

There’s something about the key change during the pre-chorus of “Remember to Feel Real”, accompanied by Ben Jorgensen’s lines of, “You know I change myself to impress whoever happens to be next to me / But I’m sick of trying so hard” that still strikes a nerve. On this night, I don’t feel alone during that moment, surrounded by a chorus of friends singing along just as loudly and just as convicted as they did a decade ago.

After four opening tracks from 2003’s Dream to Make Believe and 2007’s Smile for Them, the band kick into What to Do When You Are Dead, playing the entire album from front to back with essentially no pause for stage banter. The story is allowed to speak for itself and the entire crowd is aware of each subsequent moment and song.

To hear Jorgensen, guitarist PJ DeCicco, bassist Anthony Dilonno and drummer Nash Breen play these songs so effortlessly is to nearly forget that the band has been absent for years. It’s hard not to wonder if there’s any remaining pain existent that spawned these tracks a decade ago. Jorgensen’s voice sounds just as tortured as ever, whether for effect or out of necessity it’s impossible to tell. Nevertheless, the night is meant to be a celebration of the band’s most lauded album and the fans that made a reunion like this a reality. The songs are sad, but the crowd seems overjoyed to sing them together once more.

The band returned to the stage after completing the album to play What to Do bonus track “Very Invisible” along with a few personal favorites of mine, “Frost and Front Steps” and “Dream to Make Believe”. The show feels like a goodbye, although it’s deflating to once again consider the possibility. In a time where bands are once again attempting to shed their glossy finish in favor of darker, grittier sounds, Armor for Sleep is the original archetype for such a movement in this scene. Their mere presence seems to elevate the authenticity.

Armor for Sleep’s music is rich in self-loathing and doubt, which just so happen to be traits I possess in spades. When I was younger, they aided me when I wallowed and gave me the courage to shake it off. Now, they remind me of a time when direction was much less clear and help seemed much further away. It’s likely that everyone in the crowd had a unique story for why this music mattered to them, but for this night, we all shared our stories in unison.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

What to Make of Underoath’s Rebirth

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Nothing lasts forever – not even the inevitable break up of your favorite band. Recent years have seen an avalanche of reunion tours and comebacks, the most recent of which belongs Tampa, Florida, post-hardcore pioneers, Underoath. Not even three years since the announcement of their disbandment, Underoath will be hitting the road next spring for a full U.S. tour, with possibly much more to come.

If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that there’s clearly a market for such revivals. Fall Out Boy is bigger than ever since ending their hiatus in 2013, and bands like Sleater-Kinney, Saosin, Acceptance, Alexisonfire and many more are reaping the benefits of a return.

With the emergence of anniversary tours and accompanying commemorate merch, there are seemingly more reasons than ever to “get the band back together,” and Underoath appeared to be a prime candidate at some point. But for a band that so emphatically shut the door on their future, for a variety of completely rational reasons, does their sudden reemergence seem suspect?

The most common response to these sorts of announcements is to quickly cry, “Cash grab!” into the black hole of online comment threads. However, this sort of response negates years of history, hard work, natural ability and life experiences that members pour into their bands. Underoath were no strangers to inner turbulence, but their enduring friendships and commitment to their craft has been well documented.

There is no argument to be made that Underoath caught lightning in a bottle with any specific release and seeks to relive a moment of glory. The band’s final four albums stand as examples of post-hardcore excellence that today’s newer acts still aspire to. Underoath was more than any one album – each individual member’s talent and vision drove forward a whirlwind of clashing philosophies and sonic interests that challenged the boundaries of genre and kept listeners on their toes.

The most common reasons given for the band’s break up revolved around ideas of family and stability. After over 15 years on the road and in the studio, Underoath was spent, although not everyone in the band was in agreement about what that should mean. What is now clear is that a future was never off the table, even if the band’s wording upon their break was poorly chosen. That the return features the long-standing lineup of Tim McTague, James Smith, Grant Brandell, Chris Dudley, Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie speaks volumes. It truly couldn’t be any other way.

The 32-city Rebirth Tour will find the band playing their breakout album They’re Only Chasing Safety and their landmark follow-up Define the Great line in their entirety every night. Fans that complain about the absence of 2008’s Lost in the Sound of Separation or 2010’s Ø (Disambiguation) on this trek miss out on the obvious joy of this occasion and will likely find themselves in attendance anyway. This isn’t an encore – it’s a new beginning.

