Eric: We started out as a 5-piece back in 2011, then lost a few members in late 2013. Brandon and I did not want to call it quits, so instead, in early 2014, we starting the recording process for this album we just released. We also sought out new members to join the band, without success. Our super-talented (and patient) friend, Paul Gravdal, recorded us at our rehearsal studio, then, when we kept losing bass-players, stepped-in and did a massive job on the bass on the album. We could not have done any of it without Paul. Also, out of necessity, I wrote the lyrics and vocal-phrasing, and Brandon performed the vocals for the record.
We recently found a super cool and solid bass-player, named Josh Padilla, to bring the brutalz live with us (and on the next record). Vocalist search has a few promising leads as well.
2. Who does the majority of the writing? Is it a group thing or does someone handle the writing duties?
Brandon: More often than not our guitarist, Eric Burns, will have riff-based ideas to present. We then usually bounce ideas back and forth which in turn usually results in a form taking shape. This repeats until all the parts are solidified and the main elements of guitar and drums are complete. From there we typically work on lyrical content, then vocal patterns.
Eric: For the songs on the album, Kevin (the other guitarist with whom I started the band back in 2011) and I both wrote the material. These are the songs we played live during our 5-piece days (2011-2013). He had some tunes (Two Ply, Heavy Death Murder Kill, Megaton) I had some tunes (Dump Truck Full of Zombies, Hydra, Lepers at the Gate), and Gorgon we wrote together, which was cool. I miss playing with him and showing each other our latest riffs. When I was recording the guitars for the record, I had to go back and listen to some live recordings to figure out what Kevin was doing for the parts he would play on some of the songs, but I think I was able to capture what we sounded like together during those times. Out of necessity, I wrote about 99% of the lyrics for the album (Brandon had a few goodies to contribute on Two Ply). Nowadays, I do most of the song-writing, both music and lyrics, though I run every riff by Brandon to see if it gets his approval or not. If he doesn’t dig it, then it’s back to the drawing board for me. Lyrics, I still get free-rein, though I’d like to hand that duty off to a vocalist someday (as long as said vocalist’s lyrics don’t suck, haha). I do like writing lyrics though, it helps me cope with the weight of existence.
3. Where is the band based out of? Where did you want to the band to end up? What was the dream city to have as your home base once you got out of your scene?
Brandon: We are based out of Chicago, IL. Seeing as Chicago is an amazing city, we are perfectly fine with our home base.
Eric: Chicago. Seems like a heavy enough city for a metal band to begin and end up.
4. What is your genre? What bands do you use to explain to people what you sound like?
Brandon: Our genre would, not surprisingly, be considered Metal. What kind of metal you ask? BRUTAL BONE CRUSHING METAL. We usually name drop Pantera, Slayer, Testament, Meshuggah, etc.
Eric: Brutal Bone-Crushing Metal. If I had to name bands, I would say we’re the messed up, toxic-waste-infused laboratory amalgamation of Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, and maybe Lamb of God?
5. Can we buy anything from you Cd's shirts etc and where can we buy them?
Brandon: Yes! Please visit us at https://theblankstandard.bandcamp.com/
Eric: Currently, we have CD Digipaks for sale on Bandcamp, here: https://theblankstandard.bandcamp.com/
We are working on a line of merch to put up there soon.
6. Do you have studio time lined up anything new coming soon?
Eric: Yes! We are even more excited about the new songs we’ve been writing over the past 4 and a half years than the album we just released, which is saying something, since we are super stoked by that debut album. We start tracking the next album in February 2019. Hopefully we can get it finished for release in late 2019 or early 2020. We all juggle “real” job and life obligations with band activities, so it takes us a bit longer than some other bands might take, but this time through should be much quicker than last, given all that we learned from doing the debut album.
7. Have you ever been on tour? If so where and with who?
Brandon: Not yet! Hopefully someday down the road.
