Interview with Norma Jean: A Band Amongst Heroes

Norma JeanChristian metalcore mainstays Norma Jean—Cory Brandan (vocals), Scottie Henry (guitar), Chris Day (guitar), Jake Schultz (bass), and Chris Raines (drums)—emerge from this summer’s Warped Tour with a big record on their hands. Chock full of cameos and collaborations, featuring Page Hamilton of Helmet, Chino Moreno of Deftones and Cove Reber of Saosin, and with an overall experimental vibe that sees the band stretching their metallic wingspan into new territory, its no surprise that The Anti-Mother, Norma Jean’s fourth full-length, debuted at number 29 on the Billboard 200. To find out more about their new album and what’s next in store, we caught up with Scottie Henry on the road as Norma Jean get ready for a stop in Frenchtown, NJ.

Tell me about The Anti-Mother.

We recorded for two months with Ross Robinson — he did our last one, Redeemer—leading right up to the Warped Tour. We started writing in January and we had Page Hamilton from Helmet come in and he wrote a song with us, and played and sang on the record and we also wrote with Chino from the Deftones. It was amazing to be able to work with two people that influence us.

How did the collaboration with Page Hamilton come about?

He [came] to one of our shows a couple years ago in LA—we came off stage and he was hanging out in our backstage room and we were just freaking out. He watched the show and hung out all night and we just hit it off—he’s a really awesome dude. So we just kept in touch and hung out whenever Helmet was in Atlanta, or we were out in LA, and when it was time to start writing, we thought, ‘Hey this would be amazing to get Page involved!’

So we called him, and he was totally down. He flew into Atlanta for two days and we hung out and wrote and messed around and played a Helmet song with him, it was great. We spent like an hour or two where he was just showing us different voicings and different chords on the guitar—like the chords you hear on Helmet records where you’re just like, ‘What is that?!’ So we were just geeking out doing that, and some of those chords he showed us are all over the record now; it was really cool learning from the guy that inspired us to play guitar, so that was definitely awesome for sure. From growing up and listening to Helmet, and loving that band to be able to hang out with Page and write with him and geek out watching and learning stuff from him, that was definitely an amazing experience.

And how about the collaboration with Chino Moreno?

We had never really met him, or any of the Deftones, but they had a tour going at the same time we [did], and our tours were kind of following each other, just interlinking every once in a while, and we thought since we love the Deftones so much, it would be awesome to just leave them a box of merch and a letter. So we left them a box at this venue and we never knew if they got it or anything, but later on in that same tour we were playing in Virginia and we got there and people gave us a box from Deftones—they left us a bunch of merch, so we were stoked that they actually got it and thought enough to leave something for us; that was cool! And that’s really all the contact we had with them, but once we got Page involved, we were like, ‘It would be awesome to see if Chino would want to do it,’ so our manager got in touch with their manager, asked them, and he said he was down.