After any significant venture or endeavour it is a beautiful human quality that we become reflective of what has been achieved. This appreciation and gratitude is only cemented further in the instance of the artistic realm, more specifically the music element where performers can ponder over a recorded output or live show. This is where HEAVY magazine finds Norma Jean vocalist Cory Brandon, having just completed a somewhat overdue Australian tour and releasing the band’s sixth studio album Wrongdoers, Cory reminisces on the experiences with notable jubilation and a hint of elation in his voice.
“Yeah we had a great time, actually one of the best tours we have had. I mean it has been five years or something crazy since the last time we were in Australia, but to be honest on our recent venture through your country it felt like we hadn’t been away that long. The shows were really great and the fans were great also, everybody seemed really excited. It was cool touring with (Boston melodic metalcore outfit) Vanna, we hadn’t really met them before let alone toured with them besides a little bit of online chat here and there. That band is really impressive and I find their newer stuff really suits them. It was cool to have (Brisbane based progressive doom metalcore band) A Secret Death on board as well, we played our very first Australian tour with them and then when we came back with Every Time I Die we requested A Secret Death to be on that tour because we love their band so much. It was great that they were able to get on some shows this year and their new stuff rules, so people better keep an eye out for that band. As for us, we already plan on coming back next year.”
While the Australian tour was a notable success for NJ, the saddening aspect of the event was that full-length number six had not quite been released at the time. This did not discourage the Georgian post-metalcore stalwarts, as their renowned chaotic live performance was thoroughly enjoyed night after night. With the plan of including a new song from record number six was undertaken every show, there were no qualms about performing their older material as both the five-piece and fans alike cherish these tracks above their personal safety.
“We still play the old songs; we always try to and will from the old albums. No matter how long you have been following us we will be playing something from every era of Norma Jean. We like all our records and it’s cool that we have a lot of old fans, some from a bit later and then brand new ones all coming together, we understand that people are always going to pick their favourite record of any band. We do the same thing with our favourite bands. So we cater to that and in the process we are going to have fun with it too.”
Cory continues – “It always depends, I think we switched out which song from ‘Wrongdoers’ we were going to play on that tour every night from memory because we knew the album wasn’t out yet but people would have wanted to hear something new from us. On the more recent tours like Summer Slaughter we will obviously play more and probably the slightly different sounding ones. So far we have probably played around four to five songs from the new record, so I think people are getting a taste of it to different levels. I mean usually when we play a new song, no-one knows it, so it’s hard to get the crowd into it, but during South by Southwest we played a new song for the first time and the response was amazing. I remember we have one really standout line in that song and by the end of it the audience was chanting it and singing along with me, which is amazing that it happened randomly. The response has probably been the best for the new songs from Wrongdoers than any of the previous records we have released.”
Armed with new members once again which tells an all too familiar tale for Norma Jean (from an estimated but educated guess there have been nine previous members waving the NJ flag), it seems this has only enhanced the much adored brand of metalcore the quintet produces. Wrongdoers is justice that the band aren’t slowing down, just progressing and are enthusiastically anticipating the next chapter.
“It’s never easy to lose members, as we are getting older, the reasons people leave are becoming a lot more understandable you know? We are a band that is open to that, people want to start families and do different things. It is definitely difficult and it is challenging to find new people with the right chemistry that fit in with what we are into. There are a lot of musicians out there that suit that requirement, but we were lucky enough to find the exact right ones and it was awesome working with those guys. We have a lot of touring ahead and we are only going to get busier and it does not faze the new members one bit, which is an amazing thing.”
On a final note, the newest accomplishment the outfit have released upon the world is that of a film clip for the single If You Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty. The story runs along the theme of an outdoor party which Norma Jean are performers at, but instead of the typical alcohol-fuelled trashing, the beers are replaced by milk and what follows will certainly find some viewers in discomfort.
“The film clip was actually shot by our ex-drummer Daniel Davison and he did an incredible job. He is actually doing really well, we still stay in touch; he has built his own studio and been doing a lot of video directing and become very talented with it. The clip definitely has a crazy party feel and a very different idea; I don’t think anyone was expecting what came out. It was all David’s idea from the vibe of the concept we presented to him, certainly a less serious and more comical story. I didn’t like the acting side of it as much; I much prefer the yelling into the microphone side of things (laughs).”