Eric: Can’t say we’ve been on “tour”, but we have played numerous gigs, weekend-warrior-style, on the road. Some venues more prestigious than others, haha.
8. What is your favorite band? Who are the bands who influenced you?
Eric: How do I pick just one? Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, Testament, Fear Factory, Meshuggah, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Lamb of God, Chimaira, Machine Head, Megadeth, Steve Morse, Strapping Young Lad...
9. Do you have a website? And do I have to verify that I am 18 to enter it?
Brandon: We typically use Facebook and Bandcamp, please visit us there! You do not have to be 18, but, don’t let your mom catch you listening to our beauteous ditties!
Eric: We utilize Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. in lieu of a website.
10. What about your music do you want people to remember? What is the quality you want to hit people when they hit play?
Brandon: I want people to feel like they were run over by a steam roller…that was then hit by a meteor… then was nuked from orbit, and only a smoking crater remains. Pure and utter DEVASTATION.
Eric: Shock and awe. I want listeners of our music to be pleasantly shell-shocked when they hit play, and I want them to say, “Whoa! That was badass!” when they are done listening.
11. Name a person who is integral to your band that nobody knows about, what person drives your band like they are part of the band? Who is the extra member?
Eric: Paul Gravdal. We couldn’t have gotten this album done without Paul: he recorded it, mixed it, did the bass on it, and even helped us with the final Digipak layout. It’s extra awesome because Paul doesn’t really consider himself a “metal” guy, but he sure made this very metal record happen. I can’t imagine doing an album without him. Though he won’t have to fill-in for the bass duties on this next album, I’m really glad and relieved that Paul will be at the helm again for recording/mixing/production, and general Paul-awesomeness.
12. Tell nerds like me tell us about your live rig and equipment.
Brandon: My main rig is a Mapex Saturn IV drum kit, Sabian AAX & HHX cymbals, Trick Pro 1-V Bigfoot pedals, Vic Firth Rock sticks, and misc. drumheads (Remo, Evans, Aquarian…I can’t make up my mind!). Just started using the Sonitus Acoustics Kicker. Currently toying with Roland TM-2 trigger module but haven’t fully committed to it yet.
Eric: Mmmm, gear-talk, yum! ESP M-I and M-II guitars, EMG pickups, Ernie Ball Baritone strings, Dunlop Jazz III Tortex picks 1.14 gauge; fun fact: since I’m the only guitarist in the band now, I run 2 heads and 2 cabs simultaneously via ABY switch: head 1 is a Mesa/Boogie Mark IV from the early 90s pushing a Mesa Oversize 4x12 with 2 Eminence Swamp-Thang and 2 Eminence Wizards: head 2 is a Mesa/Boogie JP-2c pushing another Mesa Oversize 4x12 with the stock Celestine V30s. Overkill? Come on, this is metal! Bwhahaha!
13.What is your musical guilty pleasure that you are ashamed of?
Brandon: I wouldn’t say I’m ashamed of anything I listen to honestly. I really like Depeche Mode. That’s not exactly BROOOTAL or anything haha.
Eric: That I’m ashamed of? Hmmm, not sure. I do like righteous 80s jams, like Duran Duran and Wham! Then of course there’s Michael Bolton, but only on the Honda commercials where he’s rocking out arena-style. Aaron Neville doing the Little People theme-song. Erasure has some pretty good jams too. Oh wait, almost forgot, Tim Cappello (the greased-up dude with the saxophone in “The Lost Boys”) – I STILL BELIEVE!
14.If you could custom build a band who would be the members?
Brandon: Oh jesus, that’s impossible haha.
Eric: I’m cool with nothing being different than the current line-up, except for maybe I would clone Brandon and have one of him drum and the other do vocals.
15.Message to the fans? What is it?
Eric: I WANNA SEE YOU OPEN UP THIS PIT!!!!!! ...and of course, thank you for supporting us, and we hope to see you at our shows very soon!