Metalcore band Norma Jean comes to Bogies
By Eli Enis
Last Tuesday, Albany’s downtown music venue Bogies was fortunate enough to host metalcore pioneers, Norma Jean, alongside tour mates Emery, Night Verses, and Artifex Pereo. This short, east-coast tour was highly anticipated among longtime fans of Solid State Records, a Christian record label that gave birth to Norma Jean, Emery, and many other notable metalcore and post-hardcore bands during the early to mid-2000s.
Norma Jean, notorious for putting on highly intense live performances, released their sixth studio album “Wrongdoers” in August 2013 to overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim. Before the show, vocalist, Cory Putman, sat down to discuss touring, wild fans, and the future of Norma Jean.
Q: So you guys are currently on a co-headlining tour with Emery. How’s that going so far?
Cory Putman: “It’s going good man. We’re stoked to be out with those guys. It’s a cool lineup I think. Two, kind of older-school solid state bands touring with each other. That hasn’t happened in a while. We’ve never toured with those guys before either. So yeah, it’s been fun.”
Q: Both you guys and Emery came up around the same time in the early-mid 2000’s. So were you guys ever influenced by anything that Emery was doing?
CP: “No, not at all. We were kind of from similar eras, maybe influenced by similar bands, but I wouldn’t quote them as an influence. But definitely a cool band. They do a different thing than us for sure.”
Q: So “Wrongdoers” came out a little over a year ago by now. What are your guys’ feelings with it now after giving it a year to resonate?
CP: “We’re really happy with it. Especially with having three new guys in the band, we kind of just thought the best thing to do was to let the music speak for itself instead of allowing people to dive into some kind of hardcore pop culture or something. It doesn’t matter who’s in the band, if you dig the music that’s all that matters.”
Q: Anything you would put in or take out [of “Wrongdoers”]?
CP: “Nah man we’re really glad the way it went. We recorded with Josh Barber in Kansas City. Originally he was supposed to mix the record but when it came down to it I think all of our ears were really blown out and sick of hearing the recording, so we ended up getting Jeremy Griffith, who recorded Meridional [their previous album] to mix the record and he just killed it. If anything, we’re thinking of doing the next record the exact same way cause that worked out so cool.”
Q: Compared to previous Norma Jean albums, how did fans receive “Wrongdoers”?
CP: “I think it was really similar to how Meridional was received, which is just really good. I don’t think you can find any bad reviews for those records and that was really cool to us because the industry is probably the hardest people to satisfy.”
Q: Which songs out of your discography receive the best reception live?
CP: “Off the new record it seems like “Wrongdoers” gets good reception, “The Potter Has No Hands” gets great reception, and of course no one can deny “Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste”[off of “Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child,” 2002] is easily the one that people go the most nuts for. Pretty much what we play live is catered to what people want to hear live…I think that’s how a live show should go. Give them what they want and have fun with it.”
Q: What’s your personal favorite Norma Jean album?
CP: “Wrongdoers” is definitely the easiest one to say…when we do a new record we try to put 200 percent more than what we put into the previous. But the record that I always go back to is “Redeemer.” That’s when this band really changed in a lot of ways and so that has the most songs on it that we like to play live. In all honesty, probably “Redeemer.”
Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen a fan do at one of your shows?
CP: “I think probably the craziest thing was, we played House of Blues in Anaheim and there’s a balcony that’s really high up, and somebody jumped off of it. It was really stupid [laughs]. I know he got hurt and hurt some people.”
Q: What are your guys’ plans in terms of new material?
CP: “We’ve definitely been writing and messing around with stuff, but we haven’t really gotten together to put songs together. We’re kind of getting there. I think we’re going to finish this tour and then we’re going to start hitting the books pretty hard.”
After the interview, Putman and Co. put on quite a show to the sizeable number of dedicated attendees, many of which knew nearly every word Putman screamed. It was clear that Norma Jean’s existence, spanning over 15 years, heavily influenced many of the fans and fellow musicians in that room and that they will continue to do so in the coming years.