What to Do When You Are Dead

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What to Do When You Are Dead
Evr104.jpeg
Studio album by Armor for Sleep
Released February 22, 2005
Recorded August–October 2004
Studio Water Music and The Machine Shop, Hoboken, New Jersey
Genre Emo, punk rock[1]
Length 44:15
Label Equal Vision
Producer Machine
Armor for Sleep chronology
Dream to Make Believe
(2003)Dream to Make Believe2003
What to Do When You Are Dead
(2005)
Smile for Them
(2007)Smile for Them2007
Singles from
What to Do When You Are Dead
  1. "Car Underwater"
    Released: May 3, 2005

What to Do When You Are Dead is the second studio album by American rock band Armor for Sleep. Following the completion of two songs written from the perspective of being dead, vocalist/guitarist Ben Jorgensen created a whole story from this perspective. What to Do When You Are Dead is a concept album, with each song telling the story of the protagonist's suicide as well as his journey through the afterlife. Recording took place between August and October 2004 with producer Machine. A rough mix of "Car Underwater" was made available in November, followed by two US tours in February 2005. What to Do When You Are Dead was released on February 22 through independent label Equal Vision Records.

In March 2005, a music video was released for "Car Underwater", and following a couple of US tours in April and May, the song was released as a radio single. The group performed on Warped Tour, before touring across the US in September and November. Later in November a music video was released for "The Truth About Heaven", followed by a UK tour in December. In early 2006, the group went on a headlining US tour, titled The Invisible Sideshow Tour, for three months, before appearing on Warped Tour again. What to Do When You Are Dead received mixed-to-favourable reviews and went on to sell over 200,000 copies. It peaked at number 101 on the Billboard 200 and reached the top 10 on two other Billboard charts. To celebrate the album's 10th anniversary, the group reunited to play a series of shows in late 2015.

Background and recording[edit]

In February 2003, Armor for Sleep signed to independent label Equal Vision Records[2] who released the group's debut album Dream to Make Believe in June that year. According to AllMusic biographer James Christopher Monger, the release "secured the band a solid spot in the growing emo-pop scene".[3] This resulted in the group performing alongside Taking Back Sunday, Piebald and Thursday, among others.[3]

What to Do When You Are Dead was recorded between August and October 2004 at Water Music and The Machine Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. Producer duties were handled by Machine.[4] While making the album, frontman Ben Jorgensen analysed Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon (1973).[5] He recorded his rhythm part first, followed by drums, then guitarist PJ Decicco tracked his lead parts and additional rhythm parts, ending with the bass lines. Decicco said that Machine felt that the bass needed to be recorded last because it "sometimes goes out of tune more so he has more of a reference to kind of hear things if he has them with the guitars already".[6]

According to Decicco several different guitars were using during the recording process: a Gibson Les Paul Custom for the main rhythm tracking, as well as a Fender Telecaster Thinline and a Fender Telecaster Deluxe. Bogner Ecstasy and Marshall JCM800 amplifiers were used for most of the rhythm sections, as well as an Orange amplifier occasionally for octave parts. Decicco used the Delay Modeler Line 6 and Big Muff effects units.[6] Machine then engineered and mixed the recordings. Additional engineering was performed by Jacob Nyger. Will Quinnell mastered the album at Sterling Sound in New York City.[4]

Composition[edit]

After composing two songs, Jorgensen considered it "easier" writing from the perspective of being dead. He thought it would be "cool" to expand it into a story where he kept "pretending I was dead. I kinda creeped myself out sometimes."[7] Around this time, Jorgensen was going through a break-up "of my first real relationship, which was heartbreaking," combined with "the fact that I had been touring for a couple of years with Armor for Sleep ... It was a very transitional period, and all those emotions converged."[8] He initially composed the songs before showing them to the rest of the band. Jorgensen wrote the lyrics in isolation. He later pondered "maybe I should have asked for help but it was something I wanted to be from me completely".[9] According to Decicco, every song on the album is in Drop D tuning, often incorporating a ninth chord, which gave a "super rich" sound.[6]

