Army "As You Were" Band brings Army messages to thousands at Inkcarceration 2022

By Jerry MeridethJuly 21, 2022

Members of the Army As You Were Pictured are (left to right) band members Sgt. Abiud Flores, Staff Sgt. Tom Katsiyiannis, and Staff Sgt. Austin West. Event organizers expected more than 70,000 people will attend the three-day event, July 15-17. The concert was staged outside the Ohio State Reformatory, a national landmark feature in the film “The Shawshank Redemption.”
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Members of the Army As You Were Pictured are (left to right) band members Sgt. Abiud Flores, Staff Sgt. Tom Katsiyiannis, and Staff Sgt. Austin West. Event organizers expected more than 70,000 people will attend the three-day event, July 15-17. The concert was staged outside the Ohio State Reformatory, a national landmark feature in the film “The Shawshank Redemption.” (Photo Credit: Jerry Merideth) VIEW ORIGINAL
‘As You Were’ drummer Sgt. 1st Class Ryan "Cleveland" Kaluza sets the rhythm for a set at Inkcarceration 2022
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – ‘As You Were’ drummer Sgt. 1st Class Ryan "Cleveland" Kaluza sets the rhythm for a set at Inkcarceration 2022

(Photo Credit: Jerry Merideth)
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By Jerry Merideth, U.S. Army Marketing and Engagement Brigade Public Affairs

FORT KNOX, KY -- The “As You Were” band brought the Army message to thousands of fans July 15 at Inkcarceration 2022 in Mansfield Ohio.

Walking off stage after performing, “As You Were” lead guitarist Staff Sgt. Austin West, surveyed the crowd, gauged the applause, and said he had “goosebumps.” The landmark Ohio State Reformatory loomed in the background. “As You Were” was the first band to play at the concert as the crowd and music mixed in a wave of emotion.

“Just being out here and sharing our message and being able to play for all these people is the best part of the job,” West said.

Surrounded by rolling green Ohio hills, a bevy of rock stars provided three days of music on three stages. Inkcarceration takes it names from a mix of tattoo artistry and rock music. The event fills the grounds of the Ohio State Reformatory. From it’s opening in 1896 to close in 1990 the prison held 154,000 inmates over its nearly 100 years of operation. The structure was bought in 1995 by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society. Today the facility includes a museum with guided tours of the 250,000 square foot facility. The facility gained international recognition as the set for 1994 movie “Shawshank Redemption”, a novella by author Stephen King adapted for the big screen.

After performing on stage, band members joined area recruiters at a tent to sign autographs and meet fans. A line of over a 100 people formed a line to talk with As You Were Soldiers and recruiters after the opening performance.

The annual concert is one of the nation’s largest. It’s also the largest Army sponsored event held in the area, according to Army Recruiter Staff Sgt. Brandon Lieneke from the Mansfield, Ohio, Recruiting Station.

Last year’s crowd was huge, according to Lieneke. With 70,000 plus expected to attend Inkcarceration 2022, he was planning what to say to fans visiting the Army tent.

“I’m definitely going to talk with them about Army values and leadership,” Lieneke said. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had."

From Overland Park, Kansas, the recruiter has eight years in the Army. He's been a recruiter about a year and half.

“It gets us out into the community,” Lieneke said. “It gets our face out there and our brand. For us this is the biggest Army event of the year.”

The band traveled to Mansfield after a string of performances including “Rockville” at Daytona Beach Florida, and the iHeart Country Music Festival at Austin, Texas. The band has released three albums with original music.

The band’s makeup is a mix of experience, formal music training and Soldier spirit. Performing at events allows stage provides band members to share original music and Army messages on stage.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, “As You Were” bass player Sgt. Abiud Flores is a dedicated and accomplished musician with an academic background in bass performance and education. Flores graduated from the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico with a major in Jazz and Afro-Caribbean Music Performance and a minor in Music Education.

Tom "TomKat" Katsiyiannis is a Staff Sergeant in the US Army and comes from a long line of military veterans. As a military child, Katsiyiannis spent much of his childhood living overseas in Greece and Cyprus.

Lead guitarist Staff Sgt. Austin "Wild Boy" West from Ville Platt, Louisiana, first picked up the guitar while attending high school and it quickly became his biggest passion. West enlisted in the US Army as a Signal Support System Specialist. He quickly found himself on stage with the US Army Soldier Show, then as a member of the Army Field Band before joining “As You Were.”

Drummer Sgt. 1st Class Ryan "Cleveland" Kaluza was born and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Willoughby, Ohio. Ryan was awarded a music scholarship to Cleveland State University and, upon graduating, taught music while working as a drummer in several bands. After many years of teaching music, he found a different opportunity to be a fulltime, paid musician in the Army Band program. As a drummer in the US Army, Ryan has had the opportunity to perform all around the world.

The diversity and experience of As You Were members span cultures and showcases the talents, skills and passions of Army Soldiers, according to Marketing and Engagement Brigade Marketing Officer Tom Tiernan.

“As You Were” connects with America through the shared passion of music,” Tiernan said. “A lot of people don’t know you can pursue music as a career in the Army.”

“As You Were” is part of the Recruiting Outreach Company that also includes the Army eSports Team, Warrior Fitness Team and Army Outdoor Team. Each support recruiting by reaching out to America through shared passions such as music, gaming, fitness, and outdoor sports. The Recruiting Outreach Company is part of the U.S. Army Mission Support Battalion, based at Fort Knox. To learn more about the band and upcoming appearances visit “As You Were” on Facebook and Instagram at aywmusic.com or Army Musical Outreach on Facebook.