InterviewsAugust 20, 200579,779 views

Norma Jean interview

By Drew Ailes

How did you end up joining the band?

Cory Brandan: We've been friends for a really long time. I was in a band before and we played shows together and stuff, just became really good friends. I was in a band called Eso-Charis and then I played guitar for Living Sacrifice after that for a little bit.

So you guys kind of knew each other for a long time?

Cory Brandan: Yeah, I guess. He'd probably be good to ask about that.

Chris Day: He was actually the first guy we even called or even thought of. We had a fill in for like, a year, and it didn't work out. So we had a tour set up in Europe in a few days and we were like, "what are we gonna do," and somebody brought up Cory from Eso-Charis and we were like, "alright, let's give him a call, see if he wants to go to Europe with us, see how it goes," and it went really well. So, here we are now.

Cory Brandan: Yeah, they called me and were like, "so, you want to go on tour in Europe in three weeks and learn all our songs, including two new ones that you have to write lyrics for?" I was like, "Sure..."

Was it hard to crunch it all together at once?

Cory Brandan: No, I mean. I was dedicated immediately.

I know "Oh God, The Aftermath" is kind of different from your previous release. What bands would you say were influencing you more in the writing of that album?

Cory Brandan: I don't know, we all listen to a lot of different kinds of music. We like all kinds, not just heavy bands. I don't know, I think it all comes from different perspectives because everybody helps in writing. We all work together on that, so, even the lyrics. We all write that too. It's a pretty big collaborative effort on the new CD. I wouldn't know names of bands to give you, but we all listen to a bunch of different kinds of stuff.

Chris Day: Yeah, I think at the time we were listening to a lot of Isis.

Cory Brandan: Yeah, when we were actually at the studio we burned Isis out, hard.

Chris Day: "Oceanic" has always been played.

Cory Brandan: We also bought the Nirvana box-set when it came out. Went and stood in line and got it. That was actually...inspired a whole track that didn't get put on the CD.

Do you have any plans to release that?

Cory Brandan: It's just noise. <laughs> It was supposed to be before track one. Like, if you put the CD in and pushed play, it would play track one. But if you pushed rewind, it would go past track one into this other track that was kind of hidden before. It was just noise, but it was the riff, kind of the heart from the first track, so it kind of went into that song.

And that was inspired by Nirvana?

Cory Brandan: Yeah, big time.

Probably by the later jams on In Utero or something?

Cory Brandan: It was just on the box-set, we watched the DVD. The first thing you hear when you put it in, the menu comes up, it's just them playing. We were like, "dude, lets just make a noise track." And I guess you could say it was kinda weird tribute to the song...

Yeah, I heard that sample from "Tourette's" during your set. I'm a big Nirvana fan, particularly into their real old stuff. But I love them in any form.

Cory Brandan: Yeah, totally.

You guys recorded with Matt Bayles, right? How was working with him.

Cory Brandan: So awesome.

Chris Day: Very good. He knows what he's doing, he knows...he's got a schedule. Everything's so planned out. And we get there, he says, "this is what we're doing today," and he does it. Everything works out perfectly. He's really kind of a perfectionist, and as far as music goes, sometimes we're not. We want to keep little things. And he was cool with that sometimes, you know. I mean, he gets the best sounds as far as I'm concerned with drums. He does so good on drums.

So his perfectionism kind of lent itself to you in the end?

Chris Day: Um, I don't know. There's some kind of mixed feelings. I mean, we love the record, but sometimes we think maybe our next record might be a little more raw. Obviously "Bless The Martyr" was a lot more raw and this one's a little more polished, but I wouldn't say it's overproduced.

Cory Brandan: I think the thing about Matt Bayles is that he makes raw sounding records that are well-performed. It still has that raw element but it's not just insanity where you can't understand what these guys are playing. That's kind of his thing. I think for the record we wanted to do he was a perfect dude to get.

Chris Day: Yeah. He always told us, he's not a metal band producer, he's a rock producer who produces some metal bands. And I think that shows on some of his recordings, like when you listen to Mastodon, it's just...they're a metal band, but it's not a metal recording.

Especially on some of their more rockish-leads, it really gets brought out.

Cory Brandan: Yeah, yeah.

How does the songwriting process work with the addition of....

Cory Brandan: Me.

...are you the only new member?

Cory Brandan: Jake was in the band a year before me, but he hadn't written with the band at all yet, really. They had a couple of songs before me, but...

Chris Day: Cory has had songs for a few years that he hadn't had a band to go forth with the songs, so he brought a lot to the writing process, as well as everybody else. We all had our little ideas and stuff like that, so it worked really well. The original dudes have our way of writing, and then Cory also has his way of writing, which he totally almost writes whole songs. So he brings that to the writing process.

