Interviews Q&A

Vince Scheuerman

Being a writer myself, I’m always curious at how a musician goes about writing lyrics to a song and if those songs are better when inspired by real life situations (do you have to be sad to write a sad song? in love to write a love song?) or just fantasy. I chatted with Army of Me frontman Vince Scheuerman while he ran some errands to the Post Office in town before their show in East Stroudsburg, PA, about writing songs and performing, the struggles of being in a band and his dream collaboration (it might surprise you). Check back in a few days to read more interviews with the guys from Army of Me as well as listen to some MP3 files of those interviews. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to check them out on MySpace and catch a show when they’re in town!

How do you prepare for a tour?
The way we that we prepare for tour is about 30 minutes before the van is supposed to leave we pack our bags, frantically looking for enough socks to get us through a week and then we stuff everything that we can possibly fit into the van. Then we figure out a way to pack all of our equipment and merchandise. We have this system for packing our van because we haven’t been using a trailer. We took out the back two benches of our 15 passenger van, there’s not an inch of space in the back of the van and we all have our bags with clothes and stuff. We did not even practice and we left late, we do this every time. We say, “Okay, we’re leaving at this time” and then three hours later we’re still there and haven’t left.

As far as preparation for tour, we don’t really do that, with one exception. I do preparations for my voice. Because when you hit the road and you’re getting ready to sing full on, every night, if you go into it completely cold, you might have a rough time with it. Every day I try to sing a few songs, practice belting all the high notes.

What do you do on your days off?
Well, today I had the day off in D.C. and I spent it trying to fix a bunch of problems in my house. We got home at five or six in the morning, went to bed and I didn’t realize that there were some people coming to replace the carpets in our house, so they woke us up and we had to vacate the premises in the morning so that kind of sucked. When I got back last week we had another day off, the gas got shut off in my house so there was no hot water, no heat and no stove so I was trying to deal with those things.

It depends. If we’re in the middle of tour and have a day off you’ll maybe sleep late, catch up on emails, watch a movie, write music, something like that. If the tour is over and we have a couple weeks off, I’ll maybe try to find a job. I was working at a hardware store in my neighborhood, making a little bit of money, just trying to pay the bills.

Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
Actually, this tour we started a new pre-show ritual, believe it or not. About three dates into the tour we realized things weren’t going well and the sound guy from The Used got us together and gave us all these pointers. He basically gave us the kick in the ass that we needed to get on stage every night and really bring it. The second night of the tour we were getting stuff thrown at us. I got hit by a lighter, cigarette buts, coins, and whatnot. There was stuff flying on stage the entire show. We were like, “Man, this really sucks. This crowd doesn’t like us, what are we doing?” We kind of got a new attitude which was to just come out on stage every night and really try to make the audience care. When you first get on stage, they might not give a shit because you’re not the band they came to see, but hopefully if you play your songs and you mean it and you are good then they will. So we kind of got our shit together so to speak and we’ve been playing a little bit better. One of the things we do is about an hour before the show we all get together and start warming up. Everyone’s playing their own thing. It’s a place you don’t want to be ‘cause everyone’s playing something different and it’s just noisy and it makes no sense. But it helps us get warmed up and come together.

The other night you crowd-surfed into the audience and another time you jumped off the balcony. How do you know if the crowd is going to catch you?
You don’t know if they’re going to catch you, I’ve gotten dropped. One time, not too long ago, there was a pretty big crowd, pretty packed and I thought for sure they would be able to hold me up and I kept going until my back hit the floor. The other night, we were in this club in Scranton, Pennsylvania called Tinks. I, in the moment, climbed up on the balcony and was looking down, thinking in my mind, “I really want to jump, but I don’t know if they’re going to catch me.” But I went for it and they caught me! That was very good because that would have been a long drop. I was maybe 10 feet up. It’d be hard to play shows with a broken neck.

It’s just one of those things, getting into music and wanting to connect with the audience too. One thing I like to do, and try to do at our shows is to break down the barrier between audience and stage. Sometimes there is a physical barricade, which I don’t like. I always liked when we used to play shows and there was no stage at all. We’d be standing there eyeball to eyeball with the audience and I always thought that was pretty cool. For me, music is about communication. I don’t want there to be a separation. Sometimes I’ll physically walk out into the audience and sing to try to make that connection.

