Backstreet Boys Release Sixth Studio Album, Cancel Appearances Due To Swine Flu

Do you remember the first band you fell in love with? You’d save up every penny of your allowance to see them perform — even camp out overnight for a chance to buy tickets to their show. For me, that band was the Backstreet Boys.

I’ve been following BSB since the seventh grade and can’t count the number of shows I’ve been to. While my friends are glad to see my music tastes over the years expand, there will always be that little spot for BSB in my heart (I know, so lame!).

Their sixth studio album, This Is Us, was released today and due to Brian Littrell’s diagnosis of swine flu, the band have canceled their appearances for the next few days (see video below). Consisting mostly of dance tracks produced by Max Martin, T-Pain, and Ryan Tedder among others, This Is Us, strays from the strong ballads longtime fans know and love.

Perhaps trying to conform to the trend of Auto-Tune and club hits that have been storming the charts as of late, the album is a departure from that classic Backstreet Boys sound. In fact, at times it sounds like they’re trying too hard. While This Is Us is far from the boy band days of the 90s, it’s their popular ballads of that era I’ll continue to remember.

Watch Littrell’s video message to fans below.


Did you pick up the new album today? What are your thoughts of it? Who is your favorite band and what’s the craziest thing you’ve done to buy tickets to a show?


Blast From the Past: I’m With the Band

Ever since I booked my flight for Texas to attend the South by Southwest (better known as SXSW) music festival later this month, I’ve been reminiscing about touring with Army of Me last year. Definitely one of the best times at the start of my music blogging career, I learned a lot about a typical day in the life of a band. The struggles, the triumphs, the music. Originally written for my internship, I thought I’d post my brief blog entry about my experience below. Love to know what you think!

Growing up during the height of the boy band era and attending all their concerts, I’ve always wondered what it’s like being on the other side. Not the fan waiting anxiously for the doors to open to get a spot closest to the stage, but to be backstage. I’ve always been curious to what goes on behind the scenes of a tour — what bands do before the show, the real deal on groupies, what the inside of a tour bus looks like — the whole lifestyle.

A few weeks ago I got a chance to find out what really goes on during a typical concert when I toured with Army of Me on the “Get A Life” tour. I witnessed the diversity between an up-and-coming band, traveling from show to show in a small, smelly, 15-passenger van converted to fit five guys, their equipment and whatever else they need for months on tour and a more well known band, punk rockers The Used, who travel in a bus with separate bunks, a big screen TV and a back room nicely furnished, almost reminiscent of a living room.

Most surprising was how down to earth and friendly each band was. You hear stories of bands that have ridiculous requests or who are jerks to their fans and groupies, but this wasn’t the case. Speaking of groupies, do they even exist these days? Apparently they do according to bass player Jeph Howard of The Used, and he’s not too keen on them. “Groupies are gross. Groupies are the girls that sleep with all the other band dudes. I’m not down with that.” Although, maybe groupies only exist for the bigger bands. Army of Me drummer Dennis Manuel doesn’t think they have any. “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 [the van] it kind of kills the mood.” Good point.

My newfound knowledge of bands and their dislike for groupies wasn’t the only thing I learned on tour. I never realized how grueling touring could be and how it’s a lot less glamorous than I had previously imagined — it’s not all sex, drugs and rock & roll. Often it’s five guys in a hotel room sharing beds or having to push a broken down van to a nearby repair shop. While at points life on tour is rough, the good outweighs the bad and when I asked each member what they’d be doing if it wasn’t for music, they didn’t have an answer. In the end, it’s all about the music. Army of Me frontman Vince Scheuerman explained it as being all he wants to do right now. “This is my life, this is what I do. I play music and I believe in my music. 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.”

To read more of my interviews on tour with Army of Me and The Used click on the links for both bands on the right under Exclusive Interviews or read You Sing, I Write’s May archives.


Audio Interview with Vince Scheuerman of Army of Me

Editing down these interviews has taken a lot longer than I had previously expected. I’m hoping to get more of my interviews up in audio format from the “Get A Life” tour soon . . . can’t make any immediate promises though. Here is my interview with Vince broken down into two segments, each about 10-minutes long for your listening pleasure. Let me know if this is a good length, I know everyone has busy lives and you don’t really have time to sit down and listen to a 40-minute interview, so I tried to cut it down to the most interesting parts. Enjoy!

Click here to listen to Vince talk about how Army of Me prepares for tour, what they do on their days off and how their new pre-show ritual came about.

Click here for more from Vince on how the audience’s vibe impacts his performance, getting dropped when jumping into the crowd to crowd-surf, the struggles of being in a band and more.


Q&A with Dennis Manuel of Army of Me

This is my third of four interviews featured from the guys of D.C. based band Army of Me. I’m hoping to post my last interview as well as get some audio formats of the interviews up soon. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Army of Me and catch a show! They’ll be playing Bowery Ballroom in NYC next Thursday, May 29! Below is my interview with drummer Dennis Manuel. One of the founding members of Army of Me, Dennis chatted with me during the “Get A Life” tour about the arduous task of naming a band, how he came to be a part of Army of Me and signing his first autograph.

