As Texas rockers Murder FM gear up to unleash their latest release Happily Neverafter on the world next month, front-man and guitarist Norman Matthew took time out of the bands’ increasingly busy schedule for this EXCLUSIVE interview with our staff writer, Rebecca.
PW: Let's start at the beginning - how do you all know each other?
N: J6 (bassist and backing vocalist) and I met back when I was 16 years old. I did my first Texas tour with my high school band and we played with J6's band in San Antonio. I stole our guitarist Matt X3r0 from his band at the time that I was producing. Our drummer Jason "Shakes" West was the ideal drummer from the get go, but he was on the road with Sebastian Bach, Evil United & Wednesday 13. In 2013, Murder FM had a slew of dates with Rob Zombie, Deftones, The Pretty Reckless, Five Finger Death Punch and Pop Evil. W13 was on a break working on a new record and we swooped in and stole that fool for our own devices.
PW: Prior to the band, did any of you have any other musical experience?
N: Yes, everyone in the band has been in countless bands over the years. We all started performing young, early teens and have been in bands since. Prior to Murder FM, I was in Never 3nough with Keith and Trevor of 18 Visions & Throwdown.
PW: Who were your musical influences growing up and have they changed much over the years?
N: In my formative musical years, I was enamoured with Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, and Depeche Mode. The bands that really inspired me at first and opened my ears to music and eyes to the stage were KISS, Guns ‘N’ Roses and Motley Crue. They had that huge 80's sound I loved in music, but all of them were dark and had that edge that I have always been attracted to.
PW: What do you think sets you apart from all the other bands and artists out there today?
N: We are not at all shy about what we want and where we come from. What you see is what you get and we roll as real as a deal can be. We want to bring arena rock back to the masses, we want to dominate every stage we hit and we want to have a ton of fun doing it in the process. Lyrically and musically, we try not to take ourselves too seriously and try to bring the "we" to music and take out the "me". People don't want to hear me cry about my life on-stage, they need a voice and I want to be the voice for the voiceless, the soundtrack to someone's life. We try to give our audience an escape, not a reality.
PW: If you had to say you were similar to any other band, which would it be and why?
N: Hmmm, that's hard. We haven't invented the wheel, you can't; we just put our own rims on it so to speak. It's all so relative to the listener because we all absorb and process differently, but if you are a fan of Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Motley Crue - big arena rock songs with hooks and riffs, then Murder FM is your band.
PW: What can you tell me about your new album Happily Neverafter?
N: It's amazing! Ha-ha! It is by far the best collection and body of work I have put together for Murder FM. It tells a story from beginning to end without being conceptual and really exemplifies where the band is at sonically. You can feel the passion in the songs, not only because I put every bit of myself into them as the band does as well, but the songs were written and recorded prior to having a record deal. So, we were not on any short of deadline or time-frame in which to work on and I wrote and recorded songs for the simple fact that I love creating music.
PW: What inspired the songs for it?
N: Life. I take a piece of everything and everyone when writing. I try to morph it along the way into something that can mean something to anyone listening and really try to move it out of first perspective. So once I have the initial inspiration or lyrical concept, I design it from there to be the escape it needs to for the listener.
PW: Could you pick your favourite?
N: Absolutely not ha-ha! Each one of these songs are like children to me and each one has a special place for different reasons. Each song has its own identity on this record and that is something I'm really proud of. It wasn't thought out, it just happened. It was organic how this record came together over a period of time in my life that was hectic at best.
PW: How easy is it for you to write and create a song?
N: It used to be difficult before because sometimes I was either forcing a song, inspiration, style or direction and was on this timeline, in a rush for what, I have no idea. When you work that way, you waste more time forcing it, rather than just letting it happen. Now, if it clicks, I run with it instantly and I work as I am inspired. That’s another great thing about Happily Neverafter - it was written over 18 months and the songs really had a chance to develop into the monsters that they are now.
PW: How did co-producers Beau Hill and Norman Matthew impact the creation of the album?
