Cleveland, Ohio is nowhere near an ocean, but when Emily’s Army takes the stage, it is a surf party (minus the sand) that rivals any beach gathering. Cole Becker (guitar/vocals), Max Becker (guitar/vocals) and Joey Armstrong (drums) create music that produces a sun-drenched, seashore vibe no matter where they happen to be. The California trio connects to audiences around the world with music that can only be described as an Alternative/Fun genre with high-energy stage shows.
Expediency demands preparation. Emily’s Army is well known for a short turnaround in recording music. They recorded one EP in four days, and their newest release Swim was done in just two days. Yet, the quality and content of their music is top notch. Although there are times when they feel the pressure to get the music out, Armstrong says, “If we’re proud of something, we’ll put it out and most of the time we are proud of [our songs].” The key lies in preparation. The band rehearses each song until they are satisfied it is just right. At this point they enter the recording studio fully prepared, allowing the sessions to be short and to the point. They do not need expensive hours in the studio, because they have done the work ahead of time.
It’s not all fun and games. All three will be in college this year, making scheduling and managing an increased workload more challenging. They are already planning a strategy for touring, keeping them short and in close geographical clusters, to minimize time away from school. Online classes will be sandwiched in, along with time off to attend traditional classes. If college is not enough pressure, the trio feels there is still much to learn about music. Armstrong would like to study jazz drums, Max is interested in shredding, and Cole wants to know everything he can learn about music.
Living in the moment is underrated. It is so easy to get caught up in planning the future, or designing your career path, that you miss those precious moments in time that nourish the soul. Lyrics from the song “Alien’s Landing” say, “We don’t know what to trust/We just know how to feel/But if you wanna sing along/I promise you it’s real,” illustrating how to stop and enjoy each day. Sometimes it is important to put all the things you do not know aside and embrace what is right in front of you. There is a certain joy to living in the present.
Social responsibility is everybody’s business. In a bold move of solidarity, the band changed their name to Emily’s Army after a family member was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. They have since lent their time and talents to raising funds and bringing about awareness of this devastating disease. From a band known for their ability to bring the fun and frivolity to any event, it is heartwarming to see three young men determined to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from cystic fibrosis. They are committed to promoting understanding of the illness now and in the future.
Emily’s Army has no fans! There are no fans of the band, because they are considered friends. They stay in touch through a strong social media presence, but there is more to it than a few Tweets or Facebook posts. Max explained, “A large part of our life is touring and a lot of people are part of that life, so they do become friends.” As opposed to the regular fan/artist relationship, Emily’s Army maintains a closer bond with their listeners through a personal connection. They are approachable, because they are your friends. It also helps the artists to stay humble and strive to be better.
Time stops when you are having fun. The energy level starts at the top of the scale with the first song and stays there throughout the set. Literally every audience member began dancing when the band started playing and did not stop until the show was over. Pauses between songs are short, because no one wants to stop dancing. Cole said it best when he told the crowd, “The coolest thing about this show is that no one has their cell phones out. We are all just having fun.” Indeed, there were no tablets running, flashes going off, or bored people texting while the band played. It was the most engaged and active audience I have seen for a very long time. I left the show looking forward to seeing them again, because I am no longer a fan of Emily’s Army. I am their friend.