On June 11th, 2012 we talked to Arizona’s AMERICAN STANDARDS, a hardcore punk band that recently scheduled touring with TOUCHE AMORE and JOYCE MANOR in support of their new album entitled “The Still Life” being released June 30th. DIY ethics, positive emotions and raw power included.
Hey. Cool to have you guys. What’s up? What’s going on in Arizona? [smiles]
Thanks for having us! We’re excited to work with Idioteq. You guys feature some rad bands. As for Arizona, pretty much just the heat is going on. We’ve been dealing with the 100+ degree weather lately so we all feel for the bands practicing in their garages.
Nice, thank you! As we are truly interested in local music scenes around the world, please tell us everything about your local DIY arts community.
There’s a real interesting, and I would even go on the verge of saying exciting, thing going on in our local scene. Despite what all the scene bashers will say, Arizona has been a pretty great launching pad for bands to jump from the local to national spotlight. We’ve had bands ranging from JIMMY EAT WORLD, THE BLED, JOB FOR A COWBOY, THE MAINE, GREELEY ESTATES and more that have all become successful on various levels. Having played in the scene for almost ten years now, I always remember seeing these bands grow into big local bands then hit the road for an indefinite amount of touring. There would always be that point though where it was pretty clear who the “biggest” or “most popular” bands in the local scene were. Maybe I’m just getting older or I’m not as in tune, but at this point in our scene, it really feels like there’s not just one or two “big” bands. Instead, there’s a large pool of bands that are all helping each other grow together. Where as it use to be the bands with the money or connections got the best recording, photography, promotion, gigs ect…. Now all that stuff is available at anyone’s level. Anyone can have a home studio, a professional quality camera, promote worldwide online, or can book a show. We, for example, invested in our own screen press machine which has allowed us to press all our own merch. We then help other bands get merch cheaper then they ever would else where and in return they may help us with recording, or something along those lines.
It’s bitter sweet. We all have equal opportunities to express ourselves, but we are presenting that art to an over saturated and sometimes uninterested audience.
For AMERICAN STANDARDS we have really made an effort though to adapt to these changes and incorporate the old DIY Ethics with all that’s available in the internet age of media. You’ll see us dropping fliers off at record stores just as much as you’ll see us posting something online. We also network with other local bands and businesses to brainstorm what works and what doesn’t. How we can all get ourselves out there and benefit from each other. And how can we truly give the people that support us something unique and special to them.
What local bands would you recommend people check out?
There are so many great Arizona bands just on the verge of breaking now. Bands like LARIATS, THE AUTHOR and THE FAIR AND DEBONAIR literally put out some of the best albums I’ve heard this year on a local or national level. And then there’s our good friends in RUN WITH THE HUNTED, MOVE FORWARD, SLEEPWALKER and HOUR OF THE WOLF. All highly recommended.
What’s up with the “Hope For The Hopeless” fest? What’s the story behind the project?
When we started the band we knew we wanted to make it something that got the crowd involved. Not only going wild in the circle pit, but also make it feel like they were a part of it all. We referred to it as treating the band as a platform for others to build upon. So Hope For The Hopeless is exactly that. We made this touring festival where we post a poll online. Friends and fans can pick non profit charities local to their community then vote for where all the event proceeds will be donated too. In addition, fans help pick the local bands and we also get the local media very involved in the experience. We commonly host raffles where fans get raffle tickets for donations and then the winners that are drawn get free stuff from the bands playing. It’s a really cool event. As an extension of it, we created the Hope For The Hopeless compilation CD featuring 14 bands. The CD is available at independent retailers and online. All proceeds go to HALO, a no kill animal shelter.
So you’re releasing “Still Life” on June 30th, two days after my birthday [smiles]. Tell us more about your time spent in JM Studio, the mixing and mastering process and everything related. How was it?
Well we figured we’d get you a little something special for the birthday. It’s been almost a year in the making so we hope you like it. [laughs]
We are all really stoked on the CD. It was such a unique experience recording it. We tracked the first song “Bottom Feeder” just about 8 months back for the release of the Hope For The Hopeless compilation CD. When we did, we were blown away by the JM Studio environment and knew we had to do the CD there. Joe and Mike are some of the nicest dudes. Laid back but professional. Know what their doing. We can be using the most obscure terms and just making noises with our mouths and they know what we are going for before it’s even fully verbalized. It was also nice as a band to be off the hourly rates that some studios charge. They set a fair price and gave us as much time as we needed to get it done right. Although, I expect over these last couple weeks with the CD Release deadline coming close we may have made these guys crazy sending the tracks back and forth with requested revisions. [laughs] We hope as a debut EP…. we only previously had self released demo’s, that it really shows our growth as a band. It will also show a lot of contrast and dynamics to get people pumped for the full length already brewing in our minds.
What guests do you plan on having on the album?