Tell me a little bit about how Army of Me began.
We just kind of met through mutual friends, me and Vince. I wasn’t really playing any instruments yet. I was screwing around enough to keep a beat. We got together in a buddy of our’s basement. I think we jammed like once and then I moved to New York for two years and I was still kind of playing. When I moved back we got together again. I don’t think we were taking it seriously. I don’t think we’re taking it seriously now, it just kind of snowballed slowly and slowly and slowly and then we got into songs and what’s best for the songs and it got serious. It’s kind of weird because this is my first band and to have come as far as we have. Normally, it’s the third band.

What were you doing in New York?
I was 19 and I basically wanted to get out of my mom’s house. Instead of college, I went to New York and I went to a trade school for recording. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just was going up there to see what it was like, working in the studio. My friend got married and me and his cousin went up there, had one drunken night on a roof top and decided to form a band and take over the world. That didn’t really work out, but it did get us to move to New York, which was fun. That wasn’t really serious; I think we got together once a month. I moved back because I was tired of being broke and Vince called me up, two years after that one jam we had, and he had written a few songs. We just started there, song after song.

You guys went by different band names.
We started as a three-piece and we were trying to come up with a name and we had all these lists. It was such a painful process. I had this basement apartment where we rehearsed all the time and Vince’s girlfriend at the time came downstairs and we were throwing names at her. And she was like, “What about Lioness.” After everyone had said like a hundred no’s, we were like, “That sounds cool. Where did you come up with that?” And she said, “It’s on your wall.” I had this hook and knot that my first babysitter made for me. They look like rugs, but it’s a picture. And it was of Lioness from Charlie Brown. So that was our first name. I actually have a Yoda hook and knot in my kit drum. It’s for the force. So Lioness was our first name and then there was another Lioness and we had to change the name.

One of your names was Cactus Patch?
I think it was actually Catus Hatch, which I don’t know how we came up with. It was really an awful name. But, again, with the lists, the endless freakin’ lists. It’s impossible. On one of Vince’s lists, I saw catus, and I thought it had a ring to it. I was like, “What is it?” Vince is a fly fisherman and catus is a certain larvae from a fly and when they come out of the eggs and come to the surface, the larvae, all the bass come to the surface. So it’s a particular fly, and it was catus and I thought, “What about Catus Hatch?” It seemed brilliant at the time. And then everyone we told the name to were like, “What? Cactus Patch?” And it basically became Cactus Patch. It was so ridiculous at one point I wanted to make a T-shirt with Cractus Catch, Cactus Patch, Catus Hatch, Lemon Snatch. Basically, we’re called whatever you want us to be called. That happened and then we had a couple of EPs, actually we had a full-length under Cactus Patch, which I’m afraid to even think about listening to.

And then you became Army of Me?
Well, by that time we became a three-piece for a while, but then we wanted to change it up and get a bigger sound, so we got another guitarist. We were coming out with a new EP and we had management at the time, and they were like, “Well, if you want to change the name.” I remember the end of Cactus Patch. We played this place called Palomas in Baltimore, which doesn’t exist anymore because it was so sketchy. They had the radio on over the loudspeaker while we were setting up and the commercial was like, “Come to Palomas tonight for a night of country and zydeco with Cactus Patch.” And we were like, “Did they listen to the demo at all?” So we were like, “Okay, we sound like we’re a jam band from Arizona with the name Cactus Patch.” So we had to change it. Our manager at the time told us to write down album titles and song titles of artists we love. Like, Radiohead was the “Talking Heads” song, stuff like that. So, Vince wrote “Army of Me” because it was a Bjork song and thought I’d like it. That’s the arduous task of naming a band. The rest is the future.

Do you have a favorite show from this tour, favorite venue or favorite crowd?
It’s kind of impossible to have a favorite crowd because they’re always different, you can’t keep track. I’d say favorite venue is 9:30 [Club, in D.C.] of course, The Knitting Factory upstairs is always good and Bowery always sounds really good onstage. Favorite shows, I don’t know if I ever come off stage satisfied. There are very few times that I’m like, “Yeah, that was cool.” It’s usually when I feel like I’m in control. When I feel like I’m playing like somebody else, it’s like “That wasn’t me.”

