Rocking the House of Blues in Anaheim, CA is not uncommon for Inland Empire’s hard rock band, As You Were. These musicians have flair, skill and an engaging stage presence that gets the audience singing along. As You Were serves up edgy, face-melting, hard-rocking music full of instrumental solos, catchy melodies, and even the occasional heart wrenching ballad. Since 2010 this band has been making their name in the local scene by packing venues and earning airplay local radio shows. By the Barricade caught up with the members of As You Were prior to their August 9 show to learn more about what makes the band successful and their plans going forward. The full interview transcript follows.
Jeff Zazueta- Lead Vocals
Steven Snider- Lead Guitar, Vocals
Chris Anderson- Guitar, Vocals
AJ Horton- Drums, Vocals
Steve Scilasi – Bass
By the Barricade: What is the origin of your band name?
Steven Snider: Do you want the cool story or do you want the real story?
By the Barricade: Either one, whichever one you prefer.
Steven Snider: We needed a new band name and we couldn’t come up with anything that we liked.
AJ Horton: We had lists and lists and lists.
Steven Snider: So we thought about it and we were doing the exact same thing as we were doing before, just with a new band name so “As You Were.” But really I was driving down the 15 frwy and I thought of it.
AJ Horton: He texted it to me and I thought it was really cool
Chris Anderson: To be honest, those are both really shitty stories.
AJ Horton: Chris, be thankful we didn’t go with what we were going to go with. We were Relic so he (Jeff) jumbled it around to Licer.
Jeff Zazueta: Oh God I forgot about that!
Chris Anderson: This is why we don’t allow you to make decisions anymore.
AJ Horton: And we also almost ended up with Dirty Vegas.
Jeff Zazueta: There was actually a band called Dirty Vegas. Mine was Learning the Lesson, that is what I wanted to call it.
Chris Anderson: I think As You Were is a cool story. A lot of people ask if it is military affiliated. My dad was in the Corps for 40 years. When I was telling him that I was auditioning for this band and I got it and it’s called As You Were, he said, “Oh, are they from like the Marine Corps?” I told him I didn’t think so, but I remember Jeff telling me that his dad was also in the Marine Corps.
Steven Snider: We do get a lot of military shows because of it though.
AJ Horton: Honestly, there are a lot of answers to that question.
By the Barricade: Steve do you want to weigh in on the band name concept?
Steve Scilasi: The whole concept happened years before I joined but I think it’s cool. It is a little bit different from bands that have hardcore sounding names. It’s a little less cliché, and that is one of the things that appealed to me about it.
Chris Anderson: One of the cool things too is that it doesn’t lead you to believe it’s any certain kind of a band. When you hear the name Cannibal Corpse you are thinking this is going to be brutal
Steven Snider: Imagine Dragons?
Chris Anderson: As You Were is obscure kind of anonymous.
AJ Horton: It’s cool because it is like a phrase.
Steven Snider: AYW comes along with it.
By the Barricade: You have had some lineup changes, what is the writing/recording process like now?
AJ Horton: Currently we all come to practice with the mindset that we want to write and work on either something brand new or stuff we have been tossing around. We will get started on something and it is just a giant brainstorm. We all have an idea and we will build from there.
Chris Anderson: It seems a lot different than it has been in the past. When I came in, one of the band members was a little bit of a dictator when it came to music. Granted the stuff came out fantastic, but now it seems more collaborative. Someone will have an idea for a verse and then Steven will usually leave to write the chorus and then everyone will hate it at first and it then turns out great. We take out chords and everyone has their part. That is what makes it sound like a new version of us.
Steve Scilasi: It’s a progression from the first album. It is still the same band but you can hear everyone in it and you can tell it is not going to be the same CD in different packaging.
AJ Horton: Every once in a while someone will have an entire song written out but by the time it’s done we will each add our part.
By the Barricade: Does it generally go from the music instrumental part then the vocals are added later?
Jeff Zazueta: It is almost always music first and vocals after that.
AJ Horton: He will sit in while we are writing and he is hearing it in his head and writing stuff down.
Chris Anderson: Some of the melodies he comes up with kind of influence where we go. We do a stepping stone process to get from one to the other.
By the Barricade: When it comes to lyrics, Jeff you primarily write them. Do you have a particular source of inspiration for those lyrics?
Jeff Zazueta: When I write I go off something that a lot of people can relate to, it’s usually something personal that’s been happening to me and I take it from there. I write things that I feel I won’t have to be ashamed about later. I want it to be where a 5 year old can pick up our CD and pop it in and listen to it but also have it still edgy enough that any guy or girl could listen to it and enjoy it. I try to make it really universal.
AJ Horton: This is another thing that is different than the last album. Last time I had a lot more to do with the lyrics and we (Jeff and I) shared that responsibility. We would text each other back and forth He would have a whole song and I would have a whole song and we would put them together. This time he has taken off. He has had a lot to let out in the lyrics thus far. It is cool in that aspect because I can focus more on the drums and the music which is a totally different dynamic than before. Like he (Steve) said, we are same band but totally new.
By the Barricade: What bands influence your musical style?