We don’t want to give too much away… If you’ve heard the two singles we’ve released off the EP so far though, “Bottom Feeder” features James Hall of THE AUTHOR and “Harvester” has Alex Arvizu of THE FAIR AND DEBONAIR and Joe Gerhard of SLEEPWALKER. Their styles all really complemented those songs and it was cool to work with some talented guys.
What can we expect at the release show?
Chaos. [laughs] Probably just a bunch of sweaty dudes rock n rolling and breaking stuff really. We’re hyped for the line up though and we added the incentive of $1 CD’s for everyone that comes, new merch designs and free screen prints of the CD Artwork. Enticing.
Will you be looking for a label to support the distribution? What could an independent record label truly offer you?
That’s a good question. To date, everything we’ve done has been pretty DIY. We haven’t “shopped around” for a label but if the right one came along we wouldn’t be opposed to seeing what we would have to offer each other.
With our first 3 song release we actually folded hundreds of paper selves, hand wrote all the lyrics and passed them out to just about anyone that would take one. The “Still Life” EP will be much more at a professional level [laughs] but it’s still basically all us. We teamed with the local company Disc2Day to press the copies with bar codes to legitimize it but that’s about it.
We’ve kind of lucked out. Our bassist Corey is an amazing artist that draws up our designs, I personally book a large part of our touring, press release and distribution then Cody also designs and runs the screen press. That has allowed us to print out our own shirts, pins, stickers, posters and just about everything else we need.
Cool. You’re doing a few of shows in June, July and September. Aren’t you tempted to hit the national roads for a bigger party?
Yeah, June has been especially wild. Between the CD release and all that goes with that, the filming of two music videos to support it, then hitting the road for shows with TOUCHE AMORE, JOYCE MANOR, THE HOPE AND THE HOPELESS Festival and some Wartimes Records dates in Texas…. it’s really been non stop. July let’s up a bit but not much. Then September we’ve got the With In These Walls festival which is this huge 2 day event with 30+ national bands including SICK OF IT ALL, INDECISION, DROPDEAD and more. For us, we’ve always been a band that plays a couple local shows a month but plays out of town as much as possible. We’ve still got jobs, but keeping those are a delicate balancing act. I think where ever people want to see us we will find a way to get there.
Any chances to see you live in Europe some time soon?
I hope so. Bands over here have fared pretty well there I hear. Some of our local buddies have even said they prefer to play Europe and their fan base there is equivalent if not more than back home. If any one has the contacts to make it happen, get at us!
Besides playing shows, how do you plan to promote the outing? Do you try to spread the word worldwide or mostly focus on your local scene?
Worldwide, absolutely. With the internet there is no reason not too. We search online daily for new blogs, zines, sites ect…. Anyone were we can both build a working relationship that benefits each other. We also adapt the old street team methods of dropping off fliers and slapping stickers across the US with the help of our friends and fans.
Facebook is now requiring page owners to pay to have their status updates read by everyone who “liked” them. What’s your opinion on that? How do you use Facebook for “marketing”?
It really is what it is. We don’t like or agree with it, but as a band have to live with it. Every few posts you see people trying to explain how to get around it. Maybe, they’ll be enough unrest to get Facebook to change their ways… when it come’s down to it though, it’s just another business trying to please it’s stockholders. Maybe its time for it to die. Just like every other social media that has come to pass, it will run it’s cycle and a new one will arise. Who remembers Myspace? Friendster? Live Journal? Angelfire….okay that last one was a stretch. Point is, Facebook is a great way to get out there if you use it right. If the people that “like” your band actually “like” your band. Otherwise it’s just a popularity contest. It’s a tool. It’s not the only way and there is and will be other ways to get discovered.
True true, my friend. MySpace is expected to raise at the end of the year with a new design, so we’ll see what happens.
I know you’re big fans, so I have to ask [smiles]. Have you attended one of the REFUSED reunion shows?
Next question [laughs]. No unfortunately we have not. Those Coachella prices we’re a little too rich for our blood and the San Fran date that was within a reasonable distance sold out in seconds. We were there online trying to get them though. Hopefully we’ll catch one soon if they make it back out our way.
Huh, too bad, but don’t worry, it was nothing like small club atmosphere from their 90s shows.
Besides music, what’s on for the kids in your area? I’m planning to visit Arizona, next year maybe, so where do you like to hang out, what places are worth visiting for a tourist from Europe? [smiles]
Stick to the local businesses if you can. Their are some great mom and pop shops if your willing to look for them. Same with unique places for entertainment and DIY venues. We’ve also got some awesome record shops like Revolver, Stinkweeds and Zia. Just really depends on what your into.
Thanks so much. Feel free to add anything you want.
Stay tuned for our new music video produced by the very talented Carlos Berber being released June 23rd.
See you in the circle pit.