With "The Truth About Heaven", the group were initially unsure of how to go into the first verse. According to Decicco, Jorgensen came up with a part "and he was like, 'I think this would be really cool over the verses.'" I played it and I was like, "That actually is really cool."[6] Decicco called it a riff "that I never expected to hear over it".[6] Decicco said the group wanted "Remember to Feel Real" to "just have it start and ... kick your ass".[6] The pre-chorus riff was written by Jorgensen and Decicco while on tour. The bridge in "Stay on the Ground" features a flange effect, which was written by Decicco and played through a Line 6 Pedal. Jorgensen came up with a keyboard part, which he wrote a song around that became "A Quick Little Flight".[6]

"The More You Talk the Less I Hear" started out under the name "Storm" because the group wanted to incorporate "something with a real-life feel of a storm in it", according to Decicco.[6] He said Machine came up with the idea of making the song "seem like it got all lo-fi. He wanted it to sound like you were listening to it from the inside of a car."[6] The "heart" of "Basement Ghost Singing" was built around Jorgensen playing with a Line 6 pedal, according to Decicco.[6] The track included a mixture of real drums as well as drum loops. The intro to "Walking at Night, Alone" uses a blend of acoustic and electric guitar. The idea for this came from Machine; it was originally only acoustic guitar until he "wanted me to play it on electric guitar, too. So he could have it there as kind of like a bass", according to Decicco.[6]

Concept and booklet[edit]

AXS writer Terrance Pryor considers What to Do When You Are Dead a concept album "based around the main character's suicide and his journey through the afterlife".[10] Some observers have noted the character going through the Kübler-Ross 5-stage model of grief management.[9] Jorgensen grew up in a "very scientific environment," which caused him to be influenced by British writer Craig Hamilton-Parker.[11] The album's title comes from a Hamilton-Parker book. Jorgensen explained that since he was "already writing an album in that way, and when I saw that book, I thought, ‘'It would be really cool to make a whole album out of this.'"[11] Jorgensen later remarked that placing himself in that perspective helped him "face a lot of things I probably would've been too much of a wuss to face, if I didn't pretend I wasn't alive".[11] The band were initially hesitant working on a concept album until they were persuaded by Jorgensen.[9]

The album's booklet features images of a man in a suit flying around and passing through walls, which, according to LAS Magazine writer David Spain, helps to immerse "the listener, bridging sound and text in the album's concept".[12] Calling it "tiny", the booklet "greatly contributes visually to album's theme".[12] The booklet was created by Rob Dobi, with art direction from Jorgensen and Asterik Studio, which also designed the booklet. Dave Hill contributed photography.[4] Spin writer Will Hermes noted the album booklet's Hipgnosis-styled layout as being "an important part" of the album.[13] Jorgensen revealed that one of the reasons Armor for Sleep signed to Equal Vision was the label's inclination to satisfy the group's creative vision.[13]

Release[edit]

On November 11, 2004, What to Do When You Are Dead was announced for release and a rough mix of "Car Underwater" was made available for streaming.[14] In early February 2005, Armor for Sleep went on tour with Something Corporate, Straylight Run, and The Academy Is.... Later in the month, the group toured with Recover, Say Anything, and Case Pagan.[15] What to Do When You Are Dead was released through Equal Vision Records on February 22.[16] Some copies of the album included a bonus DVD that contained live footage, a documentary on the creation of the album, as well as music videos for Dream to Make Believe songs "My Town" and "Dream to Make Believe".[4] The iTunes edition of the album included "Very Invisible" as a bonus track.[17] On March 18, a music video was released for "Car Underwater".[18] In April, the group went on tour with The Starting Line, Mae, and Suicide Pack. Following this, the group went on tour in April and May with The All-American Rejects, and Hellogoodbye.[19] "Car Underwater" was released as a radio single on May 3.[20]

