For over a decade, American Standards has found success creating enigmatic, in-your-face sound.
Vocalist Brandon Kellum attributes the band’s sound and song structures to its commitment to never forcing itself to make music.
“Our mantra has always been never force it, so we never get in a room and beat ourselves up over trying to write a song. We always want it to come naturally and organic,” he says.
Because of this, Kellum says he takes note when he’s inspired.
“The way that I write lyrics is I have a notepad on my phone and anytime I’m watching a movie, I’m reading a book or anytime something hits my ear in a certain way, I put it on my notepad and then I go back to the notepad when it’s time to put lyrics to songs,” Kellum says.
Over the past three years, Kellum realized a common thread among his lyrics.
“I started noticing lyrically that a lot of what I had been writing over the last couple of years had been centered around this idea of chasing happiness, especially chasing happiness in the form of material possessions and social status,” Kellum says. “Because of that, I wanted to have the overarching theme throughout these singles to be that concept and put a different spin on each to make that lyrical theme of the name of the album and the way that we released it.”
The result is the three-tune EP titled “Dopamine Dealer,” which American Standards released track by track from December to February.
Kellum equates the release style to the EP’s overarching theme.
“We started thinking about how it’s ironic how short the attention spans are since we kind of all grew up going places like Zia Records and would wait until 10 p.m. to get that new album,” he says. “Now, we’ve seen the like world change from the album to the single.”
The Trevor G. Browne High School alumnus also likens the title to the release structure.
“We thought it would be kind of ironic to put out a series of singles that we wrote as a slow drip at a slow drip of dopamine — that’s essentially the play on it. Then, at the end, we gave people this EP,” Kellum says.
Although the EP largely features elements of the band’s signature brazen sound, it also marries rap and pop.
“We also wanted (‘Dopamine Dealer’) to be something that gets progressively further from what people would expect from us,” Kellum says.
“Our first song, ‘The Dealer,’ was probably the most American Standards-sounding song on the EP. ‘The Tourist’ has a very bass-driven verse, but then it gets into the bridge where we featured local rap artist God Samaritan — which you would never expect in a hardcore band. ‘The Vagrant’ is a very upbeat song that’s almost a poppy song that has a lot of parts that I feel are sonically different from anything we’ve done.”
Kellum also says the EP lays the foundation for a new album that could be released before the year’s end.
“As we lead into the full-length that we’re already recording now — which will hopefully be out by the end of the year — the EP lets people know that our music can go any direction at this point because we have three songs that, although are American Standards sounding, are still progressively growing upon what we’ve done in the past.”
Kellum says American Standards may play new songs at the newly opened Egyptian Motor Hotel, which has a concert venue, on Friday, March 24.
“Every show that we’ve done back since the pandemic has been a huge event and I feel like this will be one of our first shows back from the pandemic that’s just an American Standards show,” Kellum says.
Heavy Breather w/Live Longer Burn Everything and American Standards
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, March 24
WHERE: Egyptian Motor Hotel, 765 Grand Avenue, Phoenix