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Daniel Davidson (Norma Jean)

Interview with Daniel Davidson from Norma Jean
by Katrina Cannon at 23 June 2005, 9:39 PM

Drummer Daniel Davidson took a break from practicing stunt motion with his friends in the Nashville, Tennessee heat to talk to me a bit about the upcoming events for Norma Jean. Actually, I bet he probably used this interview as an excuse to get out of practicing in the heat for a minute and to chew on some ice, hahaha. Summertime down here in the South is hotter than hell and the heat is usually sweltering. When this interview was conducted, there were 8 days until their video shoot. Unfortunately, this wasn't able to be posted before the video shoot took place. I apologize for the delay.

How are things going?

Good, really good.  We’ve just been kind of hanging out. We just finished up that Atreyu and Unearth tour and we’ve been home for a couple of weeks. I’ve been home for about 2 weeks because the tour ended in Australia and I ended up staying over in Australia and New Zealand for a little while and the rest of the guys came home. It was really nice, that whole tour was insane. We did 2 months in the U.S. and Canada and had about a week off. Then the whole tour went to Europe, then Japan and then Australia. So it literally went around the world and back. All the shows on the whole tour were amazing and we couldn’t ask for a better tour. It’s been nice to have a little down time at home just these past couple weeks. Then next week we head up to Nashville for a live video shoot for Absentimental and then we go from there 2 days later to the The Sounds Of The Underground Tour .

\[Then there’s a loud sound as if the phone is being tumbled in rocks]

What’s that noise?

Oh, sorry. I was drinking the rest of my Gatorade and there’s not really anymore in there, so that was the ice, sorry. \[Laughs]  I just got back inside and it’s really, really hot. I was hanging out with some friends working on some stunt motion for the animation that we’re doing and it’s really hot outside. So that’s why I missed the 5 o’clock scheduled call, sorry.

It’s no big deal, I’ve set my own schedule, so it’s quite alright. How do you feel about playing this tour with such an array of Metal bands?

I’m really excited about it because we’ve been home for a couple of weeks and you get antsy and are ready to go back out. Being able to play again is exciting, and being hooked up with a bunch of our friends like Every Time I Die, Unearth, Fear Before the March of Flames and Throwdown, like a bunch of our good, good friends.  It’s gonna be a really good time and hopefully a lot of people will come out. Being able to play in front of such large crowds every day and outdoors, it’s just gonna be good times and we’re all really excited about it.

Your newest album, O God The Aftermath, came out in March. How did the recording go?

It went really well. We recorded it in Seattle, Washington with Matt Bayles, who has worked with lots of bands that we really like a lot from Mastodon to Isis and Botch and just a lot of really good bands. So we were kind of intimidated going into it working with such a well known dude who’s worked with a lot of bands we look up to. It was kind of intimidating and we were kind of nervous but we got along really well. We spent about 5 weeks in the studio and there are about 4 different studios in the Seattle area so it was kind of a good time getting to see some of the nicer studios. Being in Seattle for that long was cool because our label is there and just hanging out was a really good time. The recording process went really well, Matt is definitely a perfectionist and he definitely worked us every day, so it wasn’t an easy thing. We were really working and it was kind of tough at times, but now looking back it turned out well and it all works for the record and we’re all really happy with it.

There seems to be a big difference in songwriting on this album compared to your album Bless the Martyr. What sparked the changes?

It was such a big gap of time in the writing of the last record and the writing of this one; about 3 years pretty much. A lot of changes happened and not just the obvious member changes, which even that alone would attribute to much of the change, but having a new singer was a big deal. Especially one who is so involved with the writing of the music, which both of them was, so that is a big change.

Cory, the new singer, brought a lot to the new record pretty much in every aspect with the writing. He helped with a lot of the guitar stuff and really challenged us musically. He has a good variety of vocals, a wide range which helped to touch in new areas that we haven’t been able to before. But with a 3 year gap we’ve changed as people, our interests have changed, our tastes have changed, so all that kind of helped to attribute to the difference in the record. I think that’s always gonna happen, as a band we’re never gonna put the same record out twice, we’re always gonna try to challenge ourselves and grow and evolve as a band and not just as people but as the sound as a band.

Do you need to take an ice break?

Nah, that’s alright, I’m trying to hold off. \[Laughs]

On June 22nd, you’re going to be shooting a video for Absentimental in Nashville, TN, but it’s also going to be a barbecue and you’re running a contest to win an Official Norma Jean Barbecue Sauce and Grill. What’s the story behind that?