Between mid-June and mid-August, the group went on the 2005 edition of Warped Tour.[21] In September, the group toured with From Autumn to Ashes, Emanuel, and Biology.[22] On October 18, "Very Invisible" was made available for streaming via the band's PureVolume account.[23] In November, the band toured across the US with Matchbook Romance,[24] Lovedrug and Gatsbys American Dream.[25] A music video for "The Truth About Heaven" was made available via MTVU on November 23. Directed by Alan Ferguson, it features "a deceased person looking back on his loved ones," according to AbsolutePunk.[26] The band then went on a tour of the UK in December with Chiodos.[27] From late January to mid-March 2006, the group went on a headlining tour of the US, dubbed The Invisible Sideshow Tour, with support from Boys Night Out, Chiodos and Action Reaction.[28] The band went on the 2006 edition of the Warped Tour.[29] A music video for "Remember to Feel Real" was posted on YouTube on June 6.[30] A remix of the track was included on the Snakes on a Plane soundtrack, released in August.[31]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[1]
Chart Attack Favorable[32]
Drowned in Sound 5/10[33]
LAS Magazine 7.5/10[12]
Melodic 2.5/5 stars[34]
musicOMH Favorable[35]
Now 2/5[36]

Critical response[edit]

AllMusic reviewer John D. Luerssen wrote that What to Do When You Are Dead "ups the punk/emo ante" with "fabulously" composed songs, as well as a "desire to challenge the norms of a movement that has grown increasingly stale".[1] He described Jorgensen as going "dark" and "flirting with his inner Aaron Lewis".[1] Luerssen called the band's choice of working with Machine as being "a risk that paid off".[1] Chart Attack called the album a "surprisingly meaty sophomore record," with the group's "dynamic double-guitar attack" benefiting from Machine's "prog-metal predilections".[32] Chart Attack concluded with: "Songs about dead people have rarely sounded so damned full of life."[32] Raziq Rauf of Drowned in Sound wrote that the record had "two great songs on here that fill the unashamed emo cynic with hope, only to be let down" by the remainder of the album.[33] He went on to say that a "slight redemption can be made" with the album's title, but aside from that, "there's nothing else to say that you've not read before".[33] LAS Magazine writer David Spain called the album "an interesting notch along the battered branch of emo's legacy," with the band giving "its peers food for thought".[12] Spain noted that the group "didn't just set out to create another 40-minute schmaltz fest; they vested thought and idea into their work".[12] Spain concluded by mentioning how the band "succeed[ed] in creating a surprisingly original work in a drowning genre".[12]

Melodic reviewer Andrew Ellis wrote that "not much has happened" since the group's debut album, aside from "the more edgy guitars"... "the songs [don't] grab me at all".[34] While mentioning "Basement Ghost Singing" and "Car Underwater", Ellis mentioned that "the great tunes are too few to make me rate this higher".[34] Uma Uthayashanker of musicOMH noted that the "brutal honesty" of Jorgenen's lyrics was "indeed a highlight", while mentioning that the "music may be generic," the group "brand their own mark on the otherwise overcrowded industry" in terms of lyrics.[35] Uthayashanker compared Jorgensen to Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey and was convinced she was listening to Brand New during "Stay on the Ground" and "Walking at Night, Alone".[35] Uthayashanker noted that the group has created an album "that won’t surprise but will certainly entertain".[35] Now writer Jered Stuffco noted that Equal Vision was "banking heavily" on the band "to rack up some serious sales", and based on the group's "poster-boy image, melodramatic harmonies and tight emo riffage, they stand a pretty good chance".[36] Stuffco wrote that if the group "can't sell a million records, maybe they'll call their next record What To Do When Your Band Breaks Up."[36]

Commercial performance and legacy[edit]

What to Do When You Are Dead peaked at number 101 on the Billboard 200,[37] as well as charting at number 1 on the Heatseekers Albums chart[38] and number 8 on the Independent Albums chart.[39] A month after the album's release it had sold over 30,000 copies,[40] and by October 2005, sales surpassed the 100,000 mark.[41] By August 2006, it had sold over 185,000 copies,[42] and reached the 200,000 mark by July 2007.[43]

