Army of Freshmen

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Army of Freshmen
Army of Freshmen performing live in 2013.
Background information
Origin Ventura, California, U.S.
Years active 1997–present
  • Chris Jay
  • Aaron Goldberg
  • Owen Bucey
  • Dan Clark
  • Kai Dodson
  • James Schlachter
Past members
  • Mike Milligan
  • Mike Rini
  • One' Nielsen
  • Jon Blackburn

Army of Freshmen is an American rock band based out of Ventura, California. They have performed in 13 countries and 43 US states.


Early years (1997-2000)[edit]

Following his graduation from Lower Cape May Regional High School in Cape May, New Jersey, Chris Jay moved by himself to Ventura, California with the goal of starting a band. Playing solo at a local open mic and having already written over 500 songs, Jay befriended and started Army of Freshmen with Owen Bucey, Aaron Goldberg, Dan Clark, One' Nielsen, Mike Rini and Jon Blackburn.[1]

Army of Freshmen (2001-2003)[edit]

In 2001, the band signed with a local label, Blue Hand Records, and released their self-titled debut which was produced by Jay Ferguson, a member of the popular 60's rock band Spirit.[2]

They toured that summer on the Moto Music Madness Tour. The tour played over 50 dates across the USA.

At the beginning of 2003, Nielsen left the band and was replaced by Kai Dodson. Around the same time, the band played Summersonic, a music festival in Japan.[3]

Beg, Borrow, Steal (2004-2005)[edit]

The band entered the studio to record their second album, Beg, Borrow, Steal in late 2003. The album included the single "Get Um Up," which spent 5 weeks in the top 20 on the U.S. Alternative radio specialty charts.[4]

Following the release of Beg, Borrow, Steal in 2004, the band returned to Japan supporting The Living End.[5]

In 2004, drummer Mike Rini left the band. Mike Milligan, a drummer from Chicago, replaced Rini.

Shortly after the Warped Tour, the band toured the United Kingdom for the first time. A compilation by Brand New Hero Records featuring Army of Freshmen songs, entitled Casino Chips and Sunset Strips, was released in the UK to coincide with the tour.[6]

In 2005 the band did a headlining summer tour still in support of Beg, Borrow, Steal and returned to the United Kingdom that fall for a sold out tour opening for Bowling For Soup. In support of the tour, they released an exclusive UK only EP, At the End Of the Day, which was recorded in Texas and produced by Jaret Reddick of Bowling For Soup.[7]

Under the Radar (2006-2007)[edit]

In 2006, the band released their third album, Under the Radar.

In the summer of 2006, Army of Freshmen and Bowling For Soup created and appeared on the Get Happy Tour,[8] a package tour that covered the United States and The United Kingdom in 2006 and 2007. The tour featured fan interaction events and a family friendly show. Other bands that appeared alongside AOF and BFS on the Get Happy Tours included The Bloodhound Gang, Zebrahead, Wheatus, Son of Dork, Punchline, Lucky Boys Confusion, Quiet Drive and Melee.

Above The Atmosphere (2008-2010)[edit]

The band's fourth album, Above the Atmosphere, was released in 2008.

In May 2009, the band toured China for the first time where they played to the biggest crowds of their career appearing at the Midi Festival and Zebra Festival where they were the only artist from the USA to perform.

Close Encounter EP (2010-2011)[edit]

The band released the Close Encounter EP in 2010. The EP was available for download for a pay-what-you-like model. The band returned to the United Kingdom for a short headline tour and an appearance at the Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth, England. Once again their set received four stars from Kerrang Magazine.

In the spring of 2011, Army of Freshmen opened the main stage at the Groezrock Festival in Belgium. In addition to Groezrock, they performed at the Artefacts Festival in France, the Paaspop Festival in the Netherlands and headlined a week of shows in the United Kingdom.[9]

At the end of 2011, the band returned to the United Kingdom for their 10th visit, this time touring with longtime friends, Zebrahead.[10]

Happy To Be Alive (2013-present)[edit]

The band's fifth record, Happy To Be Alive, was released in 2013 on Arkive Records. They toured in support of the record in the United Kingdom with Lit in 2014.

Band members[edit]

Current members

  • Chris Jay - vocals
  • Aaron Goldberg - guitar, vocals
  • Owen Bucey - keyboard, vocals
  • Dan Clark - keyboard, mini moog
  • Kai Dodson - bass
  • James Schlachter - drums

Former members

  • Mike Milligan - drums
  • Mike Rini - drums
  • One' Nielsen - bass


  • Army of Freshmen (2001)
  • Beg, Borrow, Steal (2004)
  • At the End of the Day EP (2005)
  • Under the Radar (2006)
  • Above The Atmosphere (2008)
  • Close Encounter EP (2010)
  • Campfire Classics EP (2012)
  • Happy To Be Alive (2013)

Other ventures[edit]

Chris Jay wrote a weekly music column for the VC Reporter, a weekly newspaper in Ventura County, California, from 1999 to 2001. He still contributes frequently to the paper and has interviewed hundreds of artists.[11] In 2003 he was sued for 10 million dollars by Mike Love of the Beach Boys over an article he wrote on Love and the current line up of the Beach Boys. The case never went to trial and was settled out of court, but all the members of Army of Freshmen had to give depositions during the discovery period of the case. Most Army of Freshmen fans and Beach Boys fans are unaware that the lawsuit ever existed as it was settled out of court before any media was made aware of the suit.[12]


  1. ^ [1] Archived March 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Ernie Ball". Ernie Ball. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  3. ^ Jason Ankeny. "Army of Freshmen | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  4. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  5. ^ Hocking, Mat (2004-06-29). "Album Review: The Silence, Suburban Legends, Army Of Freshmen - Casino Chips And Sunset Strips / Releases / Releases // Drowned In Sound". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  6. ^ Review of Casino Chips and Sunset Strips. Staff Review, July 13, 2004.
  7. ^ "Army of Freshmen - 06.03.05 - Interview". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  8. ^ Review of Above the Atmosphere[permanent dead link]. The Skinny, October 3, 2008. (Cached copy)
  9. ^ Review of UK show. Alter The Press, April 16, 2011.
  10. ^ Zebrahead & Army of Freshmen Meet & Greet. Alter the Press, October 2011.
  11. ^ "Ventura County Reporter - Chris Jay". Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  12. ^ [2] Archived October 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]