Monday, September 1, 2014

Time is now for Chicago band The Central Standard, will perform at Martyrs' on Sept. 12


For Chicago band The Central Standard, the time is now.

The band in June released its self-titled EP, produced by Sean O'Keefe, known for his work with such Chicago area bands as Fall Out Boy and Plain White T's.

After the production of the EP was done, the duo - comprised of Alex Garrison on lead vocals and Steven Phillips on lead guitar - soon added members Mike Bronk on bass, Manny Miller on rhythm guitar and Jack McKee on drums.

The Central Standard will perform a headlining show Sept. 12 at Martyrs,' 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Sona Bliss, Teach The Fire and Hi Ho Silver Oh also are on the bill.

The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $8, available at

I had the chance to talk to Garrison about the EP and the band's current activities.

Q - Great talking to you. Of course, you released your self-titled EP a couple of months ago. In sitting down to record the EP, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

When Steven and I set out to record the EP, a big goal was to put something together that really defined the sound he and I had been honing in on over the course of the preceding months of writing. We were hoping to put out quality material that would hopefully resonate with others both on a listener level but also for those who would hopefully fill out the rest of the group.

We also were hoping to help gain traction with venues around the Chicagoland area to help get off to a strong start in booking shows.  We were very fortunate to find great musicians and contributors in Jack, Manny, and Mike to complete the outfit and help expand our sound.

We also have received such a large amount of support and interest both in the material as well as in our live shows in Chicago area. I’m very satisfied currently with where we stand in so far accomplishing our goals from the EP.

Q - Producer Sean O'Keefe, known for his work with such Chicago area bands as Fall Out Boy and Plain White T's, produced the EP. How did you hook up with him and what do you think he brought to the table?

Steven was introduced to Sean’s manager through a coworker. Shortly after the introduction, Steven and I met with Sean to go through some of our ideas and get his thoughts.

It was evident there was a mutual interest in recording an EP and it just happened that Sean had a small window in his schedule in the coming weeks and everything just fell together from that point on.

When we had begun the process, the songs structures and frameworks were there however in really filling out the sound and honing on the right tone and pacing for the songs Sean was instrumental. He was able to get a very clean and composed feel to the music as well. 

Q - The band expanded to five members after the EP was released. What made you want to expand the band and do you think the band's sound now better represents what you envisioned? How did you get together with the other members?

As mentioned before, it was always intended to expand the band to more members. When looking for new members we reached out to a variety of people to see who they knew who may be interested we also posted on classifieds of several websites.

When it was all said and done, we found Mike through one of our classified postings. Also, Steven was connected to Jack through a mutual friend and an ex-girlfriend of Jack’s.  

Following Jack joining the group, he brought Manny from another one of his projects to the group and we’ve been playing together ever since. The new members brought to the table a wide range of influences from classic to psychedelic rock.

The sound has really stayed true to the EP, but at the same time has evolved as the group has spent more time playing together and melding their interests both musically and tone wise to new songs. 

Q - Is there any other meaning behind The Central Standard's name other than referring to the time zone Illinois is in?

When coming up with the name of the group, I was really hoping to find something that would connect to Chicago. The writing process prior to meeting Sean and even during the recording process was always complicated by my travels for work.

For months, Steven would send samples and ideas to me while I was seemingly always in different places across the country. The name came together when we were trying to plan out our schedules on different time zones for the coming weeks during my travels to California.

It continued to grow on us and eventually just felt right to name the band The Central Standard.

Q - Are you currently working on a full-length album? What should people expect from the album?

We have added a lot of material since the release of the EP and have put together 14 songs or so that the group has been happy with. Currently, we are in the process of figuring out logistically when we will go in and record the full LP, but our goals are to get back in the studio at the end of 2014.

In terms of what to expect, I would expect a few of the songs from the EP to make it into the album. Conceptually, we are really looking to put together an experience that stays true to the evolution of the band, and us as people, from the beginnings of Steven and I as a duo to the band really coming into its own as the five of us in the past few months. 

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think the band fits into it?

Chicago has a very talented and diverse music scene that features a broad variety of styles. It also has so many great venues, both big and small, throughout the city.

I think our band has been fortunate to get off to a strong start at some great venues (Double Door, The Metro, Elbo Room) and been a part of some diverse bills full of very talented acts. Our music definitely skews more main stream alternative rock as opposed to the more experimental rock and folk/Americana type of music we see a lot locally.

Q - What are the band's short-term and long-term goals?

Obviously in the short-term, we are very focused on getting the production of our debut album underway and playing shows that really help us to hone in on the track list before we actually get in the studio.

From a long-term perspective, we would love to expand our reach from Chicago to other areas in the Midwest and would hope to get support from a label moving forward if all goes well.