The U.S. Army's Musical Outreach Program enables musicians in bands of various genres to tour around the country and allow fans to connect with musicians that are serving in the military, in an effort to help them learn about their story as servicemen and women. Most of these acts perform solely covers; however, Dash|Ten has taken on the ultimate feat: recording a debut studio record, comprised completely of original material. Enabled with a completely raw, rock sound reminiscent of the Seattle grunge-rock era, Dash|Ten are gearing up to take on the world with the release of their debut studio album. I got to speak with the band's lead vocalist and main songwriter, Corrin Campbell, about working with the U.S. Army's Outreach Program, recording a debut album in nine days, and more.
You guys are going to be playing a little thing called Warped Tour this summer. Huge congratulations. I know that every band has a different story and journey in terms of their progression as a band, what was the journey/process for you in terms of working to get on the tour?
I’ve actually known Kevin [Lyman] as an acquaintance for awhile now. I think I first played for him in 2007 at a conference somewhere. He was kind of involved with what I was doing musically a long time ago. We have friends in common within the industry, so we talked a lot. When we were just forming the band, he was like, “well, if you ever need a kickoff to the season, we can have you on Warped Tour, on the Full Sail Stage”. It was really lucky, I would say.
The band is part of the U.S. Army’s Musical Outreach program. I thought that was really cool. What is the role you guys play in a program like that, and what does it involve on your end for making what they do possible? If that makes sense?
It’s almost like the army has a record label. Almost? It’s very different, but it’s kind of like a production company. It’s the weirdest and coolest thing. (laugh) We’re all active duty and we’re soldiers, but we tour 300 days a year for this job. The intent of it is really to have music as a way to break down barriers and talk to people about being a person in the army. I think that we have a lot of media coverage out there, both positive and negative. There’s either this “hero complex” surrounding soliders or martyrs that have lost limbs or their lives, or it’s about someone that is getting in trouble.
I think, just like anything else in the media, the extremes are interesting. That’s what the media reports. But unfortunately, what that means is that a lot of people feel very educated about the people that are in the service, but maybe not having met [a person in the service] in real life, definitely not having met one that plays music for a living. So really, it’s mostly about trying to show that real person that wears that clothing, you know?
What drew you to being involved with a program like this? What was your connection to it?
I came intabout four years ago. I’m an army musician by trade; the actual job that I joined with was to play bass guitar. There’s military bands all over the country; they’re all great bands. For almost all of those bands, what it means is that if they’re playing anything that’s pop or rock or anything like that, it’s all covers. It’s pop music that’s on the radio or whatever the case may be. For our job, we play our music. Music that’s written, produced and recorded by us. I think that’s what makes it really special for us. We’re really the only rock band [in the service] that’s doing that right now.
This might be a rather generic question, but where did the style of rock that you take on in your music develop from?
I think for us, we wanted everything to be very authentic. This is no criticism about how anyone else does anything, but we don’t use AutoTune, we edit our recordings as minimally as possible, and we’re not using samplers. When we play live, our songs don’t have any backing tracks, and we really want it to sound like a throwback to something like the grunge era. You walk in a room, and there’s dudes with guitars that play. We know that it may not be what everyone is used to hearing, but I can go back to that quote that Dave Grohl had said, about how our computers are making music, but people aren’t making music. And I love house and DJ music (I love Bassnectar), but he wasn’t talking about that. He was talking about “where is the raw heart and human in music”?
That’s something that we really wanted to epitomize and illustate in our album, people playing instruments. I hope that we’ve succeeded in that.
I’d say you guys did. I can definitely hear that when listening to the tracks I’ve heard so far. It’s raw, and I completely understand what you mean about the Dave Grohl quote. In terms of writing and recording for you guys, how long does a typical songwriting or recording process take for you?
It kind of depends on each song. The album that we’re releasing was recorded in nine days. Which is pretty quick for a full length album. The producer that we worked with on this last album, Pete Stewart, has won a couple Grammys. He actually won one for his work with Macklemore (Pete won a 2013 Grammy Award for his work as the Engineer/Mixer of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ debut studio album The Heist). He’s from that Seattle grunge scene; he’s doing a band called Grammatrain. He has a great guitar ear. The songs will be mostly written, and then Pete will help polish them up. He may come up with cool riffs or little things to add.
We recorded this album pretty quickly. If we have ever done a single, it’s usually recorded in a day or two, then [Pete] will mix it and send it. I also think it’s really great when you don’t have to do all of that editing. When you don’t have to spend months in the studio, that’s great.
What kind of message, if you have one, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
That rocked. (laughs). And only if it’s spelled “rawked”. (laughs) I mean, I hope when they see it live that fans will be energized to go in and study more of the lyrics. So many of our songs are really just about everyday stuff [sic]. “The Scene”, one of the tracks sent over to you, was really about this guilded existence in the music industry, that whole mentality of trying to be something that you’re not. I think our songs are about trying to embrace the differences within yourselves, and encouraging people to be themselves. We want people to know who we are by listening to the album, and we want to know who they are.
What does music mean to you?
Music saved me. I can’t remember what I wasn’t ever doing something with music. Especially as an independent artist. Even though we are umbrella-ed with our musical outreach, we still do our own booking, all of our social media management, and I actually designed our website. We live like an independent band, but then we tour 300 days a year, and we drive ourselves. We do our own set-up, tear down; we’re our own crew and our own management.
Sometimes, it’s kind of like “I just want to get to the music”, but that’s what it is: it’s a lifestyle and it’s something you own. You would do anything to be able to just keep doing music. That time on stage is what makes all of it worth it, that connection with the people standing in front of you. Without music, I don’t even know what my purpose would be. It has defined itself as my purpose in life.
Dash|Ten's debut self-titled album will be available everywhere TOMORROW, May 21. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/DashTenMusic
This has been another Shameless Promotion.