When you travel is there a certain crowd that’s more enthusiastic?
I think there was a weird thing that happened for at least a little bit, where it was freakin’ kind of weird. It was like that thing where you go to Europe and you have no idea how you’re being taken over there. When we hit the west coast it was right at the time that KROQ picked up our single and they were playing it in heavy rotation and at the same time we had a video on MTV and all this mainstream with this huge umbrella of reach was happening. Everybody on the east coast were like, “Finally!” and everyone on the west coast were like, “Who the fuck are these guys?” We were playing all these outdoor venues and people were calling you sir and shit. It was really weird to have that because we hadn’t really played the west coast. And then we do, we had all this stuff hitting at all different angles. It was like, “Wow, can I borrow $50,000 from you? You must be rich.” Or, “Woah, who are you? You’re amazing.” It was definitely, kind of eye opening. I wish it were like that every day, just to be treated slightly differently, like a king. I just thought it was funny. We played the HF Festival in 2001 and this little kid came up to me with the booklet for the festival and a sharpie opened to our page. And I was like, “What?” I was totally clueless. That was my first autograph. I’m not a dumb person, but I had no idea.

How is it being away from your girlfriend on tour?
I think it’s different for everybody, obviously. As long as she has something to do and you’re both busy doing your own thing, it helps to where you’re not concentrating. She’s a stable manager so she’s responsible for a lot of stuff, a lot of horses. It definitely keeps your mind occupied. We’re both very independent people. I’d call her and we’ll basically say five words, we’re kind of used to it. When you get to the three week period, it sucks.

Is it possible to make it work?
Oh, yeah. It’s just a certain kind of person.

How would you explain the band’s dynamic?
Sings: “Well I’m a little bit country and he’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.” I think we just all come from . . . like, aside from Dave with us playing, because he hasn’t really written any songs with us. Brad’s definitely a country, folk queen. I’m probably the indie guy. I like weird stuff. I like Jon Spencer and stuff like that. Vince wants to take over the world. We’re very different people. It’s weird, I feel like a lot of people say we’re about the music and stuff like that. But, I feel like we’re just into writing really good songs and we could really do without jumping around and whatnot. It’s about how interesting a core progression is, whether or not one part’s stepping on another. We’re just trying to write smart, good songs and it’s weird because I feel like the world doesn’t want that right now. Vince was talking about last night, they’re [the crowd] like, “Am I aloud to like this? I don’t know what to do. No one else has told me this is cool, so I don’t know what to think.” It’s not like we’re going to quit. What else are we going to do? Become investment bankers? Become mortgage brokers?

What is the writing process for you guys?
Vince will do the lyrics, that mainly comes with the melody. Essentially, a song we’ll screw with the arrangement of it and the vibe of it and then we’ll start arguing about it and then we’ll finally settle on something.

How do you know when a song sounds right?
It’s kind of hard. If I hear a live version of something, where it’s a song that we haven’t recorded, even some songs that we recorded I’m like, “Why did I do it that way?” Being in the studio is definitely different, it’s like part writing. The only way to really hear your parts is to not be playing it while you’re playing it. If you can step back, it’s a little easier to edit. Sometimes you don’t even realize how stupid something is until you hear it played back to you. Even a lot of stuff on the album I don’t play the same way. I was in there [the studio] for two days and I was done and then they went to war with guitars, so they were there for another two months. There are three songs on the album that are pre-production tracks which are just while we’re working on the song they decided to keep the drum parts. I didn’t really have a chance to think about it. But now that I have, the songs have evolved and I’ll go back and listen to the recording to get some of my original idea and then, kind of marry the two. I’ve been playing it for a year and a half and then go to what was the initial feeling. That’s what I usually like. There’s a lot of energy, but you can hear the thinking going on and there is still flow. When that happens it’s pretty cool. But there are some things that I don’t like that I did and I’ll change them. Especially after you get a chance to hear it, it’s definitely a lot easier to edit.


Q&A with Brad Tursi of Army of Me

Army of Me guitarist Brad Tursi took some time out to chat with me after their performance on the “Get a Life” tour. He filled me in on how he came to join the band, what made him pick up guitar and (for the ladies) how it IS possible to maintain a relationship while being on tour. For all you skeptics out there, Brad shed some light on how he makes it work. Now whoever said dating a guy in a band is a bad idea?

How did you get involved in Army of Me?
I was in a band called Ki: Theory before this, from Virginia, and we were on a couple bills together. I got to talking with Vince and our band was in the process of breaking up. Vince had contacted me a few weeks before I left Ki: Theory and he asked what I was doing. They lost their guitar player, and he asked if I would be interested in playing with them. I said, “I’d love to help you out, but I’m in this other band.” I loved them [Army of Me] I thought they were awesome. Before I was in this band I bought their CD and I was totally rocking out to it before I was even in the band.

I just said, “I’d love to help you out, but I can’t do full time.” And he said, “Well, we’re looking for someone more full time.” So I said, “Okay, if you ever need anything give me a call.” Right after we had our meeting for Ki: Theory I kind of decided it wasn’t happening anymore. I checked my email right after that and there was a message from Vince saying, “Call me up, I want to talk to you.” So I called him up directly after and then I went up there and did a little audition for them. I practiced their songs to their CD and I went up to D.C. that week and played with Vince. I went straight from one band into the next. I’ve been with them almost five years now.

