American Standards release new single “Weep”

Wednesday 30th May 2018

Whether you can call it chaotic hardcore, mathcore or experimental metalcore, the noise laden genre full of dissonant guitars and odd time signatures has had somewhat of a revival in the last few years. While bands like Converge and Every Time I Die continue to release groundbreaking albums, newer acts such as Frontierer, Employed To Serve and The Armed serve up a fresh take on the style.

This is where Phoenix, Arizona’s American Standards come in. Formed in 2011, the band has independently released four EPs and toured with some of the biggest names in and out of the extreme genre. Their newest offering “WEEP” was premiered May 18th, 2018 exclusively through Decibel Magazine.

The song, which could be teasing a new album to come, employs several of the staples that fans are accustomed to, from instruments that erupt into chaos only to stop on a dime, to panic chords which lay the foundation for an unrestrained vocal delivered, with the intensity of a screaming banshee. Where “WEEP” really shines though, is in its attention to song structure and dynamics. It’s these elements that give “WEEP” its replay value. Rather than being overly technical or heavy for the sake of heavy, it makes the song multidimensional, allowing listeners to really feel the emotion that the band speaks of below.

We all had a hell of a year. From losing friends and family to other struggles in our lives, it wasn’t hard to get down about stuff. It also wasn’t uncommon to be out having a good time when that heavy feeling would hit me like a ton of bricks. WEEP is about how your past can affect your present. Its about trying to put your life together after tragedy. It’s easy to dwell on negative experiences but at some point you have to decide to pull yourself up and change your perspective because at the end of the day, sometimes that’s all that you have control over.” -Brandon Kellum

So, if you’re feeling the void left by bands such as The Chariot, Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Coalesce and The Bled; check out American Standards.

Connect with American Standards via their WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

Alive & Well – Interview

Sunday 31st December 2017

Just when you think the past 12 months of music discovery are coming to a close, and as I’m sat here wondering what bands, artists and releases really peaked for me this year, another contender races in to firmly add their place in my ones to watch for 2018.  Bassist and Vocalist Mike Mule of San Diego band Alive & Well recently contacted me with their latest single “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit” and with its tremendous intro and relatable lyrics, it instantly reminded me of why pop-punk still holds a special place in my heart.  Along with the hardcore elements thrown in too, I can’t deny that I’m already hooked!  Having released their debut EP “From Basements to Beaches” in 2016, they have since gone on to play at the Vans Warped Tour and opened up for the likes of The Ataris and Dashboard Confessional, so not only am I hoping that a new release is on the cards soon, I’m certain that bigger things are coming.

Let’s start things off with an introduction and some history behind the band. Where and how did you all meet, have you been in bands previously, and what made you decide to form Alive & Well?

Alive & Well has a real fun story actually. Matt had the songs and the idea of the band formed back in New Jersey roughly 2012 ish and then moved out here to San Diego. We actually met at Ramen Spot new years day over a conversation about a band hoodie I was wearing. At the time I was playing in a hardcore band and invited Matt to our next show. The guy who formed the band left and I ended up asking Matt to fill in. When I sent him an email with all the songs and band info, a thread from 2 years prior popped up. Turned out that we actually attempted to get together before and it never worked out with schedules and what not. After a few months, the hardcore band started to fizzle out and Matt informed me that he had a pop punk band he was working on and just needed a bassist. I came to one practice and now here we are. Alive & Well.

You class yourselves as a pop-punk band, but there are definitely noticeable hardcore elements to your sound, and it works really well.  What has drawn you to these genres?

Growing up on the east coast there was a ton of awesome hardcore bands it was almost hard to not get into it. Those basement, house, VFW Hall, and small club shows are such an insanely fun time and the energy and unity that hardcore shows bring are unlike any other musical experience. Matt and I definitely have more of a hardcore background and try to keep some of the elements in our songs.

You released your debut EP ‘From Basements to Beaches’ in June. What’s the story behind the release, and how are you finding the response to your music so far?

We had such a fun time with the making of the EP, from recording to the EP album cover. The whole idea behind the name is just about the changes from east coast to west coast. We (Matt and myself) grew up hanging out in basements, now we’re on beaches. We recorded with Beau Burchell of Saosin at his studio in LA. From there we made the video for ‘No Winter in the West’ with our buddy Alejandro Miyashiro who was in school in New York. Luckily Matt was back there to visit family and Alejandro came back to San Diego for a school break a few months later, so what should have been a logistical nightmare worked out fairly well and we were able to have parts of the video on both coasts. As for the EP cover, we literally built a basement on the beach. The tide came in quick and almost brought it all crashing down. It was nuts.  Being an unsigned band and all transplants to a new city, we’re thrilled with the traction this EP has picked up.

Are you looking to follow up with another EP or album in the near future?

We’re hoping to have something out early 2018.

Your single ‘You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit’ is such a solid track!  What was your process of putting the song together and was it written through personal experiences?

