Drawing inspiration from the post punk rosters of English labels Factory and 4AD Records Lincoln, Nebraska’s For Against remains an anomaly among Midwestern American bands. Comprised of members of Lincoln underground bands Cartoon Pupils and Hymn to Joy they settled on the name Four Against One; but with the departure of bassist Liz Panarelli and singer Jon Fynbu they shortened the band name to simply For Against. The core trio of band consisted of Harry Dingman III (guitars), Jeffrey Runnings (bass and vocals) and Gregory Hill (drums).
Their debut single, 1985’s “Autocrat”/”It’s a Lie”, released in a limited run on the bands own Republic Issue label has since become highly collectible.
They signed to Bruce Licher’s Independent Project Records (IPR) in 1987 who released their debut full-length Echelons. Touring in support of the album the group played such American clubs as NYC’s CBGB, Hoboken New Jersey’s Maxwells and Chicago’s Cabaret Metro. While the album’s music wasn’t nominated for an Grammy the Bruce Licher designed record jacket was
“each LP in the initial pressing of 1000 came with an actual shaft of wheat integrated into the cover illustration.”
Echelons‘ melodic post-punk sound generated favorable reviews, as did 1988’s December , but both Hill and Dingman would leave the group following its release to form the more mainstream melodic alt-rock group The Millions.
Jeffrey Runnings, who had by now had switched from bass to guitar, soldiered on with the addition of bassist Jeff Gaskins and drummer Steve Schultz; for awhile playing under the name Stahlversion before reclaiming the For Against name. They next added a second guitarist Stephen “Mave” Hinrichs (The Gladstones). By the end of 1990 Steve Schultz had been replaced with drummer Paul Engelhard. 1991 and 1993 saw the group release two singles; “You Only Live Twice”/”Today Today” and “Don’t Do Me Any Favors”/”Breathless”/”Spent”. All five of these songs along with six songs from some 1990 – 1991 recording sessions appear on 1993’s Aperture.
Aperture differs stylistically from Echelons and December in a number of ways. One; with the addition of both Engelhard and Hinrichs the music moves closer to the dream pop of such English bands as Pale Saints, Lush and Kitchens of Distinction and away from the Factory Records sound. The songs have a more relaxed, repetitiveness making good use of the layering capabilities of the new two-guitar lineup. Secondly, borrowing an approach used to great success on the early Beatle albums the vocal lines on eight of the songs begin within the first measure. Lastly, with the “absence of Runnings’ punchy basslines” the material appears to be thinner and more treble heavy.
1995’s Mason’s California Lunchroom finds Runnings back on bass and Hinrich’s guitar work leaning more towards Athen’s Georgia and less towards English dream pop. The result is an album whose overall sound is fuller, rounder, and less trebled then 1993’s Aperture.
Released on World Domination Recordings in 1997 Shelf Life brings out the two sides of For Against, their depth and their delicacy. It also marks a departure for the group as they cover East River Pipe’s “Times Square Go Go Boy” and Tracey Thorn’s (Everything But the Girl) “Seascape.”
Following the release of Shelf Life the band took a five year hiatus; but in 2002 with a new label they released the albumCoalesced to critical acclaim. Following the release Hinrichs ended his fifteen year tenure with band and moved to Virginia. The future of the band remained in doubt until 2005 when original guitarist Harry Dingman rejoined the group. In 2007 the group added Nick Buller as the new permanent drummer.
Since 2004 the bands new label Words On Music has reissued the groups first three albums, including the previously vinyl only In The Marshes.
“Autocrat”/”It’s A Lie” (7″) (Republic Issue Records) 1985
“You Only Live Twice”/”Today Today” (7″) (Part-Trance Records) 1991
“Don’t Do Me Any Favors”/”Breathless”/”Spent “ (7″) (Independent Project Records) 1993
Echelons (LP, Cassette) (Independent Project Records) 1987
December (LP,CD, Cass) (Independent Project Records) 1988
In The Marshes (10″) (Independent Project Records) 1990
Aperture (CD, Album) (Independent Project Records) 1993
Mason’s California Lunchroom (CD, Album) (Rainbow Quartz International) 1995
Shelf Life (CD, Album) (Independent Project Records, World Domination Recordings) 1997
Coalesced (CD, Album) (Words On Music) 2002
Echelons (CD, Album, RM) (Words On Music) 2004
December (CD, Album, RM, Enh) (Words On Music) 2005
In The Marshes (CD, Album, RM) (Words On Music ) 2007
Tracks Appear On:
“Ames Yves” Music From The Dead Zone Two: USA (LP) (Dead Man’s Curve) 1987
“Ames Yves” Return Of The Banshee (CD) (Sub Terranean) 1995
“Medication” Test Tones Volume 02 (CD) (Clairecords) 2003
“December” Strobelights Vol.3 (CD) (Strobelight Records) 2006
Playlist length: 43 minutes 34 seconds
1. Don’t Do Me Any Favors (4:06)
2. Breathless (3:24)
3. Nightmare Life (4:22)
4. Spent (3:09)
5. Mindframed (2:42)
6. I Wish (3:21)
7. Unspeakable (3:45)
8. Over Nepal (5:33)
9. You Only Live Twice (4:25)
10.Today Today (5:17)
11. Memorial (3:30)
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Playlist length: 37 minutes 29 seconds
1. Shadow (4:03)
2. Wintersong (4:02)
3. Starblind (4:20)
4. Lost (3:23)
5. Profile (2:56)
6. Lilacs (4:16)
7. Harbor (3:41)
8. Forever (4:51)
9. Times Square Go-Go Boy (2:27)
10. Seascape (3:30)
Buy Shelf Life Through GEMM.com