Warm crypts and sizzling corpses: an interview with Norm Elliot of Norm And The Nightmarez

Norm

Wickedly contagious and a diversely warped fusion or rockabilly and psychobilly at its most incendiary best, Psychobilly Infection the debut album from Norm & The Nightmarez is one of those standard forging releases which breeds inspiration and exhilaration. Thirteen tracks of intrigue lit and passion drenched rock ‘n’ roll, the album is a storm of rapacious creativity flourishing in decades of influences and twisting them in something new and template casting. The band is the creation of vocalist/guitarist Norm Elliot, already renown with Mickey & The Mutants and their impressive first release last year. Norm & The Nightmarez is a new kind of a riveting beast and we seized on the chance to find out more when Norm kindly spared his time to let us explore his history, the album, psychobilly and much more…

Hi Norm and many thanks for sharing your time with us.

Before we talk about Norm And The Nightmarez and debut album Psychobilly Infection, tell us about yourself and your musical history up to previous band Mickey And The Mutants.

Hi Pete … I was born in Northern Ireland, to escape the troubles we moved to Birmingham England when I was 4. I’ve been here ever since. I picked up a guitar when I was 13 and found I could play it quite easily, it was the 1st thing that actually made sense to me, school just went over my head and bored the shite outta me. I joined a R’n’R band after 2 weeks of playing, then developed into Rockabilly and then I discovered The Meteors and my life changed forever. I formed a psychobilly trio called the Phantom Zone, we were OK and supported all the new upcoming bands including The Guana Batz, The Stingrays, and The Vibes. I then travelled the world for years just playing my acoustic around bars developing my writing skills on the way.

Has rockabilly/psychobilly always been the main source of your strongest musical pleasure personally and creatively?

Simply: YES !!! It’s in my blood, when it’s there, it’s there for life.

You have seen and been involved in numerous decades of the psychobilly scene here in the UK, would you say it’s in one of its healthiest moments right now?

I was there very near the beginning, then as I say travelled the world, it’s amazing to see how big it’s become again. Its healthier than ever and an amazing scene to be involved in, full respect to those that kept playing, they saved the music I love and I thank each & every one of them for that. Also people like The Bedlam Crew and Little Jo, her MySpace was one of the 1st psycho related sites I came across and I’m sure that played a huge part of the returning scene.

We mentioned Mickey And The Mutants, how did the link up with ex-Meteors/ex-Guana Batz bassist Mick White and Sharks drummer Paul ‘Hodge’ Leigh come about?

I was in my own Crampish Garage band called The Bionic Krugerrands and Mick liked what we did, and my guitar style so asked me to join him. I said no many times but then my drummer left and as I was at a loose end I caved in, I’m glad I did. Then the drummer he had left and we found Hodge, simple as that really.

I may be wrong but I get the impression that you are happier and more fired up creating and driving your own bands than playing in other’s projects, though I hasten to say that your own penned songs and vocals on the MATM album Touch The Madness do not suggest that to be fair.

No, you’re correct, I love to create and have a deep passion for what I do and after 37 years of creating music in one form or another I know how it works so understand the process and what to do to get the best out of it. It was fine working normandthenightmarezpsychobillyinfectioncdwith Mick and he was kind enough to listen to my input, and you know what? We made one hell of an album Hodge, Mick ‘n’ Me and I’ll always be proud of it.

What are your strongest inspirations would you say in sound and your guitar style?

Guitarists: Cliff Gallup, Grady Martin, Paul Fenech, and Ivy Rorschach

Songwriters: Nigel Lewis, Paul Fenech , Johnny & Dorsey Burnette, and Leiber & Stoller.

Artists: Most of the Sun Rockabilly’s and various Rockabilly and Psychobilly over the years.

Norm And The Nightmarez has just released its first album, the undeniably brilliant Psychobilly Infection. There seems to have immediately spread a swift and lively buzz about the band and release. Would you say this has been the most dramatic impact a band or release you have been involved in has made?