What do you feel is the biggest struggle being in a band?
Trying to do what we’re doing and have a career at it. The odds are about the worst odds of any career you could ever possibly have. And the amount of work that you put into it is more than any job you would ever have or any career you could ever have. Sometimes you think to yourself, “What the hell am I doing with my life?” But then you think, “I can’t do anything else, or I don’t want to do anything else.”

It’s kind of a blessing and a curse because as an artist it’s really cool to have a gift, to express yourself and be able to sing, play music, write songs and reach people on an emotional level. But at the same time, you give up other things – your stability, being confident that you’re going to be able to pay your bills next month, or knowing what you’re going to be doing a year from now. This could all end tomorrow; I don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no stability, there’s no guarantee over anything when you’re in music. It’s kind of like jumping off a cliff and you’re not quite sure if you have a parachute or not. I’m going to do this and not look back. And that’s how you have to do it. You can’t do this rationally. So many bands, they come and go. You hear about bands that were so amazing and no one ever knew about them. That can’t be the reason for success. Art and m
usic is about communication.
If you have that passion to do it, then that’s what you’re doing and it’s sort of a pure thing.

When will you consider that you made it as a band?
When we’re on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine then I’ll be like, “Yeah, I think we made it.” [laughs] In a sense we have made it. We put out a national record, been in stores, gotten on radio, gotten on MTV, all this really exciting stuff. At the same time, I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to pay my bills next week. I don’t know if you look at success as financial success to say that you’ve made it or you look at the fact that you have people who will die for your band. Even if it’s just a handful of people, that’s pretty cool too. You’ll meet kids that have tattoos of your band, and you’re like, “Holy shit, this must really mean something to somebody.” That’s really awesome. Then you’ll look at people like Dave Matthews who packs 15,000 people into an arena, well that’s pretty cool too. I don’t know. As long as I’m still doing what I’m doing and I’m happy and I’m playing music I want to play with my friends and we’re having a good time and we’re still touching people and connecting with people on an emotional level, I’m stoked.

What inspires you to keep writing, playing songs and touring?
Inspiration comes in different form. For right now, it’s all I really want to do; it’s all I know how to do. This is my life, this is what I do. I play music and I believe in my music. There’s not really a question in my mind of, “What are you going to do today?” I know what I’m going to do today, I’m going to play music and if I have a few minutes I’m going to try and write a song. As long as I feel that way I’m going to keep doing it. The day I wake up and I’m like, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” I’ll figure something out.

What musicians do you look up to?
I look up to different musicians for different reasons. I look up to Jeff Buckley for instance, because he was such a great singer, the beauty that he captured in music was so amazing, just breathtaking. When you put on his record Grace, it changes the temperature of the room that you’re in. The beauty that is captured in that music is just overwhelming. A band like Radiohead for pushing envelopes so much and changing what they do and really pushing, artistically, their limits. A band like U2, who have tackled big, important issues in their music. I love The Edge’s guitar sound, it’s so signature, he can play one note and you know its The Edge. Bono, I like his voice, but the things they talk about in their songs are deeper issues and that’s something I can connect with.

Are you guys working on a new album?
Not officially. We’re always writing new songs, but we haven’t begun a new album yet. I feel like the current record, Citizen, isn’t done. Our record still has a lot of life left in it. This record I really love so much and I’m really proud of the songs and the lyrics and what it says. We have that one song, “Going Through Changes” and the video, and it gets played on the radio. This record is more then just one song and I think there are a lot of people that haven’t heard it yet. I want to keep working this record for a little while and hopefully have more people check it out.

Do you feel you have to be depressed to write a sad song or in love to write a love song?
Different things inspire songs. I think if you’re sad it helps writing a song, to put what’s really happening when you’re sad into a song. Things that you might write in a song, since you’re feeling it, it might be easier [to write]. Since you’re feeling it you know how to express what it feels like. You don’t necessarily have to be sad to write a sad song or in love to write a love song. I tend to write about what’s happening in my life, what I’m going through, what I’m learning, how I’m growing, all those different things.

