Not all was smooth sailing during Army Navy's first national tour this fall. The band ran out of gas in "deep, deep, Oregon" and frontman Justin Kennedy accidentally ran over guitarist Louie Schultz's foot while they took turns pushing the van. "He just toughed it out to the last, propping his foot up on a stool at shows. I mean, we felt bad," Kennedy says with a laugh. "Crutches just weren't in the budget."
If the Los Angeles-based foursome keeps on its current road, a budget will be the last thing on its mind. In two-and-a-half months' time, Army Navy has moved 2,000 copies of its debut self-titled full-length, according to Nielsen SoundScan, with even more sold on the road. The indie rock troupe got a little help from Allegro/Nail, which offered to distribute physical copies to major retailers. "Army Navy" also consistently appears as a top 10 best seller on eMusic.
The band can expect to see an uptick in sales overseas since the album has been licensed and released by Japanese label 1977. The single "My Thin Sides" will soon be promoted as the song of the week on iTunes Australia. The track's hilarious music video, featuring comedian Paul Scheer from "Human Giant" and director Jeremy Konnor, has been making the rounds online.
Kennedy formed the band four years ago when he moved from Seattle to L.A., after backing singer/songwriter Anna Waronker and spending a number of years in the late '90s co-writing songs with Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie fame) in the band Pinwheel.
The new album is a harmonious blend of pop and upbeat rock, produced by Adam Lasus and boasting vocals from all band members. The group initially recorded with former drummer Josh Zetumer (who quit midway to pursue a screenwriting career, which includes a remake of "Dune" and the new James Bond flick). Before landing Douglas Randall to permanently fill the drummer stool, Army Navy utilized a very special guest: Pete Thomas, from Elvis Costello's backing band the Attractions.
Prior to "Army Navy," the group scored some prominent synch deals on "The OC," "Weeds" and "Numbers." Appearances on the soundtrack and trailers to "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist" followed, plus a deal with music placement agency Bank Robber Music. But nothing seemed to tickle Army Navy more than the use of its song "Snakes of Hawaii" in the straight-to-DVD big-screen knockoff movie "Snakes on a Train."
"They had a whole review of the thing in Variety that was like, 'This is the most horrible thing to ever be made, there is nothing redeeming or funny about it, blah blah blah," bassist Benjamin Gaffin says with a laugh. " 'But that Army Navy song is a pretty nifty tune.' "