Interview with Nora: Save Yourself

Nora (Ryan Russel)Jersey-grown melodic hardcore mainstays Nora have logged a decade of hard work and heavy music while always juggling a full plate. Touring part-time, working full-time, the members of Nora have gotten their hands dirty in every aspect of the music industry, with frontman Carl Severson doubling as CEO of Ferret Records and co-founder of the Sounds Of The Underground tour, guitarist Matt “Portland” Hay working as Ferret’s Art Director, and bassist Mike Olender fronting Burnt By The Sun.

Old friends together as a band since their college years, these guys are as close as can be, which is why when tragedy struck drummer Chris Ross, it resonated within the band, pulling them closer and lighting the spark for what is perhaps their best work to date.

Vocalist Carl Severson sat down with us to discuss the heartrending experience and how it resulted in Save Yourself, Nora’s upcoming anvil of a record.

What’s the meaning behind the album’s title?

We’re a close-knit group, and [when] our drummer, one of my oldest friends, lost his 11-month-old daughter, that shook everyone. It was heart-wrenching, and Nora, much like everything else in life, just kind of fell off around that. When we did start picking things up and working again as a band, we were thinking about that and various other things that we’ve all been through, and it just became a fitting title for where we are as people and a group: In order to help others, you have to be in a certain place with yourself. If you’re useless to yourself, you’re not going to be any good to anybody else.

Artistically, how does this record differ from your previous records?

It’s definitely different for us, sonically. For anybody that’s paid attention to what we’ve done over the last 10 years, it probably sounds like another Nora record. It’s just a little bit darker, more aggressive. There’s some songs on it that are really slow, and we’ve never written slow songs before, and there’s some faster punk stuff. We definitely got away from that rock vibe that we had on the Dreamers record—you won’t find any of that on this record at all.

We were way more picky with this thing than anything we’ve done before. Our drummer has a whole studio set up in his basement where we practice, and it was the first time we were ever able to write a record by recording it piece by piece. It allowed us to take a step back and listen to things and see what fit where, and as a result, that’s just what came out. It wasn’t something where we made a conscious effort. Also, this was the first time our second guitar player, Steve Jeff, had written with us. He joined the band right after we finished recording the Dreamers record, and he definitely brought a lot to the table.