The experiences you write about, if they’re real, do they come out better in the songs?
No, not necessarily. In order to write a song you have to have experienced life. To be a compelling songwriter, you have to have experienced something. If you’ve never gone through anything hard in your life then you can’t really write good lyrics about going through something hard. Having had that experience of going through something hard, you don’t have to necessarily be sad at that moment to write because you know what it was like to feel like that, even if you’re not feeling like that at that time. So, to write a song about being in love, you have to have been in love at some point.

Are there any songs that you sing later and they lose meaning for you, either after singing them so much or if you’re at a different point in your life?
No, they don’t necessarily lose meaning. They’re always about what they’re about, but sometimes they take on new meanings when you go through other things. Sometimes I’ll be singing a song and I’ll be thinking about something else that’s going on in my life and I get into that aspect of the song, like its describing something else or I make up new meanings for what it is. Songs are cool like that; they can be interpretive in different ways.

Who would you want to collaborate with?
I always thought it’d be cool to collaborate with Rufus Wainwright. I love his music and his voice. I wouldn’t mind collaborating with Carrie Underwood on like, making a baby. [laughs] I have to be careful because I only get one shot at this. I have to figure out who my idea celebrity girl would be. Sienna Miller. She is so beautiful to me, I think she’s perfect. I don’t know anything about her personality though. I kind of live in a dream world. I’m an artist; I kind of live in an alternate reality sometimes.

What do you love about music?
Initially, I started playing music for all the wrong reasons. When I was a teenager I thought it’d be cool to be famous, be a rock star, meet lots of girls and be rich, like all the guys on MTV. I think over time, growing up a bit, it’s not about that anymore. It’s kind of a search, in one sense, to find beauty, to find meaning, to express myself and to communicate with other people. Music, the way it makes you feel, there’s a certain power in music. It’s amazing. Music has had a big impact in my life. When you get to that place in music where you’re making music and you get that feeling, it’s a great feeling; it’s kind of like a drug in some sense. That glimpse of beauty, that glimpse of how it makes you feel, its a little taste of heaven. Ultimately, if we can communicate that feeling to other people and other people can have an experience that’s meaningful to them, to me that’s what it’s about. If our music can lift up somebody whose feeling pretty low, that’s really awesome and that’s what I hope our music can do.

Did you think growing up you’d be in a band, touring across the country?
No, never. Never thought I’d be in a band. I didn’t really get interested in pursuing music seriously until I was in college. I never thought this was going to happen, it was kind of a fluke that it did. A friend of mine that was in another band invited me to try out for his band to play guitar and I was like, “Dude, I’m awful at guitar. You don’t want me in your band; you don’t want me to bring your band down to that l

evel.” And he’s like, “No, man, we’re just having fun, its cool.” So I tried out for his band and I really liked it, and I fell in love with being in a band and from there I started this band with Dennis and the rest is history.

Concert Reviews

The Ataris’ “Blue Skies, Broken Hearts” Acoustic Tour Hits New Jersey

Marking almost the ninth-year anniversary of the release of album Blue Skies, Broken Hearts . . . Next 12 Exits, frontman Kris Roe of the Ataris has embarked on a massive tour playing the album in it’s entirety as well as fan favorites from previous albums. Having recently finished up touring the West Coast, Kris is touring everywhere from New Jersey down to Florida back Midwest to Michigan and Illinois before traveling to South America and Japan.

His almost one-hour set began at 11:30 p.m. with first track on the album, “Losing Streak.” “This is a sing along show so I hope you all sing along,” Roe told the audience at Maxwell’s in Hoboken Friday night.

I’ve been to many concerts over the years, but none quite like Roe’s acoustic set Friday. He had practically every person in the room singing along word for word to each song played that night, something I’ve never witnessed at a concert before. Granted, those in attendance seemed to be die-hard fans, making up the standing-room only crowd. With such a good crowd, for hit “So Long, Astoria” off of the album of the same name, Roe got off the stage and walked into the crowd while playing the song on guitar. Instead of singing it himself on stage with his microphone, he let the audience take over singing the song. Possibly the highlight of the night, those in attendance demonstrated that the Ataris’ fans are far from extinct.