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of What to Do When You Are Dead, the band performed a series of shows in September, October and December 2015, during which they performed the album in its entirety. In 2015, Maria Sherman of Fuse.tv wrote that the album "laid the foundation for future pop-punk bands to explore concept records in very real ways".[44] Calling it "impressive at the time, this band from the suburbs [wrote] a power pop-punk record with a linear, intricate narrative".[44] AXS contributor Tarynn Law wrote that "the instantly relateable tracks that filled What To Do When You Are Dead soundtracked the teenage angst of kids all around the country for years to come".[45] Brian Aberback of NorthJersey.com noted that the album "put Armor for Sleep on the indie-rock map and continues to resonate heavily with fans 10 years later".[8] Jorgensen later called the album a "diary entry. Without that, I think a lot of people when [their] lives go on they forget what they went through at a certain point in time so for me that’s the biggest markers for me to remember where I was at the point in my life."[46]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Ben Jorgensen; all music composed by Jorgensen & Armor for Sleep[4].

No. Title Length
0. "One Last Regret" (pregap hidden track) 1:17
1. "Car Underwater" 3:48
2. "The Truth About Heaven" 3:30
3. "Remember to Feel Real" 3:21
4. "Awkward Last Words" 3:46
5. "Stay on the Ground" 4:30
6. "A Quick Little Flight" 2:12
7. "The More You Talk the Less I Hear" 4:04
8. "Basement Ghost Singing" 4:36
9. "Walking at Night, Alone" 4:14
10. "I Have Been Right All Along" 3:46
11. "The End of a Fraud" 5:11
Total length: 44:15

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per booklet.[4]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[37] 101
US Billboard Heatseekers Albums[38] 1
US Billboard Independent Albums[39] 8

References[edit]

