Today’s Feature, October 22nd & 23rd: Army Of Me

October 22, 2007 at 9:04 am (Today's Feature)

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Anyone into their local music scene knows where to go to see the up and comers; the new artists trying to crash the scene. Sometimes the intensity of indie loyalists is unreal – they’ll attend every show that their favorite act plays, buy anything they are affiliated with and pray for their eventual commercial success. With so many indie groups out there however, that type of success doesn’t always come around – the image of some local heroes is forever destined to stay on the small stage.

Then there are bands like Army of Me, a band you used to only seen at the local clubs, but now find on MTV in active loop with their music video for “Going through Changes.” I’ve been hearing about Army of Me for some time now around DC, and not too long ago I was pleasantly surprised to hear their distinctive sound on DC 101, Washington’s premier alternative station. While they’ve already begun to arrive, they’ve yet to make their true impression on the music industry. The new album, “Citizen,” is probably the catalyst necessary to thrust these indie crusaders into some blinding limelight.

“Citizen is about conversion… It talks about picking yourself up and trying to prove to yourself and others that you can be worth something in this world,” according to lead singer Vince Scheuerman. It truly is the swan song of Army of Me, an album that is “honest and simple… from the heart without being cliche.” I suppose that’s what makes the band so effective – they really don’t need to “try” to be good. They simply have it. You speak with them, listen to them, read about them – you can feel their energy; their ability. They describe themselves in one word with “Possibility.” Damn right. The answers to their XXQ’s are below.

XXQs: Army Of Me (Vince Scheuerman)

PensEyeView.com (PEV) How and when did Army Of Me form?

Vince Scheuerman (VM): Army of Me has been forming for a while. It’s a process of growing and evolving that continues even now… We started off, like many other bands, making noise in someone’s basement. But as soon as we could get enough songs together, we started playing shows in our hometown of Washington DC. That was probably 6 years ago, but I lose track of the times and dates. Over the years, we’ve put out a few independent records and played somewhere close to 1000 shows, mostly on the east coast and in the midwest. And now we have our first national record called CITIZEN out..

PEV: Was there a certain time or event in your life that you decided music was going to be a career?

VM: I never expected that music would be my career. It was something I did for fun as a kid, but when I went to school, my plan was to be an engineer (got my degree in mechanical engineering), or at least study that and see where it led me. But a friend asked me to audition for his band as the guitarist. I told him that he should get someone who could actually play guitar for his band. But he didn’t listen to me, and so I became the guitar player. At some point, I began experimenting with songwriting and made a discovery. I wasn’t too bad at it. At the same time I was listening to a lot of Jeff Buckley, which was blowing my mind. I probably listened his record “Grace” three times a day for 1 1/2 years. It was then that I got together with our drummer Dennis to start a new band. I stayed in school kids.

We were starting from scratch, neither of us had ever been in a band of any significance. We didn’t know any other bands and we didn’t know anyone in the “industry”. We just loved music and wanted to do something new, original, and make a difference. I didn’t want to sit around and wait to be “discovered” though. I figured our chances of getting somewhere in music were a lot better if we went out and made shit happen for ourselves. So we started booking our own shows, making our own recordings, putting them out ourselves.. And we did stuff by ourselves for a long time. I realized that no one would ever care about our band as much as we did…

And it took a long time, but we eventually got a real record deal with a real record label, and made a record that I’m really proud of. Getting a record deal is kind of like graduating high school and starting college. You work all this time to get to the top of the local band heap. And then you have to start all over, and compared to all the established artists out there, you’re nothing. So, as far as we’ve come, we realize that we’ve got a long way to go. We’re just doing what we can to get people to hear our music. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to keep doing this for a long time to come.

PEV: What was the music scene like growing up in DC and who were you listening to?

VM: Growing up in DC, I wasn’t really too familiar with the music scene. Unlike a lot of kids I knew, I wasn’t allowed to go to rock shows. I wasn’t really even allowed to listen to rock music. I grew up in a really religious community, which discouraged listening to secular music. I managed to sneak a couple of tapes though, like U2 “War” and Metallica “Black”. But I heard from my friends about these amazing shows that they would go to. Tickets were only $5 and a band called Fugazi was playing.

PEV: Tell us about the first time Army Of Me stepped into a recording studio together as a band. What was going through your heads?

VM: Our producer, Brian Baker from Minor Threat, handed me a Gibson Les Paul guitar that was given to him by Duff from Guns n Roses. He turned the guitar amp to 11, and told me to play. It sounded damn good.

