American Football (band)

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American Football
From left to right: Mike Kinsella, Steve Lamos, and Steve Holmes
Background information
OriginUrbana, Illinois, U.S.
Years active
  • 1997–2000
  • 2014–present
LabelsPolyvinyl, Big Scary Monsters
Associated acts

American Football is an American rock band from Urbana, Illinois, United States, originally active from 1997 until 2000, and again from 2014. Guitarist/bassist and singer Mike Kinsella (formerly of Cap'n Jazz and Joan of Arc and currently of Owen), drummer and trumpet player Steve Lamos (formerly of The One Up Downstairs, one-time member of The Firebird Band and Edward Burch & the Staunch Characters, and currently of The Geese and DMS), and guitar player Steve Holmes (also of The Geese) formed the band. Despite the group's short initial lifespan, their self-titled debut album became one of the most acclaimed emo and math rock records of its era. American Football reunited in 2014 and have since released two more albums.


Mike Kinsella and Steve Holmes knew one another at an early age, as both were students at Wheeling High School in Wheeling, IL, where Kinsella played drums for Cap'n Jazz; Holmes played guitar in a variety of bands. Kinsella and Lamos began playing together with David Johnson and Allen Johnson in 1997 under the name 'The One Up Downstairs', in which Kinsella was exclusively a vocalist. Three songs were recorded under this name, with the intention of releasing them as a 7" record on Polyvinyl Records. However, the band splintered before the record could be pressed and the songs were shelved. The three tracks recorded by The One Up Downstairs would finally be released in 2006 as a digital download EP, and in 2009, as a 7" record through Polyvinyl.

David Johnson and Allen Johnson went on to form the band Very Secretary (and later Favorite Saints), while Kinsella and Lamos began working with Steve Holmes. American Football completed a total of two releases—a titular EP in 1998 and its debut album in 1999, both through Polyvinyl Records. Though the band did not record bass on the EP, Kinsella played bass guitar on the LP.

Within a year of the release of its full-length, American Football became a studio project. Shortly thereafter, the band mutually decided to stop recording together.[1] Still, American Football gained critical acclaim for that album, which merged the plain-spoken, confessional lyrics and the varying time signatures of math rock with a softer musical sensibility. These characteristics have been found in Kinsella's current project, Owen.

On March 20, 2014, Polyvinyl Records announced[2] a deluxe edition of the band's self-titled album, American Football, which includes the original nine tracks from its 1999 release, as well as 10 additional unheard demos and live recordings. The deluxe edition is available as a 180-Gram Red 2xLP, 2xCD, cassette tape, and an MP3 download. Another version — limited to 2,000 copies of a 180-Gram Green/Yellow 2xLP — was also announced. All versions were released May 20, 2014.[3]

On April 2, 2014, Polyvinyl teased fans with a website,, to fans on social media. The site had a countdown that expired on April 21, 2014, when two live dates in Champaign and New York were announced. The band added second and third shows in New York at Webster Hall which quickly sold out.[4] For these dates, Mike's cousin Nate Kinsella joined the band on bass.[5] Since the band's new-found success, American Football booked tour dates worldwide in the US, Canada, Spain, UK, Japan, and Australia. [6]

On August 23, 2016, the band announced their second album, also titled American Football. In the same announcement, "I've Been So Lost For So Long" was made available for streaming through SoundCloud.[7]

On October 21, 2016, the band released their second album for purchase worldwide through Polyvinyl Records. The album's cover featured the same house photographed on the band's first full-length. The "American Football House" became a landmark for emo music fans around the world, who often traveled to Urbana, Illinois to take photos outside of the home.[8]

On December 11, 2018, the band teased their third album on Instagram, with their third eponymous studio album available to pre-order on Apple Music and iTunes. The single "Silhouettes" was made available upon announcement.

Their third album was released on March 22, 2019.


  • Steve Holmes – guitar (1997–2000, 2014–present)
  • Steve Lamos – drums, percussion, trumpet (1997–2000, 2014–present)
  • Mike Kinsella – lead vocals, guitar (1997–2000, 2014–present), bass guitar (1997–2000)
  • Nate Kinsella – bass guitar, backing vocals, vibraphone (2014–present)

Touring members[9]

  • Mike Garzon – percussion, melodica (2016–present)
  • Cory Bracken – vibraphone (2019–present)
  • Sarah Versprille – backing vocals (2019–present)



  1. ^ "Polyvinyl Records". Polyvinyl Records. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  2. ^ "Pre-order American Football Deluxe... - Polyvinyl Record Company". Facebook. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 2015-02-13 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "American Football sold out Webster Hall, added second date (on sale now); Pygmalion Fest on sale too". 2014-04-25. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  5. ^ "American Football interviewed: "It's like an '80s movie about these old dudes getting the band back together."". The 405. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  6. ^ "American Football - Bandsintown". Facebook. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  7. ^ "American Football Announce First New Album in 17 Years, Share New Song: Listen". Pitchfork. 2016-08-23. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  8. ^ Neumann, Sean (2016-09-20). "Emo Tourism: How the American Football House Became One of Music's Biggest Landmarks". Noisey. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  9. ^ Gotrich, Lars. "American Football: Tiny Desk Concert". National Public Radio. Retrieved 7 August 2019.

External links[edit]