Last week standards dropped their flavorful full length with Fruit Town, a tasteful smorgasbord of wacky guitars, melodic production, and clever songwriting. Both musically and thematically, the record is a logical leap from the playful yet impressive Fruit Island, and really, you should just read our review here. In short, it’s the most quintessential batch of standards songs to date, much in part due to the band’s genuine sense of confidence and willingness to expand their sound.
This level of comfort within artistic identity is often strived for, but rarely achieved. It takes practice, patience, reflection, and time itself. Luckily, standards’ guitarist Marcos Mena has a decent appreciation of these qualities, and is well rehearsed in using them to the band’s advantage.
We are stoked once again to present a QnA with the standards luminary today, in which we explore how the album was made, what it was like to tour Europe, and staying ahead of schedule up to eighteen months at a time.
FB: First of all, how was Europe? Was the response to standards there what you’d expected it to be?
Marcos: Everyone was very polite and amazing! We had a fan fly out from Brunei to see us for one show so that was amazing! The Bad Pond and Portals festivals were super fun and I hope to play there again in the future!
FB: You just released a skate-tastic new music video for “Cloudberry,” and it looked like a ton of fun to shoot. Were there any gnarly biffs or injuries during the filming?
Marcos: Luckily nobody got hurt except for a penny board that sadly got smashed in the process :/
FB: “Smile” also came out a couple months ago, and we noticed that sonically, it split the difference between the experimentation and electronics of Yum and the chunky, tappy goodness of Fruit Island and your earlier material. Was that something you were consciously going for when writing for the next LP?
Marcos: 100%. Being at home during COVID made me interested in seeing what I could experiment with for our next release and I am very happy with how things turned out. It can be difficult to record guitar music and make it interesting to listen to, play and not sound like something else that already is out there so I found this record to be quite a fun challenge!
FB: From the outside, it seems like you’re always a couple steps ahead of yourself in terms of planning your releases, videos, etc. Do you ever find yourself working on something, and then having to press pause in order to promote a project you completed months ago?
Marcos: All the time! I’m currently demoing for our next release and I’ll come up with a cool riff and then think “wow this probably won’t be heard on record for another 18 months”. While it’s a bit sad, I also feel proud when it does finally come out because everyone can hear all the work I’ve put in!
FB: Before we ask about the new album, we didn’t want to leave out your new book! What inspired you to start writing the Bedroom Guitarist Handbook?
Marcos: Thanks for asking! A lot of conversations I’d have with guitar students or fellow guitarists made me realize that technical recording proficiency is all over the place these days. Some people are amazing with recording themselves at home, while others are just trying to get the hang of the basics. I felt that it was crucial to put together a lexicon of information that I have gathered throughout the years for guitarists to reference when recording at home. You can check out the book here!
FB: Your dedication to fruit can’t really be overstated, so the title of the new LP isn’t a huge surprise. That being said, how quickly did you end up deciding that Fruit Town would be the title of the next record? Honestly, it makes sense though – did you ever consider other options?
Marcos:Fruit Town is just a natural progression from Fruit Island, so I wanted there to be some overlap. I really hope people enjoy the new collection of fruits as much as they did with the old.
FB: Without saying too much, the record is likely one of your most enveloping, most diverse records to date. Was there a guiding philosophy to including songs like “Snack” and “Cosmic Dream” on the same album, or was it more just playing what you want, when you want?
Marcos: I really tried to make every song quite different and that even feels stylistic at some points. While it is diverse, I think there is a through line of fun and happiness all across the record.
FB: The guitar tones are varied throughout as well – did you stick to your normal guitars this time around or did you find yourself branching out?
Marcos: I recorded all of my parts with my custom Aristides T/0 and my Music Man St. Vincent. I felt like I wanted to try a bunch of new things, from pitching guitars up and down to various amounts of filters and reverbs. While I am just one guitarist, by changing my tone I can give the impression that new voices are on the record which in my mind prevented it from being too monotonous of a listen.
FB: When you visualize Fruit Town what do you see? What’s the economy like there?
Marcos: A lovely town of fruits where everyone gets along, skates and eats healthy. And everyone barters and trades fruit of course!
FB: I know you’re not the world’s biggest hot sauce fan, but I keep thinking it: some kind of fruity standards hot sauce would be such a killer math rock buy. If not hot sauce, have you ever thought of taking your fruit obsession to the next level with actual food?
Marcos: This is 100% our next move now that you mention it.
FB: I love raspberries, but I don’t always understand the way they’re used in recipes. They just get stuck in your teeth! Are there any fruit recipes or preparations that you actually can’t stand?
Marcos: I am not a huge fan of dishes with too much pineapple. While I love pineapple, it just hurts so bad sometimes :(
FB: When you look back at your discography, including Fruit Town, are they all your babies, or are some of them a little closer to your heart than others?
Marcos: Like many artists, I feel like they were all emblematic of what I was feeling or creating at the time. While I am proud of all of them, Fruit Town does feel like the most well put together release and the record I worked the hardest on. I hope everyone enjoys listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it!
Well, if you read the review we linked up there in the intro, it should be pretty obvious – we did. Don’t sleep on that book Marcos mentioned either, there’s a lot of useful info in there that could save you years of bad recording habits, therefore years of undoing them as well. Coming up we’ve got Of Two Minds, Delta Sleep, Ando San, and more. Digitally zap us with a jolt of caffeine here and purchase standards’ latest from Wax Bodega here. Thanks for reading!