How would you describe the band dynamic?
There’s a difference. Sometimes you’re in a band with your high school buddies and you’re friends first and then you’re in a band. In this case, I met the guys in Army of Me, I didn’t know who they were. It was music first and then you figure out who everyone is. They’re all great friends of mine. Obviously we get on each others nerves. You spend 24 hours a day with someone, sleep in the same bed as them, you’re bound to know everything about them and they know everything about you. I think we kind of went through a very volatile sort of time. I feel like now, we don’t really go there that often, but even when we do it’s just like, forget about it afterwards. If you hold a grudge you’re going to be miserable. You can’t get away from them. You just learn to respect everyone’s space and get along as best as you can.

What made you decide to pick up a guitar?
I think it was Slash from Guns N’ Roses. I used to have little pictures cut out of Hit Parader and all those magazines pasted up all over my walls of Guns N’ Roses. That was my first concert. I went with the church youth group to a Guns N’ Roses concert. I don’t think the priest really knew what he was getting himself into. It opened up with “Welcome to the Jungle.” “Do you know where you fuckin’ are? You’re in the jungle!” The priest was like, “Uh-oh, what did I do?” They were definitely a big influence.

I found an acoustic guitar in the attic, it was my dad’s who actually played in a band, I came to find out later, with Steven Tyler from Aerosmith when they were in high school. I don’t think any of the original people in Aerosmith were with them at all. They just played in high school together. Maybe there’s some rock in my roots there somewhere. It was just one of those things where once I picked it up, I never stopped playing it. I never got bored of it. I’d just play it all day, every day. Something about it just stuck with me.

Is it possible to have a relationship while on the road?
It is possible. It’s definitely difficult and there needs to be a certain, sort of girl. They have to be, number one, confident in themselves and confident with you that you’ll be faithful to them. If they’re not confident in themself then they’ll always be looking for reasons that you may be doing something to get away from them. And just someone that’s understanding and also someone that has their own life. You can’t have a girl that’s just sitting home, missing you and not doing anything because most likely, she won’t be able to handle it. You also have to love each other a lot and you have to be sensitive to their needs. I don’t want to lose my girlfriend because of this band. So, certain times, you have to make a decision to see her and not play a show. Just be conscientious and hopefully it works.

Do you change up your guitar solo every night?
I try to switch it up. I think inevitably, when we first started extending that section in “Perfect” it was fresh, it was really, truly I was improvising because I hadn’t done that song many times. After you do something enough times you start to fall into some sort of repetition. I sometimes struggle with that because the bands I used to play in, we improvised a lot, so there was always a freshness to the songs. With this sort of style, a lot of times we’re playing the same songs. It’s good because it makes the set polished and the people that are at the show every night, they don’t know that you played it just like that the night before. I’m just trying to get used to that. Even though it’s the same show, you put on the best show you can every night because the crowd is hearing it for the first time, even though you’ve heard it a thousand times.

Do you ever get tired of playing any songs?
Right now I’m getting tired of playing that guitar solo. I want to try something else. Like, “Still Believe in You” we started extending the end of that. And there’s this little guitar thing that I’m really digging on playing that right now. It’s still fresh to me. There will be something else that we do and it’ll be new and then it’ll get old and we’ll think of something else. Its a cycle.

What are your hopes for the next few years?
I’d like to make a new record and I’d just like to be in a place where we can support ourselves doing this. My childhood dreams of fame and fortune are over. Fortune would be nice [laughs]. I just want to be able to play music that we want to play and hopefully be able to make some sort of living doing it. Maybe I’m getting old, I don’t know.

Do you have another job back home when you’re not touring?
Yeah, you just try to do whatever you can. I’ve helped friends paint houses or put in windows. I helped my dad with his car business, I work temp jobs, stand on the street and beg. No, I don’t do that [laughs]. You know, you just do anything you can. You just gotta find a way to make some money. I haven’t paid rent in four years. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who’s 28 years old. I’ve been fortunate, I’ve stayed at Vince’s for a while. A friend of mine let me stay at her place for a while. I’ve been staying with my father for the past few months. We’re gone for so long, I’m just throwing money down the drain if I’m paying rent. It’s just not normal existence.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you?
??ve performed at?
here have been obviously a lot of good shows and I’m sure a lot of good shows that I just don’t remember that were great. The one that always sticks out in my head was a Blue October show, it was an outdoor show in either Tampa or St. Petersburg, Florida. It was the winter time, we were in Florida and it was 75 degrees so it was nice to be outside. To me, that was the best the band has ever sounded. Just really a great show, great crowd, good energy. The sound was amazing, the band was really in a great grove and it felt good. I felt excited to play. The connection was made with the crowd and the people in the band. All the intangible stuff came together.


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.

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.


The Used

As promised, here’s the first of many interviews to come from the “Get A Life” tour. My friend Wendy (concert photographer extraordinaire) and I were lucky enough to talk with Jeph on their infamous tour bus. Jeph chatted with us about touring, the truth about groupies and their upcoming album, which he says is “the record of records.” The interview is a bit long, so feel free to come back and read, it’s not going anywhere. Check back later this week for more interviews with Army of Me as well as MP3 format of the interviews!

