‘THE ANTI MOTHER’ (Solid State) CORY BRANDAN (Lead Vocals/Guitars) SCOTTIE HENRY (Guitars) JAKE SCHULTZ (Bass) CHRIS DAY (Guitars) CHRIS RAINES (Drums)
THE ANTI MOTHER has arrived--and NORMA JEAN wrestle her to the ground, with the most furious, and yet melodic, music of their career.
For their fourth studio album, Atlanta-based post-hardcore heroes NORMA JEAN deliver a heavy and potent song cycle that looks at life squarely in the eye, from the opening track “Vipers, Snakes and Actors” to the closing “And There Will Be A Swarm Of Hornets.” Explains lead singer CORY BRANDAN about the inspiration for the album title and theme, “The Anti Mother is a character we created which represents anything that is deceptive, and yet possesses an outwardly beautiful nature.”
The crushing, sonically adventurous 10 songs that comprise THE ANTI MOTHER easily mark an artistic and creative high point for NORMA JEAN. "The Jean absolutely live life’s purpose, giving away the pure essence of real love and it’s not pretty at all,” says producer Ross Robinson with whom the band re-teamed after he first manned the boards on the quintet’s strongly received Redeemer (2006). “Being fearless, THE ANTI MOTHER steps musically beyond the line of greatness--it’s the soundtrack of surviving any situation and becoming who you were born to be; if you don't know, listen and find out..."
Before THE ANTI MOTHER hit the streets, the percussive-rich track “Robots 3 Humans 0,” seized the prompt attention of NORMA JEAN’s loyal following when it was posted on the group’s MySpace page. And if the sound of CORY BRANDAN (lead vocals, guitars) stepping away from his trademark growl and embracing melody on the track raised more than a few eyebrows, the band--also consisting of SCOTTIE HENRY (guitars), JAKE SCHULTZ (bass), CHRIS DAY (guitars) and CHRIS RAINES (drums)--says it plans to continue evolving creatively.
“We don’t like to set any norms for Norma Jean,” SCOTTIE says. “People call us metalcore or post-hardcore, but we just write what comes. Being open to trying new things and having Cory actually singing has sent this record in a different direction. We aren’t trapped in any kind of sound or scene. It’s healthy for us to expand and grow.” Or as CORY explains, “I love melodic, catchy songs, plain and simple. The Smashing Pumpkins are one of my favorite bands ever. And all they did was write love songs, even if they were heavy. We wanted to write a heavy record-- and ‘Robots’ is heavy, but still melodic and we’re stoked on that.”
Fortified by separate collaborations with Page Hamilton of Helmet (who befriended the band after an ’06 L.A. gig) and Deftones’ frontman Chino Moreno (who NORMA JEAN also came to know after exchanging boxes of T-shirts and other gear on the road), THE ANTI MOTHER is unlike any other heavy music album of 2008. And as for Hamilton’s appearance on the blistering “Opposite of Left and Wrong” SCOTTIE says, “Growing up listening to Helmet, we were inspired to play music. It’s pretty much musically why a lot of us are even doing this. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a guest vocal thing, that it was us actually writing with him. We had a couple of riffs and he had a couple of chords he put together and it became the chorus. It was really smooth. It was awesome.”
Meanwhile, Moreno’s appearance on the incendiary “Surrender Your Sons” was equally fruitful. “Deftones are just another band that we grew up loving,” CORY explains. “That song was written in a very spontaneous way and came out so unique. Later, Cove Reber from Saosin came in and also did some vocals on the song as well.”
While the band’s willingness to pool resources with hard music legends is as courageous as it is unique, another creative element of NORMA JEAN that sets them apart is the fact the entire band is involved in the lyrical process. “We write lyrics together,” CORY says proudly. “I know it’s unusual, but we all want to know what every song is about. I can’t tell you how many bands there are where you ask the guitarist what the lyrics mean, and they’re like, ‘I don’t know… Some girl?’”
Whether it’s the aggressive, hardcore tack of “Self-Employed Chemist,” the expansive and experimental “Discipline Your Daughters” or the intense guitar opus “And There Will Be A Swarm of Hornets”--replete with a breathtaking outro--NORMA JEAN crafts and delivers its music with conviction. And it willingly acknowledges Robinson’s contribution to THE ANTI MOTHER’s successful outcome.
Three weeks of pre-production at the producer’s Venice Beach compound helped the band bring its A-game to the recording studio. “Being familiar with [Ross] going into it made it that much easier to get down to work,” SCOTTIE explains. “The way he is as a producer, he’s always digging deep inside of us for a fire. It’s about finding something that makes the song come alive. We’re more interested in the song having feeling as opposed to having a perfect studio product.”
“I wanted it to be the best thing I’ve ever done, and from At the Drive-In to Korn, Ross is about getting the best vocal performances,” CORY says. “He finds a button and keeps pushing it. He gets under your skin, but he does it for a reason. He’s doing whatever he can to get the best out of you. His whole thing is sing it like you mean it. You have to mean it. It’s about the song. And it’s something that carries over to the stage.”
From “Vipers Snakes And Actors” to “Murphy Was An Optimist” to “Death Of The Anti Mother” that ferocity comes alive. “It’s a release,” SCOTTIE says of the band’s cathartic roar. “This record is a lot more personal. Even lyrically, we kind of went for it writing metaphorically.”
A fusion of NORMA JEAN's most tuneful and aggressive material yet, CORY concludes, “We've never been this excited about anything we’ve done. THE ANTI MOTHER is exactly the record we’ve always wanted to make.”
And if it’s up to BRANDAN, his hope is that listeners will get something out of the THE ANTI MOTHER that’s unique and personal to them. “I want them to make our music their own,” the singer says. “That’s how I’ve always gone about it. That dates back to when I was a kid in my bedroom listening to Helmet or Fugazi or Deftones. I want to lend that kind of experience to people who hear our band.”
NORMA JEAN: NEW VIDEO FOR “ROBOTS 3, HUMANS 0” UP NOW ON MYSPACE; BAND KICK OFF HEADLINING ‘ THE ANTI MOTHER TOUR’ THIS WEEK