Chris Anderson: The bands that I listen to are not hard rock outside of this band, I don’t listen to it and I don’t write it. That is why my interest is so peaked in this band and writing music. It is like I am discovering new art and doing something new every time. I listen to really mellow stuff; acoustic rock a lot.
AJ Horton: I listen to mellow stuff, acoustic rock, cliché emo and on the other end I will put on Slipknot, As I Lay Dying or the heaviest whatever. But I can listen to both in the same playlist and love it all.
Steve Scilasi: I am the opposite extreme from Chris. I like the super heavy, heavy side of things.
Chris Anderson: He is so metal!
Steve Scilasi: Even Death metal but this is an interesting home for me because I am fascinated and interested in the stuff that is going on now and what is popular with kids. This type of music is really popular with the youth. It’s been an interesting diversion to stretch beyond what I have been comfortable with in the past.
Chris Anderson: Steven listens to Blink-182 or bust.
Steven Snider: Pretty much. Honestly I listen to a lot of musicals in my spare time. That is a true statement.
Jeff Zazueta: Funny enough, my range varies from Pantera to Michael Jackson. As far as performing I will idolize guys like David Lee Roth, Michael Jackson and people like that who are absolute front men. For writing styles and chorus I want things that people can sing along with.
By the Barricade: Can you describe your musical style in five words or less?
AJ Horton: Two words, lower case metal
Chris Anderson: That’s three words.
Jeff Zazueta: Hard rock lower case metal
Chris Anderson: Thank God we are not a math group because you guys suck at math.
By the Barricade: Any updates on the new album?
Jeff Zazueta: It’s coming along great. Realistically we wrote another three songs and we have some stuff to choose from.
AJ Horton: We are at the end of the writing process and we have demoed a lot of stuff so we can listen to that. Next comes getting in the studio.
Chris Anderson: We are in talks with a couple of studios right now and we are looking to do the next album. The next steps are picking where we are going to do it and getting it done. We are going to be starting a campaign to raise some money to help pay for the album. After all music isn’t a cheap hobby to have. Once we get that squared away then it’s eat, sleep and breathe music for a couple weeks in a studio.
Jeff Zazueta: And we are doing an acoustic album.
AJ Horton: That is another update. On the side we are going to record ourselves because Steven knows how to record and do it. It will be an acoustic version of old stuff, new stuff, some stuff that may not even be on the new album. You never know when it comes to choosing, but it will be really fun.
Chris Anderson: Over the past year we have had a couple cool opportunities with X103.9 where they sponsor gigs at the M15 in Corona and we know the owner there and have established a really cool relationship with them. The shows that we have done there are acoustic shows and that is when we got the idea because we have never gotten to arrange an acoustic style. We had fun writing and rearranging hard rock into acoustic style. We decided to record them and put them out because people responded really well to them.
By the Barricade: There is a bit of an Inland Empire rock scene that isn’t present in other towns –where do you guys get support and how do you spread the word?
Steven Snider: Facebook
Steve Scilasi: That is the way it is now. Twenty or Thirty years ago you would go to a club and see the flyers and now it is the same thing only digital. If you embrace that and catch on to that you realize how many hundreds and hundreds of people you can reach so easily. Fortunately a lot of people we don’t even know we have been able to connect with online. They have checked us out and the support has been amazing.
AJ Horton: Another big part in the Inland Empire scene is that it’s a tight knit group with certain bands being like a family. We get a lot of support from those guys. We are close buddies with Assuming We Survive and have been playing shows with them for the past few years at random different places. 100 Proof, Dose of Adolescence, all of those guys and all of those bands in the Inland Empire, you get support from each other, you play shows together. Their fans end up liking you and then they want to come to everyone’s show it is a big sharing pool.
Chris Anderson: It is somewhat family oriented. For lack of a better term, “cliquey” is kind of what it has become but that term usually gives off a bad note. But everyone is super supportive of each other. You are going to see a lot of those guys from those bands we mentioned earlier here tonight.
AJ Horton: Generally there are a lot of bands other than in the Inland Empire scene that are out to bash each other and compete against each other and not be friends whereas here it is a different scene than L.A. We want to go to each other’s shows.
By the Barricade: What is the next goal you are shooting for with As You Were?
AJ Horton: Recording and album release.
Chris Anderson: Just getting it done. It’s been a long time. We have spent a lot of time making sure it is what we want.
Jeff Zazueta: We want to tour. AJ and I were talking about that on our drive here. We were racking our brains to see what we could do to make it happen. Of course everything is money and money is tough. It’s funny that we do a lot of charity events. I love to do charity events, but when you are doing them you don’t get paid. It’s kind of tough there too because when you spend your time throughout the year doing “x” amount of charity events, it’s hard to raise money. It’s tough but it doesn’t mean we are going to stop.
By the Barricade: Since this isn’t your full time gig right now, what do you do when you are not performing or rehearsing?
Chris Anderson: So many things. Things my mother wouldn’t be proud of.
AJ Horton: The funniest thing would be what Steven has been doing the past week which is outside of the music world and is different.
Steven Snider: All last week I was doing sound for a world conference at the LA Convention Center, a church world conference.
