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Standard Candle band members, from left, Matt Bright, bass; Gary McKinney, drums; Josh Patrick, vocals; Brian Sunderman, guitar.
Courtesy photo by Ryan Russell
Standard Candle band members, from left, Matt Bright, bass; Gary McKinney, drums; Josh Patrick, vocals; Brian Sunderman, guitar.

Standard Candle to light up Jubilee
2 Brewer High grads part of Birmingham-based alt/rock band

By Danielle Komis
dkomis@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

The band Standard Candle is not unique. It's not going to change the world. And its sound is not revolutionary.

But its members don't mind. In fact, this is exactly how they choose to describe themselves.

"There's really not anything that's going to be deemed absolutely original anymore," said 26-year-old drummer Gary McKinney. "It's a lot of compiling what your influences are. Then you realize that not aspiring to do that, maybe I can just reach out to somebody where someone can say, 'You know what? I feel the same way.' "

The Birmingham-based alt/rock band, who have opened for such big names as The Fray, Better than Ezra, Incubus and Blues Traveler, will play Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic in Decatur. The band also is releasing its latest album — an EP entitled "Chicago" — around the same time.

Two of the band's members, 29-year-old Matt Bright and 22-year-old Brian Sunderman, are Brewer High School graduates. McKinney is from Locust Fork and 26-year-old vocalist Josh Patrick is from Huntsville.

Band members say their strong live shows where they strive to make a connection with their audience set them apart from other bands today.

"It really comes across in our shows that we care what we're doing," Patrick said. "We're not blowing off fireworks or anything like that ... it's not just a show. There's just a lot of show out there anymore and less substance."

Band members cite U2 and Pearl Jam as their musical influences, and are often compared to the Goo Goo Dolls.

Touring and recording

All of the Standard Candle's band members came to Birmingham after high school looking to become part of a band. Bright and Patrick started playing together first, and about two years ago Sunderman and McKinney came into the picture and replaced two former members.

Since then, the four men have either been writing and recording songs or touring the Southeastern college circuit together. Since 2005, they've played more than 200 dates.

In 2006, they were named band Web site Alternativeaddiction
.com's No. 2 unsigned group of the year.

Because of all the time together, band members consider themselves a family.

"The camaraderie is really good," Sunderman said. "We're four really good friends and we'd do anything for each other."

For band members, playing in the band is a significant source of income, which is not an accomplishment that goes by without notice.

"More than anything, you just want to get to a place where you can make your way in life," Bright said. "I've never wanted to be Aerosmith or be the most famous band in the world. For me, I want to make my parents proud."

While being a full-time musician is fun, it's also a lot of work, the guys said. Much of their time is spent loading and unloading their van and trailer with the group's equipment, which often takes several hours.

New album

Standard Candle members are excited about the release of "Chicago," because it is the first album they've recorded together. Their full-length album, "Curtains" (2006), was recorded by Patrick and Bright and two different band members.

"It didn't feel exactly like a band," Bright said of the album. "We just weren't playing together and playing songs together. We finally have our sound and everyone has put in an equal amount of work."

The new sound "still maintains a good pop sensibility to it, but now it's got more of an edge to it," McKinney said.

And audiences seem to react better to the music now, they said, and sing along and dance to it.

Coming home

For Brewer High graduates Bright and Sunderman, playing near home again is both exciting and a little strange.

"I'm kind of curious if anyone I used to know in high school and middle school will be there because I've sort of lost touch with 99 percent of those people," said Sunderman, who played in rock bands when he was at Brewer.

"But they probably won't recognize me or care," he added, laughing.

Sunderman's mother, Laura Sunderman of Hartselle, is one person who is excited to see her son play at Jubilee, because many of his concerts are often too late at night for her and her husband.

She is not surprised that he is now a successful musician, she said.

"I knew from the first time he picked up a guitar in fifth grade," she said. "You'd have to pry it out of his hands to put him to bed. He even then had a natural ability to just listen to a song and play it. That's not something that can be taught."

Bright, who was a cheerleader and mascot at Brewer, never dreamed he would make a living playing in a band. He also is excited for his family to see him play.

His mother, Shery Bright of Hulaco, said she is happy her son chose a fulfilling career.

"A lot of people will have a career and go into something they really don't like that much," she said. "If he's happy and he can take care of himself, that's the main thing."

Matt still remembers driving by Point Mallard Park, where Jubilee is held, years ago and wondering what it was like.

"You never know that 20 years down the road you're doing to be playing in a band with all those people around," he said. "It's interesting where this career has led me."

On the Net

To listen to Standard Candle’s music, visit www.standardcandlemusic.com or www.myspace.com/standardcandlemusic.

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