The five men in a Battle to Fight joke about being Marines who rock. “We can entertain you or we can pick you off at 500 yards,” says Lou, the lead guitarist for the metal-core band.
The five members, aged 21–27, range in rank from lance corporal to sergeant. They are all stationed at Camp Pendleton and work in communications or as mechanics. They could not give their full names for this article. “There is a public relations manual this thick that tells us we cannot give details of our job or our last name,” says lead singer Matt. “We cannot in any way suggest that the Marine Corps endorses our music,” says Lou.
All five say they want to stay in music after they get out of the Marines. All but one say they would be happy to oblige should the Pentagon be interested in producing recruitment TV spots showing them as Marines who rock.
The Corps has actually helped keep a Battle to Fight going. “I was on the fence about reenlistment,” says Matt. “Then I started playing with these guys. The bonus I got for reenlisting (over $40,000 for four more years) allowed me to keep playing in the band.”
So far they’ve only played off base with long-haired civilian metal bands. The pay hasn’t been huge.
“Maybe I’m the one who’s socially awkward,” says Nick, “but every time I’ve tried to talk to the other bands, they completely blow me off.”
They maintain most Marines are natural fans of aggressive metal music. “You could take any of our songs and drop them into any combat video game,” says drummer Bryan. But they say there is no opportunity to play on base. “There used to be a talent show once a year,” says Jesús, the band’s rhythm guitarist. “The E Clubs [for enlisted men] don’t really have bands anymore. In order to play at the Staff NCO Club [for staff sergeants up to sergeant majors] you would have to talk to someone so high up in command that you could get in trouble for even breathing on them. It’s not feasible to even ask.”
Their next show is on a work night. “Sometimes we have to be to work at three in the morning,” says Jesús. “But if you party with the owls you have to be able to soar with the eagles. Sleep deprivation is just a part of life.” A Battle to Fight appears March 27 at Brick by Brick.