Tag: barfly

Norma Jean recall being the last band to play London’s Barfly

“I think the most uncomfortable thing is literally digging up past things – but Norma Jean have always written about real lives”

We’re in Camden, North London, on the phone to Cory Brandon, frontman in Atlanta’s metalcore veterans Norma Jean. The band have a strong connection with this area – being the last band to ever play legendary venue The Barfly.

During their headline set at this year’s Camden Rocks festival, the news that they were the swansong act was helpfully imparted to the crowd from the venue’s outgoing management – with the instruction to do whatever they liked; from then on, Cory says, “a riot ensued. People rushed the stage… literally tearing the walls down and the air conditioning, it was insane.”

The band’s gig at The Barfly was part of a 45-date European tour – including three dates at Slam Dunk (“it was amazing, it was like being on tour for three days”) – and went about giving us reminder of their brilliant live show energy, as well as getting us pumped for their forthcoming seventh album, Polar Similar, which is out this month.

The new album feels like an exercise in therapy. The track Everything Louder than Everything Else deals with abusive relationships, while A Thousand Years A Minute addresses self-harm, and Reaction is about the search to reach victims. And certainly, it helped Cory open up new wounds, “I think the most uncomfortable thing is literally digging up past things – but Norma Jean have always written about our real lives.”

But then, you wouldn’t really expect anything else from an album recorded at the same studios as where Nirvana recorded In Utero.

Here’s the key details for Polar Similar:

They recorded the album in the middle of the woods – Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota to be exact – and to be as isolated as possible
These are the same studios as Nirvana’s In Utero – and there’s definitely a grungy feel to the album – especially on single 1, 000, 000 Watts
During recording, they watched The Shining hundreds of times. Continuing a tradition started on 2006’s Redeemer, where the band watched American Movie throughout the recording, every day the band walked from the cabin to the backyard studio, turned on Stanley Kubrick’s isolation-themed thriller and watched it on loop
The new album is produced by legendary producer Ross Robinson, who’s back working with the band for the first time since 2008’s The Anti Mother

Polar Similar is out on 9 September.

Best Song Ever

I’m not one for novelty cover versions – I said when I last posted up Hacktivist’s version of Jay-Z / Kanye West’s Pariswhich ended up being one of my favourite tracks of last year.  However, over the last couple of days I’ve had ‘Best Song Ever’ by One Direction stuck on rotation in my head – and these guys are the reason.


Askira are a five-piece metal core group from Houston, Texas and they have taken what is easily one of the worst pop songs of recent years and by adding some downtuned guitars, double bass drumming and some meaty breakdowns have turned it into an instant rock dance floor classic that I, for one will be playing at every available opportunity over the next 12 months! (I’m not a pop or 1D hater incidentally – I actually think What Makes You Beautiful is a decent enough pop song – I just think it sounds like the lyrics to this particular track were written in about 30 seconds)


Two friends of mine who love to play One Direction in rock clubs are Katy and Sean from The Hype Theory. I’m looking forward to the follow-up to last year’s Captives album dropping later this year and catching their headline gig at London’s Garage on January 25th. You can hear my interview with them from last year’s Warped Tour here.


Between now and then though, there is the small matter of Lamb of God at Brixton Academy next Saturday – my first gig of 2014. There are very, very few metal bands who can play music as uncompromisingly heavy as these guys and headline a venue like Brixton, and with these dates being their first UK shows since singer Randy Blythe’s manslaughter charges, there will no doubt be an extra layer of intensity.


I’ve yet to see the film of the aforementioned manslaughter trial, As The Palaces Burn which arrives on these shores in February, but the trailer suggests it is well worth a watch.


Before January is out, I’m also looking forward to the arrival of the Brooklyn Bowl at London’s 02, catching rising UK punks Max Raptor at Camden’s Barfly, and heading to Dublin for the last ever ‘Lockdown’, a pop-punk/rock I’ve never been before but I am assured by my friends is well worth jumping on a plane for! Time will tell, but the words pouring out on Facebook from the announcement of their demise suggests this is indeed the case. I understand the date is to be announced imminently.