Norma Jean

Third String Productions presents:

Norma Jean

He Is Legend, Capsize, Comrades

Sat, March 25, 2017

6:00 pm

White Oak Music Hall - Houston

Houston, TX

$18.00 - $20.00

Norma Jean
Norma Jean
With their fifth full length studio disc and first for Razor & Tie, Atlanta's post-hardcore giants Norma Jean have delivered what many will come to regard as the heavy music album of 2010. Building on the sonic bedlam that has already earned the group an ever-swelling and tremendously loyal global following, Meridional is the aggressive, artful follow up to 2008's widely acclaimed studio effort The Anti Mother.

Launched by the walloping opening track and advance digital single "Leaderless and Self-Enlisted," Meridional isn't your typical blasting material. It's a seamless song cycle – and a loose acknowledgement of the heralded quintet's Southern roots – that incorporates an array of dramatic, melodic and experimental surprises.

If the ferocity, velocity and weaving melody that steers that aforementioned leading number incites and inspires, it's perhaps the ideal representation of what Norma Jean has become known for – unrelenting, innovative and exceptionally good songs. When pressed to explain how the band keeps managing to up its game with each successive studio effort, longtime lead vocalist and guitarist Cory Brandan modestly addresses the peerless end product that is Meridional.

"We have all become very comfortable as a team of writers and musicians," Brandan explains. "More and more as we continue to create we become less of a band and more of an artistic collaborative."

"We started to write this one well over a year ago, which really gave us time to sit with certain songs and ideas," adds drummer Chris Raines. "We really took our time and so much was able to happen. Songs got better, relationships got better, ideas came faster – it really went great."

That creative preparedness was essential in rendering what can only be regarded Norma Jean's most diverse and cohesive disc yet. From the sinister, percussion-driven standout "Deathbed Athiest" – which highlights Raines' pummeling wares – to the amazing, alluring hard rock anthem "Falling From The Sky: Day Seven" Meridional reflects Norma Jean at its most accomplished and adventurous.

"We wanted to make something different, but something that really flowed together," Raines says. "We didn't want to have our record sound like 10 different bands."

Although "Falling From The Sky" and the stirring, memorable bruiser "High Noise Low Output" build slightly on the melodic touches first surfaced on The Anti Mother, these Ozzfest and Warped Tour vets are by no means pondering a radical reinvention.

"We all like different kinds of music and that is always going to come through," Cory explains. "Besides they're hardly what I would call hits – that wasn't the intention – but they are songs that we feel are very important to keeping the record from being boring and monotonous."

On Meridional Norma Jean also sidestepped the same-old, same-old by opting to work with producer Jeremy Griffith (a veteran of records by Saosin and The Cartel) after two acclaimed discs (2006's Redeemer and 2008's The Anti Mother) with esteemed metal guru Ross Robinson. At Raines' suggestion – he has known Jeremy for a number of years – the band and the rising producer tested the waters on a demo of the song "Kill More Presidents."

Although that track was ultimately left off the album, the drummer says, "We loved the way Jeremy worked and the sounds that he got. He is really picky about who he works with and I really liked that about him. He totally gets the idea of a "dark" record and he helped us accomplish that."

"He's a really laid back guy," Brandan interjects. "He jumped right into our vibe of writing and recording." In fact, Griffith – an accomplished singer who also added backing vocals to Meridional – brought a number of unique ideas to the table. Jeremy challenged Cory, Scottie Henry and Chris Day track their guitar parts before Jake Schultz did his bass parts in the studio – an unconventional idea that paid huge dividends.

"It made it a lot easier to change notes during tracking without having to follow what was already tracked by bass," Cory says of the fresh method. "It worked really well and it left the record open to lots of different perspectives as we tracked."

Such innovations elevate Meridional to a new level in post-hardcore. Balancing the haunting interlude of "Septentrional" against the brutal, careening mayhem of "Blood Burner" the band offers an unexpected break from the intensity, setting a distinct mood on Meridional that is rarely achieved in the genre. "There are a few instances like that on the record and we tried to keep them separated to keep a certain flow going," Cory says. "Those tracks have something very special about them that will be a fun discovery for fans."