First off thank you so much! That song was actually planned to be on the FBTB EP but it didn’t work out that way. We recorded with our good friend Peter Duff at his studio Grey Brick and decided to release it as a single. We’ve all had those jobs that we fully despise and know how it feels to just get stuck in a position you hate so yes, there are definitely personal experiences in that one!

Will there be a video release for the single?

We’re hoping to have a video for that one in the near future.

Who are your musical influences, and are there any bands in particular that you model yourselves on?

Our influences range from Bruce Springsteen to Every Time I Die and everything in between. I wouldn’t say we model ourselves off of one band in particular or even genre. We try to look at everything in the music industry and see what little pieces we can pick out and use for ourselves.

There’s a huge pop-punk scene in the States and it’s a genre that is standing the test of time; bands like New Found Glory and Yellowcard recently made it to their 20th year anniversary. Is this something you also hope to achieve as a band, and where do you feel you currently fit amongst the current wave?

We’re excited enough that we’re going in to our 4th year as a full band. 20 years would be a dream come true! Matt and I were actually at the NFG 20th anniversary show here in San Diego and it was like their first year as a band as far as energy goes. They were so pumped, the crowd was pumped. That’s what it’s all about. When the fun is over, the band is over.

What’s the music scene like in San Diego for DIY bands like yourselves?

San Diego actually actually has a really great music scene that is overlooked sometimes. There’s tons of great bands and everyone has great things going on it’s almost too hard to pay attention to it all. When DIY bands team up and support each other, they all move forward together. We’re all on the same team so it’s really awesome to see your friends progress and succeed.

Looking back over the past 12 months, what would you say have been your biggest highlights, and where do you hope to take the band in 2018? 

Every show is the greatest day for Alive & Well but there are definitely some huge highlights. We got to open for Dashboard in a tiny secret show, play Van’s Warped Tour, and open for The Ataris and The Queers all in a year. Our goal for 2018 is to be on the road more and keep the dream alive one show at a time.

Connect with Alive & Well via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

American Standards – Interview

Wednesday 6th December 2017

Following the release of their 4th studio album “Anti-Melody” I chat with with lead vocalist, Brandon Kellum about the history of his band and the challenges they’ve faced.  American Standards are a hardcore 4-piece from Phoenix AZ, with the mantra “Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen.” and after loosing a band member to suicide and a family member to cancer, keeping focused has been the main priority.  Using music as an outlet to channel their emotions has helped to produce their most raw and powerful album yet, and they’ve become more focused than ever.  Brandon talks to me about their process, how the band have continued to develop, and what they’ve got planned for the year ahead.

For those of us just discovering you in the UK, please could you tell me more about yourselves and how American Standards formed?

Around 2010 our previous bands fell apart and American Standards came together. We were a bit older and little more mature about our goals for the band and how we wanted to go about reaching them. We wanted to do something loud and aggressive but still maintain good song structures with dynamics. We also wanted a strong focus on the message and building a community to influence positive change. All this with no egos or tough guy machismo that can commonly be found in heavy music.

What bands were you in previously and what made you decide to pursue music as a career?

Before American Standards I was in The Hostage Situation which was more of a southern rock influenced metal band. At its core, music for me is all about having genuine connections. It’s a community of people with similar interests connecting in ways that you might not otherwise. Those experiences are everything.

You initially signed to a label in 2011, but then a couple of years later decided to go back to being independent. What were the reasons for this at the time, and what differences do you feel it made to the band?

As generic as it sounds, we really just didn’t have the same core values. We didn’t go into it trying to be rockstars, playing sold out shows 300 days out of the year. We just wanted to play the kind of music that we love at shows that we would be stoked to go to ourselves. Being on the label sometimes felt counterproductive to that; being on someone else’s schedule who’s vision sometimes felt like it valued quantity over quality. Now as an independent band we know that everything we achieve is a direct result of the work that we put into it. We don’t have to compromise for less.

How do you feel that platforms such as Kickstarter and BandCamp help independent bands like yourselves with getting your music out there and connecting with fans?

I think they’re really a necessity for DIY bands. Services like Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play are great for discovering new music but they really don’t help smaller bands too much in terms of funding the touring and recording that’s vital to get to the next level. When you get our music or buy merch through our bandcamp, you know that the money is going direct to the artist.

You’ve got quite a lot of material behind you, and released your 4th album earlier this year. How does it compare to your previous material, and how have you found the reaction so far?

Anti-Melody really continues on our path of progression as a band. I think we wrote some of our most diverse songs and really focused on telling the story of the album.

How did you find the process of putting the album together, as it followed quite a distressing time for the band; and how did it feel hearing the finished album?

