American Merit is a Roots Rock’N’Roll band from Texas. The lineup consists of Alex Smith, Daniel Lightfoot, Russell McClendon, and Evan Shepperd. The band recently released the official music video for their Southern Blues infused, debut single, “City”, and we caught up with the guys to get the lowdown on American Merit.
What are the origins of the band, how long have you been playing together?
Alex and Daniel met about 3 years ago and started playing acoustic shows together with the goal in mind of forming a full band. Russell had played bass with Alex in a band for several years prior and was just waiting for us to find the right drummer to jump in. Just about when we’d given up finding a drummer, Evan fell right into our laps.
How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!
We were excited and nervous, but we’d been rehearsing and writing quite a bit over the last year. Once we got on stage, the nerves left and we had a great set.
What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe yourself?
Straight-up rock n’ roll with loud drums and overdriven guitars. We’d describe ourselves as a roots-rock band writing songs to start fights at trailer parks.
The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
We really just want to play music that we love and let the chips fall where they may.
What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?
We’ve got three singles coming out along with two full music videos with plans to shoot much more content in 2021 and more studio time already booked.
What band out there at the minute do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?
Foo Fighters would be awesome
Who do you feel is the next band to break out?
Blacktop Mojo is a safe bet I’d say
What are your first musical memories? And what was the lightbulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?
Alex – I remember growing up and listening to a ton of Tom Petty with my dad. As far as a lightbulb moment, it’s seeing Silverchain on SNL
Russell – First music memory was getting MTV as a kid in the 80s. Lightbulb moment was honestly Alex asking me to play bass several years ago.
Evan – Earliest memory is probably laying on my mom’s couch and watching the Pearl Jam music video for “Even Flow” on MTV. The moment that made me want to play was hearing my dad play drums as a kid.
Daniel – I can remember as a kid jamming “White Room” by Cream with my dad in his truck when I was like 4. I had a guitar for years but never really wanted to pursue it until I went to see Van Halen live in 2004.
We have recently had the tragic passing of Eddie Van Halen, do you have a particular favorite Van Halen track?
Russell- Anything on OU812
Alex- Runnin with the Devil
Daniel- Black and Blue
AC/DC – Brian or Bon? Or both?!
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
Evan – Jason Isbell
Russell – Kendrick Lamar
Alex – Third eye blind
Daniel- Blacktop Mojo
What current issue are you particularly passionate about?
Snow blindness in cats
There is great debate at the minute about whether or not musicians should use their platform to talk about political issues, some for and some against. Music has always been a form of protest, surely an artist has just as much right as the next person to offer an opinion? Or should they “just stick to the music”?
I think it’s completely up to the individual. Be you and that’s all.
The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
Alex – Bryan Adams
Russell – Lauryn Hill
Daniel – Panic at the Disco
Evan – Godsmack
Who would you class as an underrated songwriter?
Russell – Ol Dirty Bastard
Daniel – Jimi Hendrix
Alex – Dallas Green
Evan – Evan Felker
As much as 2020 was a year to forget, there was some incredible music released: what would you say is your favorite album of 2020?
Evan – Sturgill Simpson- Cuttin Grass
Daniel – Marcus King- El Dorado
Alex – Black Pumas self-titled album
Russell – The Weeknd-after hours
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
We’re just a follow away on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. All links can be found at www.americanmeritband.com to keep up with everything we’ve got coming up