American Standard's Brandon Kellum Talks EP and Much More In-Store


American Standards is a punk infused Hardcore band from Phoenix, Arizona signed to We Are Triumphant. The album "Still Life" was released June of 2012 and is distributed worldwide in stores and online by Victory Records. Since forming the band has gone on to tour relentlessly playing festivals from all over from the UK to the US and have a new EP in the works and a whole lot more planned out. Frontman vocalist Brandon Kellum discusses the newest EP and upcoming plans.


1. Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in American Standards.

Brandon: My name is Brandon Kellum and I'm the vocalist for the band American Standards.

2. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?

Brandon: The band is based out of Phoenix, AZ. It's an interesting time here for the scene. Long time venues closing. New venues opening. Established acts calling it quits and bands in long term hiatus doing reunions. Another thing I've noticed in AZ is that for as long as I could remember, it's always been easy to point out the predominant genre and bands that are buzzing. It's cyclical though. It's like a style will grow so quickly that it goes from everyone loving it, to it being so popular that it's no longer "cool" to like. With this,  theres a trend of bands recycling styles and riding the coat tails of "the next big thing" for their shot at fame.  For the first time in a long time though, I feel like that predominant style isn't there. Maybe as I grow older I'm just not as in tune to it, but part of me wants to think that we've finally got to a point where bands are realizing that to stand out you really have to do your own thing. Otherwise, you'll always be a step behind the ones you're following. As for recommendations, I'm big into Lariats, Hot Skin, Andrew Jackson Jihad and Sleepwalker. All these bands  I feel have that sound that garnishes respect from across the board, regardless of what genre you're into.

3. What have you released so far and how were your releases received by the public/media?

Brandon: So far we've released a 3 song demo, a few one off singles and our 2012 EP "Still Life". We're on the verge of releasing another EP entitled "The Death of Rhythm and Blues" September 14th. To date we've been overwhelmed with the positive feedback from both fans and publications stateside and internationally. It's crazy to see Merch and CD orders from countries we've never even been to.

4. What should labels/zines/promoters know about your band? Why should they be interested in it?

Brandon: I would hope the sound speaks for itself in a way. We've found this weird spot where we never quite fit in on a show and we're always the odd band out. It's worked for us though. It's also allowed us to play these shows with bands ranging from indie, punk, hardcore and metal but still get the crowd going.
It also really comes down to the message in our songs that we all live day in and day out. Regardless of who you are and what your past is, you have the choice to take control and really do something beyond yourself. It's up to you to change your perception of seemingly negative experiences and know that in the end, these experiences are something we all share. American Standards is about pushing forward. It's about the movement that makes us feel alive. I think people really connect with that and see that passion and intensity at our shows.

5. Who produced The Death Of Rhythm And Blues and what was it like working with them?

Brandon: Joe Gerhard with JM Studios in Mesa, AZ. He's a great guy and also plays for the local band Sleepwalker. He worked with us on Still Life and over the years has grown with us and learned how to help us do what we do best.

6. Is there any story or concept behind the The Death Of Rhythm And Blues title?

Brandon: The Death and Rhythm and Blues has a personal meaning to me that goes beyond what's just in the lyrical content. We named it with the story of Robert Johnson in mind. The idea that a poor and struggling musician spent his life trying to do what he loved with little notoriety. He was then said to have sold his soul to the devil and almost instantly became more noticeably skilled in both his craft and  stature. At age 27 (the age I am currently) he died as had many of the great legends in rock and roll did. This really hits home with me in the sense of that struggle and working to do more despite any obstacles. In addition to these ties, the EP is actually the last album we will record with the original band line up. After its release, both our drummer and guitarist have made the choice to part with the band. So in a sense, it's the death of a chapter and birth of something new for us.

7. Who did the cover art for The Death Of Rhythm And Blues and how much input did you have on it?

Brandon: The art was actually painted in canvas by our bassist Corey Skowronski who going forward will be on guitar. We had a very clear vision in mind how we wanted to tie it into the album concepts and the famous scene of the crossroads in which Robert Johnson "sold his soul".

