Norma Jean‘s Cory Brandan was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show. The vocalist discussed the metalcore veterans’ latest album, Deathrattle Sing for Meand how the band used it as an escape during the pandemic with the intention of trying some new things in the process.
Hello everyone, the album that preceded this new record, arrived in the fall of 2019, meaning that Norma Jeans’ plans to support the new material on the road were dashed in the spring of the following year. With unexpected downtime, the group’s members indulged in what Brandan called a “free-for-all” recording, with upwards of 200 studio tracks for just one song.
It’s not something he imagines Norma Jean will pursue again anytime soon, but he hopes fans can get lost in the many layers and still uncover new elements in the years to come.
Read the full interview below.
We’re here to talk about your new record Death Rattle, Sing for Me. Over time, the “Spearmint Revolt” had almost been eliminated more than once. How does the perspective change when you revisit a song at different times in your life?
I felt like for years where songs kind of take on a life of their own and it takes a while for the song to tell you what it is. I think we try to find or force it, like “Oh, this is the type of song we need on the record, so we’re going to try to force it to be.” Whereas the song doesn’t work like that, and so when I found out what kind of song it was, it was more acceptance than anything else.
Norma Jean, “Spearmint Revolt”
This album has been called an embodiment of camaraderie. What leads to bands needing to re-establish these ties?
With this record there are many things that I’m sure many other musicians and bands can relate to. With the pandemic, you were kind of forced into isolation to do something, and for us it was an attempt to find an escape and a reason to make another record. We had just dropped one just a few months before and we had no intention of doing that. For us, it was going through adversity with a lot of other people in the world and trying to find a way through it.
Music can be different things – commentary, a rallying point, inspirational escapism… What is the primary purpose for you in the music you’re making right now?
As I said before, escapism was the goal. We wanted to find a place to get away from it all and really try to make something for others to get away from it all. Even on this record there are some tracks that have over 200 tracks on them. I don’t think it’s something we’ll try to do again very soon, but we wanted this to be something you could lay down on the ground, put on some headphones and get away. Maybe even 10 years from now you will find other elements and layers that you have not heard before.
In many ways, an album is a living thing with its own voice. What sets the tone for an album’s personality, especially this new record from Norma Jean?
Before we tried to have themes or a story, where with this record it was just a free for all. It’s a mess. If you wrote a story and you never did an editing process, it’s just a mess of a story that kind of works together as one big song, as opposed to a bunch of little songs. It’s really meant to be listened to front to back as one big piece, but you can choose what you want and it really can be interpreted however everyone wants – it’s meant to be.
The future classic is the new Orphan Twin album, a studio collaboration between you and your brother, Matthew. Compared to other musicians, what is unique about the musical language spoken between siblings?
Something is happening there. There’s a really good quote where one of the brothers from Oasis talks about how the music that brothers make or brothers sing together is an instrument you can’t buy. We’ve had a bond since we were teenagers in the basement playing songs and it’s really the same kind of thing. He’s really a translator for me and I’m a translator for him, so we work really well together, whether it’s Orphan Twin or Norma Jean, just communicating with everybody. Having him here is just a blessing to all of us.
Thanks to Cory Brandan for the interview. Get your copy of Norma Jean’s new album ‘Deathrattle Sing For Me’ here (out August 12) and follow the band further Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify. Find out where to hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.
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