Playing a 17-song set, Roe had so much energy and you could truly tell that he was having just as much fun as his fans in the audience, joking along with them and playing any song they screamed out to him. Crowd favorite seemed to be “San Dimas High School Football Rules,” as loud screams from the audience could be heard when he started playing the first chord of the song. A solid guitar sound, Roe helped peak the crowd’s energy.

Afterwards he told the audience, “This is a really sappy album I wrote 11 years ago,” before beginning song, “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone.” With classic lyrics like, “The things you make me wanna do/I’d rob a quick-e-mart for you/I’d go to the pound and let all the cats go free/Just as long as you’d be with me” he got the point across. Roe sang part of the chorus, then told the crowd, “Alright now, just you guys. Ready? Sing aloud” as all in Maxwell’s sung in unison “I won’t spend another night alone.”

He introduced the next track, “The Last Song I Will Ever Write About A Girl” as being “a complete fuckin’ lie, which I’m sure you all realized by now.” He ended the song explaining that he was 19 and angry when he originally wrote it. “Broken Promise Ring” Roe wrote when he was 14, while joking to the audience, “If it sucks don’t blame me.”

Roe explained that many of the songs he’s been performing on this tour from the album, Blue Skies, Broken Hearts . . . Next 12 Exits have never been performed live before, like last song on the album, “In Spite of the World.”

The last few songs played were from previous albums. He played “I.O.U. One Galaxy” as well as “In This Diary,” “So Long Astoria” and last song of the night, “Summer Wind Was Always Our Song.” Roe’s solid guitar and vocals throughout the night blew me away and sounded even better than on his albums, a feat not many musicians can accomplish.

Half of D.C. based band Army of Me opened the night with a 40-minute acoustic set with frontman Vince Scheuerman alternating between guitar and piano and Brad Tursi on guitar. They played nine songs, mostly off their debut album, Citizen.

“Meet You at the Mouth” opened the night with strong vocals and guitar while second song of the night, “Saved Your Life” slowed down their set a bit. Vince and Brad played to a packed room, combining solid vocals and guitar features throughout their set.

In addition to songs from their latest album, they covered a song by Detroit-based singer Brendan Benson as well as played a new song of their own. Before playing piano-based song, “Better Run,” Vince explained that while Army of Me is a rock band, they recently started playing piano at their gigs. Vince started out the song solo on piano while Brad accompanied him with light guitar picking soon after. Army of Me had the audience helping out with their next song, a new one for the guys, clapping along to keep the beat of the song. Brad kept telling the audience, “This is a rock song, you guys are the rock.”

Vince explained their second to last song, “2 into 1” as being “a song about unity and love” and then ended their set solidly with emotional song, “Rise” a little after 11 p.m.

Be sure to catch Kris Roe on the rest of his “Blue Skies, Broken Hearts” acoustic tour. Check his MySpace for future tour dates.
For more on Army of Me check out their website.

News Q&A

Army of Me Interview Featured On

My interview with Vince was posted this past week on! You can check out the page here.

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For more info on Army of Me check out their website here.

Interviews Q&A

Army of Me

It’s hard to believe a few years ago drummer Dennis Manuel of Army of Me never picked up a drumstick and singer/songwriter Vince Scheuerman never wrote a lyric, “But it didn’t matter, because we were going to take over the world,” frontman Vince Scheuerman said. Army of Me started out playing in a friend’s basement, eventually recording a demo and touring up and down the East Coast before expanding their tour to the mid-West, getting signed on label Doghouse Records and releasing their first full-length album, Citizen, back in April.

Vince was nice enough to sit down with me last Thursday and answer all my questions about the band, the inspiration behind his writing and the stories behind some of his songs.

