With us today we have something a little different than usual. We have Brandon Kellum the vocalist of American Standards a chaos driven noise punk band. I certainly welcome his company at Abusement Park. American Standards have been hard at work on new music so continue reading to find out a bit more…
American Standards have been hard at work on a full length for a little while now, what details can you give us about that?
Ya, I’m actually responding to this email while on the road back home from the studio in California. At this point, tracking and mixing is done and we’ll be sending the album to get mastered with Brad Boatright at Audiosiege here in the next week or so. We did 8 tracks at Kingsize Soundlabs (Mars Volta, OFF, Bad Religion) then mixed with Andy Marshall of The Residency. Hoping to have the first single out in December 2016.
The last we heard from you was the 3 song EP Hungry Hands, how does the new material compare to that?
It feels like the new stuff is a bigger jump in the progression of the band then past releases. We’ve never been a band to compete with others to be the heaviest or most technical, rather just really focused on writing solid songs that resonate with us and that push our own dynamics. With these songs we explored a lot more of what I think makes us American Standards who we are as a band like the complex drum rhythms, prominent bass lines and attention to both Corey and my vocal hand offs. We also had the opportunity to put some time into the recording whereas in the past we were running up against recording hours and other deadlines.
It seems like you have influences from all over, what major musical influences can be heard on the new material?
Ah, that’s always a tough question. I feel like some of the common comparisons we get are bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Chariot, Refused and Every Time I Die. I’d like to think with the new material we took those but also blended in a more varied mix ranging from bands like Rage Against The Machine and System Of A Down to Cancer Bats and Deftones.
We talked about the inspirations to the sound of the album but what about lyrically? Are there any overall themes to this?
It’s always interesting to me to hear about how other vocalists approach lyrics. For some, I think the first word isn’t written until the instruments are at close to 100%. For me, I’m constantly jotting down ideas daily as they come. By the time it comes to record, I’ll typically have a few notepads full of lines then I just get a feel for what song has a mood that correlates to what I’m trying to express. Makes it easier for me in a lot of ways but also sometimes paints me into a hole where I need to make what I’m trying to say fit the constraints of the song.
For this record we had a lot of time between Hungry Hands and now. Not to get too political but we’ve had one of the most insane presidential elections I think the US has ever seen. Adjacent to it; movements, protests, riots…. you name it. All of this magnified by this new world of social media that we live in. A world where simultaneously everyone has a voice but are lost in the noise. A world where algorithms dictate what the mass public accepts as fact and headlines are the only ideas that are shared. If there’s a theme of the record, it’s that the same things that bring us together, the same categories we create and tribes that we build- those also divide us. Make it easier to point the blame at someone with opposing views or paint a group of people with a broad stroke based on an arbitrary title we’ve assigned to them. So with the new record we really dive into that across multiple songs.
There are also songs a little more personal to me. For example one about the loss of my father to cancer last year. He worked till the day of his diagnosis. Stage 4 and was given weeks to live but still wanted to go on with his life exactly as he was living it. He passed within the month.
Another about our late guitarist who took his life earlier in the year. Someone we spent several years with writing, recording and touring. Depression got the best of him and everyone he’s touched has been forever changed.
It’s great to see you guys continue on and must be seriously awesome to have an outlet like this band to get past the darker sides of life.
Does any of this translate to future cover art?
Good question. We’re just about at the point. We’ve been lucky to have someone like Corey in our band with a real knack for stuff like that. He’s design all our past albums and merch. I’m excited to see what he’ll come up with for this.
This new one was recorded in California, why go out of state?
Yeah, we really bit off a little more then I think we realized at the time by choosing to do a full length out of town. It’s been a great experience and there are definitely some benefits to it outside of the obvious caliber of the studio itself. One being it forces the entire band to be present and interact in the entire process from beginning to end. When you record in town, it’s too easy for the guys to show up for their parts and leave for the others. Downside of it all though is the timeline. Every time we have a new idea that we want to track, it’s a 6 hour drive back to Los Angeles. In total, I believe we’ve done 5 trips over the course of 3 months.
