As You Were Band hits the road with new members

By Jerry MeridethMay 20, 2024

Army ‘As You Were’ Band brings Army message to Welcome to Rockville
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Kenneth Goss (foreground) performs with lead singer Brittany Simmons on the stage at Welcome to Rockville. (Photo Credit: Jerry Merideth) VIEW ORIGINAL
Army ‘As You Were’ Band brings Army message to Welcome to Rockville
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Army As You Were band members take a moment after their performance to talk with fans and pose for a photo. (Photo Credit: Jerry Merideth) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Army’s ‘As You Were’ (AYW) Band performed at Welcome to Rockville, May 9-12, 2024, at Daytona Beach, Florida, supporting Army outreach and recruiting goals by bringing the Army message to thousands of concert goers in attendance.

The band returned after playing the venue in last year. This time, it was back with new members Sgt. Arthur Abila, lead guitarist, lead vocalist Sgt. Brittany Simmons and drummer Staff Sgt. Kenneth Goss. The veteran in the band, bass player Staff Sgt. Abiud Flores, is also wrapping up his tenure as an AYW band member.

As the band practiced just days before the concert, the four shared their thoughts about the upcoming performance.

“I am too excited,” said Simmons, who is currently based at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, but calls Radcliff, Kentucky, home. “This is my first music festival and first appearance playing with the band.”

She identifies herself as a military brat with a riveting voice.

From Long Beach, California, Abila notes he had completed undergrad studies and was going to pursue a master’s degree, but opted for active duty in the Army and was selected to join AYW following service in the California National Guard for 11 years.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities to travel and for my family,” Abila said. “Music really is a powerful vessel.”

AYW connects with Americans through their shared passion for music. Sprinkled in with performances are powerful Army messages, peppered with the Army’s updated “Be All You Can Be” mantra.

Practice makes perfect for the band members. Banging on the drums, Goss was ready for Rockville.

“I’m preparing the lyrics, [and] I’m looking forward to having everyone on stage.” Goss said. “We are going to play some originals, but we will make the music our own. Music is a language. We appreciate the experience and grow from it.”

The AYW assignment is considered a broadening position, as Soldiers gain wide musical experience as members of the band. There’s also the interpersonal aspect of the mission where the band gets to spend one-on-one time with fans.

“I met a kid for the first time who said he wanted to be a musician,” Goss said. “It opened my eyes to shaping the future and talking about all the opportunities available in the Army.”

Band members rotate every two years or so, and for Flores, this was his last appearance with AYW.

“It’s been an exciting experience every time,” the Puerto Rico native said. “All of us have diverse musical backgrounds, as we’re from all over the United States. I originally started with jazz. I love playing this style – pop rock, heavy metal stuff is great.”

“You can hear the influence of our different musical backgrounds in our new songs,” Flores added. “I’ve had the opportunity to be part of a band while I provide for my family in the Army. I’m very grateful for that.”