Meet Dash Ten, the active duty soldiers changing the face of rock music

Meredith Carlson

Dash Ten is redefining what it means to the a "working musician." The three-part rock group comprising of Corrin Campbell, Steve Ebert and Peter Greenberg, features members who have two careers under their belts: one as an independent artist and the other as active-duty U.S. Army soldiers. Collectively, the group has over 40-years of active service in the armed forces. In pursuit of honesty and authenticity in their music, Dash Ten has used their intense resume and weaved it into the fabric of their identity. In their debut album "Self-Titled" you will hear punching lyricism that can only be written through the lens of raw experience.

Music, especially for front woman and primary songwriter Corrin Campbell, functioned as a way to get over and process some of her life's most paralyzing moments. And as a result, "Self-Titled" feels wholly confessional. Mix that with their tenacious and exhilarating live performances, and Dash Ten has solidified itself as the band to watch out for this year.

And if there's any day to learn more about their lives both as active duty soldiers or as rising musicians, today is it. We recently spoke with Dash Ten to find out how their deployment impacted the music they create today, how their new music is helping breakdown stereotypes, and what July 4th means to them.

How did you all first discover your love for music?
All of us have loved music since we were kids, but we all joined the Army as musicians. That's probably where we all started to really dive in as professionals and concentrate on our craft full-time. Because the Army is one of the largest single employers of professional musicians, there are so many talented people with varied backgrounds. You can learn a lot as a musician being surrounded by so many players with diverse talents.

How did Dash Ten form?
Corrin has been pursuing a career as a solo artist, in addition to her Army career, for several years. She released her first EP in the Baltimore scene in 2008. Steve and Pete were both playing with her as "support" and eventually we all decided it was really more of a "band" than a solo artistry. We're really glad we did, because all of us enjoy playing together.

Talk to us a little bit about what your creative process looks like. How does a song of yours come to life from start to finish? And what went into your newest album?
The songwriting process changes depending on the song, but usually it starts with a lyrical idea. Corrin is the primary songwriter, and she's constantly journaling or recording voice notes inspired by whatever is happening in life. That usually sets the tone for what kind of music we want to bring to it. Our debut album is kind of a compilation of songs that have been recorded over time, in different sessions at different locations. It's a little bit atypical to do it that way, but we think it's cool because the songs tell a story as you listen to the whole album.

How has music allowed for you all to share your stories from being in the Army?
It's a great platform to have some honest discussions. Music is a place to be expressive, and we just write about things going on in our life. If people can identify with it, they usually want to talk to us more. That's when we have a chance to really show our personalities and talk about the things that make up who we are - obviously, our time in the Army is a big part of that.

How do you think your music is contributing to the breaking down of social barriers and/or stereotypes?
Most of the time, we're approached by people wondering if we're actually in the Army. We are! We're all active-duty Soldiers with at least one deployment in each of our careers. The music is something so abstract to what people expect could be available to do in the Army as a job. It gives us an opportunity to be living proof, before anyone even knows what we're trying to prove. Whether it's fans in the audience, or other bands, we're shaking up what people think about who Soldiers really are.

You all are currently on the road for the 2016 Vans Warped Tour. What has that touring experience been like for you so far?
We've been having a great time. The weather is pretty hot, and the tour kicked off in Texas, so we were baptized by fire so-to-speak. It's completely worth it, though, to meet all kinds of new people and get to share our story with them. Also, since the tour in completely randomized in set times, each day is a little different. Balancing everything can be a little hectic, but our Army training has taught us great things about adapting to overcome obstacles. It has done us a good service on this tour.

What can fans expect from your live performances?
Energy, and an authentic sound. We let everything go raw in live performances (similar to our recordings). A lot of bands use supplemental sounds to back up their live show, but we really want every sound coming out of the speakers to be sounds we're making. You'll also get to see a bit of our front woman's personality - she loves getting chatty and interacting with the audience between songs.

What makes playing music alongside others in the armed forces so special?
We probably bond over the obstacles we face in a different way from other bands. Since we have all been through deployments and some intense training, we learn to face in and keep each other afloat when it gets tough. We all really believe in why we're out here doing this, and that sense of purpose keeps us from giving up - or getting big egos.

What have been the reactions from other service members, both fresh-faced ones and veterans, after listening to your music?
A lot of service members like the music, but all of them are blown away that we're actually doing this as our military occupation full-time. Since we're the only original rock band of any branch out there doing it in this way, it isn't commonly known or understood - even by other service members. For people who are in, the question is usually, "wow, how do I get this gig?". We're sure it looks glamorous from the outside, but we are working our tails off like any other Soldier!

Where do you see the progression of your the band going in the next few years; what music do you you hope to be making?
It's so hard to know! Politics and policy can make the future uncertain as a service member, and we're surely not the only Soldiers affected by changes in government policy and funding. However, we all firmly believe that the people fight to put the people they want in charge and support whatever decisions are made that far above our heads. We hope that our music provides a unique and viable service to our branch, the Department of Defense, and American citizens - enough to keep doing this for years to come. We will keep at it regardless, because music is what we love. DashTen is here to stay!

What does July 4th mean to you?
For us, the 4th of July is so much more than fireworks and cook-outs (though we love those too!); it's the celebration of our nation's fight to stand for what is right and just. Though we serve in the Army, there are ways that every citizen can contribute to America's continued greatness, and we hope that July 4th helps to remind everyone of the freedoms and liberty we have to live great lives. The choices we have, the dreams we can breathe life into, the opportunities available for each of us to make our mark, to make this world a better place - that's what the 4th of July is really all about.

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