All Star United Biography
Last updated: 05/09/2004 01:22:16 AM
Ian Eskelin’s All Star United (ASU) is a band that began as a team effort in the spring of 1996. The name, loosely tied to popular European Football monikers, was given as Ian made the definitive choice to leave a "solo" career behind and form a cohesive unit where all share the pain and reward equally.
Like all teams that stand the test of time, ASU has had to weather its fair share of storms and personnel changes. The current line-up contains three original members: Ian Eskelin, (lead vocals / song writing), Christian Crowe (drums / backing vocals), and manager Dan Rauter. "All Star United is a way of life---a group of friends, a sound, and an attitude," remarks Crowe. "Players on a team come and go, but the team as an entity continues pushing forward. The same is true for All Star United."
Several members have recurring roles, making time for touring and studio work with ASU. Brian Whitman (guitars / backing vocals) has toured with various line-ups since the beginning. "I enjoy working with my friends." Says Eskelin. "Instead of doing a third solo record, I decided it would be much more fun to share the challenges of recording and touring. Our debut band record contains songs that I wrote while finishing up solo touring commitments. Our bassist at the time, Robbie Wayner came up with the 'All Star United' name and it just stuck."
The self-titled debut was recorded in Nashville, TN at The Salt Mine studios. Long-time friend and gifted engineer, Mark Chevalier (Sixpence None The Richer) engineered and assisted Ian with the production. Additional assistance from Troy Daugherty, Andrew Horst, and Matt McGuiyer, complimented keyboardist Patrick McCallum’s synthesizer parts and Brian Whitman’s and Dave Clot’s guitar work, along with Crowe’s drums.
Upon completion of the record, Gary Miller joined the band to play bass and All Star United was ready to hit the road. In the fall of 1996, ASU toured the USA, supporting friends Third Day and Seven Day Jesus. During that tour, Brian Whitman left to pursue solo opportunities in Chicago. Dave Clot joined mid-tour. In the spring of '97, the band toured with Fold Zandura, Kosmos Express, and Silage. "All Star United" was released on March 4, 1997. That year the band was asked to perform for the Desert Storm troops in the Persian Gulf. Because of the ongoing threat in the Gulf, the band was restricted to bringing just two members (since all travel had to be made by military helicopter). Brian Whitman accompanied Ian while the rest of the band stayed home and hoped and prayed that their friends would return home without bullet holes. They did! In August, ASU traveled to England, The Netherlands, and Turkey, performing at festivals, concert venues, and street fairs. In the fall of '97 the band set out on their second tour with Third Day.
In addition to touring the U.S. extensively, 1998 saw ASU traveling to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and two separate trips to Europe. Returning to the U.S., the band had the opportunity to attend the Grammy Awards where their debut album, "All Star United," had received a nomination for Rock Gospel Album of the Year. Just before the band was to begin recording its sophomore release, bassist Gary Miller left the band to finish school. Adrian "Wolfy" Walther, who had been playing bass with Canadian artist Carolyn Arends, joined the team. Neill King, known for his work with artists like Green Day, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, and Madness, was brought in to produce the record. Recording both in Nashville, and in Berkley, CA, "International Anthems For The Human Race" was released on December 30, 1998.
In January 1999, the band took its first break since its formation. By February, recuperated and rested, ASU was back on the road supporting "International Anthems." The band rehearsed "The Big Rock Show Tour," touring again with Silage, and industry newcomers The Normals. The tour played to 50 cities nationwide and featured bubble machines, confetti cannons, pyrotechnics and more. Following the completion of "The Big Rock Show Tour," ASU traveled back to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia where they performed their number 1 mainstream radio hit, "If We Were Lovers," to thousands of fans in Singapore. In August, they went back to Europe and the Netherlands. In the fall, original keyboardist Patrick McCallum left the group to focus on his new family, and old friend Brian Whitman came back to take over the keys and add additional guitars and vocals. As the band was preparing to tour the U.S. with the Orange County Supertones, guitarist Dave Clot also left the group for family commitments (and the birth of his third child). Dave’s position was filled by good friend Stefan Ekstedt from Gothenburg, Sweden. After touring the U.S. on the "Chase the Sun Tour," ASU went back to Europe in December, this time with Brian McSweeney (of Seven Day Jesus fame) filling in for Stefan who was soon to be getting married!
Also newly betrothed, Eskelin will find time, along with Crowe, Walther, and Whitman to work on the third full-length ASU record, to be released in the spring of 2001. "This is a very exciting time for us." says Crowe. "With this band it’s always fresh. After our new record is produced, we’re going to take a real leap of faith. We’ve left our traditional, big corporate mentality behind and will market and distribute this record ourselves, through the Internet and our website. Tickets for the band’s upcoming tour dates will be sold online as well. The band feels that to be truly in charge of our music we need more freedom." "We want to put our destiny in the hands of music lovers - old and new fans." Adds Eskelin. "The fans have always been the crucial driving force for the band, and it is the fans that the we rely on to take us to the next step."
The team spirit ASU embodies extends outward to their fans as well. The band attempts to continually draw fans in to the live concert experience and through their recordings. ASU’s commitment is to write and perform music that speaks of their convictions, and remains artistically relevant.