What’s it like being on tour? How do you prepare for a headlining tour?
This one run right now, isn’t really a headlining tour. We wanted to hit a bunch of spots that we hadn’t been to yet. It’s kind of an out of the way, off set tour. We’re not hitting any major places. We’re going to the little guys and going around because we still have fans out there. I try to get all my stuff in order at home. Just make sure I don’t have anything left at home. For me, going on tour is more like going back home. I feel more at home on tour. I don’t feel as weird. Maybe it’s because the past eight years of my life have been on tour.

How long have you guys been together?
The band started, I want to say, the beginning of 2001. We had a different drummer for the first two records and he left. Dan, he’s our newest drummer, he just got here about a year ago, so he’s been with us for a year now. Yeah, originally it was four of us, again. We’re kind of all the other dropouts of all the other bands on the scene. We’re kind of the black sheep of the whole Utah Valley scene cause we’re not even from Salt Lake, we’re like an hour south of Utah Valley. We’re little town boys.

Even worse, not only are we the drop outs, we also would get kicked out of every show we’d play originally. Random things would happen, it was all just blaming it on us because we were the heavy band at the time. We were the outcast band, so no matter what Bert did, it was scary. Bert’s always been like that, unpredictable kind of dude.

You guys don’t get kicked out anymore, do you?
They do. We’ve been kicked out of places still. Quinn got kicked out of our CD release party, he was either pissing on the floor or he was breaking beer bottles on something. Yeah, things happen.

What do you love most about touring?
Being on tour I feel like I can get away from everything, like all my worries. Anything I have that’s been bugging me and bumming me out is gone, because what I’m doing right now I love. This is my favorite thing to do – be on tour and play music. We’re kind of finishing up a record right now on tour. Everything about it is great to me. Waking up in a new city and not knowing where I am for a couple hours, meeting new people, I love meeting people, even though I’m a little shy sometimes. I’m great with faces, horrible with names. I’ll remember kids I meet at one show for years. Not all the time, but if they change their hair, it’ll fuck with me.

Do you have a favorite city you’ve played?
It changes everywhere. Australia is a great, great crowd. Japan is always a great place to go. The kids there are insane. Every time we play there it’s the weirdest/best crowd. We just played Chile and that was the best show by far. It was our first time there and there were kids waiting at the airport. There were like 300 kids there. They were pulley too, like grabbing your arm, your clothes, your hair. It was pretty scary. Once we got to the venue, kids were waiting at the hotel with a big sign they made so you could see it from the hotel room. At all times there was at least 20-50 kids out front of the hotel. They opened the doors six hours before we played because there were 2,000 kids in the street trying to get into the venue. Loudest show we’d ever played. They were in there hours before we played, just waiting and pumped and screaming at everything, it was crazy. If you look up videos online of it, it’s insane.

How about the U.S.?
Utah’s always a great show, it’s going home. But hometown crowds are always the same thing, love/hate. Either people love you because you’re from Utah, it’s a pride thing or they hate you because they don’t think you deserved it, you didn’t work for it, you didn’t do anything for it. But we worked our asses off.

How do you deal with it?
You can’t really care what anybody thinks. At the end of it, it’s all about if you love what you’re doing and you’re doing a good job. If nobody likes your band and you’re happy with it, who cares, you’re happy with it. If you make 10 kids happy, those are 10 kids you just made happy, so cool.

What would you be doing if it wasn’t for the music?
I’m a traveler. I like traveling and going around and visiting. I would probably just save up and travel if I could. The lucky thing is I can actually travel being in a band, so it’s cool it works out. I take every country, every place I try to go out. There’s some scary places where you’re not supposed to really, so I don’t there as much, but I still try to. I’ve seen a little bit of everything, not every place all over the world. There are still so many places I still want to go to.

Do you have a favorite song you like to perform every night?
There’s a bunch. “Paralyzed” is my favorite to play. It’s like the danciest one. That one’s really fun to play, in the beginning of it me and Dan go into some little funk, getaway grove part. That’s the funnest part of my show, that little funk jam. That song is really fun to play too because it’s dancy. I’m kind of into dancy music, I grew up loving James Brown and stuff like that. It’s got that sort of a vibe, but not quite. I like heavy stuff too, ‘cause heavy stuff is always fun to play, “Pain” is kind of an in between, it’s got this grove/heavy to hit. There’s this really cool, tappy bass line in the second verse. You can’t really hear it recorded, but it’s so much fun to play for me.

Screaming songs are fun. I like the singy stuff. There’s a lot of bands lately that have overdone the singy/screamy stuff. Bert’s a really good singer. He’s very good at piano and he has an ear, he has a really good overview, he can hear something for a song and know the biggest picture. He can see the planet. When you’re writing a song you build the continents together. He can see the planet before the rest of the continents is built. Quinn’s really good at
that too. Me, I settle with p
ieces more and I’m not so good at seeing the giant picture of everything.

