Rock Star Turned Army Sergeant Chooses to Serve
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait, March 11, 2008 It’s hard to imagine that Frank Cavanagh, a tall thin Army Reserve sergeant with a shaved head, once had hair nearly to his shoulders and played bass for the rock band Filter.
Richard Patrick (left), lead vocalist for the band Filter, and former band mate turned Army Reserve Sgt. Frank Cavanagh share the stage for a reunion song during the Operation MySpace concert at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, on March 10, 2008. Defense Dept. photos by Samantha L. Quigley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Cavanaugh said he didn’t tell anyone he’d gone through basic and advanced individual military training for some three years. He also didn’t tell anyone in his reserve unit that he had been in a successful rock band.
“I didn’t want either positive or negative attitudes,” he said. “I just wanted to be a soldier and get along, just because we’re all soldiers; we’re all equal.”
It may be hard to believe that a verifiable “rock star” would give up a successful career for a soldier’s life, but Cavanagh had his reasons. “I’ve done everything I wanted to do in life with music,” he said. “After the band went on hiatus, I was like, ‘What have I not done in life?’ I’ve got a beautiful family, beautiful kids. I love music, but I love my country.’”
So, at 35, Cavanagh, followed in his father, uncle and brother’s footsteps and volunteered to serve his country. He’s a “27 Delta,” Army-speak for a paralegal, and said he loves his job. “There’s nothing more important to me, really, than what a soldier does,” he said. “You get called upon to do things, and sometimes you don’t like it. But, hey, that’s alright. There’s a higher purpose for it.”
The rock star turned soldier soon will come back through Camp Buehring on his way to Iraq for his first tour. But first, he had one more concert to get out of the way.
Cavanagh was in Kuwait to reunite with his old band, Filter, during “Operation MySpace.” More specifically, the concert reunited the sergeant with Richard Patrick, Filter’s only remaining original member and lead singer.
MySpace social networking Web site presented the show yesterday with cooperation from Armed Forces Entertainment, a group that brings entertainment to deployed troops, and America Supports You, a Defense Department program that connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families worldwide.
“We really wanted it to happen. It’s a bridge between the two worlds,” Patrick said. “We’re coming over here to play rock music, and Frank’s in the military. Let’s bridge the two worlds and let everybody know it’s really one world.”
Though it was a happy compromise, the reunion in Kuwait wasn’t quite what Patrick had originally hoped for.
“I’m a reservist, and (Rich) had called me up about five months ago and was like, ‘Hey, I’m putting a new record out, and I want you to come help me with it and go back on tour,” Cavanagh said. “I was like, ‘Buddy, I’m going on a different kind of a tour. It’s gonna be a hot one, too.’”
Cavanagh’s decision to enlist was no surprise to Patrick, however. The singer knew his buddy loved his country and the military.
“Knowing everything about Frank, … Frank’s a patriot and he’s going to be exactly who he is,” Patrick said. “(The hiatus) gave Frank a lot of time off … to sit and think about what else is out there. It was the (right) time for him to just go, ‘Look, I have this opportunity, I’m going to do it.’
“He decided to go into the military and serve his country. I think that’s great,” Patrick added.
The fact that Cavanagh was going to be at the concert made it all the more meaningful for Patrick and the other members of Filter. In fact, playing for the troops was the first goal on his list when he decided to put his band back together.
“It’s a total honor,” he said. “You’re traveling over here, and it’s time zone changes, and you feel like a zombie, but when you see the people you came for, it’s instantly worth it,” he said. “It’s a hell of an experience.”
The experience paid off big for the troops when Cavanagh, sans his rock star hair, joined his former band for one song during the concert that also featured comedian Carlos Mencia, actress/singer Jessica Simpson, the bands Disturbed and the Pussycat Dolls, and DJ Z-Trip.
Now, it’s back to soldiering for Cavanagh, at least for the next year.
“Of course, in a year, I would love to come back and play with Filter,” Cavanagh said. “The itch to play music and be in Filter will never leave me.”