Cory Brandan: I was kind of freaked out at first, because I had a lot of ideas, but I didn't want to like...

Bust right in...

Cory Brandan: Yeah! And be like, "Okay, here's what we're doing..."

Chris Day: And the same with us. We didnt know how he went about the writing process, and he didnt really know how we did, so we kind of just took it a little slow at first and said "you know, let's try this, whatever." And then we'd notice, "oh, you have a whole song written now. Okay, you should've shown us that like, two weeks ago."

Cory Brandan: Luckily it worked out because we all have very similar taste in music and artistic goals as far as what we want to do as a band. It seemed to fit very well. That's part of the reason with my old band too, similar music tastes.

Chris Day: Eso-Charis was one of our favorite bands. The few years they were writing music and stuff, they were a huge influence on "Bless The Martyr" even, you know. Huge influence, before he even thought about being in our band.

What's the general reaction from all you guys, having gotten bigger and bigger over the years? How do you guys deal with that?

Cory Brandan: I think we all still feel like, as far as I go, I can't speak for everyone, naturally, but I think we all just still feel like regular dudes. The same. We love what we do, we love the music...

Chris Day: We love people, and if people get pumped up about our music, that makes us happy. But we still try to stay humble and just be dudes, you know. Sometimes it is hard, you know, like, some festivals we play you can't really go anywhere without having to talk to people. Which I like talking to people, but...

Not every ten steps.

Chris Day: Yeah, yeah. Other than that...I love people, I love the fans. I couldn't ask for anything better to do with my life at all.

Kind of a quick background question, how did you guys end up getting into heavy music?

Cory Brandan: Hmm...

What were the first bands that got you started? For me, it was Nirvana, and then I just got deeper into Metallica, Megadeth, and just went from there.

Cory Brandan: I think it was just kind of like that. I started going to shows at 13, 14, whatever. I just started getting into local music and started my own little bands. We sucked really bad. But like, early, early, influences that really got me into death metal and Fugazi...and um...there's a lot of bands. I originally started out just straight up metal. Slayer was my favorite band. I learned how to play guitar listening to Slayer and Metallica, so, pretty generic. But that's it, right there.

I don't want to harp on the fact that guys are a Christian band, but are you a fan of other Christian bands?

Both: Yeah.

Cory Brandan: Totally. As I Lay Dying are an amazing bunch of dudes. We're actually playing on tour with them later this year, but yeah. Great dudes. Some of the bands on our label, you know, like...

Chris Day: Underoath. Really good dudes, we love them. Some of our best friends. Really good dudes, really humble. They never change. They're huge now, selling 100,000 records, and still the same guys I knew three years ago.

Do you ever receive any sort of backlash for your faith, or are people usually accepting?

Chris Day: Every now and then we get some junk from people, but for the most part, if people like our music, they're not going to care. If they're like, an atheist and they like our music, they can be cool with us.

Cory Brandan: I think it's a respect thing. The truth is, just like any other band in our genre or bands we're playing with, we sing about what we believe in. Just like any other band. We sing about what we believe in, and we like the same kinds of music, so that's what it comes down to.

So obviously you guys never have any reservations playing with bands who are sort of opposite?

Chris Day: No, not at all.

Cory Brandan: No, no way.

Chris Day: We would rather...

Cory Brandan: Yeah, I mean as far as that goes, it comes down to our love for music and our artistic expression of that.

So how did Oh God, The BBQ Sauce come about?


I had to ask about that.

Cory Brandan: We love barbeque sauce. We love barbeque.

I read barbeque and sweet tea is what you guys thrive on.

Cory Brandan: Mmhmm. That was just kind of a fun thing that we wanted to do to promote the record. We give it away. Our label gives it away. They actually made it for us.

Oh okay, I thought it was Norma Jean's special secret recipe.

Chris Day: Nah...

Cory Brandan: They send us samples.

Chris Day: Yeah, we tasted a few.

Cory Brandan: We picked one.

So you gave it the okay?

Chris Day: Yeah, it's good.

Cory Brandan: It's like a sweet blend.

Chris Day: Yeah, we had a cookout with Unearth on Easter.

Really? I heard you guys had your own grills, too.

Cory Brandan: No, we just bought 'em. They weren't like our own grills.

Ah, I thought it was like, George Foreman...Norma Jean...

Cory Brandan: [laughing] Yeah...

Chris Day: Well, the label did make us...or get us some little grills. Remember we autographed them when we were in the office? Maybe you weren't there.

Cory Brandan: I wasn't there.

