Skip to content

As You Were is More Than a Band of Rockin’ Soldiers

When the US Army hits the stage, people listen
Photo by David Camacho

Music may not be the first thing you think of when the US Army comes to mind. It might not even be the third, fourth, or fifth thing you think of. As a matter of fact, you may have never linked the military to music, and you wouldn’t be alone in your reasoning. The two don’t tend to conjure one another unless, of course, your mind’s eye heads straight to the Civil War: A battle wherein a bunch of poor guys with drums and bugles marched to their demise alongside guys with muskets and guns. Though these musician-soldiers were integral to the popularization of American songwriting, they’ve since been largely forgotten, and so too the link between battlefield and beat-making.

Today, however, things are a little different. Music is not only a lauded facet of the US Army, it’s a recognized military profession receiving real-time respect. In 2017, the United States Army Recruiting Command formed the Kentucky-based rock band As You Were. Since their conception, As You Were has performed contemporary pop and rock music at high schools and events across the nation to build awareness of the U.S. Army and the career opportunities available. Throughout their touring and recording expeditions, As You Were has had one goal in mind: to show music fans that the Army has much more to offer than they might think.

As You Were spend about a third of the year on the road, stopping off at clubs, theaters, high schools, colleges, sporting events, national conventions, and major music festivals to perform covers and original tracks alike. In 2020, they released their first EP Set Yourself Apart, and in May of 2021, the busy band put out a second EP entitled What You Desire. Though the two albums are exceptionally different, they both tap into a fusion of familiar, nostalgic sounds. All at once you taste the salt and sand of Slightly Stoopid, feel the gentle heartache of Incubus, and give way to the rap-rage of Linkin Park.

Made up of four active-duty sergeants, As You Were wasn’t just thrown together on a whim or a love of jamming. Instead, each member was a talented performer with a passion to serve their country through music before they joined the Army. Lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Katsiyiannas pursued music as a career and ultimately graduated from the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Guitarist Austin West picked up a guitar a decade and a half ago and never looked back. Drummer, Ryan Kaluza, was awarded a music scholarship to Cleveland State University and upon graduating, taught music in the local area and was a gun-for-hire drummer in various local bands. And the band’s newest member, Abuid Flores, is a bassist-patriot extraordinaire.

These days, you can catch As You Were on their Instagram (@AYWmusic) and Facebook, chronicling the tour life, eating tacos, and giving Army testimonials. While the band is still in their humble beginnings, things seem to be on the rise for this one-of-a-kind crew. In September of this year, As You Were is slated to share the stage with Alice in Chains and the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Louisville’s own Louder than Life Festival. As the quartet rises through the rock n’ roll ranks, they make it abundantly clear all the unique ways in which one can serve this beautiful country.