On the ferocious and unforgettable anthem "The People That Surround You On A Regular Basis," Norma Jean asserts it can craft music that is equally infectious and maniacal. Another highlight is "Anthem of the Angry Brides." With its frantic guitar noodling, skull thrashing rhythms and bark psychosis vocal delivery, the band knew it had a keeper. "We basically just wanted the song to be ridiculous the entire way through," Cory says. "It was a fun song to write."

If its predecessor was a bona fide concept record, Meridional takes a less stringent stance. Teaming with provocative, renowned Starving Eyes artist Jason Oda – who nailed the layout for Meridional – Norma Jean aspired to integrate the theme of the record. Although this time out, the band is hesitant to disclose the premise of the project, which developed during the course of writing and recording.

"We really can't wait for our fans to get the record and see the artwork that goes with the theme and the title and interpret it on their own," Cory explains. "Any concept is usually applied rather than calculated. We feel like it all comes down to the listener. Just as one person may interpret a painting differently than another person, we like that our fans may get something different than what we originally intended."

As for its creative expansion, Norma Jean – who will head out this summer on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival with Korn, Rob Zombie, Lamb of God and Atreyu – continues to dig deeper and go further, a practice which first started with 2005's O God, The Aftermath. But if Meridional sounds like a game changer in the metalcore realm, it didn't come without concern for its audience.

"With this record we asked ourselves 'What can we give?'" says Cory. "We just wanted to give something back to our older fans that have stuck with us through the years. But we didn't repeat ourselves."

When it came time for the members of Norma Jean to hear the final, completed sequence of Meridional, Raines says the band was elated. "Honestly, we felt proud," the drummer says. "Proud of this band and everything we have gone through in the last few years. We really did what we wanted to do and it showed."

"It's a very different Norma Jean on this record," Brandan decrees. "We definitely kept it heavy, but it's a new kind of "Norma Jean" heavy."
He Is Legend
He Is Legend
"Odd, intriguing and dangerous with a hint of sexy…" is how Schuylar Croom describes the name and nature of his new album, "Suck Out The Poison." He and cohorts Steve Bache, Adam Tanhouz and Matt Williams – known as He Is Legend – have been "running with lies" for some time now. Croom is able to spin these so-called "lies" into the intricate stories that comprise this sophomore album. Akin to a co
llection of Fairy Tales, with titles like "Attack of the Dungeon Witch," "The Widow of Magnolia" and "Goldie's Torn Locks," the songs on "Suck Out The Poison" paint fanciful pictures and children of all ages will come to believe Croom's Southern-Fried tall tales.

Twenty six months straight on the road will do some strange things to your head. The act of waving goodbye to family, friends, significant others, and even a bed of your own, can have you seeing things that aren't there. And in their place you may begin to find yourself living in an alternate universe, one that exists solely inside your mind. You may even begin to find a strange sense of refuge in fairy tale landscapes of epic battles, enchanted forests, evil maidens, and the emerald eyes of a voodoo princess.
Just ask Schuylar Croom, front man for He Is Legend. He'll tell you what it's like.

"The world that exists on the road is as real as anything in my imagination," Croom confesses. "What's the difference between a story about a man living inside a woman's head and the fleeting events of everyday life on tour? The visions I see in these songs are pictures of my home--the road. Losing all you know of comfort and reality is what this record is about. It's not just a collection of songs, but a visit to my abode, my dwelling place. And in that dwelling place you may find a man with flowers growing out of his hands, or you might find a widow mourning the loss of her sailor husband--who has just been devoured by a whale while at sea. Whether it's a witch who stole the moon or a wife that was made from a corpse, every song is a methodical, magical, mystical masterpiece."

The act of sucking out the poison is a myth, a fairy tale that will get you killed. But it's also a fascinating, fictitious picture of redemption. Your friend, your love, is bitten by a serpent, inflicting a fatal wound. In order to save them you have to place yourself on the wound, tasting the serum, to save their life. It is a both vile and virile act, much like the sophomore release from this North Carolina quintet. Dirty, disgusting at times, but always an alluring and fascinating picture. You are drawn to it, even though maybe you shouldn't be.