8. Select two songs from The Death Of Rhythm And Blues and what inspired the lyrics.

Brandon: The first song on the album "The Engine and the Engineer" was one I wrote while on the east coast for work. It was based on how technologically we've made so many advances to connect as humans but they've strangely had this unexpected backfire and in many ways built these barriers between us. It's seems we've become more connected and dependent on the machines and less to each other. As we make those machines more human like, we in a sense become more callous and machine like. It makes me think of how as a civilization we can see a horrific scene of human suffering or the saddest poverty and walk on without a second thought to it. We're conditioned to be unaffected and to treat every situation with little emotion.

The last song on the album is Misery Relapse. This is based that youthful rebellion that everyone has. That stage in life where you want to question everything and fight for what you feel is right. Sadly, when you have this passion, you don't always have the knowledge and experience it takes to effectively achieve whatever it is that you're fighting for. Over time, it becomes almost second nature to build a tolerance and accept things that you feel you can't change. As you become older, and hopefully wiser you are now broken down from the struggle and failures and not as opt to push forward. The song it's self is a personal challenge for me to keep that fire and that desire to progress.

9. What lyrical theme do you guys use in your music? what message do you want to send? What bands have influenced your band and its sound?

Brandon: It varies by song but struggle, progression and sociology political themes are reoccurring themes in several of our songs. I feel it is easy to connect to an audience using primal emotions such as love and hate- for me however, what I find exciting is getting an audience to connect to a more complex idea that runs a gambit of feelings. As for influences, Refused, Every Time I Die, Mewithoutyou, Rage Against The Machine, System if a Down... All huge for me.

10. Was your songwriting and recording process any different than usual for this EP?

Brandon: It was in some ways. We've always wanted to stay true to a very minimalist approach when it comes to production. We're a single guitar, single bass pedal band with little effects and nothing that can't be reproduced in a live show. On this album though, we found ourselves experimenting with different sounds and creative ways that we could incorporate them. It'll be interesting to see how it's received by the listeners. It was also the first time that we could call each song a collaborative approach. In the past, a member would bring a near complete product to the other members to learn. This time we spent plenty of time on the road together and in the practice room bouncing ideas around and building off them.

11. What's your take on The Death Of Rhythm And Blues as a whole?

Brandon: I feel it is a very natural progression from our Still Life EP while expanding on the dynamics. In many ways it's heavier and more anger filled yet also finds melodic aspects that we haven't had in past recordings.

12. What's your favorite song on the EP right now?

Brandon: That's tough and it seems to change by the day. Right now I would say lyrically, Misery Relapse. I also love Dead Man's Victory since its the newest track to us.

13. Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?

Brandon: Absolutely. If I'm not recreating the emotion in a way that's connectable to the listener, then all the songs are, are flat non-dimensional noise. At the end if the day, I want to create something that I would want to hear as a fan of music.

14. What would be the cinematic equivalent of The Death Of Rhythm And Blues?

Brandon: That's a tough one. The closest thing to a cinematic equivalent that I can think of for it would be an accumulation of Twilight Zone episodes. I've always loved the irony, existentialism and political themes that Rod Serling was able to incorporate into what would be considered sci-fi or a fantasy world.

15. What are your expectations for the EP?

Brandon: I hope it exceeds all expectations that our fans have for it while also reaching a new crowd.

16. Where is the new material headed?

Brandon: After this EP? I would say you will continually see us expanding in every direction musically encompassing more dynamics but still staying true to our core message. We've always wanted to experiment with new instruments and layers and with our current line up I believe that will become a reality.

17. What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?

Brandon: I would like them to remember it as something new and fresh. As a sound that that exposed them to a new way of thinking about heavy music. Something that their excited about and excited to share with others.

18. What plans do you have for the near future as a band?

Brandon: Just touring as much as possible, we have a few festival appearances lined up and hopefully a full length going into early 2014.

19. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?

Brandon: You can connect with us via the following social networks;

AMERICAN STANDARDS Facebook:
www.facebook.com/AmericanStandards

AMERICAN STANDARDS Bandcamp:
http://AmericanStndrds.bandcamp.com

AMERICAN STANDARDS YouTube:
www.youtube.com/AmericanStandardsAZ

AMERICAN STANDARDS Twitter:
www.twitter.com/AmericanStndrds

AMERICAN STANDARDS Instagram:
@AmericanStandards

20. Why should a metalhead buy your demos/albums?

Brandon: I think it'll give them something different that they haven't heard yet.

21. Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Brandon: Nothing more than a sincere thank you for all the support.

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