For Sleeping Or Jumping Bio:
“For Sleeping or Jumping couldn’t be a better band name at a better time in music.”
– Ben Weinman, Dillinger Escape Plan
Let’s clarify: when the guitarist/founder of one of metal’s most original and daring bands likes you and wants to work with you, it’s for more than just a good name. So while For Sleeping or Jumping gets credit for a memorable moniker, the real reason anyone (including DEP’s Ben Weinman) takes notice is the music, a chaotic blend of metal brutality with surprising bursts of melody and moodiness. Yes, there’s a musical kinship with Dillinger, but FSOJ is definitely its own beast.
So about that name…it did come first. For Sleeping or Jumping was born in an English class. Future band drummer Taylor Pile, admittedly “bored as shit,” was listening to a teacher prattle on about literature during the Great Depression when he heard a tale of people asking for hotel rooms during those distraught times, only to have clerks respond “For sleeping or jumping?”
Bam! Band name.
Fortunately, Pile had more than a name going for him: he was already an incredibly gifted musician and student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. While seemingly a not-so-metal environment, the Boston school was where the drummer met the rest of FSOJ, including guitarist Tom Cawley. During their first week in school, the two bonded over a shared love of heavy/experimental groups like Botch, Mars Volta and Dillinger. (“I didn’t end up graduating, because I wanted to pursue my own musical path, but the school was awesome,” says Pile, who notes the school is a bit “harder” than it appears. “It’s where we started the band, and I got to understudy with [future Dream Theater drummer] Mike Mangini.”)
Rounded out by Ryan Leist (guitars), Eric Messii (bass) and eventually Gio Coviello (vocals), FSOJ shifted in style, moving from post-rock akin to Explosions in the Sky toward an even more complex, and definitely more abrasive sound, one where brutal riffing, multiple time signatures and moody interludes could overlap, often in the span of moments. “I’m the ‘metal’ guy in the band, so I was always pushing for going heavy,” says Cawley. “But we developed our really unique mix over time.”
The band recorded and self-released two EPs (a self-titled debut and a Part 2 follow-up) and started playing shows around Boston, which scored the band some notice. Dubbed by Pile as “the Michael Bay of live shows,” FSOJ’s concerts were absolute bedlam, highlighted by the band’s unhinged singer. “Meeting Gio you’d think he was kind of a pansy, but he’s nuts on stage,” says Pile, “He’ll throw his mic around, break his tooth, bleed everywhere and just keep going.”
By late 2011, FSOJ was confident enough to approach Dillinger’s Ben Weinman for pre-production help on their new EP. “I was such a huge fan that I was on their street team when I was younger- I’d post stickers and generally vandalize the walls around school,” says the drummer. “But I got to know them over the years, and we were at a point where I thought we were good enough to work with them.” Besides synths and drum programming, Weinman helped the band map out the complex twists and turns in each track. Help was definitely needed; the group estimates that each of their songs features up to “36 parts and 15 different time signatures.”
The official producer of their EP, Dead Languages, was Ryan Siegel, best known for his work with Glassjaw. Siegel seemed as amped as Weinman to work with the up-and-coming group. “[We made] an incredibly energetic and brutally heavy EP,” he says, “And it was written and recorded by of the most talented and fun dudes I've had the pleasure to work with.”
Dead Languages finds the group wildly experimenting with moods, momentum and melody, multiple times within each song. It’s radical and unpredictable, as “Dropbear” and “Law Blog” swoon from a blitzkrieg assault to a slow, almost Helmet-like rigidity, while “Bone of Contention” and “Persia the Dog” distort and twist throughout. Meanwhile, the title track builds from a warm psychedelic haze (think Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan”) into a harsh and brutal finale. It’s a violently smart assault on the senses, and one more than equal to the best work of the band’s major influences.
It’s a sound that’s fiercely independent, a trait that For Sleeping or Jumping carries over into all phases of its career. It’s why Dead Languages is self-funded and released on the band’s own label, Auxiliary. “I don’t like the idea of our music being in someone else’s hands,” says Pile. “We worked our asses off on this – it’s ours. But we’ll do whatever it takes to get our music heard by people. I don’t care if some people don’t like it – I’m positive they won’t be bored.”