Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: Aaron Brown, Bluecoats' guard captain

The DCI.org interview: Aaron Brown, Bluecoats' guard captain

by Drum Corps International

Name, hometown, corps: My name is Aaron Austin Brown. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. I have marched with the Bluecoats for three years, and I will march my final one with Bluecoats as the color guard captain.

Aaron Brown
What is your role in the corps this summer? It is my job to make sure each member of the color guard is prepared for rehearsal. That can stretch anywhere from waking them up to get off the bus, or getting them to go to stretch, or being there for them if they are having a rough day. It is also my responsibility to make sure the color guard knows where and when they are supposed to show up for rehearsal, or be ready for shows, or be ready for retreat. On top of being respected and responsible for logistically getting the color guard where they need to be and with what equipment, the number one thing is that I have to be their friends. At Bluecoats every member is a dear friend of mine. When you spend every day for three months of your life with someone, there is a bond that cannot be broken by time or space. Some of my very best friends live across the country from California to Maryland, to right here in Texas. Where do you go to school, and what extracurricular activities are you involved with there? I attend the University of Texas at Austin. I'm a chemical engineering major. I transferred to UT for the fall 2003 semester. I previously attended Southwest Texas State, now Texas State, in San Marcos. I am an active member in the UT chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and University Democrats. I also teach color guard at LBJ high school here in Austin. Give us your full drum corps/marching music background, and how each
position prepared you for the leadership role you're in this summer.
My color guard career all started when my good friend in band told me about this auxiliary group being formed called a "rifle line." Sounded cool to me, so I went to a few "get to know you" meetings and met the instructor. We trained every day for about two weeks before spring break my sophomore year. We worked primarily on fundamentals like spinning, tossing and learning how to march and do things at the same time. At this point the rifle line was a group of 10 guys who had no idea they were actually about to be joining the ranks of the color guard and spinning flag. Up to summer band my junior year (1999) all the guys were oblivious, and when we showed up, they put us on flag nearly immediately. So we started learning flag, and it was OK, but it was easy compared to tossing a rifle (at the time). Band was the coolest thing because I got to travel (including band trips to London and Paris) and tons of people to perform to at shows and contests. During band I was just a section leader, with no real authority because I was a first-year member, and a senior was captain of the rifle line. Along came winter guard, and my instructor appointed me captain. It was the first time my high school had ever had a winter guard, so you can imagine what it was like, but the whole experience was new to us all and I loved it. After winter guard I was named captain again. I really looked forward to my new responsibilities. I don't know exactly what qualifications I had at the time, but my band director, Don Haynes, always told me he was impressed with my leadership of the color guard that year. I suppose that the biggest thing that separated me from other leaders in the band that year was that I took it to a professional level. I was still a high school kid, but I wanted to make sure that everything was in its place and running smoothly. The whole activity at this point was still very new, and I was enjoying every bit of it. Then in November, came the first "Texas Camp" that the Bluecoats had ever hosted. I don't remember how I found out about it, but I do remember showing up and being the only guy there. It was scary, to be perfectly honest. I was scared for no reason because the staff was all nice. It was just the situations that intimidated me. All I knew was that I wanted to make it really bad, so I tried my hardest to learn everything I could. I was focused on doing one thing. I made it and the 2001 "Latin Sketches" show was incredible. I had never spun sabre before in my entire life, and I was put on the "B" line to start and finished on the closer sabre line. The whole experience was one of the most rewarding things in my life. The next year, I made my first appearance on rifle in the "Urban Dances" show and absolutely loved it, but I didn't get to even touch sabre all summer (bummer). Towards the end of the summer, I was asked if I wanted to be assistant captain for the next season. And I was shocked that the asked me, and very honored. I truly was shocked because I had always looked at my captain in the highest regard, and the thought that someone thought that I should follow her was humbling. At this point I didn't know that people respected me as a leader because I was focused on the show, and not on trying to appear like a leader. Maybe that was what attracted the staff to me. Who knows? All of the things in high school and in my first two years prepared me very well for the next two years. Already being acclimated to the