The Rise of New American
BY: JACQUELINE NARANJO
After years of struggle and creating music, the small blues-rock band, New American have finally released their first EP titled "I Don't Know and You Can Too."
On Friday, Oct. 17, the band hosted a free concert at the ArtXchange in Long Beach to celebrate the release of the EP. The concert featured special performances from psych-punk band Thy Squid and alternative-rock band Mother Rose. New American closed the event by performing all the songs off the new album.
Originally from Downey, the band has been making music together since 2013. The band members consists of Chris Pleasant on lead guitar, Karim Bedran on bass, Alex Mendez on drums, and Jonny Strang on guitar and vocals. The new EP features 4 songs and is heavily influenced by classic rock, blues and pop-punk.
In an exclusive interview, the band discuss the struggles of releasing a self-funded album and upcoming projects:
You guys have finally released the EP, how do you guys feel?
Alex: Nervous, we’ve been thinking about this for months.
How did the band start?
Alex: We all went to Downey High School. But I started the band after high school in 2010. It went through a lot of different changes up until 2013. That’s when everyone in the band joined and it’s been pretty strong for about three years now.
How did you come up with the name New American?
Alex: A few years ago, we were in the car picking up my little sister from dance class and we decided we need to change our band name because we didn’t like the old one. We were just throwing a bunch of names.
Karim: We were driving down the street and I think one of us saw a sign on a store and said “New American” and it just stuck.
The EP is officially out, how was the process of creating it?
Alex: It’s self-funded, we put the money into producing it. But we took it to Open Eye Studios where our buddy Frankie Valentine recorded and produced our record. He made it sound really good.
Jonny: He did great job. We randomly found someone that had his own studio and was able to fit our style really well.
What about the process of writing the songs?
Chris: Jonny will usually brings in a guitar riff and we make it up from there. Play a couple of cords, a couple of weird things, a cool bass line, a weird drum part and that’s a New America song.
How did the band pick what songs to record?
Karim: We started with a lot of songs we really liked, and then we narrowed it down to four songs we really enjoyed and spent a week in the studio. It was fun more than stressful since we were hanging out together.
Chris: It was awesome, you get to hear everyone play visually. I knew Alex is good at drums and Karim is good at bass but once I hear them play I’m like “oh my god these guys are sick.”
Who are your music inspirations?
Alex: For me as a drummer it’s Muse and Artic Monkeys. Those two drummer, Dominic Howard and Matt Helders, shaped everything for me. They play a big part on the way I play.
Chris: When I play guitar, I try to get a Jimmy Hendrix type of influence.
Karim: As far as bass goes, Chris and I have a huge jazz background so I try to keep the bass as jazzy as possible but still staying bluesy.
What is your favorite song of the new EP?
Chris: I am going to say “drop the needle.” It sounds biased but I have a crazy one minute solo in it. It’s completely every style I like; weird chords then the solo thing and then everyone comes together playing all big and loud and then it ends abruptly! Just how I always like it to be.
Alex: I like the whole EP but probably my favorite to play is “Mind the Gap” just because I have a drum solo. We gotta show off, that’s my favorite.
Karim: I was hoping Alex would say “Mind the Gap because that’s my favorite to play. I remember when we were writing the song, Jonny came up with the riff and he was like okay let’s practice this new song here’s the riff. We got it going and I was like “awesome I have the perfect bass line.” So I played the bass line for the very first time and Jonny was like “we need to record this.” I was like nah I got it! I’ll remember it and then we go back to the song three weeks later and I’m like “holly crap I forgot the bass line.” Luckily, I figured it out.
Jonny: My favorite off the record is “Who am I” just because I think it’s the best song we’ve written. But I think “Home” is the best to play, it’s a bluesy up-beat song that I just really love to play. It’s catchy. It’s also usually what we open up the show with. We been playing it for so long, it’s like second nature now. That’s my favorite.
Lastly, any future plan for the band?
Alex: Go on tour, get signed like everybody else but I mean there’s more to it.
Jonny: Being sign is such a difficult topic because being signed by the right label is pretty important nowadays. Right now our plan is to get signed, try to go on a couple mini tours and get more of a buzz. It’s always cool playing in Long Beach, this is my second home, but I want to branch out.
New American's album, is now available for download (http://www.cdbaby.com/m/cd/newamerican5), on Spotify, and on CD.