Do you all help out when writing the music?
Yeah, we’re open for anything. We’ll sit and we’ll jam songs out. If Quinn’s like, “That’s cool, but why don’t you try playing this note here instead of this one.” I’ll try it and most of the time it’s cool. Me and Dan will have a jam down and Quinn will play something over it and it’ll just be magic. It depends every time. There will be times it takes forever.

How do you know when a song’s a hit for you guys, or when it’s right?
You can just tell. There’s a feeling, like “Wow, this song’s great.” Right now, we have a song that doesn’t have any words to it, but it’s great, it’s my favorite song we’ve ever written by far. So I can’t wait to hear it with words. That usually makes or breaks songs. Usually, most of the time if the song is really, really cool, the words will probably wind up cool too.

What percentage have you guys been on tour/writing/in the studio this year?
We got off our last tour in November and we had a month off and we started writing in January. I went to visit some friends for a week, hanging out at home. After that we started jamming again, started writing, did that till the beginning of this tour, three months, two months of that and then we went straight to tour. The next album comes out the end of the month probably. This is going to be the record of records. I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to have the finished, because all I have is the bits and pieces, but I can’t wait for the ending, to finally hear it.

What makes it different from your other records?
We’re going to a different producer. The same guy has produced our last three records so they kind of have similar sounds almost. All of his sounds and all of the stuff that he uses, all of his equipment is the same so every time we record it kind of sounds the same, but its different songs, different feelings and different vibes. But we want it to be very different; we don’t want to be on the same path at all. We want to take a big left turn and switch everything up as much as we can, just to do something different, just to try something new because bands need to change, they need to mature. We’re not the same people we were seven or eight years ago, nobody is. Your surroundings make up who you are. Since we started as a band, every year it’s just changing constantly and changing it up. We want to show how much we changed in a good way. I think it’s very important for bands to do that. You can write songs that work, and whatever music that works, but to me you’re fake unless you’re really showing how you can change a person.

Do you guys record in L.A.?
Yeah, usually. This record we’ll probably record in L.A. as well. We’re trying to record it as fast as possible, we want it to take a month or less. We want to get to it and get it done, we want it to sound a little dirty, a little raw. The less we take worrying about details the better it’s going to sound in that sort of way. We’ll see how it sounds. It’s really hard to leave it as it is, leaving it as breathing as opposed to going back and tweaking it and making it perfect. If you just let it breathe and let it be as it is, it’s almost more difficult. That’s what the plans are, we’ll see how it works out.

What is it about the music that keeps you going – going on tour, recording?
It’s hard. You kind of have to say goodbye to everything. You have to be willing to give up everything. Family, friends, relationships, anything really is all on hold until you’re done being in a band. It’s pretty difficult. It’s difficult on your mind, difficult on everything.

How do you deal with that?
Don’t think about it. I really have given everything for this band and I would do it all over again. I don’t regret anything. It is what it is and you have to take it as . . I think you have to be a bit crazy, maybe, to be on tour.

How many months is this tour?
Oh, this tour is pretty quick, it’s about a month and a half. Longest tour I’ve ever been on was two years. There were breaks in between, like a week break and then another week break, two months, three months later. The reality of it is we didn’t stop touring, which I don’t mind. I’m happy on a bus, I’m happy hanging out with these guys. I have some of my closest friends here; I have other ones of course. It’s weird when you go back home too because it’s almost like your friends start up where you left off, it’s like you didn’t miss out on anything. A lot of friends can’t handle it, but they figure it out. It’s weird to watch them grow up in a different way, seeing them get families and get married and stuff.

Is there anything you miss most about being on tour? Your bed maybe?
I like bunks. They’re dark. You close the thing, it’s completely silent . . . well, not really silent because usually Bert’s screaming in the hallway or something. But it’s comfortable, you get rocked to sleep every night. When I came home after touring for two years straight I couldn’t sleep. I had to turn a fan on because I had to have some kind of noise and still it wasn’t right. Now it’s easier because we don’t tour as much, but I actually get more depressed when I’m not on tour now.

What are you thinking about when you’re on stage?
It’s different every time, sometimes it’s random. It depends, you never know, sometimes you’ll be so into the show that you can’t think of anything but what’s going on. Sometimes I’ll think about random stuff, like I’ll be looking at the ground and I’ll see something and think about, “What the fuck do you think that is?” Your mind wanders. It sort of becomes less you’re actually playing the song to an action. You’re sort of in the mood and in the vibe and the song is sort of playing you, if that makes sense, a little bit hippie-ish. It’s like writing is the same way, the music is flowing through you. Sometimes I’ll think of something funny and I’ll start laughing.

What happens if you play a show and there’s no energy from the crowd, how does that affect you as a band?
Oh it kills it. The crowd is half the show. I put every little bit of my life into every show. I put everything into it. Like what I was saying before, not pay attention, but I’m still completely involved in the show. I’m not gonna just play and be like whatever, “Let’s just get this fucking show over.” If you look at a crowd and they’re just standing, staring at you, usually I have to close my eyes and be like, “I can’t look at these guys.”