How could you afford to do all those tours? Did you guys have steady jobs?
It’s tough because anything that you love to do is hard to make money out of and there’s a lot of other people that are trying to do it too because it’s the cool thing to do. What you’re doing, what other artists are doing, musicians, photographers. It’s really hard.And it never pays you enough anyway. It’s underappreciated. We used to work jobs. I went to college for mechanical engineering so I worked a job at the National Institute of Standards and Technology inGaithersburg,Maryland, for a while. NIST set standards of measurements of length and time and weight. I was dealing with really small lengths, like atomic lengths. So we had microscopes that could see atoms. It was pretty insane. I’d sit in the basement, in the dungeon, working on these microscopes and then as soon as I was out of there I’d be playing music, practicing. I’m just always in the dungeon. What’s up with that? I didn’t see the daylight very much. I lived in a basement apartment. There’s a theme here.

Tell me a little bit about your writing process.
The weird thing about songwriting is it’s hard to describe how it happens. I’ve heard other people describe it and I can kind of relate to how they describe it as something that you don’t really have any control over, it just happens. And when it happens you’re like, ‘Holy shit, that was awesome, but how did I do that?’ you get a feeling like you didn’t do that. It’s hard to explain. Inspiration can strike at any moment. But then I have to make myself sit down and try to work on it, try to come up with something. When I finish a song or come up with a cool thing, the feeling is amazing. It’s a really powerful feeling, like ‘Oh my God I created that, that’s pretty cool.’ But at the same moment, I think how did I write that?

I really like the songs on our new record, Citizen. I’m really proud of what I was feeling and going through during the writing of that record and how I said it. I don’t know how it comes off to other people, but when I look at how I said what I was feeling I’m like, wow that was beautiful. With Citizen, I’m like how did I do that? Where did that come from? Could I duplicate it? Could I do it again? I don’t know. It’s almost like channeling something, like a grace given to you. I still don’t know how to write songs. People are like how do you write songs? I don’t know. But it happens.

Definitely feeling upset about something or wanting something, desiring something triggers a strong emotion. There’s definitely inspiration for a song. I think a lot of songs come from a place of desire, of yearning for something to satisfy you and you’re not feeling that thirst or hunger or quench. And you write about it. Whatever form it may be. It can be a relationship, anything. It is for me. I’m a pretty passionate person. I get hungry a lot, not necessarily for food. I think that’s the human condition, the feeling of looking for something and asking questions about what does it all mean. For me, songwriting is about looking for the meaning, asking for questions, searching for those desires, searching for that thing, whatever it is.

Do you ever want to hold back when writing a song?
I’m a pretty open person. When it comes to songs I don’t really think about that. It’s not that hard for me to be personal with songs, it’s hard for me to be personal with a friend, somebody I know. Maybe you’re more afraid of the judgment that a friend may have, to care what that person thinks. Songwriting for me is my way of searching – documenting my life and what’s going on inside of me.

I really like “Better Run.” When you listen to it, it just seems so honest. What inspired it, or what were you thinking about when you were writing it?
I’m always kind of hesitant to tell specific stories behind songs because I like to leave it up to people’s interpretation. When someone has an idea of what a song’s about to them, it usually has to relate to their life. When I tell them what it’s about they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s not what I thought.’ It takes away the message.

“Better Run” comes from . . . I was in a relationship for 6 years with someone. To be honest, she was really great – a beautiful person inside and outside. I never really experienced that much love from another human being, maybe my mom, but that’s about it. If there was one thing that I could bet on in this entire world, it would be that she would always love me. And I took her for granted. I was just always focused on myself and self-absorbed and I was kind of an asshole. She started to lose faith in our relationship and that woke me up to how it was and it devastated me. Not only did she not want to be in a relationship, I had been totally oblivious. I realized that I had hurt her and so. . . it fucked me up big time. It was rough. I was devastated.

So that song is kind of like, for the first time looking at someone with love, real love. The love is expressed as the desire for the best interest of the person I was singing to! If it’s not me, go find whatever that is. Even if it’s not what I wanted, it’s easy to be that person in a song. All you have to do is write the lyrics. It’s a whole other thing to actually really feel and mean that in real life, when everything inside you is screaming, “NOOO!!” It’s a very tortured song. There’s that tension there. I don’t really want this, you know? So the song hopefully captures part of that battle.

How would you explain your music to someone who has never heard it before?
The music is about the experiences you have in life and the feelings and the wants and the desires and the hopes and the dreams that I think we all have. It’s about asking questions and searching and trying to find myself and trying to find the answers. Maybe a couple of people have the answers, but everyone has the questions. I believe in hope and I believe that going through rough times, there is also growth and healing and that’s something I talk about in music too. So it’s kind of a mix of all that.

