"We were looking at a book and we found out that Norma meant pattern and then we looked up Jean and it means God's grace and mercy. So together it means patterns of grace and mercy."
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Solid State artists Norma Jean have come to conquer every hardcore band in their path. In the quote above, drummer Daniel Davison, explains what went into the new name. At first you might believe that the band were big Marilyn Monroe fans, but that is obviously not the case. This is a very spiritual band, that don't follow the typical thing in metal of being Agnostic or just not believing at all. They fully embrace Christianity and let everyone know it. However, that doesn't make them soft; their music is anything but. In my opinion, it makes them stronger because they aren't afraid to let people know about their religious beliefs. In this interview, Daniel speaks about what he does while waiting to play, the history of Norma Jean, and what goes into the songwriting. Also, he speaks of the bands former name Luti-kriss. Due to time constraints, this interview is one of the shortest I've done, however, it is still entertaining! Enjoy!
Sharita: First off, talk about the inspiration behind the bands songwriting?
Daniel: Well this record was kind of different from the last one. The main difference is between the last one and this one is, we had 2 member changes. One is, we have a new singer, so that's different right off the bat. He also wrote a lot of the the guitar stuff so, he brought a lot to the table and was a huge part in the writing of this record. The weird thing was that he's from Arkansas and we're from Atlanta, so the writing process was broken into sections where he could come to Atlanta and we'd all be together and do some writing, then he'd be gone for a month and we'd continue to practice everyday. Then, he would be writing at home too and come back for 2 weeks and we'd practice all day from like noon till like 5 in the morning. It was crazy! I remember specific times that we were like doing really good and [even though] we were tired, we were like we've got to stay and finish this song. It was awesome because it's been like 3 years since we recorded our last record. So, it was really exciting to write new music finally, but as far as what we think about while writing, did that kind of answer your question?
Sharita: Well, the process for this record is clear but as far as what you draw inspiration from, is it like books, current events?
Daniel: Yeah, for inspiration musically and lyrically. I actually had a part in some of the writing and I play drums in the band. I'm inspired by a ton of things like other bands, books, and also books in the bible because we're all Christians so that definitely plays a big part in the lyrics. Personally, I like bands like Nirvana, even though they're nothing like us musically. (laughs) Other bands like Unsane, Helmet, Deftones and Coalesce; those are some of the more staple bands we like.
Sharita: Yeah, I definitely hear some Deftones in there. Speaking of lyrics, I was reading the words to Disconnectie the 7th track, what was the songwriter thinking when they wrote that song?
Daniel: Is that like the longest track on there?
Sharita: Yes, I think it was.
Daniel: They're all new song titles so, it's hard to remember what song goes with what title. Most of the songs have a meaning, but none of them have a specific occurrence that inspired it. That one was mainly written by myself and our guitar player Scotty. He had just gone through a lot of stuff that made him depressed. Not that we'd want to talk about that because that's kind of personal. (chuckles) Again, it's not really about one thing, it's just about things in general that happen. I think, it's about going through really hard times but realizing it's not the end of the world and even though it feels like the worst thing ever, there is hope to get through that. There's like a common theme throughout the record of hope in desperate situations.
Sharita: Yeah, we both listened to it and thought that there had to be something bothering you, even if its nothing specific.
Sharita: I haven't listened to your last album, (Bless The Martyr and Kiss The Child) but what was the mood or theme of that one?
Daniel: Well, our past singer did all the lyrics on the last record, so we really didn't have a part in that. They weren't as personal, I think they were a lot more general. I like the lyrics from the last one, but like I said this one is more personal. It's awesome that I had something to do with them, but it was definitely a collaboration on these new ones. They definitely have emotion and playing live, you can feel it better. Knowing what every song is about is awesome.
Sharita: Great, what was the reason why the other singer left?
Daniel: Well, it happened over 2 and a half years ago before the last record came out. It was purely like he just felt like he wasn't supposed to be in the band anymore. There was no hard feelings, we never fought or anything. He was just like guys, I don't feel like I should be doing this, I need to move on with my life. We couldn't argue with that, it was like a spiritual thing and that's cool. He got married soon after that, but that really wasn't a big part of why he left the band. It's funny, he's in a new band that just got started called The Chariot and everybody's like you guys hate each other don't you? We're still really good friends.
Sharita: Ok cool, I like to ask the artist what they think about genres. They group Norma Jean into that hardcore, metalcore type of band.
Daniel: Yeah. (chuckles)
Sharita: What do you think about those labels and subgenres.
Daniel: I think all that stuff is kind of weird too, it depends on who's answering the question. I mean if we're talking to an old person we say we're just rock 'n' roll. If it was a kid, I always say really loud, noisy, and screaming vocals like hardcore metal, or whatever. I don't really talk much about that.
Sharita: I have to ask you about the whole Luti-kriss thing, how would anyone get the band mixed up with rapper Ludacris?
Daniel: I don't know. (laughs) That's not the reason we changed the name, really we didn't like it anyway. I mean we had known about him for years before he was big because he's from Atlanta. So we were like cool, lets change it. When he got big, the label finally let us change it. We had been trying to change it for a while but they wouldn't let us. So, since he got [popular], it was an excuse to change it. It's totally a different band now anyway with 2 new members.
Sharita: Cool. So why Norma Jean?
Daniel: Well, we had a bunch of different names that we were picking from but we wanted it to have spiritual meaning. We were looking at a book and we found out that Norma meant pattern and then we looked up Jean and it means God's grace and mercy. So together it means patterns of grace and mercy.
Sharita: You mentioned earlier about the band being Christian, is there any problems with being on tour with bands that don't share your beliefs or just not practicing Christianity?
Daniel: Well, being on the road for that long is hard for anybody, not just because of the difference in beliefs. It is hard being away from family, 2 of the guys are married and the singer has kids so that's definitely tough. I just try to read the bible and pray when I'm on the road. As far as being with other bands that don't share in our beliefs? It's exciting to try get encourage them, not like be like stupid about it but, just talk and listen to them. It's great and really cool.
Thanks to Daniel and Maria/Jensen (Adrenaline PR) for setting up this interview.
Click here for new interview w/Cory Brandan
here for interview w/Scottie Henry
Here for photos of band during Sounds of the Underground