drum corps lifestyle made it very easy for me to add the responsibility of making sure that the rest of the color guard was prepared (with the head captain Jennifer Johnson). I learned a lot of things during the 2003 season as assistant captain, both good and bad. This summer all I hope to do is capitalize on the good things and not let myself and the color guard concentrate on the bad. With all the changes going on in the Bluecoats' organization, a new corps director, new color guard staff, visual staff changes and percussion staff changes, it isn't going to be too hard to have a freaking sweet season. I'm pumped! The last good book I read: I hope academic books count because I sure don't have time to read anything but my chemical engineering or chemistry books. I am currently reading a Physical Chemistry book that is incredibly interesting -- for instance, did you know that using things we learn in the class, we can predict whether a chemical reaction will occur without ever performing the reaction? And that is on a very basic level of the class. The last great film I saw: I love "The Usual Suspects." Every time I watch it I catch something new -- such a great movie. Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island: My new favorite band, Radiohead. I always knew they were out there, but never really listened to their music, but my friend turned me on to them and I'd take any of their CDs with me. My favorite TV show: I love "The West Wing," or "CSI." I prefer the original "CSI" over "CSI: Miami," but they are both good. Favorite performers: I love watching all the people I spin with at Bluecoats. There is something about seeing a person day to day that lets you experience what they have to give to the audience on a whole new level. Each of them has his or her own personality and knowing that personality makes the show so much more entertaining from a performers view. How do you "blow off steam?" Study! I try to avoid letting the water boil in the first place by studying. Or I listen to Radiohead -- but usually I do both. Why I march with the corps I am in: Family. It's the Blooo! family. Simply, there is nothing else like it -- anywhere! I have been through the thick and thin with my family. That's it. Not to mention we have some pretty dang cool shows too. Was it always your goal to be in a leadership role? I suppose in the back of my head I did, but I didn't count on it happening to me. It may sound cheesy but I am so grateful and proud to be able to stand in front of the corps as a captain. How will you go about balancing the roles of leader and corpsmate? I can honestly say that the people that I march with make it the easiest thing in the world for me to do. All of them know when I'm serious and when I'm joking. And most importantly, they all know what my job is and what I have to do, so when I have to do it, they know what to do in response. We have so many running jokes between each other in the color guard and I am no exception. What has been your formative drum corps moment? There are so many. If I had to choose just one, it would have to be the first show I ever did in front of an audience where we were also getting judged. We had a few runs of the show for the local community in the first few weeks of tour, but that first judged show was the most exhilarating thing I had ever done. I didn't have a perfect show, but it didn't matter, because the crowd makes you feel like it was flawless. My mind was racing through thoughts of the show but they were all moving so fast. The only one that moved slow enough was thinking cool, let's do it again. Best drum corps show ever: Finals 2001 at Buffalo Bills Stadium! Nothing compares to my first time in front of an audience that big. What are you most looking forward to about the summer? 1) Seeing all my family again
2) Marching in a world-class color guard for my final season
3) Aging out with the Bluecoats
4) Performing an awesome show for thousands of people to enjoy. Best thing about being a drum corps leader: The best thing is being able to represent something that you hold close to your heart and soul. The Bluecoats are forever a part of me and I am proud to be able to experience what I have with them. Worst thing about being a drum corps leader: It's a lifelong philosophy that my father taught me. That is that every negative thing that happens in your life can be turned around and used as a positive. So I don't look at it as worst, I look at it as an opportunity to learn about myself. There is no worst thing; there are only things that make you grow. It is all experience! During tour, the best part of the day is: Any time that I spend out of the sun and anytime I get to enjoy the activity (oh, the later is practically 24/7, by the way). During tour, the worst part of the day is: Forgetting to put on sunscreen. Oww! Favorite drum corps personality and why: Rosie Miller (member of Bluecoats). It was great, every day she would make my day. Like the time when she got hurt so bad that she was on crutches and I beat her to the porta potty in South Carolina from 150 yards away and she was like 20 feet, and then I locked her out. Unfortunately I was breathing really hard when I locked the door to keep her out of the porta potty. Eww! What do you want to be when your drum corps career is over? I want to work for a research group working on new techniques in chemical engineering.