Most of the crowd is here to see you, do you think it’s hard for the other bands?
Oh, yeah. It’s tough, starting out too. That’s how it was for us for years. Playing in front of people who’ve never heard us before. But you have to win the crowd over. That’s sort of fun, because it’s hard but at the end it’s like, “How many people did we win over. It’s like, fuck these guys, let’s win. Let’s show them what kind of band we are and what we’re made of.” It’s really fun. If you can get the crowd cheering by
the end of the show, it shows that you won.

We’ve played some hard tours, we’ve played Ozzfest once and we’re not the heavy band. We’re a little heavy, but we’re not like Ozzfest heavy. Nine in the morning playing shows, it’s really hard to get kids into the shows. But at the end of those shows, we won over the majority of the crowd. Except the guys who were still drunk and pissed off, maybe not those guys. Now they probably like us, so whatever.

Do you guys party a lot on tour?
There’s usually a party going on the bus. I’m very moderate myself, everything in moderation is good. I guess that depends what moderate means to somebody. There’s usually a party on the bus after the show. We’re all friends, hanging out.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
We hug each other, we get in this big circle of hug and we just kind of pump each other up and get stoked and just talk about something really quick. Sort of like, bring our own vibe together, a togetherness vibe and then go play. It’s a little gay, a little hippie.

So I have to ask about the groupies . . . is it cool to sleep with the band?
Groupies are gross. Groupies are the girls that sleep with all the other band dudes. I’m not down with that. It’s hard to meet people on tour because they either like you because you’re in the band or they like you because they just saw you play a show or they like you because it’s cool. So it’s pretty hard to meet people on tour. Although touring is pretty lonely at the same time. A lot of our crowd is mid-younger age too so that wouldn’t work out. I try to meet and hang out with our fans as much as possible, because it’s cool to meet them and stuff. It’s weird when they just come to try to sleep with the band. It’s like, “You’re fuckin’ 17. You’re not old enough.” That’s why you usually have to ID check before you bring anybody on the bus usually, because we’ll go to jail.

Relationship-wise, if you guys have girls at home is it hard to stay loyal?
It’s weird, being lonely on tour is a hard thing to pass. No matter what, relationship or not, three months alone is three months of being alone. It’s not like three months and then you’re okay. It’s constant loneliness in a way. It really is what it is. You either have a girlfriend and deal with it or you don’t and you deal with it. My favorite phrase and saying is “it is what it is.” It stands for everything. You have to deal with it. It is hard. I’m not about to go date some groupie girl. That’s fuckin’ nasty. “Which band did you sleep with? Oh cool, you wanna hang out later.” I like making fun of the groupies. Which is very fun. Most of them are pretty stupid. I mean, to want to just sleep with band dudes to make points. What else do you have going on for you, what else is your life worth?

How do you know the difference between a groupie and a real fan?
It’s obvious. You didn’t really come to meet anybody, you came to sleep with somebody. It’s fun to mess with them. We bring them on the bus and tease them, but not let them know we’re teasing them. Its fun, it passes time.

Do they really exist? Do you recognize people?
Oh, yeah. It’s really hard too, meeting people. I consider life moments, sets of moments in your whole life. Because I’m not religious at all, I don’t believe in anything really like that. I believe in moments and that your whole life is sets of these things and each little moment you capture is great. Being on tour you have select moments with people because you’re not going to see that person again or those people again for months probably. You have a day to have a moment with somebody, and that’s pretty much it. It is what it is. But moments are a good thing, you can either share moments and hang out, or you can share moments with other people on the bus and hang out. That’s why I enjoy hanging out with people, I’m all about it.

I’ll hang out with fans, but it gets weird a little bit. You’ll hang out with fans and share a moment with those guys, you’ll be hanging out and they’re super cool and maybe you’ll go get a drink at Starbucks, you and five random kids. And then next time you come through town they get mad if you don’t, which is weird, it’s like, “Sorry, man.” To them it was a big moment, but for us, we’re trying to hang out and spend our time wisely. Next time we come through town, maybe we don’t have time, maybe we’re doing press or maybe we’re hanging out with somebody else and all of a sudden they’re offended because they’re waiting for months to hang out again. I feel bad about it. I’m an asshole. I’m pretty good because I remember fans faces. There’s a lot of ups and downs.

Are there ups and downs to having really close, loving and adoring fans?
Yes. There are three types of fans that I’ve noticed. There are the best ones, which are the loving fans, that love you so much for what you do and they just love to see you and come to your show. And that’s it. That’s all they want – to come to the show, see the show and be happy because they got to see a live concert of a band that they love. Those are the best fans by far because we’re writing music for them and we’re touring for them. They’re accepting of that.

