Members: NORMA JEAN: Daniel, Cory, Chris, Scottie, Jake. THE CHARIOT: Josh, Jake, Jon, Dan, Jonathan
This is a fan site made for all fans of Norma Jean and The Chariot.
Ask most serious bands about the recording process, and if they dont compare it to giving birth, theyll likely tell you that making an album is akin to psychotherapy. But lets be real here: How many of those bands actually take the album-as-therapy idea literally? For Atlanta quintet Norma Jean, who for all intents and purposes should be some of the most content dudes in underground music right now, the recording sessions for their third album, Redeemer, packed group therapy, boot camp and endurance test into one gnarly package.
Produced by Ross Robinson (At The Drive-in, From First To Last, Sepultura), Redeemer is at once the heaviest and most personal album in this bands arsenaland thats saying something: With their 2002 Solid State Records debut, Bless The Martyr And Kiss The Child, Norma Jean established themselves as one of the noisiest and most adventurous young bands in metal today. With the 2005 follow-up, O God, The Aftermath, drummer Daniel Davison, bassist Jake Schultz, and guitarists Chris Day and Scottie Henry welcomed new vocalist and Arkansas native Cory Brandan to their lineup and took their artful, technical noise to the proverbial next level, earning critical acclaim and a 2006 Grammy nomination (for Asterik Studios awe-inspiring artwork) in the process, and embarking on a grueling tour schedule that most recently found them on Ozzfest 2006s second stage. And now, with a new, expanded edition of Aftermath in stores, the obvious question follows: When you still have past glories to coast on, why make a new album at all?
Basically, we had too much material brewing inside us, and we wanted to get it out, says Davison, laughing. We probably couldve waited to record until after we cut back on what we had, but when the opportunity to work with Ross came up, it just felt like, Man, being in the studio with this guy is something Ive wanted to do since I was 12 years old; Im gonna do anything I can to make this happen now.
After practicing, in Davisons recollection, pretty much ever day, for about 50 days solid, and going through rigorous pre-production at home in Atlanta, the band decamped with Robinson to Radio Star Studios in the tiny mountain town of Weed, California, to start work on Redeemer. Though some of the songs were still works-in-progress (as Brandans recalls it, Songs were changing up until 20 minutes before we tracked them) the lyrics, again written collaboratively by Brandan, Henry and Davison, really took shape once the band got into the studio.
Wed rehearse a song till we felt we had it worked out, and then wed bring in Ross and sit down for another hour or two just to discuss it, Brandan says. He had us all in there as a group, talking about each songwhat the lyrics were about, where they came from, what the song meant to us personally and spiritually. It was really intense; so much stuff came out during those sessions, and in the end, it was really unifying for us as a band.
While rehearsals took place in a beautiful, open-stage environment inside the studio, tracking itself was another storyall part of the intense process that would eventually shape the songs. I tracked my drums under the stage, Davison remembers, laughing. Wed get done talking about the song, and then wed head down below the stage into, like, this little dungeon. It was really small, and the drums were set up with mikes all over them; there were hot water pipes, ventilation, everywhereit was really intense. We could barely stand up because the ceiling was so low, but Ross was there the whole time, coaching us and keeping us in that mindset.
Just one listen to Redeemer confirms the ferocity of the bands performances. From the discordant breakdowns and jarring time changes of The End Of All Things Will Be Televised to the newfound melodic intensity of Blueprints For Future Homes, the album packs some of Norma Jeans most unhinged, soul-baring playing into the span of 11 songs. And though the weird angles and difficult guitar figures that comprised Aftermath are still prevalent, that albums refined, very-much-studio feel has given way to raw atmospheres in which you can practically see the sweat running onto the instruments. Brandan, whos already proved himself a formidable vocalist, fully comes into his own on Redeemer with a style that veers between unhinged screaming and down-on-his-knees melodic belting.
As has been the case with Norma Jeans previous albums, fans will interpret Redeemers title in a number of ways: Theres the obvious (its their shortest album title ever); the semi-obvious (the band members are Christian; the albums called Redeemeryou follow?); and the not-so-obvious (look up Redeemer in Websters Dictionary for even more possibilities). All of these, says Davison, are valid readings, but as before, its better just to listen to the whole album before settling on an opinion about what it all means.
We just wanted a title that was short and simple, but also really powerful, Davison explains. Redeemer was the most powerful word we could think of, and obviously, for us, being a spiritual band, it takes on special meaning. Brandan agrees. We didnt call it Redeemer and then try to make the lyrics work around that [idea], he says. Theres some really personal stuff on this record, and even though Im seeing in hindsight that the title ties into some of that, Ive always thought its best just to let people come up with their own ideas about the songs, rather than say, This is our concept; this is what the records about.
No matter how you interpret it, one things for sure: Slide it into your player, and you will feel Redeemer more than any other Norma Jean album. Emotional, spiritual, visceral, physicalthis isnt just the third album Norma Jean wanted to make; its the career-defining statement they had to.
What a difference a couple of years can make.
The Chariot are no longer the new kids on the block. What began, in the minds of most of the hardcore and metal underground, as the highly buzzed about reemergence of original Norma Jean singer Josh Scogin has since become a behemoth of its own distinction. Two years of touring behind the raw, unhinged and powerful bombast off Everything is Alive, Everything is Breathing, Nothing is Dead, Nothing is Bleeding and the follow-up EP, Unsung, have cemented the Southern quartets place in the modern metal landscape.
The next record will definitely define who The Chariot is, Scogin says matter-of-factly about their forthcoming sophomore album. I love the previous record but it does not define us. I feel like the vision for The Chariot has never been able to be achieved until now.
The Chariots hard-won and unique identity owes as much to their crazed and intense live shows as it does the settling-in of the bands present and most impressive incarnation: Scogin, drummer Jake Ryan, guitarist Jon Terry and bass player Dan Eaton.
Every band starts off all gung-ho about touring and playing shows non-stop, but eventually reality sets in and people realize that not everyone is cut out for this life, reasons Scogin, by way of explanation for The Chariots rapidly evolving lineup.
Member changes happen in almost every band the first few records. I can't speak for the members on why they have quit but I can honestly say it is for the best.
Scogin says that the new lineup sees eye to eye on everything, particularly their chosen style of music, which had been a problem in the past. The singer previously took on the majority of the writing responsibilities, which has also changed. Last but not least, these guys are some of my best friends, he says. I think that is one of the most important things about any band.
The Chariot continues to defines themselves by steering clear or easy categorization and by doing things their way like when they recorded their debut live in the studio, going against the grain of todays increasingly polished metalcore records. I have always loved old recordings, like Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, because you hear many of the imperfections and that has always felt a little more real to me. So I was pretty persistent on recording in that same vein, even though it was not looked at as a wise decision, if you are in to making music to make money. I don't make music to make money so I did not care.
Despite the bands changes in lineup, and the ever-increasing fanbase they have collected through tours like the 2006 Sounds of the Underground, that renegade artistic spirit continues to drive The Chariot and everything they do.
We have never set out to sound like this band or sound like that band, we just do whatever we want to do, the sweet tea and BBQ loving singer says with typical Southern modesty. We don't care if it is the popular thing to do or if it is going to make us money or any of that nonsense, we only write music that we can feel passionate about. Everything else has nothing to do with rock and roll.
Norma Jean Official Website
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The Chariot Official Website
The Chariot Official PureVolume
The Chariot Official MySpace