What’s your favorite song to perform?
I think “Perfect” may be my favorite. When we play “Perfect” live, it’s like a journey. Perfect might be my favorite song on the record, it’s a song about wanting to accomplish something great, wanting to prove that you’re worth something to somebody. And when we play it live, it feels powerful, and I feel like I can do something great. In the middle of the song, we do a section that is improvised. Brad, our guitarist, does a solo which is always great. I like to get lost in the moment.

I was wondering about the story behind “Rise.” I read that it was inspired by the tsunami in 2005, how so?
I heard this story about these children inSri Lanka, maybe 7 or 8 years old, who had lost everything in the tsunami. Their families – mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters swept away, their houses completely destroyed. They were literally left alone and abandoned.They were afraid of the water, which in a small fishing village, had been the source of life. Now it was a big monster who took everything. I can’t imagine the devastation, fear, and confusion they must have felt.

There was an American psychologist there, working with the kids, having them draw four pictures. The first picture was what their houses looked like before the wave came. The second picture was what the wave looked like as it was coming – big and gnarly. The third picture was what their house looked like after the wave had hit – completely demolished . . . and the fourth picture was what they wanted their house to look like after the wave had hit. The kids were drawing that fourth picture of a new house that was bigger than the old house. They were fixing things they didn’t like in the old house, maybe a swing set in the front yard. It blew me away that in the face of such an unthinkable tragedy, when all was lost, that here was a spark, a little ray of hope shining through. How resilient is the human spirit?

And as I related it to my life, it was the idea that maybe you were happy and content or complacent in that old house. And then something comes and just knocks you off your feet. That thing you were holding onto gets ripped right out of your hands. And although you could never, ever forget what had happened to you, that somehow, mysteriously, this was now an opportunity for growth, for a bigger, improved house – a mansion.

What’s the premise behind your album Citizen?
When we went to record this record we threw out all the notions of trying to appeal to one particular scene or group of people. Instead, we wanted to make a record that could communicate with everyone. We were living in a little secluded beach house on the coast inVirginia for about two months, where we got to escape the world that we were used to, and just concentrate on making the record.

When it came to the lyrics, I took a new approach to these songs, something I’d never done before. I wrote about how I felt. That sounds kind of obvious, like, what else do you write about?! But in the past, I had attempted to be clever or ironic, witty, etc. in my songs. Not that there’s anything wrong with clever lyrics, but this time around, it was almost like I didn’t have the energy or the desire to do that. This time, my world was turned upside down and I couldn’t do anything but write out exactly what I was feeling, no irony. I was making myself naked. And I was scared! I worried that people might think that the lyrics were dumb or too obvious, but it was all I could do at the time. I remember telling another musician friend of mine that I couldn’t be ironic or sarcastic about subject matter that I cared so much about. And he assured me that it would be ok.

And in hindsight, I believe it was ok. Because I think in music and in art, when you speak from the heart, it’s more powerful than when you speak only from the mind. You can’t escape a purely gut reaction to something. It’s real. In artistic expression, for every cynical person that thinks something is silly or stupid, that same expression might change another person’s life. Citizen is a record about being a human being. It talks about the struggles, the pain, the questions, the searching. But it also talks about the other side of that struggle, where I believe there can be healing and hope, strength – like in the song “Rise.”

For more on Army of Me check out their MySpace.
Feel free to check out the concert review on MTV here.

Concert Reviews

Army of Me Invades Brooklyn

D.C. rockers Army of Me played to a packed crowd Thursday night at Union Hall in Brooklyn. From the opening drum beat in “Thinking It Over” to the last note of “Perfect,” Army of Me showed nothing short of greatness during their hour-long set.

Having been constantly touring for the past few years with various bands including The Used, Blue October and the Dave Matthews Band and releasing their first full-length album, Citizen, back in April, Army of Me is definitely a band to be on the look out for. With solid vocals from frontman singer/songwriter/guitarist Vince Scheuerman and a well-blended guitar and drum sound, it’s hard to believe that a few years ago drummer Dennis Manuel hadn’t picked up a drum stick and Scheuerman never wrote a lyric.

