Douglasville, USA: Like the shimmering fin of a Great White, leisurely ascending from the depths to a crescendo of shrieks, gasps, and bystanders whipping out smart-phones to capture the frantic scenes, Turning Tricks Entertainment casually unveiled their Krank’d Up 2016 twin international headline acts a few months back; leaving every Periphery and Norma Jean fan in South Africa running for the shoreline in disbelief, hoping to catch a better view of the commotion and ensure that, indeed, all appendages were accounted for and intact. M4A was quick on the scene, of course, catching up with Norma Jean front man Cory Brandan to pick his brain about their upcoming SA vist, band activities, and the release of their seventh studio album with Polar Similar – which, incidentally, is out today!
The band has been around since the start of metalcore’s remarkable surge into mainstream metal media almost two decades ago, and had risen to prominence during the mid 2000’s. But all that really underlines is just how long South Africans have had to wait for the Atlanta-based 5-piece to finally foray into this neck of the woods.
“…we are very excited to be coming for the first time in our career! Definitely most of all we are looking forward to playing the fest. After that, we want to do some sightseeing and really see what South Africa is all about. We are definitely looking forward to checking out the city, the local food, and the countryside. We want to take in as much as we possibly can. Also, looking forward to checking out some South African bands!” ~ Cory Brandan (vocals, Norma Jean)
Indeed, SA has a multitude of breathtaking sights to take in while showcasing a unique diversity in local arts and culture, but the band’s imminent arrival on African soil may have yet remained nothing more than a pale husk of a fevered wet dream, if not for the feisty chefs in the Turning Tricks kitchen and their insatiable desire to deliver a unique musical experience.
“We have always wanted to come, but the expenses for us to all fly there; rent gear, etc, is just too much. This opportunity came along and the fest made it all work for us. We couldn’t be happier with everyone involved!” ~ Cory Brandan
The pilgrimage to fame can often be a bumpy one, dotted with shattered hearts, broken dreams and fast-food regrets, but after leaving Solid State Records a few years back, and re-signing with the U.S based label last year, work begun on the new album Polar Similar.
“There were so many things we like to do for a release that includes artwork and packaging, videos and so on that we were never really able to do. Solid State Records has a great team of people that were very passionate about the release and want to get the full experience out to our fans. Fans should expect a very cool layout, packaging and quality sounding release with this album.” ~ Cory Brandan
Cory also explains the reasoning behind the albums first single, ‘1,000,000 Watts’, citing the link between the track and the album as a whole.
“We wanted to show something first that was true to the overall atmosphere and emotion of the album, front-to-back. It’s really a story from the beginning to the end and takes a lot of different turns. We can’t wait for people to hear it.” ~ Cory Brandan
Plugging away at the albums advertising campaign for the last few months, the band were certainly stoking the promotional fires with two more singles dished out to whet appetites; but with them touching down in Johannesburg just a few short weeks after its release, it would be almost understandable for certain die-hard fans to fear that a large chunk of their Krank’d Up setlist would be comprised of new (and unfamiliar) music only. Cory quickly put those dreaded thoughts to rest by insisting that an even setlist, picking tracks from their entire discography and of course, a few off their latest release would be on offer.
Whilst keeping in touch with what millennial bed-wetters want, the band also seems to have their feet firmly rooted to the ground with Corey talking about the joys of being a performer and also the simpler things in life, like buying a house and land with his wife after years of hard work and sacrifice on the road. When pressed about the recent stream of international bands flocking to SA, he expressed an endearingly simplistic view on what it could actually mean for our local alternative music scene.
“It could have a lot to do with the excitement to bring music and art in. We find that even when times are rough or good for people, they will always still find ways to get away from the routines of life to come see music and have a good time. We want to make sure we are putting 100% effort into what we do for those hard working people. I think it’ll (international bands coming to SA) have great affects on not just the scene, but people’s overall quality of life. We need those times away from everything to let loose.” ~ Cory Brandan
Oh yes, Corey! I, for one, will declare that my quality of life will be greatly enhanced over that weekend too, and will especially be looking forward to a few of my personal favorites off the Meridional album. When asked about any last words for the twitchy fanboys out there, the front man casually added:
“If ever I am asked that question, I always answer one way; kind of like how Bob Barker ended every episode of The Price Is Right. Support the music you love, and buy records!” ~ Cory Brandan
Well, when you’re bundled into a scene as tiny as ours, “support” is definitely the name of the game and the Norma Jean guys seem to understand all too well the hardships and difficulties local bands and artists continually face. But with our bands now starting to find their feet on the international stage and internationals in-turn vying to grab a piece of the South African pie – with the help of hardworking organizations like Turning Tricks Entertainment – we seem to be in good company and traversing a particularly prosperous period in the South African alternative music scene’s history.
The now-annual Krank’d Up festival will take place on Saturday 24th September from 13h00 and will welcome the aforementioned Norma Jean and Periphery as co-headliners, supported by a host of the best local metal and alternative bands around and setting the stage for a peckish crowd intent on devouring a weekend of pure alternative musical delight. Get your tickets via Computicket here, and check out the official facebook event page for information on the full fest, including details on the local line-up (featuring the likes of Zombies Ate My Girlfriend, Boargazm, Adorned In Ash, Facing The Gallows, Juggernaught, Riddlebreak, and a bunch of other bands we like to write about).