They had no idea where they were.
Packed into their tour van, the boys of D.C.-based band were broke, tired and soured by another canceled show on an already frustrating tour. Now they were winding through the heavily-wooded back roads of North Carolina when their guide, a 16-year-old fan who had offered to bring them to a party, now readily admitted he had no idea how to get there … and no directions.
Nor did he have any idea that the “party” was actually more of a birthday gathering for a girl and about nine of her closest friends. Of course, the other 30-40 people that showed up at the house that night knew nothing of those plans either. When the band finally arrived, they found themselves in some strange teenage drama that had the birthday girl in tears and grounded for six months by her irate parents, who watched helplessly as strangers descended on their home.
“The family had 21 cats, five dogs and a possum,” lead singer Ben Liebsch says to paint the scene. “But I really thought I connected with them. I kept telling them they were hippies and they always corrected me by saying they were ‘hippie-socialists.’”
By the time the band left, Liebsch had played a few acoustic songs around a fireplace, gotten the girl un-grounded and walked away with a check for $125 and another $30 in cash given to him by the birthday girl’s hippie-socialist parents with whom he’d spent much of the night chatting.
“The father asked me if we needed any money and I wasn’t about to say no. We were in debt,” Liebsch says. “That money was the only reason we made it home to D.C.”
As strange as the story sounds, it is typical of the band, which also includes bassist Daniel Lee, drummer Paul Martinez, and guitarists Nole Milford and Ryan Sherrill. They connect with people.
Their rowdy and raucous live songs have a habit of reaching out and scooping up their largely-youthful audiences with group-sung choruses that bring to mind acts like Dropkick Murphys. It’s that element that truly separates You, Me and Everyone We Know from the plethora of power-pop bands that seem to mirror each others’ melodies and vocal rhythms. When the band, and often the crowd, join in to augment Liebsch’s vocals, that’s when this relatively new act puts their stamp on a show.
“We like to make the show a big party,” says bassist Daniel Lee. “If a kid comes to our show and might not like our type of music, we still want him to walk away and think: ‘Wow, that was a great live show.’”
If folks in D.C. are reading this and suddenly feeling like they’re missing out on one of the area’s up and coming acts, they shouldn’t be too hard on themselves. While the band bases in the D.C. metro area, they seldom play inside the District.
“We’ve played in the D.C. metro area about three or four times max,” Lee says. “We try to hop on tours and get out on the road.”
And there, they’ve met with success, regularly drawing crowds of 100-150 kids in Chicago, their biggest market so far.
While the band has attracted some serious label interest according to Lee and Liebsch, they haven’t gotten it yet, which has meant a lot of nights sleeping on friends’ floors. Apparently not Liebsch’s friends, however.
“Paul and Daniel seem know people all over the country,” Liebsch says. “My friends are all still in Baltimore … drinking.”
“No hotels for us,” Lee continues. “We sleep on friends’ floors whenever possible. Besides, we get to meet more people that way.”
• You, Me and Everyone We Know plays a rare D.C. area show Tuesday, June 26 at Jammin’ Java in Vienna. Tickets are $10. For more information on You, Me and Everyone We Know, visit www.myspace.com/youmeandeveryoneweknow.