Music Interview: Not Now Norman

Today we speak to Taylor-Grace, lead singer of northern rock band Not Now Norman. She explains how her parents encouraged her to become a musician because she struggled to secure employment due to her disability and how her lyrics vocalise her honest emotions as a person on the autistic spectrum.

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Band Name: Not Now Norman
Members: Taylor-Grace (vocalist), Zander (guitarist), Lara (bassist) & Bodhi (drummer)
Genre: Rock/Hard Rock/Alternative Rock
Founded: February 2019
Originated From: Northumberland, UK
Discography: Little Frankenstein (single, 2019), End of the Day (Single, 2020), The End of the Day (E.P, 2020), Little Cheryl (Single, 2020), Little Frankenstein – (The Franken-Lee Remix) (Single, 2021) & Shut Your Mouth (Single, 2021)

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How would you describe your music?

I would say over all our sound fits somewhere in Rock music. Where specifically that is I’m not sure. Some people have called us hard rock, others have called us alternative rock.

To be honest I find it difficult to put genres on our tracks as we like to experiment, I think if you stick to one genre you run the risk of limiting what you want to create. I would say that our music has this sassy blunt edge to it that is very in-your-face.

With being on the spectrum, I tend to struggle vocalising my thoughts and feelings about certain things, so music has been a huge outlet for me to process my emotions. I think that sometimes the bluntness in my lyrics stem from being on the spectrum. I think that being able to be so blunt and unapologetic about it can help people relate to our music.

What is your musical creative process like?

To be honest it varies. Sometimes it starts with the hook or the riff. Sometimes it’s the drums or the rhythm, and sometimes it’s the melody. Judas, for example, started off as just a title and kicked off from there.

For us, it starts wherever the inspiration takes us. Sometimes it feels like we’re doing what the music is telling us what it wants us to do. When we start writing, we don’t know the full sound that we’re going for, we just piece it together bit by bit and eventually we can hear what the melody wants us to do.

In terms of lyrics, we have a tendency to write about something personal, whether it be what we’ve experienced or our views on some social issues like with Little Cheryl and social media. I don’t really have a filter when it comes to voicing my opinions to the point where it’s sounds blunt and direct to the point, something that comes with being on the spectrum. In a way it’s something that can influence the delivery in what we produce.

How did the band form?

A few years ago I had just left college with a degree and I was eager to look for work. Unfortunately, not a lot of people were willing to take me on due to my disability. It wasn’t the sole reason, but for a couple of years I would go to interviews and potential employers would sigh or roll their eyes at the slightest hint of disability. Eventually this put me into a bad depression where I didn’t see the point in getting out of bed.

During this time, my Dad (Zander) had started recording for fun after his previous band parted. They hadn’t been able to rehearse for a couple of years, so my Dad went into retirement.

My Mum suggested I have a go to build my confidence. It was only after having a go at Sweet Child Of Mineby Guns N Roses, my Dad realised I could sing and suggested I tried music.

Being on the spectrum, at the time I found it difficult putting myself in the centre stage without someone that I completely trust, so I asked my Dad out of retirement. He picked up his guitar and phoned up Jimmy, and so Not Now Norman was born.

We eventually met Bodhi at a local music festival where he asked if we were still auditioning for a full-time drummer. At that time, he was with another band, but after hearing him play at the festival, we knew he just fit the bill. Not long after, Jimmy announced he would have to take a break from it because he was going to be a Dad. We auditioned for another bassist and that’s when Lara came into the fold. Any song that we mentioned, she could work out from the top of her head.

How did you come up with your band name?

So, my Dad and I had a flock of chickens and a cockerel called Norman who, like most cockerels, was very territorial. It was my sister’s job to feed them in the morning and because he could be aggressive, my sister would go into the back garden wearing wellington boots that went past her knees, and arm herself with a dustpan lid and a broomstick handle to fend him off.

You could tell she was having problems when you heard ‘NOT NOW NORMAN’ coming from the garden. It was too good of an opportunity to just pass off. It is why a lot of our design motifs have cockerels on them.

Who influenced you within the music industry?

We’re open to influence and inspiration from wherever it comes from, but I’d say that mostly we’re pretty old school. As a whole I’d say our biggest influences so far are pretty old school like Guns N Roses, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but there are more modern influences as well such as The Pretty Reckless, P!NK and My Chemical Romance.

They all have this unapologetic attitude and make the music that they want to make, something that we really respect when it comes to making music and their lyrics confronted the dark sides of society, which adds to their grit.

Individually we have other influences that show in our instruments. Bodhi for instance, looks to the Foo Fighters, Lara looks at Muse, Zander looks to Randy Rhodes and Van Halen, whereas I look to Joan Jett and Debbie Harry for my vocals and performance.

Have you performed live much and what was your favourite gig to play at?

Before the lockdown started, we were able to play with some great acts such as LazyRave and New Fang. My favourite venue to perform at was at the rock club in Newcastle called Trillians, where we supported Ashes of Iron. For me, it made our playing our own music more official. It was like Not Now Norman had reached a huge milestone.

My other favourite was when we supported Follow Deep at Bannermans in Edinburgh, along with Burn the Maps and Flying by Mirrors. I had just suffered from some personal trauma that was starting to affect how much I was enjoying gigs. It was the first gig in a while where I fully enjoyed myself and it made me realise how much I enjoy what I do.

What is the best thing about being in a band?

I think it’s being able to connect with people around the world regardless of language barriers. Music still has the power to convey emotions even if you don’t understand the words. I also think it has a way connecting people though experiences and how they relate to a song, as well as helping people accept ‘themselves’.

For example, Little Frankenstein is about my experiences with having a rare bone condition called Hereditary Multiple Exostoses, which I’ve had since birth.

Within the first few weeks of releasing the original version of Little Frankenstein, we already had a lot of positive feedback from those who also have HME around the world, and their parents. I remember I got a message from a mum in America, who’s 9-year-old child told her “It’s so good to not feel alone anymore”.

What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far as a musician(s)?

At the moment, it’s getting together in person to write and record. We’ve managed to keep ourselves organised through the internet but even with technology, we’re still at a disadvantage. Nothing beats being able to record a track together so that we can keep everything and each other organised.

There’s also the problem of equipment. So far, it’s been mostly myself and my Dad (Zander) doing most of the recording, and relaying it to Bodhi and Lara for feedback, it’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing. We’re looking forward to the day where we can record together again safely.

What plans have you got coming up this year?

We were hoping to be gigging again this year, but with the current pandemic that is looking a lot less likely. We’re really excited for our future releases. We have more tracks in the pipework, one that we’re particularly excited for is called Shut Your Mouth.

We’re also excited to be collaborating with the amazing Geo Moon with our first track, as well as some other great bands sometime in the future. Just not telling because it’s meant to be a secret!

What is your ultimate dream as a band?

Ultimately, I think it’s to make as much music as we possibly can and for it to connect with as many people as possible. So much has happened with Not Now Norman in the short space of a year I honestly don’t know what is going to happen next, but I’m excited for the future of Not Now Norman.

I would like us to go touring the country, maybe even go further afield and go international. It would be awesome to perform at festivals like Download in a few years down the line.

You can find out more about Not Now Norman by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Published by Rock For Disability

This blog follows my life as a disabled person, reports disability news, share music reviews, give advice pieces, shows multimedia content plus much more!

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