Will the band’s collective re-charged batteries result in more than just a tour? Does Underoath have another groundbreaking album in them? It’s certainly not unthinkable. No matter what comes out of this rebirth, the mere idea of it happening this soon is exciting enough. Underoath consistently pushed their peers to think harder about their music and their purpose – and we all benefited from it. It’s not hard to imagine their presence having that impact once again.

In an interview with Alternative Press, Gillespie stated that Underoath means “something separately to each one of us and I think it’s something separate to every single person who bought those records.” The band’s reach extends far, making this reunion a thrilling one for all kinds of fans. But this reunion also means something to the members involved. Underoath stands to make a profit from their rebirth, but the bottom line has never been the driving force. Whatever it is that has made this return a reality is fairly unimportant. It’s here – let’s enjoy the ride.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Saosin play “Seven Years” at Chain Reaction

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This isn’t necessarily “news,” but it is pretty freaking awesome. Last week, Saosin made their triumphant return to Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California, with two performances in one night. You weren’t able to make it? Don’t worry – we weren’t either. Lucky for us, several people caught it all on camera. Below are a few of the better videos from the night: one of “Seven Years” and the other of “Lost Symphonies”. Enjoy!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Video interview with Saosin

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Derek Scancarelli of Alternative Press recently had the chance to chat with Saosin about their current reunion shows, what Translating the Name has meant to their individual careers, the band’s relationship with former vocalist Cover Reber, and if the band will record any new music with Anthony Green. Check out the interview below:

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Mae to perform on StageIt, release “Destination: B-Sides” vinyl

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It looks like Mae will be holding a special performance on StageIt on June 7 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their album Destination: Beautiful. You can get tickets here. The band will also be issuing a vinyl release of Destination: B-Sides very soon. Check out the press release below for more info:

May 16, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA – Influential Norfolk rock band Mae is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their classic debut album Destination: Beautiful and fan coveted compilation Destination: B-Sides with an intimate one-time-only online performance at StageIt.com on June 7th. The show will feature the band performing from their studio and interacting with fans, all streaming live online and on mobile devices for ticket-holders. Tickets are available now at http://spr.tn/maegeit.

Spartan Records has also announced plans to release Destination: B-Sides on limited edition vinyl record for the first time in the near future.

The album will be available for pre-order on an exclusive vinyl variant during the band’s StageIt performance and a portion of the proceeds raised from the performance will go towards re-recording of additional tracks, which will be included on the first ever vinyl pressing of the album.

Mae, in partnership with Spartan Records, will kick off a week-long celebration dubbed #maeweek beginning May 19th through May 23rd. Each day that week, Spartan Records will release an extremely limited edition of 100 copies of Destination: Beautiful on a unique vinyl variant. Fans are encouraged to follow Spartan Records on Instagram (http://instagram.com/spartanrecords) for special content and info about the limited edition releases for #maeweek.

Formed in 2001, Mae released four highly revered full-length albums and three EPs via Tooth & Nail and Capitol Records, which combined sold over half a million copies. During their tenure the band toured the world with bands like Foo Fighters, Weezer, The Fray, OK GO, MuteMath, Circa Survive, Jack’s Mannequin among many others. As part of a year-long charity campaign in 2009, the band partnered with Habitat For Humanity, Donors Choose, and Destination Imagination and raised over $80,000 for those in need. After a few years on hiatus, Mae returned to the stage in February 2013 to commemorate the ten year anniversary of Destination: Beautiful. Now a year later, the band returns for a special StageIt show in honor of Destination: B-Sides for their fans around the world to view.

Pick up StageIt tickets now at http://spr.tn/maegeit and follow the band at https://www.facebook.com/mae for additional updates regarding #maeweek.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

The best reunions and revivals of 2014

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This year may be one of the most memorable for long-sought reunions and revivals. There haven’t been many (previous years have seen more in comparison), but in less than five months, the few that have cropped up are of such impact that it’s impossible to deny how exciting it is.

While we may need to say goodbye again, the fact that there is a even a glimmer of hope is enough to at least fan the flames a little longer, if only for a proper send off. Below are six of the best reunions to come about thus far this year.