“When Dennis and I first started talking about starting the band he didn’t even play drums and I didn’t know how to write songs. But it didn’t matter, because we were going to take over the world,” Scheuerman said. “We kind of learned as we went, we didn’t really know what we were doing, but we still wanted to do it.”

From concocting their own “wheat paste” made out of flour and water to stick signs up on light poles throughout the D.C. area for their gigs, “the fliers would stay up for months and months. Everyone knew our name because you couldn’t help but see our name,” Scheuerman said, to recording their own demo and paying for tours through day jobs, Army of Me eventually landed themselves a record deal with Doghouse Records in January of 2006, soon after releasing their first full-length album, Citizen this past April.

I’m always a bit skeptical of seeing a band perform live after only hearing their album because it either makes or breaks your opinion on the band. But I have to say, Army of Me definitely blew me away. Each and every song is entirely different from the previous and Scheuerman has such an incredible stage presence that really engages the crowd. From jumping into the crowd on top of a bench in the corner of the room to constantly pointing to someone in the audience, you feel like he’s singing directly to you.

Even during some of the slower parts of a song, such as in the middle of “Still Believe in You,” Army of Me is able to capture the audience’s attention with the honesty of the lyrics and rhythm of the song. What’s even better is that when the tempo changes, the entire band can pick it right back up without missing a beat or having a strange transition.

“Meet You at the Mouth” had quite a few strong guitar riffs throughout the song as well as an amazing guitar solo from Brad Tursi. Scheuerman introduced “Rise” as being a song of healing and rebirth, getting knocked off your feet and not being sure you could get up and then getting that reassuring word from a friend and being able to get back up.

Up next was my favorite of the night, “Better Run.” Slowing things down for the night, Scheuerman started off alone on keyboard while singing solo until the rest of the band joined in halfway through the song. The song is so honest and you can just feel the heart wrenching of letting a relationship end, even though you don’t want it to. With lyrics like, “If you run at full speed and it feels good to be free/If you know it in your soul, though it’s hard to let it go/You better run, you better run,” Scheuerman got the point across.

Perhaps the crowd favorite of the night, “Going Through Changes,” had the crowd singing along. First big single for Army of Me, this song was ranked No. 3 as MTV’s most played video a while back and it’s easy to see why, the catchy chorus and rockin’ guitar driven drum beats that make up the song definitely get stuck in your head. Lyrics like, “It’s hard to accept what you don’t understand/And it’s hard to launch/without knowing how to land,” are relatable to everyone.

Last song of the night was “Perfect,” which Scheuerman said is his favorite to play. “It’s like a journey. It’s a song about wanting to accomplish something great, wanting to prove that you’re worth something to somebody. And when we play it live, it feels powerful, and I feel like I can do something great. In the middle of the song, we do a section that is improvised. Brad, our guitarist, does a solo which is always great. I like to get lost in the moment,” he said.

And that guitar solo might have been the best of the night, adding a powerful instrumental segment before Scheuerman finished the song. Scheuerman spoke to the crowd before ending the song, saying, “I think we’re all capable of something great, something perfect. Something perfect.” I think he’s right.

Check out more photos from Wendy Hu here.

Benefit Features

November Recap/December Picks

While I’m still getting adjusted to the whole blogging thing I’m trying to start a few topics to follow through with each month, such as a monthly “recap” that I’ll hopefully post at the end or beginning of each month as well as monthly “picks”or suggestions for an upcoming month. Here’s a recap of some cool things that went on in the month of November:

Pandora Radio
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. To pass the time at work I’ve been listening to music. Anything from various YouTube videos to listening to random HD radio stations that stream online. However, there are only so many radio stations you can listen to throughout the day and I haven’t figured out how to play continuous music on YouTube yet. A bunch of the people I work with kept talking about Pandora radio and I had no clue what they were talking about, so I decided to check it out. And let me tell you – it’s the coolest thing ever! I mean, iPods are great and everything, but how many times have you listened to the same songs? With Pandora you just type in an artist and it comes up with all this music that is similar to that artist and continuously plays it for you and you can skip to the next song if you don’t like it. However, if you do like the song just click the thumbs up sign so the player knows to play it again at a later point. I tried a bunch of different artists and got a pretty interesting combination of songs to listen to throughout the day. Music really makes the day go by so much quicker, I think it helps with the stress too. Pandora just added classical music to their collection as well as a variety of holiday tunes to listen to. Just go to to check it out and see for yourself.