N: Working with Beau was amazing! The fact that he has worked with so many influential artists such as Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, along with producing huge arena acts like Ratt, Warrant and Alice Cooper, and then that he allowed me to sit in the drivers’ seat when it came to overall production of the record is still mind boggling. He taught me how to get out of my own skin and really listen to what is best for the "song" and not the "part". As writers, we tend to think everything that comes out of us is gold, but he was able to help me tap into a part of myself that allowed me to see forest through the trees. We worked together on other projects prior to Murder FM and he had mentored me in a lot of ways, from dynamics to arrangement to melodic structure and story-telling, so when it came time to work on Happily Neverafter, there was a level of comfort that just made the record collectively come together the way it was meant to be. His mixes really put it over the top and gives Happily Neverafter its big sound.
PW: How did your Tommy Lee remix which features on the album come about?
N: Tommy is friends with our A&R guy at the label. One day he had mentioned he wanted to send Tommy some of the MFM tracks because he really felt Tommy would latch on to them, which he did. Next thing I know I'm trading tracks with Tommy in the studio and “We The LEE-vil" was born! It was one of the greatest moments in my musical career.
PW: Your videos are, by anyone's standards, shocking and elaborate, so how do you come up with ideas for them?
N: Thank you! Our videos are one of the things that really built us in the underground and brought us to the dance. We were lucky to work with some really creative directors, Michael Carter and Benny Ontiveros and created such a creative connection with them that we’ve kept with them thus far. They became an extension of the band and really brought our stories to life visually. One of my absolute favorite videos is "Twist3d Lov3 Story". For what we had to work with and for its time and where we were at as band in the industry, we really did some damage with that one.
PW: Would you agree that social media interaction is key for bands today? You've a growing fan-base on your platforms.
N: There are so many ways to connect online these days, it’s almost too much. So we picked the major ones where anyone could find us and stuck with those and built a great foundation on them. Every fan, follower, like and view we have is from constant road work. We are the popular band you've never heard of ha-ha! I think social media is key to make the connection and get the word out from a marketing standpoint, but at the end of the day, if your songs are great and your live show is unreal, they will find you and word will spread.
PW: You've toured with the likes of Rob Zombie and Deftones to name a few - any favorite memories?
N: Every night is a favorite. Each show has its own appeal, even when I've been escorted out by police for "inciting a riot" or cut off for using "foul language", they all have been great. We are the kind of band that doesn't wring the proverbial towel and run a market over and over, if we are in your town, we are there because we WANT to be, so each show means something to us. Stand-outs are most definitely our first UK tour selling out and people in the audience knowing our songs. I'll never forget the feeling of opening that stage door on Halloween in Nottingham, UK, seeing that crowd of people and from the first note, they knew who we were and why we were there.
PW: If you could share a stage with any band or artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
N: It would have to be a festival first of all. Appetite for Destruction era Guns ‘N’ Roses, Motley Crue circa Dr. Feelgood, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails in the Downward Spiral days, KISS via the Alive II set-list and then a late night set by The Cure playing Disintegration from front to back. I took a piece of each one of those artists when putting together MFM and I carry that and them with me at every show.
PW: You're playing Dirtfest on August 8 - excited?
N: Oh hell yes! We performed at Dirtfest last year, it’s one of my favorite US festivals and it's amazing to be coming back and taking on the Main Stage! It's amazing to see how things have grown for Murder FM and that’s all thanks to our cult like fans, YOU built us and YOU deserve this!
PW: What are your touring plans for this album? Can fans in Europe expect to see you any-time soon?
N: Yes, The US tour kicks off at Dirtfest and will roll on from there. We will DEFINITELY be back in Europe. They are the fans that kicked it off for us with two top 10 videos on Scuzz TV in Europe. We want to come back when the time is right and give them everything they deserve, because our Euro fans have given us the best of them.
PW: Finally then, Where would you like to see the band three years from now? What are your ultimate ambitions?
N: Taking over arenas across the world!