Army of Me

I thought it might be cool to read parts of the interviews with the guys of Army of Me together, to see each member’s thoughts on life on the road, groupies, playing to unenthusiastic crowds etc. So you better know who is answering, the guys are frontman Vince Scheuerman, drummer Dennis Manuel, guitarist Brad Tursi and bass player Dave Cullen.

What is your favorite aspect of touring?
Vince: There’s so much about tour that’s cool. Traveling around the country. Sometimes you take it for granted, but the fact that we don’t have to be sitting at a desk from 9 to 5, we’re really lucky to be doing what we do. It’s great, we meet so many cool people and we can have this affect on people. It’s a cool thing where people come up to us and are like, “I really love your music. Your song made me cry.” To see that is really cool and just being around all these people, we have a lot of fun. Everyone on the tour is really cool, all the bands, the crew. I like hanging out with my band, these guys are my friends.
Brad: I think one of my favorite parts about touring is meeting the different people that we tour with. You’re kind of thrown into constant contact with people that you don’t know. But, you usually bond pretty easily because you’re all doing the same thing and it’s the same sort of frame of mind. That’s what really makes it enjoyable because I don’t want to hang out with my own band while I’m on tour. We’ve met a lot of great people on this tour, from the crew to the bands. It’s probably my favorite part about touring. Oh yeah, and playing the shows and all that stuff too. [laughs]
Dennis: It’s just fuckin’ awesome to play. It definitely gets me up in the morning. There’s a party every night, if you want it. All the people you meet and all the bands we’re touring with are really nice.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t involved in the band?
Dave: Atrophy. I would lie in bed, use none of my muscles and it would suck ass. I don’t know! I could remember doing impressions of Michael Jackson when I was five. It’s just been music, music all the way. I have no idea. What would I be doing instead of music? I would die.
Vince: That’s a good question, I don’t know. Working at McDonalds? [laughs] I don’t know if I have any other skills. I got a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Maybe I’d do something like that.
Dennis: Probably be doing live sound or starting a studio, which is my day job. I’ve been doing live sound for the last 12 years as my only job. If I get a house gig somewhere, all I have to do is give myself a number of subs to work for me while I’m gone, so I just schedule who works for me and it’s still my job when I come home. It’s not going to put the kids through college, but it’s something to keep me above water.
Brad: That’s a good question. I ask myself that sometimes and I don’t know the answer. I have other dreams that are romanticized I’m sure. Traveling. I’ve always been into boats. I always thought maybe I could do something with boats, whether it be crew on a sailboat. I really like sailboats. I’d like to sail across the Atlantic or something cool like that. I’ve done some sailing in the British Virgin Islands, a lot in the Long Island Sound. I’m from Connecticut so my family has had a few different boats. I’m not like, “I’d be an Accountant.” Anything I’d do doesn’t seem make a lot of money, I need to pick something that makes a lot of money. I think I would do something way different. I don’t really see myself being a tour manager or anything. I’m either going to play or I’m going to do something else.

What are the cons to being on tour?
Dave: Well, you’ve seen them. In actuality, there are zero cons. None, zip, absolutely zero. What’s bad about touring? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It outweighs it to the bajillionth degree. Sometimes it’s fun to sit there and complain and pick out what actually blows, and what actually blows is the things that keeps everybody from trying. And that’s just fine by everyone who tours. It’s not for everyone. If you’re not young and spirited and you don’t think anything is funny, then you shouldn’t do it. Vans that are small and stink and have lots of trash in them suck, sleeping with five guys in a hotel rooms sucks, none of that stuff is fun, it’s certainly not something that you want to do, but it’s completely outweighed by being out here and it’s so great, it’s the best life. Everybody on this tour loves touring and you can tell. Even on a shitty night, it’s not that shitty.
Brad: It’s impossible to have a normal existence especially when you have other people in your life that have normal existences. It’s really hard to balance this world and the other world. You’re always disappointing your girlfriend or someone by saying you’ll be here and you can’t. You don’t spend as much time with people as you might want to. In the end, we really can’t complain because we’re hanging out with our friends, playing music.
Vince: Tour definitely beats you up a little bit because you don’t get much sleep, a lot of times you’re driving really long hours just to get to the next city. If you let it get to you it can wear you down. I’ve definitely been on tours where I was sick the entire time I was on the road. One time I was on tour and I got a cold and it turned into bronchitis. I got antibiotics and you know how you take antibiotics for 10 days? Well, before the tenth day I was getting sick with something else. Who gets sick while there on antibiotics? To me, that’s probably hardest part. Some people miss family members or girlfriend’s back home. I’m solo at the moment so I’m just happy to be out there playing every night. I don’t have too much to worry about. Trying to pay the bills is always a concern. Being on the road, we as a band don’t make that much money, so trying to make ends meet is difficult. There’s a lot of sacrifices you make being on the road, because as fun as it is to be traveling all over the place, it’s hard to never be in one place more than a day. That’s the price you pay for rock ‘n’ roll.
Dennis: You can’t really work if you need to. And now, me, Brad and Dave have girlfriends. It’s hard on that front to be away for so long. This is a good week for me because we’ve been home like three times this week. Getting in a van every day is not fun. Especially the way we’re doing it, with no trailer. You get used to it.

Everyone wants to know about the groupies and the girls.
Vince: No one wants to come on the 15 passenger van for a tour. Nobody cares about little, old Army of Me. You meet a lot of girls. Girls like guys in bands. When I meet a girl, and if she’d be like, “What are you doing? You wanna hang out?” I’d be like, “I don’t even know you. You don’t even know me.” I feel like I’d be taking advantage of someone and I’d feel weird about it. That’s not my thing. Not to be some great, moral expert. They don’t care about the van anyway; they just want to meet The Used.
Even if we have any
groupies, if they make it far enough backstage and then out to the back of the club, and they see what we’re in it kind of kills the mood. There really isn’t much affect of groupies for me. I’m more looking for a beer.
Dave: Are there really even any groupies? I’ve only seen them once in a while.

