Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: Ashley Thornhill, Pioneer mellophone section leader

The DCI.org interview: Ashley Thornhill, Pioneer mellophone section leader

by Drum Corps International


Ashley Thornhill
Name, age, hometown: Ashley Thornhill. I live in Troy, Mo., and am 17 years old. ^What corps are you in and what is your role this summer? This year will be my third summer with Pioneer. I will be a mellophone section leader. ^Give us your full drum corps/marching music background. I played mellophone for four years in my high school marching band, and I marched Pioneer 2003 and 2004. How did you decide to be a member of your corps? I actually never saw a live drum corps show until I was in one. I had watched corps shows on video, but never really thought about auditioning for one until my friend talked me into going to a Pioneer camp. Actually, the friend that talked me into going was Alex Wilga, one of the 2005 Pioneer drum majors. So I ended up buying a plane ticket three days before camp, and it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. What first attracted you to the drum corps activity? When I first saw a drum corps show on video in middle school, I was absolutely amazed. My mind could not grasp how such young people could be so talented and produce such amazing entertainment. At that time, I had no idea what kind of work went into the 12 minutes I saw on tape. What advice would you give to young people who want to march? The only advice I can think of comes straight from Nike ads. Just do it. There is no other way to find out if corps is for you than to try. It can definitely be intimidating at first, but if you stick with it, you'll realize that it will be one of the most fulfilling experiences in life you'll ever have. Whenever I talk about drum corps with people that know nothing about it, I have such a great feeling of pride inside. I feel extremely lucky to have stumbled into the activity the way I did, and I know that 20 years from now I will still have friends from the summers I march. You get so much out of the drum corps experience. I really encourage anyone that has ever dreamed of marching to just go out there and give it your all. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Do you have any favorite road anecdotes? There are too many to pick just one. In 2003, we were driving from Milwaukee to Arkansas, and the trip somehow went from 12 hours to 23. I've never been so glad to get off a bus and start practice! The last good book I read: "Bend in the Road" by Nicholas Sparks The last great film I saw: "Napoleon Dynamite." Lol. Where I go to school and what I'm studying: I will be graduating from Troy Buchanan High School in Troy Missouri this May. I am currently planning on attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study journalism next fall. Jobs I have/have had: I worked as a cashier at Dairy Queen at the beginning of high school, until I started drum corps. School, clubs and drum corps leave me very little free time for a job. Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island: a Dashboard Confessional Mix, the original "Rent" soundtrack, and a drum corps mix with my favorite shows. My favorite TV show: "The Ashlee Simpson Show." I just can't help loving that show. I guess it's kind of sad. Lol. Favorite performers: All drum corps, Idina Menzel, and Mitch Hedburg How do you "blow off steam?" I don't usually get mad enough that I need to "blow off steam" but when I do, I call one of my corps friends and get it all out or just go for a drive with the windows down and the radio up. What has been your formative drum corps moment? On the way to the warm-up at my first show in Oswego, Ill., I saw and heard all the other corps around us warming up, and I realized that I really was fulfilling a dream. It was surreal. Best drum corps show ever: Oh man, that's a hard question. I love Pioneer 1997, and 2005 should be pretty good too! Other than that, I could never get tired of listening to 1989 Phantom Regiment and SCV. Phantom Regiment '96 and '03 are also fantastic. What are you most looking forward to about the summer? Making a new and unique Pioneer family. I look forward to the whole summer all year long (except the running). There is no better feeling than what you feel when you're on the field, giving it all you've got to entertain the audience so they can appreciate all of our hard work. Best thing about being in a drum corps: Being around people with the same drive and work ethic. It's also pretty nice to come home with such a great tan. Lol. Worst thing about being in a drum corps: Running (especially Dan Hile's breathing blocks), cold showers, waking up in the middle of the night to move from the bus into a gym, waking up to the buzz of gym lights in the morning, taking down scaffolding in scorching heat. During tour, the best part of the day is: Ensemble! It's nice to see everything come together at the end of the day after working so hard. During tour, the worst part of the day is: Running and waking up in the morning. Favorite drum corps personality and why: I really admire anyone that has ever been a part of the activity, whether that person be an instructor, member, or someone that volunteers their time to help keep corps running. But if I had to pick anyone, I would say Roman Blenski, the executive director of Pioneer and Drum Corps Midwest, and Scott Stewart, because they have really dedicated their lives to the activity. And not just the activity, but to the corps members, and making it a GREAT experience for us, no matter what it takes. What I want to be when I "grow up": I want to be a journalist, although I'm not sure what type yet. Hopefully something where I can write. Describe what you think a typical DCI show will look in 2015.
Who knows?! That will really only be about five years after I age out, so I really hope nothing changes too much. I can imagine crazy drill moves and -- well, I really don't know what else. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Feel free to add anything else you'd like. I am thankful every single day for the family I have found in drum corps, and I cannot wait to see where the 2005 season takes us. Good luck to all the corps out there. I'll see you on the road!