HELL YES !!! But as soon as we heard the album mixed, myself and Alan Wilson knew we had created something special. That’s from a punters point of view not from an arrogant stance. I’m thrilled with the way it turned out!.

Did you have any expectations or hopes beyond simply having people like it once it had emerged in the studio?

Oh Yes, I want to play this devils music all over the world as much as possible, I’m never happier then when I’m onstage doing this material, it honestly sends me wild, sometimes I have to rein myself in a bit for fear of injury ! Whatever you see me do onstage is from the heart, nothing is staged or acted, any scream, any grimace any movement, it just gets into my bones and transports me to a place I love to be.

You seem to have found the perfect blend of rockabilly and psychobilly on the album, both teasing and seducing without overpowering the other. Has this been an instinctive and natural find or something you have cultivated over time?

Purely and Simple Instinct!!!

I get the impression that the band is very new as a presence; is that the reality and were the songs on the album bred after its emergence or do some have a longer history to them?

10443120_680915955319815_6023845040549483159_oI just sat down over a weekend and wrote the songs as I always do, on my own with my acoustic. A few were already in existence but most totally new. I think I’ve had Sex Kitten for about 30 years but never used it till now.

How did you meet drummer Frank Creamer and bassist Mark Bending and how easy was it to get them on board for the album?

Frank Creamer was briefly around in the late part of the early days so I kinda knew him a little from then and I got Mark Bending from an advert I placed.

I am right in believing the band has a different line-up for live shows now?

Yes you are, I have a very talented young buck called Jake Lyon on drums, he has a degree in music and filled in with the Mutants on a couple of gigs, I’ve honestly never worked with such a gifted live drummer. John Goodey is on double bass, he’s been in rockin’ bands for the past 30 years plus and is an awesome double bass player.

Tell us about the recording of Psychobilly Infection, was it all smooth sailing?

I honestly can’t remember much about it, it went by in a flash and as ever recording with Alan Wilson was really pressure free. I did the ground work and preparation before I went in and as a trio we practiced hard for it. We did have one hiccup as the bass player’s bass wasn’t up to it and Alan wanted to make it special so Steve Whitehouse put his underpants on over his jeans and saved the day by driving his own personal bass over for us to use in a super hero styleeee.

Any tales you can tell us from that time, any solicitous meetings or the occasional salacious summoning? 😉

Yeah, there were the 9 prostitutes, two if which were lady boys (I can’t tell you who had them ) and the mountain of coke night !!!. Nah, only kidding, all quite boring really we just concentrated on getting it bang on, capturing the threat and suspense we wanted to create. Early nights and Earl Grey!!!.

Is there a particular moment or aspect to the album which gives you the biggest chill and tingle of satisfaction and pleasure?

It all gives me a tingle I just honestly cannot believe how amazing it’s turned out, though if I’ve got to pick one moment it’s at the end of the 2nd lead break in the song Psychobilly Infection just before I start to sing, it’s like a Buddy Holly dum dad dum da dum, dum dum, it just moved me and I get a thrill now every time I do that bit live, its ace.

What is on the near horizon of Norm And The Nightmarez?10446663_680914721986605_2839446702070720291_n

The Beldam Breakout festival in September & a lot of gigs booked, to be honest amazing stuff is coming in daily but we’re up for anything and just wanna get out there both in the UK and around the world and play, play, play.

Thanks again for talking with us, any final thoughts to leave us pondering?

Norm & the Nightmarez are here to stay, come to a show and see for yourselves … come get the PSYCHOBILLY INFECTION !!!.

And finally tell us five of the most important or simply thrilling releases which have had a part in your evolution as a musician and songwriter.

In Heaven – The Meteors

Elvis Presley – Sun Sessions

Johnny Burnette Rock n Roll Trio

Stray Cats – Stray Cats (that’s the 1st album only )

Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps – 1st two albums.