Citations

  1. ^ a b c d e D. Luerssen, John. "What to Do When You Are Dead - Armor for Sleep | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016. 
  2. ^ Sciarretto 2003, p. 21
  3. ^ a b Christopher Monger, James. "Armor for Sleep | Biography & History". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f What to Do When You Are Dead (Booklet). Armor for Sleep. Equal Vision. 2005. EVR104. 
  5. ^ Hermes 2005, p. 86
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rosen, Steven (June 28, 2006). "Armor For Sleep Guitarist: New Record To Be 'A Little More Real World'". Ultimate Guitar Archive. Retrieved April 26, 2017. 
  7. ^ Pham, Jamie (October 15, 2007). "Interview: Armor for Sleep - 10.15.07". AbsolutePunk.net. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Aberback, Brian (September 15, 2015). "Teaneck native and lead 'Armor' singer reflects on a pivotal album". North Jersey. Archived from the original on October 19, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c Hill, John (September 15, 2015). "Armor For Sleep's 'What To Do When You Are Dead' Ten Year Retrospective". Noisey. Vice. Archived from the original on April 7, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2016. 
  10. ^ Pryor, Terrance (July 20, 2015). "Armor For Sleep announce 'What To Do When You Are Dead' 10 year anniversary tour". AXS. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c Sutherland, Sam (January 1, 2006). "Armor For Sleep Are Fucking Dead". Exclaim!. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Spain, David (April 22, 2005). "Armor for Sleep - What To Do When You Are Dead". Lost at Sea. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b Hermes 2005, p. 88
  14. ^ Roth, Kaj (November 11, 2004). "New album from Armor for sleep out in Feb.2005". Melodic. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016. 
  15. ^ Adams, Chip (February 1, 2005). "Armor For Sleep Launch US Tour". Fader. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  16. ^ "What to Do When You Are Dead - Armor for Sleep | Release Info". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  17. ^ "What to Do When You Are Dead by Armor for Sleep". iTunes. Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  18. ^ Wells, TJ (March 18, 2005). "New AFS Video". AbsolutePunk.net. Archived from the original on March 19, 2005. Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  19. ^ Adams, Chip (March 31, 2005). "Armor For Sleep Continues Tour". Fader. Archived from the original on March 5, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  20. ^ "FMQB Airplay Archive: Modern Rock". Friday Morning Quarterback Album Report, Incorporated. Archived from the original on March 22, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  21. ^ Kaufman, Gil (March 3, 2005). "Warped Tour Lineup, Itinerary Officially Announced". MTV. Archived from the original on September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  22. ^ Paul, Aubin (September 12, 2005). "From Autumn to Ashes releases new download, latest tour dates with Armor for Sleep, Emanuel, Biology". Punknews.org. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  23. ^ Giaramita, Frank (October 18, 2005). "Armor For Sleep Are Very Invisible". AbsolutePunk. SpinMedia. Archived from the original on October 19, 2005. Retrieved February 15, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Armor For England". Alternative Press. October 20, 2005. Archived from the original on August 15, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Aaaah! Real Monsters!". Alternative Press. November 1, 2005. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2016. 
  26. ^ Giaramita, Frank (November 23, 2005). "Armor For Sleep On mtvU/Advanced Warning". AbsolutePunk. SpinMedia. Archived from the original on January 3, 2012. Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  27. ^ Paul, Aubin (November 5, 2005). "Chiodos, Armor for Sleep to visit UK in December". Punknews.org. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  28. ^ Adams, Chip (January 9, 2006). "Armor For Sleep Headline Invisible Sideshow Tour". Fader. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  29. ^ "Warped Tour confirms tour routing, venues, more bands". Alternative Press. March 2, 2006. Archived from the original on August 21, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016. 
  30. ^ Equal Vision Records (June 6, 2006). Armor For Sleep - Remember To Feel Real (Official Music Video). YouTube. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2017. 
  31. ^ Montgomery, James (July 12, 2006). "Snakes On A Soundtrack — Samuel L. Jackson Film Nabs Fall Out Boy, Panic!, Cee-Lo". MTV. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016. 
  32. ^ a b c Chart Attack (March 28, 2005). "Armor For Sleep — What To Do When You Are Dead". Chart Attack. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  33. ^ a b c Rauf, Raziq (May 22, 2005). "Album Review: Armor For Sleep - What To Do When You're Dead / Releases / Releases". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016. 
  34. ^ a b c Ellis, Andrew (May 20, 2005). "Armor For Sleep - What to do when youre dead". Melodic. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016. 
  35. ^ a b c d Uthayashanker, Uma (April 25, 2005). "Armor For Sleep – What To Do When You’re Dead". musicOMH. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016. 
  36. ^ a b c Stuffco, Jered (March 24, 2005). "Armor For Sleep – What To Do When You’re Dead". Now. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2016. 
  37. ^ a b "Armor for Sleep - Chart history (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016. 
  38. ^ a b "Armor for Sleep - Chart history (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016. 
  39. ^ a b "Armor for Sleep - Chart history (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016. 
  40. ^ Car Underwater (Booklet). Armor for Sleep. Equal Vision. 2005. none. 
  41. ^ Tate, Jason (November 7, 2005). "I Said It Months Ago: This Song Could Be Huge". AbsolutePunk. SpinMedia. Archived from the original on November 7, 2005. Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  42. ^ Kohli, Rohan (August 10, 2006). "Soundscan Results: Week Ending August 6th, 2006". AbsolutePunk. SpinMedia. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2016. 
  43. ^ Wippsson, Johan (July 18, 2007). "New tune and album from Armor For Sleep; prod by Ben Grosse". Melodic. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016. 
  44. ^ a b Sherman, Maria (July 20, 2015). "Armor For Sleep Announce 'What To Do When You're Dead' Reunion Shows". Fuse.tv. Archived from the original on May 14, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  45. ^ Law, Tarynn (December 5, 2015). "The 7 best shows in Los Angeles this week: 12/7 - 12/14". AXS. Archived from the original on September 14, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  46. ^ Magid, Morgan (September 16, 2015). "An Interview with Armor For Sleep: What To Do When You Come Back". The Aquarian Weekly. Archived from the original on July 2, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 

Sources

External links[edit]