After spending quite some time away from our shores, Norma Jean announced their return to Australia in 2013 to a more than positive response. Now, with an impressive current record (2013’s ‘Wrongdoers’) under their belt, the Georgia boys return this April. In the lead-up, vocalist Cory Putman had a chat with Killyourstereo.com to talk about the tour and how their live shows have evolved since the release of ‘Wrongdoers’.
You guys released ‘Wrongdoers’ about a year and a half ago now – how’s the touring cycle been going for that record?
It’s been awesome man. It’s kind of weird to think about the fact that we finished recording the record like, two years ago this week. It really doesn’t feel like that long. Right off the bat, ‘Wrongdoers’ was one of the most easily accepted records from the Norma Jean fanbase. We just put the record out, played the songs, and everyone got on board. It’s actually been really easy.
You guys hit Australia as one of the last countries before ‘Wrongdoers’ was released, just three months before it was dropped back in August 2013. How’d that tour go?
It was awesome – We hadn’t been in a REALLY long time before that tour – like, six or seven years maybe – way too long. 2007 was the last time before that. We spent way too long away from you guys. It ended up being a really great tour with a lot of packed out shows. We were really surprised that everyone was still cool with us over there.
That was right before the record came out as well, and so we were testing out some new material at those shows. We actually ended our last record cycle there too, and in April when we come back we’ll pretty much be doing our last tour on this record before we hit the studio and start writing again.
This time around, you guys are playing much smaller venues than you did last time, opting instead to do multiple shows in each city where possible rather than just one big show. With that in mind, what is it that makes you guys want to play the smaller shows?
I’ll be honest with you – I’m not familiar with the venues we’re playing or the capacity for them. I think it was just kind of like, in the last couple of years, it’s been kind of a thing for us to be really comfortable with where we are, and with the growth that we have. We like to just pack in there and play with fans who are keen to see us. We’re not into pushing ourselves to being some huge rock stars, we just love playing music, and we hope that the right people will come.
If it turns out that we end up with more than expected, then so be it, but we never really plan for it.
As well as all of those small headline shows, you guys will be playing Easterfest up in Queensland when you visit, a religious music festival. When you guys are playing ‘faith-based’ events like that, does it change the way you approach things at all?
No – Not at all. We’re gonna play the same thing, play with the same intentions, and interact with people in the same way. Personally, I’m not really familiar at all with the festival, so to us, it’s just another show. We’ll play the same thing we played the night before, except for maybe a few small changes here and there. They’d better be ready for some loud rock and roll, cause that’s what we’re gonna bring them.
Playing a multi-genre festival like that, a band like Norma Jean can stick out like nothing else on the lineup. Do you ever find those sorts of shows to be challenging?
No, its kind of cool actually. It’s always been fun to be that band. I think we end up being that band a lot – even on primarily heavy tours. Last year, we did Summer Slaughter in the US, and there’s all these death metal bands, and we play our more jagged style of rock and roll, so that kind of worked the other way around. We stuck out like a sore thumb. It’s fun to kind of freak people out about and give them what they’re not expecting (laughs). We’re looking forward to it though.
We’ve done a lot of festivals like that before and gone ‘we don’t know if these people know what they’re getting into’ when really it’s more that we don’t know what we’re getting into, and we end up having some of the craziest shows, that just make us wanna come back. I’m hoping that’s what will happen.
Belle Haven have been announced as the national support for the tour, as well as a stack of locals that will open up each of the shows. Have you had a chance to check any of those bands out?
A little bit, yeah. I’ve been crazy busy the past month or so, so I haven’t had a chance to do much listening. When we announced it all, people seemed really stoked with who we’re playing with, so if the fans are happy, we’re happy.
Have you had a chance to listen to a band called Totally Unicorn? They’re opening up one of the Sydney shows.
No, not yet.
Well, without giving anything away, I’ll just say that they’re probably gonna give you a set that you’ll never forget…
…When you guys last toured, your Australian fans got to hear tracks from ‘Wrongdoers’ before the album was even released. Now, in contrast, these songs will have gone through almost two years of performing and touring by the time you hit our shores in April. Do you find that your songs undergo a type of transformation in that time, or do you more or less stick to the record?
Sometimes the songs change a little bit – or we kind of adapt to the songs a bit more. When you release a record, and you start playing the songs live, it’s all a bit technical. This record was written with that in mind, so we could feel it a bit more. We were able to really dive into these songs more emotionally in our live shows, and I feel like we’ve just grown in that respect over the past few years.
It really depends on the day too, because we might just decide to change something up one night. We never really know what we’re gonna do.
There’s a whole lot of bands touring Australia around the late March/Early April timeframe – Obviously, based on the fact that you guys have sold out nights and extra shows added, you’re not struggling for ticket sales, but regardless, why do you think a fan should choose to spend their money seeing Norma Jean over someone else?
We’ve all worked back home. We’ve all had 9-5 jobs, and personally, I’ve had 2 or 3 jobs at once at some times. I know what it’s like to get up in the morning, take your kids to school, and then go to work, and I know that people work all week, and take their hard earned money and use it to come see us play. It’s not cheap anymore, either.
I can honestly, with full confidence say that if you come to our show, it’s gonna be a good time. We’re not just gonna have a bad day and then just get up there and half-ass it. We’ve never done that before, and we’re not gonna start doing it now. You’re spending your hard earned money on a ticket to come and see us, and so we’re gonna put everything into that. That’s all I can promise, but I hope that it goes a long way.
Catch Norma Jean touring Australia this April.