Sneaky Bonus ::: Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks

Of course, there’s also Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, Buddy Holly, The Ramones, The Undertones, The Clash, all the Rockabilly Sun Recordings etc. etc. 🙂

Hey thank you Pete, it’s been fun mate.

 

Read the review of Psychobilly Infection @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/norm-and-the-nightmarez-psychobilly-infection/

https://www.facebook.com/Normandthenightmarez

Pete Ringmaster

The Ringmaster Review 01/08/2014

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Norm And The Nightmarez – Psychobilly Infection

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     “From within the thighs of hell’s most wanton temptress, a tempest of psychobilly grooves and rockabilly hooks will converge upon mankind to turn its existence into one incessant stomp of devilish predation and virulent demonic revelry.”

Obviously that is not one of the more well-known pestilences deemed suitable to be included in religious teachings but if it was, it would go under the name of Norm & The Nightmarez and debut album Psychobilly Infection. Thirteen tracks of wickedly contagious and warped rock ‘n’ roll cultured with rockabilly seeded guitar and psychotic imagination, the release is a storming slab of rapacious psychobilly which sets a new provocative and sinisterly sculpted template for emerging genre bands.

Hailing from Birmingham, Norm And The Nightmarez is the creation of vocalist/guitarist Norm Elliot. From first band The Phantom Zone in the eighties, the musician has played in a few bands, last year most notably Mickey & The Mutants where he linked up with ex-Meteors/ex-Guana Batz bassist Mick White and Sharks drummer Paul ‘Hodge’ Leigh. The trio released the outstanding album Touch The Madness, a release it was hard to see anything bettering in UK psychobilly for a long-time to come but then we did not foresee Norm & The Nightmarez preying on the passions. Completed by drummer Frank Creamer (ex- Colbert Hamilton & the Hellrazors) and double bassist Mark Bending (ex-Sgt Bilko’s Krazy Combo) for the Western Star released album, the band embraces the decades of rockabilly infusing their ripest essences into the insatiable jaws of old school bred psychobilly irreverence and invention. It is a varied and riveting incitement which steals the will of everything from feet through to emotions, taking all on a skilful and hungry romp of mischievous enterprise.

Produced by Alan Wilson, the album is straight away gnawing on the senses with opener Stompin in My Grave, its initial earth encrusted riffs immediate potent bait to which the wrist flicking rhythms of Creamer and the dark hearted slaps of Bending add even juicier lures. Unfurling around a repetitive hook led by Elliot’s guitar, his potent vocals colour the imagination with their lyrical enticement. A flame of melodic scorching also adds a rich hue before the song takes a breather, allowing the listener’s body one too before it revs up its hypnotic suasion all over again.

The addictive start is swiftly matched by The Mischief Maker, a dark hearted slice of intimidation with robust basslines and sultry grooves which enslave attentions whilst beats slowly bruise the senses. Whether unleashing a keen gait normandthenightmarezpsychobillyinfectioncdor stalking ears, the track is an incendiary protagonist to give a blissful appetite further hungry urges which are rapidly fed by the acidic twang of The Lights Went Out. There is a scorched country-esque lilt to the invigorating prowl, the guitar of Elliot entwining ears with citric melodies and pungent hooks whilst vocally he snarls with a grizzled tone which sparks perfectly off of the heated climate of the song. The track has whispers of Tiger Army and The Quakes to its rich imposing breath but as with all songs no matter the hints it stands alone as something distinct to album and Norm And The Nightmarez.

The title track, though living up to its title, is rockabilly spawned even with its slight punkish nature. The bass and guitars sculpt a weave of riff and lures which play with body and soul like a sly puppeteer, twisting and turning imagination and passions inside out for a fevered submission. Its contagion lingers far beyond its stay though both Nightmare and Ton Up ensure in their company it is a distant memory at least. The first of the two right away triggers thoughts of The Reverend Horton Heat and Matchbox with flavourings of Johnny Burnette and Hasil Adkins also spicing the fiery encounter. Rhythmically and sonically the song entrances before the adrenaline rampage of its successor rumbles across the senses. Beats descend on ears with an unrelenting coaxing whilst the bass call of Bending brings delicious dark textures to the irresistible road trip. Elliot as ever commands the scenery with his vocals and guitar exploits whilst the trio unite for another ridiculously compelling and magnetic parade of roguish rockabilly incitement.

