CHATTERBOX: Not Now Norman discuss chickens, disabilities & self-confidence

Northumberland’s very own rock-powerhouse Not Now Norman sit down with Purple Melon to talk everything from cockerel-themed origin stories to living and rocking with Hereditary Multiple Exostoses…

Where did the band name Not Now Norman came from and did you ever explore any other names before deciding on this one?

We didn’t really explore other band names when we started. A few years ago my family and I had a cockerel called Norman who was very territorial, especially when it came to his flock of hens. It was my sister’s job to go and feed them, so she would go into the garden wearing wellington boots and armed with a dustbin lid to protect herself from his charges and a broomstick handle to fend him off. We always knew when she had reached them with food because all you would hear from the back garden was her shouting ‘NOT NOW NORMAN!’. I can remember thinking ‘We have to do something with that’. It was too good of a name to just let slide and its why a lot of our graphics have cockerels on them. 

For those who may be unfamiliar with Not Now Norman, could you tell us a bit about your band and your sound?

If you like old school, there’s a chance that you’re going to like us! In terms of sound, if I were to sum it up it would be that we’re loud and punchy. Lyrically we like to keep it personal to us yet relatable to our listeners in some form, we’ve developed a bit of a reputation for our in-your-face lyrics and direct delivery. When I look at our tracks so far, there has been this form of anger in them, which we find funny because we’re not angry people. As a whole, I think the best way to describe our music in three words is loud, sassy and fun!

How and when did the band come together? 

The band started back in 2019 as a self-confidence project. I found it difficult to find work after I graduated due to having disabilities that affected my mental health. My guitarist, who is also my Dad, started some recording sessions with me to try to build up some motivation to get out of bed and grew from there. After he found out I could sing, he suggested I try working in music. With his experience in music and guitar Not Now Norman was born. We met Bodhi Turnbull at a local music festival where he was playing in another band and asked us if we were doing auditions. Lara heard we were auditioning through Bodhi and came into the fold not long after our bassist Jimmy Manningham announced he was going to become a father. 

What’s your creation/songwriting process as a band, is it a group effort or does one person tend to take charge? 

So far, writing music has been a joint effort between Zander and me. Zander writes the melodies and I write the lyrics and compose the vocal direction. The majority of the band’s equipment is stored at ours, so it made sense to buy our own recording equipment and write everything here. 

Your previous single was called ‘Little Cheryl’ and your current release is named ‘Little Frankenstein’… is there a ‘little’ theme developing here or are we reading too much into it? 

Sort of but there isn’t much of a meaning behind it. When I write lyrics they tend to come from a personal place. And I’m just over 5ft3, so it just feels right that when we’re giving songs names like ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘Cheryl’ that the characters involved are also ‘Little’. I suppose maybe there’s a hint of being proud of my short stature, as sometimes I think it can make my attitude seem a bit more feisty. 

 

‘Little Frankenstein’ is a super personal song based on some pretty dark times in the past, how does it feel to reveal so much about yourself to the world? Is it cathartic?

It feels great. Since I can remember I’ve always felt insecure and shy about myself. I’ve been described as being a bit of a ‘people pleaser’ and I found it difficult to say ‘No, I don’t like the way you are treating me’, or I would kid myself and say ‘Oh they don’t mean it, I’m just being too sensitive’. Being on the spectrum doesn’t help this a lot as I found it difficult to find the words to express how I was feeling about something. As a teenager. I would often retreat to my iPod and find a song that felt similar to the emotion or thoughts I was having. Now, music has become my voice. All those bottled up emotions and hidden tears are being released and it feels great. I actually feel like I’m soaring.   

What’s your favourite aspect of ‘Little Frankenstein’ and did the final product stray much from the original idea?

I think my favourite part about ‘Little Frankenstein’ is the reception of it from the disabled community. I’ve had a few messaged from people (and their parents) with the same condition I have thanking me for the track. One time a mother messaged me saying after hearing ‘Little Frankenstein’, her daughter told her ‘It feels good to not feel alone anymore’. It might not seem like much too some people, but having representation to look up to as a kid can build a lot of confidence. When I was growing up, I didn’t know anyone with the same condition as me, so hearing that this mother’s daughter didn’t feel alone anymore felt really humbling. It made me think ‘This is why I do what I do’.

What do you hope fans take away from the track? 

When you listen to ‘Little Frankenstein – The Franken Lee Remix’ I want you to feel confident in yourself. Even though it’s initially about a disability, it’s also about self-acceptance. We are all different and beautiful in our own way and once we accept that, we can start to become the person we want to be. Whether it be a rare bone condition or a birthmark, we can get over a lot of hate in the world just by looking at ourselves and think ‘I am worthy of myself’. 

Are there any changes you would like to see within the music industry?

I think the industry needs to become more accessible to people of various styles and appearances. Music is supposed to be a universal language where people from around the world can relate to the sound of a song, even if they can’t understand the words. Music should have no ‘boundaries’, but there seems to be this ‘go-to’ formula, whether it be sound, or how a musician looks. Age, gender, skin colour, disability, none of that should matter in music. The only thing that should matter, is talent and effort. Good music is good music, let’s start focusing on that instead of what’s visually appealing.

Lastly, what can fans look forward to from Not Now Norman this year? 

We have a few things planned for 2021. As of the 19th of February, we have released our first full collaboration with musician and producer Geo Moon called ‘Run Boy’. It’s a completely new style of music to what we normally go for, but experimentation is fun in music and I don’t want to limit Not Now Norman to one genre. We’re also looking forward to releasing more tracks that ‘Run Boy’ has influenced in one way or another. There are also a few musicians that we’re looking forward to collaborating with. 2021 has a lot of exciting releases for Not Now Norman, and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you all. 

Listen to Not Now Norman – ‘Little Frankenstein’ – The Franken-Lee Remix

 

Follow Not Now Norman on: Instagram

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