LOUISVILLE, Ky. — One of the Army’s slogans is “Be all you can be.” That’s a slogan that makes you think of self-fulfillment, being the best version of yourself, but it can also be very literal.
“You can be human resources. You can be a chef. You can be literally all you can be,” Staff Sergeant Abiud Flores said.
Flores is an active duty military member, but his role in the Army is as a bass guitar musician for the Army Musical Outreach Team. More specifically, for the rock band, "As You Were".
“The Army Musical Outreach Team, which is the official name of this group, the Army Musical Outreach, has existed in different forms but with more or less the same mission for about 10 years,” Staff Sergeant Thomas Katsiyiannis said.
“Its always had the same mission which is to share the army message with the American public and to kind of educate people about some of the career opportunities that exist inside the military,” he said.
Katsiyiannis is the lead singer and plays guitar for "As You Were" and is one of the longest serving members of the band along with the drummer, Sergeant First Class Ryan Kaluza.
The band is stationed at Ft. Knox, but most of their time is spent on the road living the rock star life. They travel around the country going from high school to college to special event playing their own music and showing off the opportunities that the Army gives to it’s enlisted members.
“You get to travel. You’re taken care of,” Kaluza said.
“I mean you have health and dental taken care of and you can actually make a living playing music where as if I did this on the outside I could still be in a band like this on the outside, but I would still need a day job to support myself,” he said.
“We come in, the recruiters are requesting us, and we have this huge light show, you know we’re out their rocking some of the tunes that the kids are listening to whether it be classic rock, pop, or whatever, in our own rendition. And then after the show, literally, the high school students will come up to the recruiting station in a whole line and they’ll be like, ‘I want to do this,’” the band's lead guitarist, Staff Sergeant Austin West, said.
“That to me I was just like, this is such a perception changer, an ice breaker," West said.
And that’s what the band is meant to do, break the ice.
It was that way for Katsiyiannis when he first heard about Army Musical Outreach, just as it was for the rest of the band.
“You know I was thinking, like, work for Disney or work on a cruise ship. Those are basically your career options when you’re a musician professionally or go teach,” Katsiyiannis said.
“We get to see the faces of the students in the audience when we go into these high schools, when we go into these colleges. They’re just looking at us like, ‘You guys are in the Army Band? Really? But no no no what’s your job really? Like what’s your job?’ And we’re like, ‘This.’ ‘So that’s your guitar right?’ ‘No that’s the Army’s guitar. I play the guitar. The Army bought it for me.’ And so just to be a part of that and see the kids, real time, change their opinions and change their perception of what we do is so cool. It definitely makes this experience what it is,” he continued.
"As You Were" has played shows all over the United States, but this month the band gets to stay closer to home and play in their words, “A huge rock festival with huge rock artists.” In a career filled with serving their country with music, the band agreed that this was going to be one of the highlights.
"As You Were" will take the stage on Sunday of both Bourbon & Beyond and Louder than Life in Louisville.