In order to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of O God the Aftermath, Solid State Records artist Norma Jean took to the road to play the entire album front-to-back (with a little something extra here and there). On a cool, late Wednesday afternoon, frontman Cory Brandan took a few minutes to speak with JFH's Scott Fryberger about the tour and the band's near-future plans...
This interview took place on: October 7, 2015.
Click here for Norma Jean's Artist Profile page.
It's been insane. Like way more than expected. I think double what our tours have been doing recently. We know that there are some new fans, and definitely some old fans coming out. It's been awesome, dude. Can't complain about any of it. We've been super stoked.
Cory: A few years ago, I saw Helmet do Meantime in its entirety, but I think that was actually a twenty-year tour, though. I don't really remember, but that was amazing. I saw them at The Key Club in Hollywood. Probably one of the coolest shows. They actually came out and played about three new songs, and we were all kinda like "They're...they're playing Meantime, right? Are we in the right place?" And sure enough, they went into it and played it in its entirety after that. It was super cool. But I think that's the only band I've seen do the same kind of thing.
Cory: Definitely, yes. Before this tour, there were at least three - maybe four - songs that we never played. We wrote them, recorded in the studio, and didn't touch them ever again. Yeah, and these might be the only times we'll play them ever again! *laughter* Who knows? I mean, it's been fun playing those songs. I almost kinda think that, just from doing this, I'd like to, whenever the next record comes out, do some select dates where we just play the new record in its entirety, after it's been out for a while, just to kinda see what people like the most. 'Cause you can really see the reactions to what people are waiting for. And I think it might be a cool way to decide what songs to be playing from each record.
Cory: I, personally, would love to do it. I wanna do Redeemer, for sure. I don't really know after that. We'll see. We'll do something special for all the records, but I don't know if we'll do full tours like this. But maybe for Redeemer, depending on what the schedule is for next year. I definitely want to do something for it, like play the record in its entirety, whether it's a tour or not.
Cory: Yeah we're about to announce it. We'll probably have pre-orders up this month for O God... vinyl. We'll probably do some throwback shirts that were printed from that era, with like a horror theme with zombies and mummies and stuff. So we're gonna release a couple of those, and do a really cool vinyl for O God....
Cory: No, we fought for these bands specifically - '68 and Sleepwave. They were at least two bands we definitely wanted on the tour. One of the main reasons being that they're old friends, we're playing an old record, and they've got new projects. So I think any of our old fans, or new fans for that matter, would love what these two bands are doing. And we've seen it; these bands have killer shows every night. So it's been really cool, and it's one of the coolest line ups we've ever done, I think. It's a cool idea, I think.
Cory: It's so awesome. And as far as '68 goes, I would say - to anyone who's seen them before and thought "Yeah, I don't know about that" - go watch them again, because they're getting better and better every time. They've really gotten their sound down, and the way they're running their cabs - [Josh Scogin] is running two guitars and a bass, and he's the one playing all of them. It goes through one guitar, but you get three different sounds and all of them are mic'd, so you get this full-band sound, basically, through one guitar. It's really cool. And I think it's still in the beginning phases of '68, so give them a record or two under their belt; it's gonna be sick. Just like The Chariot, and just like everything that dude does.
Cory: Oh man, it was one of the craziest things I'd ever seen! *laughter*
Cory: Yeah, we've had a ton. Josh and Spencer [Chamberlain] are old friends. So it's just us hanging out, and if we come across any other old friends - Scottie [Henrie] came out to a show, he's our old guitar player. Our old drummer Daniel [Davidson] came out to the show last night - just being around all those guys together is just ridiculous. I can't imagine what it's gonna be like another ten or twenty years from now when we meet up. I know we're gonna be those old guys, like "*old man voice* Oh, back in the day..." and smoking cigars and stuff. *laughter* But yeah, the whole tour's just been a blast. I don't remember just one specific moment, necessarily, and even if I could explain it, it would be so weird and full of so many inside jokes that I don't think it would even be interesting! *laughter* But, overall, man it's been so fun, and that's what this tour is all about. Having fun and being out with our friends that we wanna be around, music we wanna be around, playing an old record that we honestly really don't care about in the sense of sales or hoping it does better. We're not pushing it or anything. We just wanna play old songs for fun, for the fans, and for ourselves. That's really what the tour is all about.
Cory: Yeah! It's been really nostalgic, for sure.
Cory: Hmm... not a whole lot of new music. I know there are a couple of bands I've heard recently. I usually write them down in my phone to try to remember. I don't know, though. I'm not usually good at that question, just because I listen to so much stuff, some old, a little bit of new. But I haven't really dived into something new and thought "Whoa! I need to listen to this all the time everday!"
Cory: I don't think it's a "getting old" thing, I think you just find other sources of inspiration in your life. For me, it's been books and audiobooks, which I love. And it's an artistic expression that I wasn't really doing much of before. *laughter* There's still some music involved, but usually I find that I would rather read a book or listen to something entertaining in another sense. I think that has its own inspirational qualities to it in a realistic way. So there's a bunch of things mixed together.
Cory: Well, talking about labels is a bit of a weird conversation to me, because what it really is is a contract between us and another entity with the ultimate goal of putting out a record. But it's just about what's gonna be the best team behind that, or the best deal in a boring contract, you know? It's not a really exciting topic, but when it came down to it, we were free agents, we put the word out about it, and we looked at several offers. [Solid State's] was the best offer, so that's the one we picked. Simple as that! It could've been any of those other labels, but Solid State just hit us harder than anybody. They really wanted to do it, and they had a team behind them that we liked, and that's invaluable. So that's what we really wanted, was to work with the people that are there now.
Cory: Oh yeah! We're way into it. We've demoed most of it, kinda mapped out every song almost exactly how we want it - there are still some changes we wanna make after this tour, so we'll be writing again in November and December, and we'll hit the studio in January. We're farther ahead, I think, than we were with any other record, and I'm really excited about what's gonna come out of it, for sure.
Cory: Yeah, we're gonna be back with Josh and Jeremy Griffith, who did Wrongdoers. And Jeremy did Meridional. So the same thing as we did with Wrongdoers, except we're gonna be in a different studio so we can get some different sounds. So, sonically, it's going to sound different than Wrongdoers, but it still has the same people backing it.
Cory: When people ask me that, I always say one thing. *laughter* I guess you could say it's kinda my platform. I'm already pretty well-known for it, and totally unashamed of this platform, but I always tell people not to pirate music [but] to buy the music that you love, whether it's iTunes or going and buying an actual record, and support those bands that you love. And that's the best way you can do it and keep those bands alive if you really do appreciate the art that they're making. We live in a digital age, and it's easy to get stuff, so it's understandable, but I still try to encourage people to try to [buy it].
Cory: Yeah, I don't care about the digital age. I think it has its uses in many ways that we take advantage of as a band, being on Facebook and advertising and stuff. But, at the end of the day, what we do is worth something. We put a lot of work into, not just a couple of months writing a record, but years and years of learning our instruments and getting better at them, experimenting in different ways that you might not hear on the record. Especially with the last two Norma Jean records, we put extra stuff in like string instruments and stuff. And all that stuff, to me, is worth something. It's valuable. And these days, getting a record is like ten bucks. It's not that expensive. People are spending that much on a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but they don't wanna go and buy an album that's gonna last forever and ever and ever.
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