New sound of Army music takes off

A band at the forefront of the new sound of Army music is settling into a different rhythm ahead of a busy summer schedule.

The Band of The Army Air Corps has moved to Colchester to reform as a rock and jazz group this year. Previously a traditional military band based at Middle Wallop in Hampshire, the change of tempo and location is part of reforms to the Corps of Army Music to provide a wider range of music to that traditionally offered.

Within the Corps’ line-up of 22 bands the AAC Band is one of three newly configured specialist contemporary bands intended to play the music that soldiers listen to. It can perform as a six-piece pop/rock group, a jazz quartet or soloists.

Bandmaster WO1 Rob Smith said: “There have always been rock groups within Army bands, but it’s always been a sideline to the more traditional marching and classical music. We are  now set up as a full-time pop group and, as the core purpose of military music is to entertain soldiers and maintain morale, what could be better than to play the music they love to listen to?

“It’s been an interesting process to reform the band with new members playing different instruments with a very different playlist. We’ve played a few gigs, mostly to military audiences, which have been well-received and we’re looking forward to getting out and playing for the public.”

At Merville Barracks the band shares state-of-the-art facilities with The Band of The Parachute Regiment and has been busy rehearsing its new sound. Upcoming profile performances include the Bournemouth Air Festival and the Invictus Games, the international sports event for wounded, injured and sick military personnel taking place in London in September.

Vocalist Lance Corporal Chris Deeley, 27 from Stourbridge, said: “I was a percussionist with The Band of The Corps of Royal Engineers for ten years, which was lot of drumming and marching, so to be the lead singer in a rock band is a very different experience!

“I went to Afghanistan in my previous job and we formed a rock group for the tour, which was really well received and helped the guys relax and not think about operations for a bit. To be playing the music that soldiers want to hear – and I really enjoy singing and playing – is very rewarding.”

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