Rocking Iraq with Catchpenny and POD xt Live

Rock and roll is an adventure. Anyone who says otherwise can take it up with Christian Schauf, singer/guitarist of Minneapolis rock band Catchpenny. His story includes more action than a summer blockbuster, and a soundtrack that’s as good.

By Christian Schauf (Catchpenny)

My guess is that anyone reading this blog shares a lot of similarities with me and my band. We're musicians. We record. We tour. We practice. We fight. We celebrate. We play big shows that make you believe that the next one is the big one, only to be followed by shows that make you wonder if anyone in the world cares. In an industry like this, it's pretty easy to get discouraged.

When reality is this harsh, you find something to hold onto. For my band, we've always felt that the best thing we could do is play our hearts out, leave nothing to regret, and help as many people along the way as we can.

For years we've worked with non-profits and played plenty of charity gigs and benefits. But we had to put our money where our mouths were when, in August 2008, we were invited to fly to Iraq and perform for the troops.


Along the way we faced incoming fire, spent time in bunkers, had pop-shots taken at our convoys, enjoyed an accidental scenic tour of lovely downtown Sadr City, and even had the honor of someone shooting a surface-to-air missile at our C-130 Hercules aircraft one sunny afternoon over Mosul. But we also met thousands of brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our country. To say it was a humbling, rewarding, life-changing experience is a huge understatement.

On our first tour we learned that of the 300-plus bases across the country, only a few were getting bands. The reason is simple: the only way to get a band and all of its gear into one of these bases is by fixed-wing flight (airplanes), and there are only a few functional landing strips in Iraq.

It just didn't seem right to us that the troops way out in the desert, the ones who needed entertainment the most, were getting it the least. And we aimed to change that. We went back to Minneapolis and developed a completely self-contained PA system that would fit into a Black Hawk helicopter, thus allowing us to drop into bases previously unreachable. I won't go into the technical details, but this leads me to why I'm writing this blog for Line 6.


In our self-contained  PA system we use three POD® xt Live multi-effect pedals exclusively, and we've used them for over three years. They've been through hundreds of shows. They've faced 30-below-zero weather on drives through North Dakota, gigs in the snow at Colorado ski resorts, sweaty beer-filled bar gigs in Chicago, hot and humid shows in Mexico, and now over 120 shows in intense desert heat and sandstorms. They’ve suffered their share of scrapes and dents from falling out of choppers, off stages, and just about anything you can imagine, but they still work like the day we bought them. We always carry an extra, just in case one decides to give up on us, but at this point, that just hasn't happened.

In addition, the sounds are incredibly accurate. Almost every time we play someone comes up and says, “I never thought you could get tones that pure out of a pedal board.” As we started connecting other groups with the opportunity to travel overseas, using a POD® became a requirement and a necessity. Many have returned to the states only to leave their amps in the basement, pick up their own POD, and hit the road.

I'm not getting paid to write any of this. I'm not a person who would shamelessly plug a product I didn't believe in. But I can honestly say that these POD xt Lives have surpassed every expectation we've had of them. If your story is like ours, you need to seriously consider adding a POD to your arsenal.


We flew to the Middle East eight times in 2009, playing over 120 shows across the war-torn countries of Iraq and Kuwait. As far as we can tell, that's way more shows than anyone has ever played inside a war zone. Someone needs to call the Guinness Book of World Records. Seriously.

If you're up for an adventure, let me know. Maybe we can get you overseas for the trip (or eight) of a lifetime.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="512" caption="Catchpenny onstage with three POD xt Lives and a few new fans."][/caption]

Catchpenny onstage with three POD xt Lives and a few new fans.