Exclusive Interview: Brandon Kellum of American Standards!
There aren’t many bands that can carry off a chaotic style with enough control to avoid sounding like a car crash. One such band is Phoenix Arizona’s AmericanStandards. A complex and emotionally and politically charged Hardcore Punk quartet, they’ve suffered a few lows in amongst the highs of 300 plus DIY shows. They have a discography that features a trio of studio albums and an EP (2012’s “Still Life”, 2013’s “The Death of Rhythm and Blues”, 2014’s “Hungry Hands” EP and 2017’s “Anti-Melody”) in their 8 years together. We spoke to vocalist Brandon Kellum about all things American Standards…
You’ve let us have a pair of singles in “Phantom Limb” and “Weep” since the last album. Are you planning an EP or album that will feature those songs or are they standalone works?
Sometimes the best plans are unplanned. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. We originally wanted to test the waters with a few studios before jumping into another album. Luckily we feel like we struck gold on the second try with Backroom Studios (New Jersey).
What was it like working with former Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist Kevin Antreassian and having him mix and master your February single “Phantom Limb”? How did he end up getting involved?
It was pretty random. We had just released WEEP when a buddy reached out to ask where we recorded. He mentioned he had looked into Kevin’s Studio, which at the time wasn’t even on our radar. I shot Kevin a message and he seemed genuinely excited to work together- or maybe he just said “sure”. Either way, I took it as a good sign. We knew Kevin understood the sound so the whole process was really easy. Honestly, I wish we could go back and do some of the old stuff with this level of quality. Excited about what’s to come though.
Single “Weep” references the loss of original guitarist Cody Conrad and your father. Has the band provided catharsis for that? Have you got any plans to re-release the self titled debut EP in the light of those events?
WEEP was really about dealing with anxiety, depression and loss. Regret and thoughts of how things could of been different if a another set of choices were made. Corey was going through a pretty tough break up at the time and he kind of took lead with that song. I think it gave a new dimension to the band and hopefully helped others connect on a more personal level.
We did recently gain the rights back to “Still Life” (2012) which allowed us to remaster and re-release it. If it were up to me, we would of remixed it as well but that studio and original files are long gone. The remastered version of Still Life is now on bandcamp and pretty much any streaming music platform. We’ve also talked about going back to re-record some of the old demos and singles that we did with Cody. If we did that, I’d really want to involve some of the original AmStan members in some way.
You’re racked up 300 plus shows in your career to date. Of the bands you’ve been lucky enough to share the stage with, who was the most fun to play with? Having seen some of those bands rise to become house hold names, which of them are you most proud of having played with?
At a national level, we always have huge respect for Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, Emery and Atreyu. Each of those bands have been grinding for the better part of the last two decades and they’re just as humble now as ever.
As for touring with, Steaksauce Mustache was a blast. Just don’t tell them we said that. Those guys will go into a dive bar show on Sunday night and play like it’s a sold out arena. Each night with them was a step towards oblivion as we tried to out do each other.
There is the lack of a cover song in your back catalogue. Who are your major Influences?
We’ve definitely never recorded a cover but we use to play a few live. Think we started with a few from Poison The Well, MewithoutYou and Alexisonfire. Ended up playing “Rather Be Dead” by Refused at shows so much that people started comparing us as a band to Refused. I’ll take that comparison any day.
Do you appreciate comparisons to Keith Buckley of Everytime I Die with your vocal delivery and lyrical stylings with “Anti-Melody”? It’s a fine album and frankly we think some of those comparisons were a bit lazy!
That’s like saying I resemble Ryan Gosling. I’ll take the compliment… but also, go home. You’re drunk.