The flirtatious Sex Kitten teases senses with a salacious sexuality next, its smouldering grooves and sensual melodic curves as infectious as they are seductive. There is no denying a certain Stray Cats swagger to the song but also a danger to its stroll which could be compared to something with the edge of Guana Batz and addictiveness of Gene Vincent. It is an inescapable persuasion though one soon left in the shadow of the wonderful instrumental Devil Girl From Mars. There is something poetic to an intensively crafted piece of psychobilly music with its primal predation and sonic toxicity, and certainly it comes with no finer shape and beauty than here. Imagine a blend of The Tornadoes and The Frantic Flintstones and you get a whiff of its virulent might.

Both Pardon Me and The Past is a Place that I Just Can’t Go have energies and passions in a raw riot of pleasure, the first with its caustic sonic grazing and thumping rhythmic enticement whilst the following track stretches a menacing bait over ears again with jagged riffs, pulsating throaty slaps, and ear crowding beats. As impressive as its predecessor was, the second of the pair is another merciless encroaching on freedom with its rhythmic slavery, melodic venom, and vocal rapacity. It is impossible to choose a track which stands out over the rest on the album but this is always a forceful contender.

The fun filled Elvis Was a Zombie keeps things stomping along nicely and though it lacks the spark of other tracks for personal tastes it is impossible to dismiss because of that mischief and its rhythmic badgering. Its paler presence is soon swamped by the brilliant closing of the album. Massacre at Devils Plain with its Native American croon and howls over a gritty stride of sonic stabs and heavy footed rhythms, sets the imagination alight next whilst final song The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, leaves Psychobilly Infection on arguably its highest pinnacle. Bursting from a sample from the film of the same name, the track is a psychobilly irritant at its most potent and brilliant. It is a predator of a track, rhythms climbing all over the senses whilst guitar and vocals stir up the imagination with rich imposing hues. It is fair to say the song has elements of The Meteors all over it; The Hills Have Eyes springing to mind, but again Norm And The Nightmarez defuse any comparisons with their distinct invention and adventure.

From start to finish there is no escaping the might and sheer glory of Psychobilly Infection and the emergence of a brand new creative devil in our midst, though whether the UK, come to that the world is ready for Norm And The Nightmarez and their hellacious tempting only time will tell.

Psychobilly Infection is available now via Western Star Recordings @ http://www.western-star.co.uk/western-star-releases—cds_36/psychobilly-infection—norm-and-the-nightmarez_146.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/Normandthenightmarez

10/10

RingMaster 29/07/2014

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Mickey & The Mutants: Touch The Madness

picture by Cathy Bloxham

picture by Cathy Bloxham

If anything from psychobilly to fifties rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly to rhythms & blues gets your feet and heart eagerly moving than we just might have the album of the year for you in the mighty shape of Touch The Madness, the debut release of UK rockers Mickey & The Mutants. Multi-flavoured and insatiably contagious, the album is a storming slab of mutated rock ‘n’ roll brought with all the craft and devilish guile you would expect from the experience and invention of its creators.

Mickey & The Mutants is made up of double bassist/vocalist Mick White (ex-Guana Batz and ex-Meteors from the Mutant Rock/Wrecking Crew and arguably best era of the band), guitarist/vocalist Norm Elliott, and Sharks drummer Paul ‘Hodge’ Leigh. It is a trio which on past history we admit we here had greedy expectations of but with Touch The Madness they surpassed everything wished for with a wonderful devilment borne from honest uncomplicated rock music. Formed in the summer of last year the band, on the evidence of their debut, only has the single intent and that is to provide an unforgettable, high quality, bruising party for the senses and passions, something they succeed in doing within the first three songs alone and reinforce time and time again across the twelve track release.