Paste Magazine
For two weeks this month, Paste Magazine let readers decide how much they wanted to pay for a one-year subscription. This idea is unheard of in the magazine world, but thanks to Radiohead’s recent success with letting fans pay whatever they decided for their recent album, Paste thought, why not give it a try? I’m sure they’ll be seeing an increase in subscriptions. I just subscribed. Check out the article here.

New York Women in Communications
I went to a talk this month at the Hearst Tower with Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines, hosted by New York Women in Communications. I’ve attended one other event which featured Jancee Dunn, former Rolling Stone writer and MTV 2 veejay who discussed her book, “But Enough About Me, A Jersey Girl’s Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous.” Attending these events really inspires me to keep writing and do what I love. Jancee, especially, was so great because I admire her and aspire to become a writer like her one day. Cathie was so great to listen to because it seems like she really is able to handle such a major responsibility – overseeing so many magazines as well as have a healthy family and social life. She talked about her book, “Basic Black,” described as the essential guide for getting ahead at work and in life.

It seems as if every month the albums released get better and better. Two of my favorites just released are Alicia Keys’ As I Am and Jon Foreman of Switchfoot’s Fall. They both fall more into the easy listening, which I think everyone needs to listen to just to unwind and forget about all the stressful things in life.

Bands Making a Difference
I don’t know if this section will be in every month’s post but I really hope it is. This month I was blown away by Switchfoot, Relient K and Ruth’s efforts in giving back to their communities. Not only did these three bands donate $1 from every ticket sold on their fall “Appetite for Construction” tour to Habitat for Humanity – raising well over $67,000 – but they also went out on Habitat builds throughout various tour stops, building alongside homeowners and fans that decided to join Habitat and help out. I was lucky enough to chat with Chad and Jon from Switchfoot and they are definitely some of the nicest and most down to earth guys in the music industry today. Their entire crew and fan base are just something special that bands should look up to and epitomize.

December Picks
There are a bunch of great concerts coming up this December – 3 of which are happening just next week that I think everyone should consider going to.

Sharsheret Breast Cancer Benefit Concert
Sunday, December 2
Multipurpose Room, Rutgers Student Center
College Ave. Campus, New Brunswick, NJ
7:30-10:30 p.m.

My friend Monica is putting on a benefit concert and helping raise money for Sharsheret, a national breast cancer organization. It will be a night of live music by female performers including Rutgers’ very own all-female acappella group Shockwave, Hip Hop/Alternative performer Shira, and headlining the show, Ladino artist Sarah Aroeste. Ticket prices are $5 for students and $12 for the public, and are a minimum donation to Sharsheret.

New York Musicians Release Benefit Holiday Album
Wednesday, December 5
The Delancey
168 Delancey St, NY
8 p.m. -12 a.m.

Just in time for the holidays, The Delancey will be hosting a holiday album release party next Wednesday. All proceeds from album, A Family Holiday, will be donated to 826NYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and helping teachers inspire their students to write.

The night will include performances from some of the artists showcased on the album as well as feature DJ sets from Hot Rocks’ Jenny Piston and Underrated Magazine’s Rachael Darmanin.

Singer/songwriter Benjamin Wagner began the project with the help of Family Records. Albums can be purchased the night of the release party or on the MySpace site, There is no cover charge.

Army of Me with Liam and Me
Thursday, December 6
Union Hall
702 Union St., Brooklyn, NY
Doors open: 8 p.m. Show: 9 p.m.
Tickets $10

D.C. rockers Army of Me will be hitting up New York Thursday night playing some of their old fan favorites as well as songs from their debut album, Citizen. You may recognize their single, “Going Through Changes,” from being featured on various MTV shows. Check out their MySpace page for more of their sound.