Do you remember the first time you heard your song on the radio?
Vince: It’s been a long time. It might have been “These Hands” which is an old song, before we were even Army of Me. I was probably in my car and I probably knew it was coming on because it was a Sunday night where they play local bands and they tell you ahead of time and you tune in, waiting for 9 ‘o’ clock to come.
Brad: I remember hearing “Come Down to D.C.” on the radio in D.C. I also remember hearing “Going Through Changes” out in L.A. when it was on KROQ. That was a pretty big deal, to get out at a gas station, we were out there touring, and to hear that on the radio was pretty cool. I had some friends in California that heard it all the time. I’ve definitely had more calls from friends who heard it then me hearing it. I never have seen our video on MTV or MTV2. I’ve never seen our video on television, I’ve never heard it any of the video games.
Dennis: Probably my car driving home from work. I think it was “These Hands.” If it’s something you’re working toward, it doesn’t really surprise you. I think I had gotten a phone call that it was going to happen. It was more me sitting there as an engineer thinking, “How does that sound on the radio as opposed to the record?” because everything on the radio is squashed. I’m more analyzing it then actually enjoying it. It’s definitely cool to see people that you don’t know, say on the west coast, singing the words. That’s cooler to me then hearing it for the first time. Its like, “Wow, we used to be this band from D.C. These kids know who we are.” It’s crazy even if it is just that one song.

What do you think about when you’re playing onstage?
Brad: Sometimes it’s just nothing. Sometimes you’re thinking about trying to sing in tune, make sure you’re playing the right notes. You’re not thinking about a castle in the sky. Sometimes, especially in sections that are musical and more improvising, you try to just close your eyes and not think about anything, just be in that moment and let the music take you somewhere. That’s the best parts.
Vince: There’s a lot of stuff going through your mind, like what’s happening onstage, if I can hear my voice, what the other people around me are playing, what it sounds like, also thinking about what the audience is doing, how they’re reacting, just noticing people in the crowd, but also thinking about the music, the songs, the lyrics, what I’m saying and singing. I get into the music and the words and find something in there to latch onto and sing that helps me connect with the emotions of the song. Sometimes I’m thinking about what the hell am I’m going to say between the next song.
Dennis: I’m pretty much between zoning out and being very analytical about what I do. I’m trying to go for it and play right. I wouldn’t call it autopilot. Dave’s kind of frustrated because I don’t make eye contact with him. When I’m up there I’m in my own world. I basically hear it when you play a bad note, that’s when I notice that you’re even there. I see pictures of myself when I wish I didn’t make those faces, but it’s just naturally what happens.

How much does the audience’s vibe impact your performance?
Dave: I try not to look into the crowd. Somebody told me a long time ago, like a little secret, to look above the people, so you’re not looking at anybody specifically, but it looks like you’re looking at them. That’s what I try to do. To be honest, if I was singing, that’d be a different story, that’s your thing. How do you fight that? I don’t know, that’s tough. I’m a bass player; I’m a tough guy, I try to tough through it. It’s harder in front of so many more people. I feel like you can win over a small crowd a lot more easily then you can win over a big crowd.
Vince: If the crowd is really into the music, you feel real good about what you’re doing and you get more into it. If people are giving good feedback, it makes you a little more free and you feel more comfortable on stage. When we’re on stage, we’re still vulnerable people, we’re standing up playing our songs and wondering, “Do these people think that we suck? Do these people like us? Do these people want to throw things at us?” All these things are going through your mind as well as playing your songs and trying to get across what you’re trying to say. If people seem to be enjoying themselves, it takes a little bit off your mind so you can get more into the music. If people look like they just don’t care at all, they don’t give a shit, it’s kind of a bum out. We’re kind of taking a little bit of a different approach, which is to go full on, no matter what’s happening, just try to show people that we care, and hopefully when we do that, they’ll care. It’s weird because we’ll go to one place and a crowd will be totally psyched, and then we’ll go to another place in a different city and they’ll be like staring at a blank wall. I don’t know what the difference is, if it’s the night of week or the amount of alcohol.
Brad: It’s not supposed to, but it does. Nobody wants to play music for people who don’t want to hear it. That gets discouraging sometimes. You just have to believe in your music. For the people that stare at the wall while you’re playing, there’s always people that come up to you after the show and did enjoy it. I’m just happy to play in front of as many people as we are right now and just try to win over as many fans as we can.
Dennis: All that shit used to affect me. Like, “How many people are here? Are we responsible for it, is it on our heads?” If there wasn’t a lot of people and it was our show it used to freak me out, but I don’t even see them anymore. Just kind of do what you do and if they like it, they like it. What else can you do? It’s almost like I have my eyes closed and my eyes open. Vince is trying to engage them and jump on them.

Do you have a favorite song to play every night?
Brad: Different songs react differently each night. I really enjoy “2 Into 1.”
Dennis: Probably “Perfect” because of the whole experimental part, break down we have going on. It’s always exciting.
Dave: “Still Believe in You” is a great track, the bass line kicks ass. That’s a lot of fun to play. “Perfect” is always great because there’s so much improvisation. We get a chance to rehearse it all the time. Improvisation, in a live setting in front of that many kids, if Brad does something great or Dennis does something great or I do something great, it gets the next guy. It’s cool and you laugh and you smile. When you are just killing it musically, you can’t help but laugh. Music definitely enforces laughter and it’s really cool when you’re improvising onstage like that, it happens a lot.

As always, if you like what you read, let me know! And be sure to check out Army of Me either on their website or MySpace.