Chris Day: Okay. That's supposed to be given away too with like, a year's supply of the barbeque sauce to the contest winner.

Cory Brandan: Which is like, eight bottles. Should last you plenty.

You guys recently shot the video for "Absentimental"...

Cory Brandan: Yeah, in Nashville, it was awesome.

Who directed it, and is there a specific concept?

Cory Brandan: We just directed it. We definitely wanted to just pick a really brutal heavy song. In the music industry, you kind of get pushed towards, "do the one with the chorus," you kn ow, or something like that. But this time around we were like, "you know what? We're going to do this." And we picked that song. We kind of went back and forth on which song we were going to do, but we knew it was just going to be a song we thought was fun and definitely heavy.

Chris Day: It's also a live video.

Cory Brandan: We just had dudes come out and film it, and we played this show. That's it. Simple. We just kind of let the kids do whatever they wanted and it was an insane show. Totally out of control.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the DVD that you guys are working on?

Cory Brandan: We have a lot of footage.

Chris Day: Yeah, we're still even now gathering some footage. We haven't decided if we're going to edit it together or have somebody do it for us. I don't know, we haven't really talked about it yet. We still want to get more footage for it. We've got a ton already from the Atreyu tour.

Cory Brandan: It's mostly going to be like, making of the record. A lot of stuff from the studio writing. That'll be most of it. Then touring after that, just this whole year.

What's the deal with Scottie's other band, Spitfire? Are they active or do they have anything planned?

Cory Brandan: They're an older Solid State band that has kind of regrouped and they asked Scottie to join.

Chris Day: They're playing a few shows here and there...

Cory Brandan: I think they're writing mostly right now, getting ready for recording. They're a really good band though.

Chris Day: Another one of our influences back in the day, which is weird that he's in that band.

I was going to ask Daniel about...I hear he's obsessed with Woven Hand and 16 Horsepower. I'm a big fan of those bands as well, I wasn't really expecting that.

Chris Day: [laughing] Yeah.

Cory Brandan: Like I was saying, we all like really different styles of music. All of us have different tastes and that comes together when we're writing. But yeah, Daniel's definitely into 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand.

So are there any real unexpected bands that you guys are into as well?

Cory Brandan: I don't know...

Chris Day: I like country. And I know a lot of people don't.

Modern country?

Chris Day: No, I like older country, like Hank Williams III, I know he's a newer artist, but he plays older country. Stuff like that. I don't know, I was in Nashville on my anniversary when we shot the video. Me and my wife just went around and there were all these country bands playing, I loved it so much.

Cory Brandan: That was real fun.

You're into a lot of bluegrass too, I'm guessing?

Chris Day: Yeah, I get into that kind of stuff too sometimes. I like to listen to everything. I love Johnny Cash, I love Frank Sinatra. Helmet I've always liked. I think that's one of our biggest influences as a band. All of us have loved Helmet, Daniel learned how to play drums to Helmet.

Are there any bands on the Sounds of the Underground tour that you're really excited to see night after night?

Chris Day: A Life Once Lost, even though they play like, really early. Before I even wake up. I have seen them a few times. That's a new band I'm really excited about on this tour. They're doing really well right now, their record just came out a few days ago. It's an awesome record and they're awesome live. They sound really good. Good dudes, I'm really excited about that band right now.

You guys were over in Europe recently. Who were you there with?

Chris Day: It was with Atreyu and a band called He Is Legend.

Cory Brandan: The whole tour was a three month tour with Unearth and Atreyu. And then it went overseas. But He Is Legend was only on the Europe part, but we went to Japan and Australia as well, and Unearth met us up there.

How was that out there?

Cory Brandan: It was cool.

Chris Day: We've been to Europe a few times, never to Japan or Australia.

Cory Brandan: It's different.

Chris Day: Yeah, really different. Especially being in Europe, you know. If you ask me, two weeks is good.

Cory Brandan: Totally.

Chris Day: Any time over that is just kind of get bummed out. But as far as Japan and Australia, I could stay there for...


Chris Day: Yeah. Well, no.

Cory Brandan: Ehhh, I got over Japan quick. Too robotic there. But Australia was pretty surprising. The scene...the kids that go to shows. There's so many of them. And they're so excited, because they don't get American bands a lot. There have been a lot lately, so it's just booming over there. If you're an American band and you're heavy, you have to go to Australia. You need to. It's amazing.

I heard it's like, celebrity status practically...

Cory Brandan: I wouldn't say celebrity status, but kids are so excited to be at a show. It's not like, "oh, it's the fourth show of the day..." You know, like, there's a lot of touring in the U.S., and the kids are definitely excited, but if a show goes through there...there's pretty much only five cities you can play, but if you go through there, kids are so excited that you're there. It's really awesome.