PEV: When and where was the first live Army Of Me performance. What was that like?

VM: Early on, we used to play a little club in DC called The Velvet Lounge. On one end was a tiny stage about 6 inches tall. On the other end was a pool table. We could barely play our instruments or our songs, I imagine. But in our minds we were destined for Madison Square Garden.

PEV: Your new album, Citizen is getting rave reviews and your single “Going Through Changes” can be see on MTV. What can people expect from Citizen?

VM: CITIZEN is about conversion. It’s a record that describes what it’s like to be alive. It describes change, hardship, struggle, desire and pain. It describes not getting what you want sometimes. But then it describes the realization that as human beings, the things that we want aren’t always the things that we need. The record talks about hope, love, and the other side of pain – growth and healing. It talks about picking yourself up and trying to prove to yourself and others that you can be worth something in this world.

PEV: How is Citizen different than your previous works?

VM: This record is honest and simple. It’s smart without trying to be clever. It’s from the heart without being cliche. And since we had 2 months to record it, it sounds a lot bigger than anything we’ve ever done.

PEV: When you sit down to write, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in when you create music?

VM: Inspiration doesn’t always announce itself. I can be driving in a car, taking a shower, falling asleep, or sitting in my bedroom actually trying to write a song.

PEV: You said that Citizen “is more reminiscent of early Oasis or The Verve, and R.E.M than quirkily trendy indie pop”. What do you think of the current music scene today?

VM: I believe in songs. I think that if musicians concentrate on writing songs, and if those songs say something honest and true, then they going to make people believe in them. I’ll take substance over style any day. And I’ll take good lyrics and a compelling vocal over the best drum sound in the world any day.

PEV: In all your travels and touring, which city, US or international has been your favorite to perform and why?

VM: I like to play anywhere that people are listening.

PEV: How has life on the road been for the band? What is the best and worst parts about “road life”?

VM: I’m in the van right now, and we are driving through the salt flats in Utah. Earlier today we were driving over the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Everywhere we go, there is a different landscape and it’s all beautiful. I love seeing the different parts of our country. I wish I had more time to spend in those places though. But we’re always in and out of towns, without a chance to really check it out. If we’re lucky, we manage to get some good food, like fish tacos in San Diego…But I’m not gonna complain. I’m playing music every night. I’ve got it pretty good.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band right now that you think we should all be looking out for right now?

VM: I like a couple of DC bands – Deleted Scenes and The Sketches.

PEV: What/who is on your iPod or in your CD player currently?

VM: We are listening to Bob Dylan at the moment. Today we listened to the new Ryan Adams record, The Almost, Coldplay, Brand New, Augustana, Eisley, The Killers, U2, James, Jeff Buckley.

PEV: How have all your friends and family back home reacted to all your success?

VM: Everyone has been really supportive and excited for everything that’s been going on. I think they are also keeping their fingers crossed that we don’t starve as we continue to tour, and that we sell enough tshirts to put gas in our van to get to the next town.

PEV: Is there someone you would like to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?

VM: I’d like to do a duet with Rufus Wainwright. Rufus, if you’re reading this, how about My Funny Valentine or Lush Life?

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the guys of Army Of Me?

VM: In another life, Dennis would be a Jedi Warrior. Brad would be a master chef. I would either be a fisherman, an archaeologist, or a monk.

PEV: When you are not traveling or performing what can you we find your doing in your off time?

VM: As much fly fishing as I can manage. I also have a minor obsession with native american arrowheads. If there’s anyone out there who knows where I can find any, please let me know. I haven’t had the best luck.

PEV: What is the hardest part about breaking into the music business today?

VM: The list of what’s easy about breaking into the music industry would be much shorter. For one thing, there are so many bands out there. With myspacebookvolume, anybody can get their music heard. If I could figure out a surefire way of how to cut through it all and get a band noticed, I’d be hired as the new president of Atlantic Records.

PEV: In one word what best describes Army Of Me?

VM: Possibility

PEV: So, what is next for Army Of Me?

VM: Everything

For more information on Army Of Me, check out www.ArmyOfMeOnline.com

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1 Comment

  1. Today’s Feature - March 16-17: Rome In A Day « PensEyeView.com said,

    […] Having played with artists such as Paul Oakenfold, Tommy Lee, Carbon Leaf, Army of Me (PEV alumnus), Scythian, Mr. Greengenes, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, The Speaks, to name a few), […]

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