Louisiana quintet As Cities Burn has never made the same album twice, much to the confusion of their fans—from the screamy post-hardcore of Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest to the bluesy indie rock of Hell Or Highwater, the band has been a sonic chameleon, staying true to themselves. And now, fans of ACB can gain more insight into the band’s roller coaster career through drummer Aaron Lunsford’s new memoir, Backstage: How I Almost Got Rich Playing Drums In A Christian Hardcore Band. The book is officially available today both physically and digitally through BadChristian. But the book isn’t strictly for ACB fans; it is an interesting look into the music industry as well as into how being in a touring band affects your personal life, with plenty of insight to be gained. Today, we’re bringing you an excerpt from Backstage about the early days of As Cities Burn. Enjoy!
One of the coolest things about looking back on this time is getting to recount the second show I ever played with As Cities Burn. In early June of 2003 we made the quick trip over to Gulf Port, MS. Back then I thought this whole part of the country was an absolute shithole. Now the gulf coast is my favorite place to be. But across the shithole we went and at that show we would meet two bands from Jackson, MS that would have major influence over our career and also become great friends, Jonezetta and Fletcher. Fletcher would several years later change it’s name to Colour Revolt and take the indie world by storm. If any of you reading this are fans of Brand New and the sound they ripped off—I mean matured into—on “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me”—you have Colour Revolt to thank for that. A couple years later, Jonezetta would end up signing one of the biggest record deals in Tooth and Nail history for a new band, as well as bringing my friend Tim on as a band member.
Every show we played that summer was insane from my perspective. I went from being in bands that hardly anyone cared about to being in a band that was the best draw in the scene. I witnessed hardcore dancing for the first time. I thought it was weird and stupid back then just as I do now, but the kids loved it. We even featured fans “dancing” in a DVD set to a Sigur Rós tune—lots of head banging and guitar throws with pretty music over it. We were certain that this DVD would set us apart, showcasing to labels that we really knew how to “throw down.” It didn’t.
The “throwing down” as we called it wasn’t always a good thing in my opinion. I wanted to put on a good show, but I also wanted to actually play the songs. One show in particular where I found this to be an issue was in late summer of 2003. We were opening a show at a local Baton Rouge church for two touring bands. One was This Runs Through from North Carolina. Their singer Spencer would go on to join a group from Florida called Underoath. The other was, Evelyn, whose drummer and guitarist would go on to join Between the Buried and Me. Shane, guitarist for Evelyn, would years later help start a band we were good friends with – Oh, Sleeper. Weird how far back friendships can go. I say all this to make the point that these bands were good. They were on a noticeably different level at that time. A level I wanted to be on. But what happened at that show would prove to me that we had a long way to go.
In the midst of our normal “throwing down” throughout the set, there was a moment where I questioned exactly what we were even doing. I’m going along, playing my drum parts and as I look up I see our bassist, Pascal, throwing his bass 20 feet in the air over and over. I look to stage left and see Cody doing guitar throws around his shoulder using the strap, eventually descending down his arm like a hula hoop. So to be clear…also not playing his instrument. Then Colin, attempting the same trick as Cody, accidentally propels his guitar high into the air and off the stage into the crowd, crashing down and hitting a girl in the head. At that moment I was the only one playing an instrument. And I thought, “Are we even a band right now?”
Backstage is available now.