standards: “I love the idea of music really helping people.” (8/4 at KFN)

If they’re not already, by the year’s end LA-based math-rock outfit standards (yes, all lower case) will surely be your new favorite instrumental band.  Last week the group —...

If they’re not already, by the year’s end LA-based math-rock outfit standards (yes, all lower case) will surely be your new favorite instrumental band.  Last week the group — led by guitarist Marcos Mena — released Fruit Town on Wax Bodega, their sophomore LP and follow-up to 2020’s Fruit Island, and kicked off a month-long US tour (with direct support from Portland dream punks Glacier Veins), which will have them playing our very own Kung Fu Necktie next Thursday, August 4th.

Although touted as math-rock, Fruit Town could see standards drawing comparisons to a number of different genres, including ‘90s alternative, emo, and contemporary pop rock.  And, during a recent phone chat with standards mainman Marcos Mena, he tells me that he was certainly exploring new styles on the record: “Fruit Town is the most cohesive work we’ve done.  Fruit Town has a lot more processed synthetic sounds, but in a good way, while Fruit Island just sounds like two guys in a room, which it was, and which was great for that.”

Mena tells me that he draws inspiration from a number of types of musicians (including Tiny Moving Parts, a favorite who standards have actually toured alongside), but he tells me that there was certainly one album that served as a huge influence: “For Fruit Town my biggest inspiration is The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships because it sounds like the band, but it’s clubby, it’s neo soul-ish, it’s R&B-ish.  It’s the same cast of characters doing different things.  It introduces more variety, and every track is its own unique thing.”  He also mentions Romantic Warrior by Return to Forever, in addition to other jazz fusion records as providing recent inspiration.

standards are also very excited to be on the road with Glacier Veins, even though they might not seem like the most obvious choice to share the bill, but Mena tells me that he likes that: “When we tour we get a lot of offers from other math-rock bands to do support, but we thought it’d be cool to do a bit of a mix-up, and go out with someone who’s not math-rock, and Glacier Veins still have the rock thing, so I think it’s a good fit.”  He also tells me that the bands, who’ve only been on tour together since last week, have become quick friends: “The singer, Malia, has us doing these personality quizzes all the time, which are so much fun!”

As far as what you can expect of standards live next Thursday, Mena tells me, “It’s gonna be intense.  It really feels like a good culmination of what we’ve put out so far.”  And while he tells me that many of the highlights of standards have taken place on the road, he tells me that the most meaningful reactions he’s gotten to the music come from more intimate interactions with fans: “A lot of people say that they’ve listened to the music when they were down or sad or dealing with something hard — whether it be having cancer or knowing someone who has cancer or something really difficult like that – and that the music really helped them, and I love the idea of music really helping people.  And I know those responses are very common these days, but that always makes me feel really good.”

This tour wraps on August 24th in LA, but Mena tells me that standards are already planning for more tours and even new material in the near future: “We’re gonna try to get some more tours in the works, and I’m working on lots of new music…  Maybe we’ll try to go to some places out of the country.”  He also admits that, because of the nature of the project and his process of working, you should definitely keep your eyes and ears on the band: “The band is ever evolving.  We’ve had lineup changes; I’ve been changing the way that I write and approach things…  It’s always changing, and the best is yet to come.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.