Up Close and Personal Interview with Brandon Kellum of American Standards-
"I Have Only One Option and That Is To Move Forward"
Stop making excuses for tomorrow and take advantage of today.- Brandon Kellum of American Standards
Song River: We never know where our passion will take us, and now here you are, American Standards is heading in an upward direction and it has to feel good. What do you think came together for all of you and has created this tight bond that can be felt even through your music?
Brandon Kellum: I think having a similar mindset and perspective on things has helped us tremendously. We stopped caring about what was cool and started doing the band entirely for us.
SR: Many bands nowadays are taking control over their music and even their video work. Times have changed. You as a band have experienced releasing an album under a label and without a label. What were some of the positives and negatives you found in both?
Brandon Kellum: A label can be great for someone that wants structure or a roadmap to being in a band. For us, we've always been driven enough to make things happen on our own terms though so it's actually exciting to know that everything we get out of the band is a result of the work we put into it.
SR: There are things in life that can either make you or break you. Your band has been through losing a member by suicide. Talk a bit about your friend and bandmate. How it affected the overall direction of the band and your music. Plus, what have all of you learned from getting through and moving forward after the loss of someone so dear?
Brandon Kellum: I think when you experience the death of a close friend or family member you immediately start living in the "what ifs." What if you said or did something differently. That mindset often drives a lot to depression and anxiety about the future. You can take that negative though and turn it into a positive. Realize how precious life really is and use the time that you do have to make a possible impact for yourself and those around you. We know that we can't change what happened but we can help change the future.
SR: Depression, anxiety, mental illness is probably more prevalent in our society than most realize. What have you learned personally Brandon by going through this that you can take now and maybe help others?
Brandon Kellum: Two things. The first is that depression, anxiety and mental illness are all on a spectrum. Everyone gets a little sad sometimes but it's the way that we act on that feeling that matters. Always know when you need to reach out to talk to someone and also know that the feeling you have is only temporary. It will pass and be followed by several more positive ones if you allow it to.
Second. Never assume you'll have another chance to do something. Whether it be knocking that something off the bucket list you've always wanted to do or just telling someone what they mean to you.
Stop making excuses for tomorrow and take advantage of today.
SR: If I recall around that same time too Brandon you lost your father to cancer? Yet, through it all you have kept a positive outlook. How much do you think of this new album "Anti-Melody" is really all about living life and what comes with it in general?
Brandon Kellum: Yes. Honestly, I think the entire album is about that in one way or another. If I've come to any deeper understanding, it's that life is all about patterns. Every moment is the result of the one prior and each will give you a lesson and perspective to move forward. It's up to us to find it. I've never experienced something as traumatic as losing my father. The pain and thoughts were almost paralyzing at times but I kept thinking, "I only have one option and that is to move forward." I could do that living in the past or I could try to make the most of the present.
SR: You have released two videos from your new album- "Writers Block Party" and "Carpe Diem Tomorrow" who did you all work with on the videos?
Brandon Kellum: That would be the man, the myth, the legend- Jacob Reynolds. Jacob really acted as our eyes for these videos. We came in with the vision and he executed.
SR: Always curious as to how a band chooses the first single or video? How did you all go about the process?
Brandon Kellum: "Writers Block Party" was a song that we first started writing the instruments for during the recording process for the last EP, "Hungry Hands." It wasn't quite where we wanted it at the time so we held it for this album.
I think when it came time to chose a single, 'Writers...' was a natural choice as it felt like kind of the "prelude" to the album. Lyrically, it sets the ground for what's to come and musically it was a nice step into the right direction without entirely jumping off the cliff.
I almost wonder now though what the reaction will be to some of the more adventurous songs on the album.
SR: Brandon you have been growling your vocals now for how long? How do you care for your vocal chords?
Brandon Kellum: 15 years.... Half a lifetime! A lot of vocalists in the heavier genres will hold things like the Zen Of Screaming with Melissa Cross up on a pedestal. To be honest though, I call BS. Vocal chords were not designed to yell in a metal band and while there may be a way to preserve your voice, there isn't a one size fits all "right" way to do it.
What works for some, won't for others. I can guarantee that I'd never get my tone or sound holding in a whisper yell or by starting with 30 minutes of warm ups. I do drink lots of water though and warm tea if I need it. I try to get as much sleep as the road will warrant. I've also tried things like Dr Vox tea or Vocal Ease spray but even those to an extent I feel can be mind over matter.
Confidence is everything.
SR: Where will the tour season this summer into fall find American Standards?
Brandon Kellum: We just announced our first round of dates supporting the new album and they'll likely be more West and East coast shows to come.
the ANTI-MELODY tour
4/28 - Rebel Lounge *ALBUM RELEASE SHOW* (Phoenix, AZ)
5/19 - The Jam Spot (Albuquerque, NM)
5/20 - Tribal Asylum (Amarillo, TX)
5/21 - Savage Space (Tulsa, OK)
5/22 - Planet Zero (Fort Smith, AR)
5/23 - TBA (Memphis, TN)
5/24 - Bubba Spins Flop House (Kansas City, MO)
5/25 - The Elbow Room (Wichita, KS)
5/26 - Seventh Circle Music (Denver, CO)
5/27 - The Loading Dock (Salt Lake City, UT)
5/28 - Sparks Lounge (Reno, NV)
6/24 - The Nile Theater *w/ ZAO* (Mesa, AZ)
SR: And finally favorite hangout for you to eat, drink and be merry when you are at home in Phoenix, Arizona?
Brandon Kellum: I'm a huge nerd for retro video games so I love places like Cobra Arcade. I just try to avoid it on the weekends when the crowds get too crazy.
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Carpe Diem Tomorrow- American Standards