1. Midtown
midtownNews that Midtown were reuniting for Skate & Surf was both unexpected and alarmingly nostalgic. It’s been so long since the band has made any waves in the scene that their reunion was unexpected, especially given the overshadowed success of Gabe Saporta’s Cobra Starship endeavors.

For anyone who saw the golden age of Drive-Thru’s pop punk legacy though, Midtown was one of the major players. We learned their songs at the same time as New Found Glory’s classic records. Being one of the headliners for Skate & Surf is a beautiful nod to their influence of the genre, especially since pop punk bands aren’t normally in that position.

Whether they stay around to tinker around with new music or not remains to be seen, (it doesn’t look promsing at the moment, since Cobra Starship appear to be back in the studio) but I’ll settle for them getting some of the recognition that they never got the first time around.

2. Copeland

copelandCopeland’s reunion nearly caused a panic amongst their fans, as the news broke on April Fool’s Day. Like Fall Out Boy a year ago, the band marked their return with a new single and announcement of a new, surprise album.

The fact that the band plans to fund the record with pre-order packages from a vibrantly loyal fan base touches back to the indie roots the band sprouted from. As one of the most talented writers and performers of the scene, if they can capture even a hint of the magic and energy from their prime, Ixora is already a contender for album of the year.

3. Finch

FinchDespite the success of their groundbreaking 2002 release, What It Is To Burn, Finch have always felt like the underdogs. While the band has been touring quite a bit over the last few years, the WIITB anniversary tours and subsequent live CD/DVD release seem to have spurred them to fully commit once again.

Not only will they be on Warped Tour this year, they’ve signed with Tragic Hero Records and finally promised their first new album in nine years. Given how long fans have waited for this release, it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s a return to the more traditional pop punk aspect of their roots or a further exploration of hardcore.

4. Saosin

saosin_2014The history of Saosin in well known by anyone paying attention, as well as their struggle with lead singers. Unfortunately, it looks like Saosin may be calling it quits soon, but not before reuniting with original vocalist Anthony Green.It’s one of the most requested and sought after reunions in recent memory and is a hell of a note to go out on.

There haven’t been any details of whether they’ll only really be playing the songs that Green himself helped create, or if he’ll be participating throughout Saosin’s amazing discography. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get one last live CD out of one of their four scheduled performances.

 5. Day At The Fair

day_at_the_fairIn the waning days of Drive-Thru Records, Day At The Fair released an absolutely stellar album about growing up in The Rocking Chair Years, putting every other band on the label in check. Unfortunately, it went largely overlooked instead of making the band a standard in the scene.

After nine years, they’ve reunited to release a final album to give the band a proper close. A new single, “The Brightening” retains their massive energy and catchy hooks and paves the way for the new record, The Epilogue. It may not be a new tour, but hopefully it will help the band gain some of the recognition they always deserved.

6. Lucky Boys Confusion

lucky-boys-confusion-featureLBC have never really broken up, instead playing one-off shows in the Midwest for the last few years. Having seen the overwhelming support the band has received for their live shows, they’ve decided to write together again for the first time in nearly a decade. The band’s last (and intended final) record, 2009’s Closing Arguments was a collection of b-sides and unreleased material.

It may not be a full national touring revival, but a new album means complete recognition of the support from a rabid fan base. While it may not garner the attention that the band deserves in the scene, it’s sure to set the entire Midwest ablaze.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

Saosin announce three more shows with Anthony Green

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Well, it’s official – Saosin will be playing a few more reunion shows in addition to their Skate and Surf Festival date. Check out a photo of the upcoming dates posted by Saosin guitarist Justin Shekoski below:

At the band’s Skate and Surf set, Saosin will be reunited with original vocalist Anthony Green and will be playing their first show since 2010. Green originally departed from the band in 2004.

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What do you think of the announcement? Do you expect more dates to be announced? A new album or EP? Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Saosin and Midtown to reunite at Skate and Surf 2014

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As many predicted, there are some huge reunions taking place at this year’s Skate and Surf Festival. Both Midtown and Saosin are reuniting and will be headlining the festival on Saturday, May 17. Saosin will be playing with original vocalist Anthony Green. Check out the full lineup below:

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Weekend passes go on sale tomorrow at the Skate and Surf website.

What band are you most excited to see?

Posted by Kiel Hauck