For many in Los Angeles, March 11, 2020, was their last real day of normalcy. I ran my usual errands, while Brian Stanley performed his first show as The Mad Ones. Both of us stuck inside with pretty much the rest of the city, and world ever since. Just a week prior he released The Mad Ones’ debut EP, ‘Human Beings,’ and filled us in on one of the most interesting ways I’ve heard a songwriter approach their craft. From the final scenes of classics to finding hope in our new reality, this is our back and forth with The Mad Ones.
Kendra: Being a musician and choosing to take that route as a career isn’t easy, as is the case with any creative endeavor, and there are a lot of risks that come with it but at the end of the day is those risks – the fear of the unknown – sort of drive you further than a 9-5 would?
The Mad Ones: Absolutely. I love creating and collaborating with all of my talented friends, whether it is on a new song or music video concept. I’ve had experience with the 9-5 world and it just wasn’t quite my speed. I make it a goal to wake up each day and create at least some form of art whether it’s a vocal melody, a fully-realized song or taking photos of my dog in compromising positions.
Kendra: You’ve captured the essence of the here and now with “Human Beings” in that we’ve become a society that lives to be seen. With people constantly on their phones posting, yearning for likes, doing the absolute most for the ‘gram do you feel that’s added an extra level of pressure for artists to stand out in the social media age?
The Mad Ones: I took a break from all social media while making this EP because I noticed myself wasting a lot of time and headspace scrolling through Instagram when I could have been working on music. The pressure is there, especially when you’re scrolling through all day comparing yourself to what other people are doing or how they are being recognized. I just focus on the music and making everything sound the way I hear it in my head then go from there. I have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing, but now that the EP is released I’m back baby! “Human Beings” may sound like I’m trashing everyone else, but I’m also trashing myself. We’re all playing the game.
Kendra: “Human Beings” has been likened to a John Hughes movie and that’s no lie. From the press of play, it was quite apparent where your musical heart stands. With that, if you could go back in time and replace the soundtrack of any Hughes’ film with your 2020 EP, which would it be and why?
The Mad Ones: ‘The Breakfast Club.’ I basically try to write all of my songs to the last scene of the movie when Bender is walking across the football field and throws his hand in the air. I pretend “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” isn’t in the movie and play my music over the scene. I was born in the late ’80s but raised in the ’90s in the suburbs of Chicago so most of the movies I watched at an early age were John Hughes’ films.
Kendra: Other than the movies and music of the ‘80s and ‘90s, is there any obscure thing during those eras you draw inspiration from?
The Mad Ones: I’m a very nostalgic person and I find comfort in the past. For me, it can be a vintage T-Shirt or a certain smell that reminds me of my childhood. I try to harness that nostalgia into my music so I’m not that guy always living in the past and thinking about “ better times.” Living like that stunts my growth for moving forward, so I just put all of those elements into my music and move on.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
The Mad Ones: With all of this time spent at home, I’m continuing to work on music and hopefully have another body of work released later this year. I’m eager to get back to playing shows once this whole thing dies down as my first performance as The Mad Ones was on March 11th, then the next day everything was locked down. I’ve been making playlists and Ariel Pink’s “Another Weekend” has been on heavy rotation. I love songs that are sad but feel hopeful. Everyone needs hope!