Is there a message in this record lyrically?
There’s always. With everything we’ve done we try to have a message come across. It’s not as blunt and in your face as ‘these are our political stances, this is what we believe in.’ We’ve never gotten up and preached about anything in particular, but we should be up there singing about something. It’s not a total waste of time; we’re not singing songs about getting stabbed in your back by someone in your crew or shit that we just don’t care about. We write about our experiences and where we’re at with life and what we’re doing and what we’ve done, and every record we put out, we keep it open-ended so people can interpret and make what they want of it.
This time, I wrote the better part of the lyrics. Some of it is just venting. A lot of that is personal, or within the music scene, or just the general culture in the United States. The music out there right now is not about a whole lot of anything, definitely not the mainstream stuff—that’s just all crap. People idolize Britney Spears or 50 Cent, and it’s pretty repugnant.
And then even within something that’s supposed to be a counterculture, like the hardcore scene (which is what we all grew up in) is sadly mimicking that of the larger scale hip-hop cultures—it’s violent, and it’s become very local scene oriented with rivalries, and it’s just lost some of that critical thinking that was there when I grew up with it. And some of the songs on [Save Yourself] absolutely deal with that. There’s a song called ‘Famous Last Words’ that is definitely anthemic. And it’s just about the general youth culture out there—there’s not really anybody out there doing anything to believe in or to be excited about. It’s a sad state.
How much of also being on the label side of things goes into what Nora do?
What I do for a living is super exciting because we take kids that want nothing more than to be in a band for a living, and we help them make that possible. It’s pretty amazing. And it doesn’t always work out, but the fact that it does sometimes is why we put a real effort in every time.
And we get a huge amount out of that. We try to make sure we only work with bands that we believe in. We work with people who are out there doing what Nora is—just trying to do the best we can, not saying we’re right or wrong, just that we’re at least trying. And bringing that attitude that we have in Nora has always been an asset to Ferret. We’ve been out there on the road, we loved it, we’ve seen how exciting it is to go to another country across an ocean and see kids who know the words to our songs— that’ll blow your head off! It’s awesome, and we know that we can do that for bands with our label, so it works out pretty well.
Obviously, it was a difficult road from Dreamers And Deadmen to Save Yourself, but what was the biggest challenge?
I don’t think any of us got ‘old,’ but we had to find the time to be Nora the way we wanted to be Nora and still make sure that we were dealing with all the other responsibilities that we’ve grown into. More than ever, Ferret became a massive part of our lives. All of a sudden Portland and I found that Ferret was responsible for all these other people who have wives and kids and things like that. The jobs became more important, and people got married and had various other commitments to families.
There’s so much more pulling at you. And I love nothing more than my family and my job, and finding time to make Nora fit within all of that was a task for all of us. When we first started Nora, we were really young—in college, and our lives were a lot less demanding. If we had enough money to buy ramen and soda and put enough gas in the van to take us to the next show, that’s really all we gave a shit about. Writing and recording a record is a pretty huge undertaking. You’ll spend a lot of time on it, and it’s totally rewarding when the whole thing is said and done and you’re sitting there listening to it, but it’s a great deal of work and a great deal of time you gotta dedicate to it, and you’ve gotta find that time in the confines of everything else in your life.
In that light, will Nora ever be a full-time gig?
It’s full-time, but it’s not ever gonna be full-time touring. It’s been full-time since we’ve done it, because you never stop thinking about, you’re always in the band and representing the band. All of us in the band talk every day, we still have practice every week and play and do what we can when we can, so in that respect it feels full-time. But we don’t have to do anything we don’t feel like doing because we don’t look to Nora as a means to cover any of our costs.
It’s a luxury that not all bands are afforded. We’re lucky enough to be in a spot where we really can do whatever the fuck we feel like, because if we don’t want to do it, we don’t need to do it. At the same time, we won’t get to do some of the things that the bands that are quote unquote full-time will get to do. It’s a give and take sort of thing. Nora’s always been exactly what we wanted it to be, and we’ve been happy with that.
So then is Nora your passion project?
Yeah, absolutely. We only do this because we love it. The second it stops being fulfilling and fun, we’d stop doing it. But we are definitely playing, and stuff will keep popping up. We’ll for sure be around.
Save Yourself is available in stores June 19. For more information, visit norarockmachine.com
Photo Credit: Ryan Russel