Tell us about the recording process. It sounds like you tried some new things with Hungry Hands is there any more of that?
We definitely kept the experimentation going on this one. It’s always been important for us to have a more natural recording though, so a lot of the production tricks people maybe use to from other bands in our genre just isn’t our thing. No triggered drums, all real equipment going through mic’d cabs. Nothing that we can’t recreate live for the most part. The only exception to that are the very minor things we did to add texture to the songs. Some grand piano, harmonica, minimal strings and strangely enough- crunching of potato chips into a mic. That’s the fun stuff that I think listeners may not catch all of on the first few listens but it’ll keep it interesting to discover.
You were said to be too DIY for your own good, what does that mean to you?
When we decided to leave the label back in 2012, we were already doing the bulk of the work that any independent band would be doing. We were planning and funding our own recording, merch, touring and being 100% present on any social media or press outlet that we could find. Over the years as the band has continued to grow, so has the time invested into maintaining all that. Becomes almost another full time job responding to everything, making trips to the post office to mail out merch, promoting and just doing what’s needed to be as engaged as we need and want to be.
You mentioned that you guys straddle the line of being hardcore/metal so you get put on a weird mix of shows. Who are your favorite bands to have played with?
It seems that way. We’ve been asked to do shows with bands ranging from GWAR and Danzig to Atreyu and Emery. Some of our favorite that come to mind from this year were definitely Every Time I Die, Norma Jean and Stray From The Path. All bands that we’ve done multiple shows with in the past but are always stand up dudes that bring a great crowd.
Also how was the album release show for the Ned Flanders inspired band Okilly Dokilly?
It was awesome. Okilly Dokilly are truly some of the nicest guys and really talented musicians. I think they know what they’re doing when it comes to the gimmick and they pull it off well. Above everything, they have this cool opportunity to play for a unique crowd of people both in and out of the punk or metal community. That warrants an environment where the crowd is in on the joke and even though it’s heavy music, everyone’s there to have fun. Kind of strips out the attitudes and tough guy mentalities when you’re watching a band screaming Ned Flanders quotes.
I also saw you played with Glitterbomb recently. I loved their split with Woundvac, who are your current favorite bands from Arizona?
Yeah, Glitterbomb are definitely the homies and Woundvac are gnarly. Brennen from Glitterbomb was actually our original guitarist and their drummer (Mike Cook), recorded drums for our Hungry Hands EP. Outside of them, highly recommend the AZ locals; Coma Prevail, Prize Fight, Spoiled, Strelitza and Lifelink. So many good things coming out of Arizona.
I love Spoiled!
How would you describe American Standards in the live setting? The pictures you sent me look like it gets pretty intense!
The live show is everything for us. If it were up to me, that’d be the first way that someone discovers American Standards because it really is something we put a lot of passion into. When you come to our show, we know your spending your time and money and we want to make it worth it.
What formats are you guys planning to release this on?
For formats, we did CD, vinyl, cassette and digital on the Hungry Hands EP. For the new one, it’s still up in the air but we’re hoping to do something similar.
If American Standards were offered a chance to have an extravagant WWE entrance before a show, how crazy would it get, what all would go down, and what would the entrance music be?
Ah man, that’s tough. I’ve personally always been a fan of guys like The Undertaker, Mankind and Sting. I’m not sure a band of 4 dudes coming down from the rafters makes sense though. It may be more fun to go the route of DX. Get Rage Against The Machine to write a theme song for us and just be belligerent and cause havoc.
Catch American Standards live at these upcoming shows:
Nov. 19th – Frogees – Apple Valley, CA
Nov. 20th – The Aging Room – Long Beach, CA
Dec. 3rd – Metro Bar – Salt Lake City, UT
Dec. 4th – TBA – Henderson, NV
Dec. 9th – The Rebel Lounge – Phoenix, AZ
Treat yourself to some pay what you want music at the American Standards bandcamp!
To keep up with the progress of the new LP and future shows like them on Facebook