Chris Anderson: Are you Christian, Catholic?
Steven Snider: I am the sound guy.
AJ Horton: That is an awesome response. Steven is a sound guy, he works at Knott’s. I work at the mall at a CD/DVD store.
Jeff Zazueta: I help teach kids with learning disabilities and I DJ.
Steve Scilasi: I work in finance.
By the Barricade: You guys have played at the House of Blues a number of times. Do you have a favorite moment or crazy story?
Chris Anderson: The first time I ever played here was with As You Were, I was probably two months old with the band. Jeff has put on Christmas in July, a charity event for Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. When I found out my first show was going to be at House of Blues I was pretty excited, and to also have it be a charity event. It feels good to give back so I was double pumped on that. Halfway through the set, I break a string and run back to change my guitar. The guys have to play the song without me, I think it was “Walk” by Pantera. I was already freaking out and I came back and we had three or four songs left but everything went great. Jeff was introducing the band and he introduced me saying, “Hey this is our new guy Chris, welcome to the band.” I am happy and thought it was really nice but before I know it I am suffocating in about 8 bottles of silly string all over my head, clothes, and the stage. I look over to the left and the stage manager is fuming mad. He is screaming at us. Apparently you are not allowed to mess up the stage here. We play our last song and as soon as the curtains close, he just comes at us screaming. They threatened to fine us.
Jeff Zazueta: Side note, it was his (Chris’s first show with the band) and also Steve part 2’s (Scilasi’s) first show was here too.
Chris Anderson: Steve didn’t get yelled at.
Jeff Zazueta: He was going to get silly stringed but we knew we couldn’t do that.
Chris Anderson: It’s usually Jeff’s idea to do the messed up stuff. Before Steve got into the band he replaced a great dude named Dave (Wilson). Dave was “sober joe”; he didn’t drink. He liked to eat pizza and go on the internet a lot.
Chris Anderson: His last show wasn’t at House of Blues but Jeff had the bright idea to grab a pitcher of beer and pour it over his entire head, all over all of his gear and all of his stuff. He dumped beer on an ex-alcoholic’s head.
AJ Horton: Good times.
Jeff Zazueta: I can say that everything I have done was with the best of intentions. Steve,you were only safe because you played House of Blues because you were going to get pied in the face. But at House of Blues they get mad if you sneeze so we thought we better dumb it down.
AJ Horton: If I can come up with my own question, what is everyone’s first show? Any show? I’ll start while you guys are thinking. I was sixteen. My first show ever was at a youth group outside event and they brought a flatbed truck as the stage. My snare was half an inch from the edge. When anyone moved on the truck, the whole thing would move. I was scared. It was fun, but I was scared. Right after that, I played The Whiskey.
Steve Scilasi: I don’t think the place is around anymore, but my first show was at this tiny little dive bar in Fullerton. It couldn’t have been any bigger than this area we are standing in now. You couldn’t hear vocals through the monitors, the sound lady who was also the owner and also the bartender, was telling us to turn down our instruments. The PA wasn’t loud enough to get vocals through. Finally we were just playing instrumental because the vocals couldn’t be heard. There were these guys three feet away from us who start pushing each other and getting into a fight. The bartender who was the owner, the bartender and now security too, comes over and screams to stop the music. She tries to grab the guys and get them out the back door. There was this awkward silence and then we start playing again. This was four or five years ago.
Chris Anderson: My first show that I can remember was when I was five years old in underwear, cowboy boots and standing on my mom’s coffee table. She was watching a Michael Boulton DVD. I had a toy tank that I broke the barrel off to be my mic and I sang the whole thing on the coffee table.
Steve Scilasi: When you are a musician everything is a performance.
Jeff Zazueta: My first performance changed my life. It wasn’t a show, I was at a bar with my brother and they were doing karaoke. There were about 75 people in this place. I was talking to my brother and said we should start a band. I was underage and shouldn’t have even been in a bar anyway. He said, “Yeah, whatever. Go up there and sing right now.” I didn’t want to, but after two pitchers of beer I went up there, eventually sang and got a standing ovation. My hands were shaking and my heart was racing, but I knew this was what I want, I am addicted to this it is going to be my drug forever and it has been ever since.
By the Barricade: Anything else you would like to tell the readers of By the Barricade.
Steven Snider: We love everybody that comes out to see us.
AJ Horton: We thoroughly appreciate the people that come to support
Steve Scilasi: Search us on Facebook, add us personally, however you want. Come out and hang out with us.
Chris Anderson: People have a view of musicians being a lost cause. We aren’t on tour on someone else’s dime yet and we aren’t on a label yet. Everyone here sacrifices so much just to keep things like this going. It is out of love for doing it and fighting against the odds to continue to make that happen. That is something I think everyone needs to hold that near and dear to their hearts when they come to hear music, especially people that second guess what they are doing. You have to remember why you got into it in the first place because that is what will pull you through. I have two college degrees I tried to use and I just could not. I can’t be in the professional world. I can’t do it, I won’t do it. I will give my heart and soul to make this happen. It is something people need to keep in mind when they get down on it.
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