Your weekly go-to new music guide brought to you by our London music journo, Peggy as she uncovers the latest ‘bands and artists to watch’ in the post-punk, new wave, jazz and indie communities. This week she discusses recording in the pub, the merits of mixtapes and isolation soundtracks with Jack and Henry of genre defying, Bristolian quintet Norman.
Jack Ogborne (Vocals, Guitar, Percussion, Tape Manipulation)
Henry Terrett (Drums)
From cornets to violins, organs to tape manipulation, you have an enticing set up emanating that of the typical ‘guitar band’. How did you come to form and create this unique style of playing?
HT: We were initially your standard line up in terms of instrumentation, the synth/organs came a bit later. Soon after we started gigging we managed to link up with Harry, our cornet player who was annihilating Bristol’s avant-garde Free Jazz scene, and since then we got him playing more and more gigs with us and now we’re stuck with him. I think the violin was something we just had lying around and just thought we’d see what we could do with it to fit it in a song.
As with the unconventional set up, is it safe to say your music looks to defy the constraints of any one genre? Which artists or genres do you seek influence from?
HT: Yeah, I personally like that we don’t fit ourselves under one genre. I think it’s cool to try to steer off that path a bit, or at least do things differently to how they’ve been done before. However it does make it difficult when people ask how we’d describe ourselves. On the subject of artist influences, I think the fact that there are very few artists which mutually influence us contributes to the fact that we don’t necessarily fit under one genre. In March of this year, we heard your first release in the form of, Mixtape Vol. 1 ‘Songs from the basement, The Old England etc’. Why did you choose to amalgamate the three singles as one whole body? JO: We felt like it was a good introduction to the variety of styles we cover in the project. Also the fact that it’s an audio-visual release means we could establish our visual aesthetic right from the get go. Are the rumours true that the mixtape was part-recorded in The Montpelier pub? JO: It sure was. Me and Harry recorded his cornet parts there I guess almost a year ago now. My laptop completely died on the day, so I ended up recording his parts with my phone. We managed to get a pretty good sound anyway. Running seamlessly from an average haircut, to a ‘sing-a-long’ graveyard gig to a pizza box attack, can you talk us behind your visual processes for the accompanying music video? JO: The three sections of the mixtape video were all ideas I had a while ago while we were recording the mixtape. I wanted them all to be very simple, one shot scenes that didn't necessarily have a plot or anything, but just complimented the audio nicely (sort of in the style of ‘Stranger Than Paradise’). James Barlow helped us make the video actually happen, he directed it and brought in a team (DVA Films) to help with production. He did an amazing job and we are already planning our next collaboration with him. Does the term ‘Volume One’ suggest we have another release to look forward too, all be it in the near or distant future? JO: I feel like our sound will change a lot over time. I like the idea that we put out a mixtape first with a certain direction in terms of sound and aesthetic, then follow it with singles, an EP or an album, and then start again after that with a new mixtape with a completely new direction. So I guess once we’re finishing with doing what we’re doing now, we’ll put out another one. Making your live debut in October of 2018, you seemed to have garnered some hefty support slots with LICE, Yuck and Sinead O’Brien to name but a few. Any stand-alone highlights? HT: My personal gig highlights have been the LICE tour and supporting James Chance. I didn’t know an awful lot about him at the time though, and now that’s something I really regret. JO: Yeah James Chance was amazing, he’s a hero of mine. Supporting Omni at Rough Trade in Bristol was fun too. It was nice to play a packed out homecoming show. Where can we (hopefully) look forward to watching your next live show in life after lockdown? JO: I guess if End Of The Road happens (fingers crossed) then we’ll be playing there. We just booked our biggest support tour so far for October with one of my favourite bands, so hopefully that will come through. Which other artists have been the soundtrack to your isolation? HT: I’ve been listening to a lot of Thelonious Monk, especially the album he did with Art Blakey as well as an album Duke Ellington did with Charles Mingus and Max Roach called 'Monkey Jungle'. I also discovered Sly Dunbar’s band, The Revolutionaries and I’ve been mourning Bill Withers a lot. JO: A friend of mine put me onto R. Stevie Moore recently which has taken up most of my life. I’ve been listening to ‘Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard’ by Robert Wyatt most days too and loads of Cate Le Bon as per usual. Any top tips for new bands weathering the social distancing storm? JO: We suck at dealing with social distancing as a band. Two of us are in Bristol and three are in Brighton so it’s hard to get anything done. I’m still writing and recording everyday but the band is collaborative so who knows how much of that material will end up being used. However, if you are starting a band then now is a great time for it. You’ve got to write loads of shit songs before you write a good one, so now you have the opportunity to get all the shit ones out of the way while no ones paying attention. HT: Practice! We now have all the time in the world to do it, it’s the perfect time to knuckle down and get good. Practice loads and come out the other side ready for world domination. @norman_band YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raMux__Iv5w&feature=youtu.be Website: https://www.norman.band