Consider the guilty pleasure of the opening track "Dixie Wolf (The Seduction Of)." Aberrant guitar dissonance rides the lightning of off-kilter drumbeats. The instruments seem to pull in one direction, while Schuylar pulls in another. A tense melody floats over the mayhem, making you feel at odds with everything He Is Legend is throwing at you. But maybe that's the point. Croom bellows, I am the villain to you, you are the princess to me. And I got you where I want you...If I cannot have you darling, no one will. This fairy tale is ending. Rest in pieces. Dark. Disconcerting. Disastrous. Such is the case with this entire sophomore work.

"We pride ourselves in being the most random band in the universe. There is no one concept, no one rule to how we do things. We don't agree on anything besides the music we write. Why take yourself seriously if you are in a rock band? I can't even believe that people pay money to watch us make fools out of ourselves onstage. But still, we want everyone to come to the show and never know what to expect, besides knowing they will have a great time. This time around though, we are way more satisfied with the music we have written. I think people will come to the shows and do a little more than just swing their arms and do karate kicks."

Perhaps the overriding theme here is depth. Beyond the thin veneer of entertainment lies a successful reach to further recesses of motivation and influence. HIL have no interest in playing the "scene" game. They are unashamed about pulling from such influences as Pantera and Sevendust. The record is as much of a nu-metal barrage as it is a southern rock avalanche. The band has made a decision that they don't want to be pigeonholed as hardcore, or metalcore, or screamo, just because they play heavy music. And they are to be commended for this courage. This is beyond lip rings and black hair dye.

"It takes a lot for us to pull from any current influences. I love Rob Zombie, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave. I love true storytellers that can put out any kind of record that they want and it sells just because the music is good. We draw so much from the records of our childhood here. The Melvins, Neurosis, Foo Fighters, Nirvana. We wanted to pull from as many different places as possible."

Consider the fact that this band has toured with everyone from Atreyu to Story Of The Year to Eighteen Visions to Every Time I Die to hardcore favorites Norma Jean. Their debut disk has scanned over 40,000 copies. Not bad for a band of pirates who just want to sail the open seas and loot all in their path. Still, there is so much more on the horizon for He Is Legend, with the advent of Suck Out the Poison. But they don't want to be the largest band in the world as the only end. Ultimately, they just want to have fun and let whatever comes, come.

That goal takes commitment to something more lofty than sales...

Not unlike the stories in the lyrics themselves, there is something inside all of this that is tangible. Something you can grab a hold of, a picture that is worth more than a thousand words. And to capture these pictures in the layout, the band gave one song away to each of twelve different artists to create a package concept. Each picture is a painting, a drawing of what each artist sees in each song. The result is a collage of depictions that can't help but take you somewhere. But where?

"When I was growing up I was in a strict Baptist environment where things like vampires and monsters were taboo. Somewhere along the way I was drawn to fixate on those things and have come to explore them, more in my subconscious mind than anywhere else. Not to say that evil is a resting place, but I think in coming to confront loss, hurt, heartache--the dark things of the rock n' roll experience--you effectively disarm them. There is hope here, but you have to weed through all the painful things to get there. Loss is the hardest thing you can go through emotionally, and that is a large part of what has influenced this album. We have lived on the road for two years as an unbelievable fairy tale. After awhile you just naturally become a part of that fairy tale."
Capsize
Capsize
Order "Live A Burden, Die A Curse" on vinyl: www.anchorsaweighstore.com
Merch: http://www.consumermerch.com/capsize
Comrades
Comrades
Comrades started as a post-hardcore band in Virginia in 2008 under a different name. Since then, we've had many ups, downs, 50-some tours, and the opportunity to meet so many awesome people and make so many amazing friends across the country.

Our music is, like any art, an outward flowing of what is within us. It has always been influenced by our faith, and something we all feel strongly about is trying to reconcile the differences of well-intentioned people on both sides of that fence, and simply trying to be the example our faith has taught us to be. We hope that we can be a light, and give encouragement, hope, and provoke thought, no matter what your worldview or affiliation.
Venue Information:
White Oak Music Hall - Houston
2915 N Main St
Houston, TX, 77009
http://www.whiteoakmusichall.com/