For Against are from Nebraska, but you would never guess it from their music; their sound is so heavily British-influenced that I initially thought they were from the UK!
Formed in the early 80s, the band originally consisted of Harry Dingman (guitars), Greg Hill (percussion), and Jeffrey Runnings (bass & vocals). This lineup persisted through two albums, Echelons (1987) and December (1988), after which Dingman and Hill left to form The Millions. Runnings then migrated to guitar and recruited Steven "Mave" Hinrichs (guitar) and Paul Engelhard (drums). This trio released Aperture (1993), Mason's California Lunchroom (1995), Shelf Life (1997), and Coalesced (2001). In 2004, Hinrichs moved to Virginia and Harry Dingman rejoined.
Despite not having yet hit the mainstream after over a decade (rightfully earning their label as one of American's "best kept musical secrets"), For Against are still performing and recording today (see Tour Info). They also keep creating excellent new studio albums, and are working on re-releasing (the out of print) Echelons and December.
Meanwhile, The Millions were formed in the early 90s by Harry Dingman (guitar), Gregory Hill (drums), Lori Allison (vocals), and Marty Amsler (bass). They released M is for Millions (1991) and then were joined later by Benjamin Kushner (guitar) for Raquel (1994). Sadly, they broke up soon afterwards.
Lori and Harry then went on to form Electrolyte along with Fritz Gibson (bass) and Brandon McKenzie (drums). They self-released a ten song CD (currently very hard to find), but broke up after 8 months.
Harry and Brandon then formed The Living Dolls.
To me, listening to For Against is like sitting at the window up in a skiing lodge, staring out at the shining white snow of the slopes as the cold air swirls delicate flakes in hypnotic patterns.
When I first heard the band, I found the singer's voice piercing and atonal, the opposite of Mark Burgess's low, soothing croon (rave reviews on the Chameleons newsgroup are what got me into For Against). However, drawn back by the thoroughly excellent music again and again and again, I gradually became accustomed to the vocals, and by now consider Jeffrey's voice to be one of For Against's most charming assets!
Perhaps the best way to get an idea of what for against sound like is like is to listen for yourself. For that reason, I've created some audio samples to whet your appetite, although they don't really do the music justice.
If you like the swirly, throbbing guitars and upbeat pop tempos of For Against you'll probably enjoy the following bands (and vice versa):
Jeff Runnings recently told me that the bands which had the greatest influence on For Against were:
In case you don't know me that well, I'm a huge Julian Cope/Teardrop Explodes fan, so this was particularly cool to find out!