Exclusive Interview: American Standards talk writing and recording “Dopamine Dealer”!
The second part of our creature double feature of interviews with Phoenix Arizona Hardcore Punks American Standards finds us chatting with bassist Steven Mandell about the writing and recording of the bands latest burnt offering “Dopamine Dealer“. It’s a strange new world out there which is probably why the band are already half way through writing and recording a full length record to follow this one, even though it dropped less than four weeks ago. It has been over a decade of aggression from them, having formed in 2011 and so let there be many more!
How did your previous experiences writing and recording help to smooth the path of the new record? “We’re always open to trying new things. Not one of the previous recording sessions have been the same as the next. We’ve gone from recording drums in someone’s living room, to traveling to California to use the same amps as The Mars Volta, to wrapping blankets around our heads to record vocals in a warehouse. We don’t like it smooth. We like being surprised!”
How does the writing process of a new track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? How does it evolve from there before you consider it the finished article? “Most of the time we start with a riff. We build off that and after running through it a handful of times, we then start to tweak it and try different rhythms and things like that. We don’t really consider a song done until we record it so we can listen back at it and be like “Oh okay. That’s how that part is going to go from now on”. Meanwhile, when we play the song live we always just go with the vibe”
What was it like working with Phoenix Gloom Rap artist Cody Milford of The God Samaritan on “The Tourist“? “When the idea was brought up to include The God Samaritan on our song The Tourist, each one of us agreed immediately that we were stoked on that idea. We all listen to different genres and styles of music and we love playing mixed genre shows. We’ve known Cody for awhile and it just seemed like the right fit”
The record was mixed by Sad Ghost Studios and mastered by Nada Recording (My Chemical Romance, Bayside, Shai Hulud). How did you come to choose them for the purpose and what was involved in the process from the bands perspective? “We’ve know Aaron Mitchell at Sad Ghost for years. We’ve done shows with his band An Awful Mess and he’s booked us for events he organizes. We knew he understood the sound and energy we’re going for, so we tested the waters with the single ‘The Pendulum, The Podium’ before going back to record DOPAMINE DEALER. John Naclero at Nada Recording was introduced to us through Manic Kat. He’s produced and mastered some legendary stuff so there was no hesitation handing the mixes over for his final touch”
For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “My main bass is a Fender Aerodyne. I switched out the neck to a custom reverse headstock with hipshot tuners. For a long time I have used GHS Boomer strings but recently I’ve been rocking strings by the company Black Harbor based out of SLC. After my first 3 week tour lugging around an Ad200 with an Ampeg 8×10, I soon switched to an Orange Tiny Bass Terror with an Acoustic 8×10. Wrapping up my gear, I use monster cables when I’m wired in, but I use my Shure GLXD16 Wireless that is also my tuner live. Along with my ErnieBall volume pedal, I have my Darkglass B7K always on and for some grittier parts I use my ProCo Rat”
What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “Gear-wise, I feel like we’re happy keeping it simple. With our live performances, there’s always a possibility of something snapping or breaking in some way. So no point in having crazy expensive gear. That’s just my personal opinion. Maybe sticks and strings would be helpful with the amount we run through, but all in all we’d probably benefit more from some sort of coffee or energy drink for the amount of hours we spend while on the road”
“Dopamine Dealer” by American Standards is out now and is available everywhere you’d expect it to be including bandcamp.