L to R: Brennen Westermeyer, Geoff Gittleson, Brandon Kellum, Corey Skowronski
METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Brandon. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it. 
For someone that might not have heard about the band American Standards before, what can you tell the readers? 

BRANDON KELLUM: The music is a bit loud and the shows get a tad rowdy. Wear earplugs. 
MPAP: The words, ‘Purveyors of fine noise’ can be found on your Facebook ‘About’ section. Purveyor- a person who sells or deals in particular goods. Also, a person or group that spreads or promotes an idea or view. That sums it up and fits American Standards perfectly? 

BRANDON: I'd like to think so. I feel there are a lot of ways to turn people off with "extreme" music. When it's paired with inflated egos or tough guy machismo, it's easy to lose the message or passion behind the music. We try to side step that pitfall. 
MPAP: Also, found on your Facebook, in 1998 the Swedish hardcore punk band Refused were begging for it. They were referring to new noise in the music industry correct? Why do you think they were asking for this back then?  
BRANDON: Much like above, I think it's easy for bands to compete to be the heaviest or most technical. That constant desire to outdo each other overshadows the goal of creating something genuine that resonates with people. I feel like bands like Refused knew that the message should come first and everything else was a conduit for it. 
MPAP: Some fans of yours would say American Standards were the answer to this? Would you agree with this?

BRANDON: I think it's a bold claim and one that we were completely taken aback by when we saw that review. Since we aren't expecting money, fame or really anything from the band other then as an outlet for our thoughts, we're really able to stay focused and stay true to the vision for the band without distraction. 
MPAP: Do you believe before anyone even steps into a garage and wants to start a band, that there should be music standards to go over? Kind of a checklist to go over before you even play a chord or a beat on a drum so you don’t muddy the waters in the music scene? 

BRANDON: That's an interesting one. My gut wants to say no. Put as little thought to it as possible and let it all happen organically. You don't need classical training or need to follow a conventional model. Do what feels right and learn as you go. If you're not muddying waters, you're not doing something interesting. Speaking out of both sides of my mouth though; since you'll likely have other musicians in the band, make sure you all share the same goals and you communicate those as they evolve. 
MPAP: American Standards are known for emotionally and politically charged lyrics, which include topics such as corporate greed, media satire, materialism, loss and personal struggle. If there were a billboard to be erected on Main Street USA, would it be read for American Standards

BRANDON: American Standards: Not Your Father’s Punk Rock 
MPAP: You have gained much critical and fan acclaim for your high-energy, and intense live shows. What is something you want the concert goer to walk away with after seeing one of your shows live? 

BRANDON: I try to take people out of their comfort zone. Make them lose their selves in the music, the moment, you own it; you better never let it go. 
MPAP: What makes you keep pushing forward to make that next show, that next song, that next record even better than the one before? 

BRANDON: In all honestly, probably the fear of what would happen if I didn't. 
MPAP: What has been the greatest part of American Standards so far?  

BRANDON: The greatest thing has been having 5 years of experiences and making memories with some of my best friends that will last a lifetime. So, go out there and start a band, tour gas stations around the country and love every minute of it. 

There is an interesting story about the CD artwork of The Death of Rhythm and Blues that some might not know. The cover depicts the iconic scene where legendary blues artist Robert Johnson was said to have met the devil at the crossroads to sell his soul? What inspired you to think of this moment and to use it for the cover image? If you could imagine, what do you think was said during that conversation between the two of them? 

BRANDON: All credit to our guitarist Corey on that one. He's actually designed all our merch and album art since the very beginning. When he told me that he wanted to use that scene for The Death of Rhythm and Blues, what I took from it was a man down on his luck. He's worked hard his whole life and has nothing to show for it. In a moment of desperation, he says "What more can I give..." 
MPAP: During the writing of Anti-Melody, Cody Conrad, the founding guitarist for American Standards, who left the band in 2012, committed suicide. Soon after that, your father lost the battle to cancer and passed away. This had to be one of the worst feelings in the world anyone could deal with or ever imagine? 

BRANDON: Yeah. Both were equally as unexpected and I feel like there wasn't time to breathe between either...or cope for that matter. 
MPAP: You went back into the studio and re-wrote much of the album again correct? 

BRANDON: Lyrically yes. I've never been one to write about something that hit so horribly close to home. I also tend to hide in metaphor. It just didn't seem right not to speak candidly about these experiences. 
MPAP: Why did you feel you needed to rewrite Anti-Melody? Did you have an "I’m mad at the world, I’m mad at the feeling deep inside" that you felt would intensify the music even more now? 

BRANDON: I guess it was in the hopes that others could take something from it. Know that they're not alone and that feelings like these are universal. 
MPAP: You said you used it as therapy to cope with the experiences? Did it help? 

BRANDON: It didn't hurt. It does cause me to relive the experiences but each time with a fresh perspective gained by those that have told me they can relate. 
MPAP: “Cancer Eater” is a very personal song of yours. Is it hard to sing, knowing it’s about your father, especially with the lyric, “I can't be tough as nails- With this paper skin”? 
Do you have any messages for anyone out there that might also be dealing with a death of a loved one that might help them get through it? 

BRANDON: Only that this too will pass. Feelings are temporary and fluid. There will be several more positive times to come if you let them. It's hard not to live in the past but we need to realize that the present is all that we have. 
MPAP: Something else that can be hard, is you have had some line-up changes over the years?  

BRANDON: Yeah. Going back to communicating your goals and being transparent with the other band members as those goals evolve; it's important to know that everyone is getting what they want out the band in conjunction with what they put into it. We've never changed members on bad terms, it's always been what was right for the person at that time in their life. 
MPAP: This must be extremely difficult to deal with sometimes because you almost start over? This stops the progression of the band moving forward because you must find a new replacement? 

BRANDON: It can sometimes feel that way but it also breathes new life into the band. A new perspective and kind of revives some of the excitement of writing, recording and touring. 
MPAP: Which brings up the question, how do you think you have grown musically as a band from your Self-Titled EP (2011), to Anti-Melody (2016)? 

BRANDON: I think we've become increasingly more aware that there is beauty in simplicity. For bands in our genre it's easy to want to play harder, faster and with more hits. We've come to the realization that a song doesn't need 30 riffs and multiple key or time changes. Sometimes the stuff that hits hardest is the first thing that naturally comes to mind. 
MPAP: What can your fans expect next? What is going on in the American Standards camp? 

BRANDON: We'll be out on the ANTI-MELODY tour through May hitting 12 states. We come back to AZ June 24th for a hometown show at The Nile Theater with Zao then hopefully start writing more new material shortly after. 
MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I would again like to thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to what American Standards does for the rest of 2017 and beyond. 
Before we close this interview, are there any last words you’d like to say to the readers and your fans out there? 

BRANDON: Just to know that we're no one special. Whatever your passion is, stop making excuses not to give it your all today. 

MPAP: One final thing, your song, "The Masks They Wear Resemble Human Faces", was derived from a Twilight Zone episode? What a great title! It can be said about a lot of people these days, especially towards government officials. 

BRANDON: Love The Twilight Zone and even more recently, Black Mirror. I think social commentary is a powerful tool. It's can be hard to open people's minds to new ways of thinking. As important as things like protests and rallies are, sometimes the most effective way to change minds is to tap into their sense of wonder and humor. Relatable satire like this opens doors for new conversations. 

MPAP: Thank you once again.