It was a little hectic and we really didn’t know the future of the band. We parted ways with our drummer shortly after we released Hungry Hands. We then spent some time bringing Mitch up to speed all while balancing shows and other commitments. Finally we committed some time to the writing process and during so found out about both the suicide of one of our founding members and shortly after the passing of my father to cancer. All this made us re-evaluate the direction of the album and due to some complications we also had to take the tracks which we had recorded at Kingsize Soundlabs back home to self mix as produce. It’s raw and gritty but maybe adds a little to the honesty in the music.

What’s your writing process, and what drives you to write as a political band?

It’s pretty old school. We all get in a room and jam till we have something that we’re proud of. If it doesn’t come organically, we don’t force it. We just want to be excited about anything we put time into. As for the political aspect, I think it varies. I write about what’s important to me and what evoked an emotion. It’s almost to my detriment as sometimes I fear that I may be alienating others that aren’t quite at that point in their life. Either way, it’s true to me and I couldn’t do it any other way.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged you and helped you to develop your sound?

Growing up it was bands like System Of A Down, Rage Against The Machine And Refused. Any band that had something important to say and did so with passion and tact. Coming into American Standards we all connected on the late 90s, early 2000s post hardcore and metalcore. Bands like; Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, The Chariot, Converge, Botch, Fear Before The March Of Flames and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

How do you feel that you’ve developed as a band over the years?

We’ve definitely come to a better understanding of our sound and what it is that we have to offer people. We’ve paid more attention to song writing and dynamics. Really focused on giving people an experience at the live shows.

What are your plans for 2018, and will we get to see you this side of the pond?

Hopefully! Playing the UK has always been a dream but it’s really just a matter of logistics. If all lines up from a transportation and gear perspective, we’d be there in a heartbeat. Think it’s just a matter of partnering with the right people to make it happen. Until then, we’re already working on new music and are about to announce our first US tour of 2018 here shortly. Follow us on our socials, bandcamp or by using the free bandsintown app to keep up.

Connect with American Standards via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Lifelink – Interview

Thursday 7th September 2017

Hailing from Arizona, Lifelink are a hardcore 5-piece that have got ‘live band’ written all over them.  Watching the video to their latest single “Terminal” I was straight away reminded of the likes of Bring Me The Horizon.  After watching through a load of Lifelink videos on YouTube, including the live videos, I found the band to be a refreshing new addition to the scene.  Okay, so these guys have been going for a few years already, but I have just been graced with their music and I already hear a band that I know put on a good show.  They spend a heck of amount of time touring, so I’m hoping they arrive on UK shores soon. Their third EP “Love Lost” has just been released, so I had a chin wag with frontman, Luke Blanchard who explains more about the EP.

Hello! For those of us just discovering you in the UK, please could you tell me more about yourselves and how Lifelink formed? 

Hello! I’m Luke Blanchard and I sing for Lifelink. We’ve all been in different bands ever since we were kids and kinda all just met through our hometown scene. Lifelink was formed in 2014.

How do you feel that you’ve developed as a band over the years? 

I mean we’re still kinda a younger band right now but even in this short amount of time I feel like the music has just matured so much since our first releases.

You’ve got quite a bit of material behind you.  What’s been the response to your music so far, and how are you finding the reactions to your latest EP “Love Lost?”

I’m always super nervous that kids aren’t gonna like the new stuff but so far the response has been way better than I even imagined.

How does “Love Lost” compare to your previous material, and are there any notable differences or developments?

I personally think “Love Lost” is just a lot more aggressive and mature than anything we’ve ever done before. We kinda found out what we liked and didn’t like and just tried to write songs that help separate us from the norm.

Are there any tracks in particular that you were excited to get out there?

It had been a little while since we had showed anyone the new music so since the CD came out I’ve just been so excited about getting them all out there.

How did you find the process of putting your third EP together, and were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Kam and Josh wrote most of it when we had down time on tour, and then by the time we came home we had it all done and already planned out who we were gonna go with. No actually,  it was pretty planned out what songs were going on the record.

What’s your writing process as a band? How do you all come together to create the final track, and how do you know when a song is ready? 

Mainly Kam and Josh write songs and show them to the rest of the guys, then we tweak em a little and once all the music parts are done I write lyrics over it. Usually everyone has a good idea of when we find the final product.

Who did you work with to create the video for your single “Terminal,” and how did it feel seeing it finished?

Our dude Cory Davis filmed it! It’s always a crazy feeling seeing something you worked so hard on finished.

Do you have any upcoming live dates, and are there any plans to tour this side of the pond?

Yea! We tour pretty hard and try to just stay working on the road, we have a couple US tours to announce. As far as going overseas, I don’t wanna say anything because nothing is set in stone. But hopefully you’ll be seeing us over there soon.

Finally, what other artists are you listening to at the moment and do you have any recommendations?

I always find myself just listing to my friends’ bands cause they’re all just so good. Right now my tops are Kaonashi, Vessels, Bungler, Genesis Company, Castaway, Outlier, and Wrvth.

Connect with Lifelink via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.