I don’t know actually, hopefully that’s true. I know our label did make barbecue sauce for us a couple of months back just for the release of the record. Its just kind of something we’re really into, we eat barbecue a lot, which I’m sure you do too if you’re from Memphis, but it’s just kind of something that we’re really into. It’s kind of a known thing, sometimes we’ll have stuff on our shirts about it or whatever, and we all ended up getting barbecue tattooed on the inside of our lips with an arrow pointing inside, just as kind of a joke. But yeah, the label had barbecue sauce made as a promotional item that they would send out with the record to magazines and radio stations just as kind of a gag gift kind of thing and we gave away some online in contests. But yeah, we’re having the barbecue coming up and I think the first 50 people to the show get to get in for free and come eat barbecue with us and our friends. Supposedly there’s gonna be a Norma Jean barbecue sauce giveaway, but I can’t back that up, I don’t know if it’s true.

The original name of the band was Luti-Kriss but you had to change it due to the rapper Ludakris, who’s also from Atlanta. Did the name change have any negative effect on the band?

We didn’t have to change our name, we just really wanted to. We had actually wanted to sometime before that but the label wasn’t into that idea. So then, basically the rapper came out and gave us an excuse to change our name so we were finally allowed to change it. The band was going into a new direction anyway and it basically ended up just being a whole different band. As Norma Jean I don’t think we ever played any of the old band’s songs, I think we just kind of scrapped all those. Maybe there was a short time when we played both, there probably was but we kind of slipped out as a whole new band and didn’t ever sell the old CD or anything like that. We changed as people and the name Ludakris has been around for years and years even at that point. We had just grown out of that style of music and just kind of changed our taste and it didn’t really fit anymore. We just wanted to start over, so that’s what we did

Where did you guys come up with the name Norma Jean?

One of the guys had just kind of mentioned it and we thought it sounded cool just from Marylyn Monroe. But we wanted a name that had meaning and that didn’t really have any that we knew of at least. We had a whole list of names and Norma Jean was on that list as well. But a word that kept coming up in that list was the word pattern and we were just kind of interested in using that word in our name. Then randomly our old singer Josh was looking at a name origin book and found that Norma actually means patterns and we thought that was really strange. Then he looked up the name Jean which means God’s grace and mercy. So together Norma Jean means patterns of grace and mercy and we thought that kind of gave enough meaning to the name, so we decided to use it.

On Bless the Martyr there’s a song called Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste. What’s the meaning behind that?

Oh, yeah. \[Laughs] Sorry, no offense. It actually doesn’t have to do with Memphis, TN. It’s actually from a book in the Bible. The book Jeremiah talks about a city called Memphis, I don know exactly where it would be located now but I think it was somewhere in the Middle East, I guess. But yeah it’s a quote from that. I don’t really know why it was called that but our old singer is the one who used to do all the lyric writing and stuff like that. I don’t really know how it ties in but all that stuff has meaning to him I never really knew much of it. I actually really like Memphis.  We’ve only played there a couple of times, we haven’t played there in like 3 years, but I do like Memphis.

What are some of your musical influences?

Me personally, as far as my drumming is concerned, I would have to say Abe Cunningham from the Deftones is a big inspiration. John Stanier from Helmet, he was a big inspiration when I was like 13, when I first got drums. That’s what I kind of learned how to play drums to, it’s what I patterned myself after. So that’s where I got most of my influence, I think. As a whole band, both of those bands have inspired us and bands like At The Drive In, Isis, Unsane, Nirvana. Even though we don’t sound like them they’ve just been inspirational and influential in some ways and bands like Coalesce and Botch and stuff like that.

Are there any plans for a live DVD?

Yeah, that’s funny because last night I was actually hanging out with 2 of the guys at their house and we have a shoebox full of tapes just from this past tour and the recording of the record. There’s seriously a crazy amount of tapes and we were looking through all that and going over it. But yeah we’re shooting one right now and hopefully we’ll have it together and edited and finished by this fall.

What are Norma Jean’s plans for after The Sounds of The Underground Tour?

We’re taking a break for a couple of months and we’re in the process of planning a headlining tour which will be in September and October time. Then in November and December we’re going out with As I Lay Dying for a full U.S. tour.

Any Last Words?

That pretty much covered most of it. Just to the kids that are reading this and listen to our music and come to our shows, we’d just like to say thank you and we definitely couldn’t do this without you.

Links: # Norma Jean Official WebSite, # Norma Jean on MySpace, # Solid State Records, # Sounds of the Underground Tour Official Site


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