The title track opens up the excursion through the ‘bedlamic’ enterprise’ and imagination of the band, a lone guitar and distant WSRC072_300psychotic wails displaced by a barrage of rumbling beats from Hodge and sabre like riffs from Elliott. Amongst their instant persuasion the nimble fingers of White bring throaty bass slaps into the mix and slightly crazed vocals which within the devil bred brew being cast recalls The Orson Family in touch. The song is pure psychobilly and an evocation of primal urgency to join its hungry commanding mood. The track also gives portent of the album ahead, its body a twisting and varied temptation that has limbs and voice offering their well in our case, feeble blasphemous help.

The following Elvirista (Queen Of The Dead) teases with again a single coaxing of guitar before once more the rhythmic potency of the thumping drums and belligerent bass provoke and fill the song with such depth and menace you feel you are about to succumb to aural voodoo. The vocals of this time Elliott, the vocalist within songs being who penned them, have a dark demonic shadow to their narrative which like and with White before, brings great character to each slice of devilry and the release as a whole. The track smoulders with wanton seduction and enchanting intimidation which again receives no resistance as it takes passions into realms of rapture.

These Ol’ Bones explores a country rock seeded field of compulsion which sounds like a mix of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers and The Screaming Blue Messiahs, whilst veining itself with some tantalising blues guitar licks and flames which ignites further the immense pleasure the impossibly addictive song has already sparked. It completes one of the strongest starts to any album in a long time, but it does not sit back on its laurels or take a rest as the excellent Jacob And The Well Of Love and its successor Something Bad’s Comin’ Outa The Ground soon show. The first also walks with a rhythm & blues swagger and lilt to its mesmeric stroll whilst the second of the pair is a slow canter around another blues narrative that leaves the lips of satisfaction licking feverishly.

Adrenaline soon opens its boosters again as the old school stroll of Blonde Haired Assassin takes the ears in its Gene Vincent/Blue Cats like palm of sound. Not for the first time on the album the guitar of Elliott is a delicious blaze across the sky of the song whilst White leaps over the senses with his upright skills and Hodge simply hypnotises from start to finish with instinctive rhythmic bait.

If the album stopped here it would be fair to say acclaim would still only ooze from these words but thankfully it is only midway into its rewards and soon raises the temperature further with firstly the contagious punk driven Rock n Roll Messed Up My Mind and even more so with Phantom Of The Opera. The second of the two is to all extent and purposes a cover of the Meteor gem on their Wreckin Crew album of 1983, though as it was written by White anyway maybe cover is the wrong word,  nevertheless he has just reowned it with the stunning version on Touch The Madness which we would suggest surpasses the previous version, it is that good and still one of the most riveting psychobilly songs of all time.

Burn You Sinners Burn just stomps over the already seduced heart with another dark toned piece of rockabilly majesty, White and Hodge creating a menacing wrap of rhythmic menace psychotically ridden by the vocals of Elliot and his sweet toned guitar caresses. It is pure aural manna which is sidled up to in quality by the sultry and dangerous mystique of Kiss Of The Spider Woman. Winds of surf rock wash over mariachi whispers to draw out a sweltering ambience which soaks every pore of the body and senses.

The album ends on the twin psychobilly enticement of Zombie where every aspect of band and sound stalks the passions with all the relentlessness of the risen dead, the song feeding off on the eagerly given submission to its virulently infectious jaws, and the insatiable Mind Control, the only time the band really reminded of The Meteors. It has to be said expectations to like Touch The Madness were strong but to the depth that we did was wholly unexpected and greedily taken. Mickey & The Mutants has opened its account with a killer album, one which is not quite up there with the major genre classic but easily one of the very best rock ‘n’ roll albums heard in a long time.

https://www.facebook.com/MickeyAndTheMutants

10/10

RingMaster 23/07/2013

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