Lastly, what does the future look like for you guys? Is there anything planned that I haven't covered?

Cory Brandan: I don't know, we're just working on this record, promoting it this whole year. We may start writing next year, but I don't think we're ever going to be a band that keeps doing the same thing over and over again.

Constantly change?

Cory Brandan: If you're expecting our next record to sound like the last one, it's not going to happen. I know that's kind of like, some people don't want to hear that, but like. It's not. We definitely want people to like our music, we're not ashamed to say that. That we want fans, and we want people to be into it, and we want to be entertaining and fun and all that —  whatever. But we're going to progress every time.

Is there anything you guys want to add?

Cory Brandan: Hmmmm...lambs. Because of Lambgoat. We have kind of a thing with lambs. So, just lambs. Anything lambs is good.

Chris Day: I'll say this. We're sharing a bus with Throwdown and their new record just came out. It's awesome. "Vendetta".

Cory Brandan: Best heavy record.

Chris Day: [laughing] Buy it.

Cory Brandan: It's friggin sweet.


Post Comment
papertigers_ 8/20/2005 10:02:08 AM

first post

anonymous 8/20/2005 12:40:43 PM

what a bunch of homos

davefons_ 8/20/2005 1:25:41 PM

good shit drew

hotaction_ 8/20/2005 3:08:55 PM

why are these guys still together?

blackoftheblood_ 8/20/2005 10:03:56 PM

brad was in that band for two or three years getting them from a georgia band to one of the biggest metalcore bands in the country and they give him "We had a fill in for like, a year, and it didn't work out." way to totally ignore those that have helped you out.

CJ_ 8/21/2005 9:11:12 AM

best band ever.

oil_ 8/21/2005 11:38:28 PM

o god, the shitband

gorebuzzaw_ 8/22/2005 7:22:11 AM

how it really went down... LG: So you're Cory Brandan eh? Cory Brandan: Yeah man oral is five-fifty. rear is three-hundred. LG: ...

Dave2112_ 8/22/2005 2:26:12 PM

Who knows what happened with that shit. I saw them a long time ago with the guy that was before the last singer and they were telling him to shut up and go to the next song. It was weird all around.

Ryan Mc_ 8/23/2005 7:25:38 PM

Christian hardcore has always made me laugh. Hardcore is suppost to be forward thinking and positive, not a prayer circle. These guys ripped Botch on thier new release and total dodged the question by name dropping Nirvana and Isis. What a bunch of geeks.

Ryan Mc_ 8/23/2005 7:27:21 PM

p.s. Ever real Nirvana fans knows that the box set sucks. Hey man lets pay 50 bucks to hear 5 different versions of "Rape Me" and a Led Zeppelin cover. Buying that shit is supporting Courtney Love's drug habit.

anonymous 8/24/2005 1:20:36 AM

norma jean f*cking sucks hairy scrotum

anonymous 8/24/2005 1:21:03 AM

they suck a lot

marching_band_rules_ 8/25/2005 3:08:15 PM

Good interview.

Guinness_ 9/3/2005 5:06:28 AM

When will this "I hate Norma jean trend" gonna stop? In a couple of years you'll be dead and it wont matter then.... Good interview.

anonymous 11/4/2005 11:02:16 PM

ripping of botch and coalesce is quite the trend apparently. both briliant bands, yet norma jean is half-assed and mosh-APPRopriate. f*ck them and thier beards.

illmakeyoufamous_ 11/16/2005 2:12:00 PM

good musicians and good people. you cant hate them because they wear clothes you dont like. they are f*cking ridiculous when they play. no doubt good guys too. excellent interview.

joao_ 5/19/2006 2:08:07 AM

hoooooooooooooooooo ese grupo la lleva _________NJ ya suerte norma jean xauuup

mikey fool_ 8/18/2006 2:42:46 AM

good band. all you haters f*ck you lil immature bitches whos just f*ckin jealous and shit

James_ 8/31/2006 7:12:57 AM

A buddy of mine lent me your CD and I really liked it...I dont have a clue what you guys are talking about. I just googled you and I got this. So uhh, how's life?

kim_ 10/12/2006 10:12:54 AM

I f*ckIN LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

some indian dude_ 1/19/2007 8:19:53 PM

you guys have blown me away completely.... your music has it awwwwwwwwwwwlllll..... thank u....

garrett_ 5/5/2007 6:31:33 PM

you guy's are awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!keep rockin

Meiko_ 8/14/2008 12:32:19 PM

You are... FORGIVEN!!!!