Then there are the fans that just want to meet you because you’re in a band, and that’s okay. I don’t mind, I love meeting people. But, some of those fans get angry when they don’t meet all of you and they get angry when they only meet one of you and they start getting really mad at you because they only met one. They think it’s pointless that they even came to the show because they only met one of you.

Then there are the fans that want something of yours. Your hat, your shoes, your belt. And they get mad if you don’t give them something. Even the ones that want a lot from us, they’re still good people, they’re good fans. It’s just hard to please everybody.

How do you keep motivated each night for every show?
I love playing music. For me, it makes me happy to play a show. The vibe you get from playing a show I can’t really tell you what it feels like playing a show. It’s like telling a blind person what red apples look like, it’s sort of orange-ish. No matter what mood you’re in when you go play a show, you’ll probably be in a better mood. If you have a bad show it will probably put you in a bad mood too. But you’re still probably in a better mood then being in a real bad mood, if that makes sense. No matter what, it’s going to uplift you a little bit to a lot.

Do you guys have a musical background?
Yeah, it’s different for all of us. I think I know everybody’s background. Quinn’s dad was a drummer, so Quinn picked up music easily because his dad was a musician. I think they would jam together a little bit. Quinn’s naturally good at music. When we met him, he was the best guitar player we ever jammed with. This was back in the day, he was 17, I was blown away. He was just so good with what he did. I think the first thing he learned was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song. The whole solo from one of those songs. I think it’s the “Freebird” solo. Bert is really good at piano, he started out playing piano and taking lessons I think. He can play trumpet too. His musical background is excellent. It comes f

rom piano. Piano is the best way to start. I wish my parents would have forced me to take piano lessons. My musical ear is sort of hazy sometimes, but piano solves that whole problem.

Dan, his whole family are musicians. His dad too, is a guitar player and Dan’s a drummer so he just jammed with his dad and played with his dad all the time. Dan is definitely the best drummer I’ve ever played with in my whole life. Honestly, he’s one of my favorite live drummers, which is incredible that he’s in our band now because we used to watch his band and just watch him. I’d never seen anybody hit like that, I’ve never seen anybody play like that. He uses these thick marching sticks, they’re huge. I’ve seen him playing and he’ll break one, and he’ll pull one out and he’ll bust the next one in half right in the middle. He’s crazy, he’s an excellent drummer.

Me, my musical background’s weird because nobody in my family is a musician. I’m kind of the black sheep, my dad’s the black sheep of his family and so in a way, being a musician, kind of makes me the black sheep, even though I’m not. I picked up music, because my best friend growing up played guitar, and we always looked up to these other little, local bands that were awful, but great at same time. I was into weird music when I was a kid and I always liked bass stuff and for me bass was a calling almost. I picked up bass because he played guitar and it felt like that’s what I should play anyway. I’ll never regret that. I love bass, it’s my favorite. It was probably a good decision.

Check out The Used on MySpace to hear some of their songs and for current tour dates.

Features First Person

I’m With the Band

Growing up during the height of the boy band era and attending all their concerts (you name it, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, N’Sync I’ve been to them all) I’ve always wondered what it’s like being on the other side. Not the fan waiting anxiously for the doors to open to get that perfect spot right by the stage, but to be behind the scenes. Whether it be the crew, security, or the band itself, that life seemed so much more exciting to me.

This past weekend I got to be on the other side of concert life when I toured with Army of Me for two of their concert dates on the “Get A Life” tour with The Used, Straylight Run, Street Drum Corps and Lights Resolve. The movies make it all seem so glamorous – sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. The groupies, the parties, the unlimited highs (whether it be natural or drug-induced) of the touring lifestyle. I learned this weekend that touring isn’t all what it’s portrayed to be in the movies. Sure, it’s a lot of fun hanging out with new people and different bands and I’m sure nothing beats that feeling when you walk off the stage after putting on an amazing set, but it’s also a lot of hard work – physically, mentally and emotionally. Often, you’re traveling in a small van, packed in with equipment, suitcases and whatever else you may need for those months on tour and sometimes it can start to smell as half eaten food and dirty clothes add up. Going from hotel to venue every day can get tiresome and the downtime between unloading and performing seems like an eternity.

Regardless, being in a band is a full-time job in itself. Whether it’s practicing for a show later that night or writing new music, it’s another way of life and band members have to make a living too. Contrary to popular believe, they are “real” people and have to eat, pay rent and bills. Who knew?! In a way though, being on tour seems like an escape from the so called “real world.” These people are doing what they love each and every day – performing, traveling, meeting fans and my experience was almost surreal. I tried to take in as much as I could and lucked out because all the guys in each band were so nice and down-to-earth. I was able to interview everyone from Army of Me as well as Jeph from The Used on their tour bus (don’t worry, there are pictures coming too!) I’ll definitely be posting these interviews in the upcoming week . . . not sure how much I’ll actually transcribe for you to read though, but I’ll try my best. Pretty much all of your questions about touring, groupies, and performing were answered so stay tuned for the interviews!

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.