Friday, April 8 – Dallas, TX
“Deep in the Heart of Texas,” a song you most likely will not hear at a Murder FM show, but it is a location where you will find the band pounding out amazing material using SONAR X1. In terms of work ethic and sheer determination, one will rarely find a band more in tune with what it takes to be a successful organization.
Based out of Dallas, TX, Murder FM (comprised of Norman Matthew, J6, Matt X3r0, and Brandon Arpin) has been performing sold out shows from coast to coast in the The United States while sharing the stage with some other notable bands such as Korn, The Used, Dope, Sick Puppies, Cavo, Red, Domain, 69 Eyes, The Birthday Massacre and Trapt amongst others. Lead singer/guitarist (and producer) Norman Mathew has been relentless in the past recent years setting up and maintaining the bands success. “It’s a real balancing act nowadays,” Norman says. “It’s a lot different than it used to be where you could just work on your music and let things fall into place. Now it’s a matter of working on your music just as hard, but on top of that you have to be on your promotional and business game as well. That’s why I have been so stoked on SONAR for my career because it really allows me to zoom in quickly and efficiently on my creativity.”
Efficiency and creativity are two good word choices to describe this band as they are constantly writing and recording, constantly performing live, and constantly staying ahead in terms of their promotional efforts. Last year the band saw great success in Europe with their video “As Beautiful as You Are” (created entirely in SONAR) which landed a TOP 10 most requested video spot on Scuzz TV. Recently the band has followed up with a new single and video titled “Machine Gun Kisses” which is in “High Rotation” on the channel alongside Linkin Park, Ozzy Osborne, and Black Veil Brides, and can also be seen on NME TV’s “Rock Show” in Europe as well. The band’s recipe for recording success has been a combined effort of production and mixing by Norman himself along with some outside work with Beau Hill who has seen many hits in his career.
“Machine Gun Kisses” will also appear on the video game “Rockband” in the spring of 2011 while a new full length record will be released as well. Currently, Murder FM is in the studio with SONAR X1(b) working on that full length record and will also embark on a European Tour in support of the record when it’s done later this year. We caught up with Norman Mathew of Murder FM while in the studio and picked his brain a bit about the 411 on Murder FM:
NORMAN MATTHEW: Our UK Label Glasstone Records handed over our video/single from our first record “As Beautiful as You Are,” to SCUZZ TV and the program director gave it his full support. The Program Director at SCUZZ TV is primarily responsible for it seeing such great success and we appreciate that. He brought it to the masses, he made it real and when the second video “Machine Gun Kisses” from the new record came out, he gave that a run too and the people spoke – they wanted it. We have since been added to NME TV’s “Rock Show” alongside Linkin Park, Ozzy, and My Chemical Romance; we owe it to SCUZZ TV for opening the floodgates and the fans for receiving it. We didn’t really have a promo campaign or a plan in place – it’s as real as it gets and a sign of the times on how fast things can move when a piece of art connects with fans. We are truly blessed.
CW AR: How does SONAR X1 help you to keep Murder FM’s music so cutting edge?
NORMAN MATTHEW: First off, I don’t know how I went this long without “ProChannel”, good God, the Tube Saturation and Compressor are amazing and work great for pushing guitars and vocals over the cliff. It even gives drums that little harmonic dirt they need underneath to really make them sizzle with our drop-tuned guitar-madness. Skylight and the workspace are perfect for a scatterbrain like me. When I’m writing, IM WRITING, so I need EVERYTHING in front of me because I think of a song from top to bottom and beginning to end; all at once. X1 gives me the “everything-in-one” and “all-in-front-of-me” workspace that I need.
CW AR: Are you using any of the Cakewalk synths for Murder FM tracks?
NORMAN MATTHEW: Hell yes I am! I proudly use and abuse Dimension Pro, Rapture and even z3ta in Murder FM tracks. I also run the synths live… its killer and flexible. I change things on the fly live, and running 64-bit has really made the transition into a live setting super easy. Sonar Live has become our fifth member.
CW AR: You guys are a pretty heavy duty rock band, how are the guitars recorded into SONAR?
NORMAN MATTHEW: I’m using GUITAR RIG 4 as well as live mics. I do two different things… first I track a clean guitar for editing purposes so that I can see the dynamics in the transients that I wouldn’t be able to see with a straight distorted track. I then plug in a distortion from Guitar Rig 4 to pop in under a mic’d room track and adjust the Guitar Rig 4 track accordingly to what’s missing in the mic’d room track – this is to really fill out whatever is missing sonically in the guitar department without taking over the drum tracks frequencies. Having a clean track to use plugins on really helps in the mixing stage because you can fill out what’s missing and have control over things in such a brutal setting.
CW AR: How do Murder FM songs come together in terms of the writing, production, mixing and collaboration?
NORMAN MATTHEW: For the most part as far as Murder FM to this point, I had two records written so it was merely taking it to the band, adjusting it live and re-working it in the studio. I’m not a jammer when it comes to writing. I like the sketch of an idea to be together before I start getting hands involved in the pot. I feel like it’s best for “the song” this way and not just for the players “parts.” It seems to evolve better when direction is in place. “Machine Gun Kisses” was Matt X3r0 and I. He had the initial riff and lyrical concept and then handed it over to me where I completely destroyed it; (ha-ha).
CW AR: I know you guys have had some opportunities to jump on board with some bigger labels. Are you going to continue the independent route, or are you looking for the right situation in terms of a label?
NORMAN MATTHEW: Waiting for the right situation on that front. I’ve deal with a major label before and it didn’t end up pretty. My old band NEVER 3NOUGH ended up in a distribution nightmare. The music business model these days is ever changing. Things aren’t as tangible as they used to be with promotion and other elements, and it’s very difficult for a label to give a proper budget for things that are ghosts. Now the digital world is completely taking over and 360 deals are coming even more into play, but if a band has no fan base and hasn’t dug the trench on their own, nobody wins in those situations. So I felt that we needed to create Murder FM’s market value and stock on our own so to speak, and spend a year or two developing properly both musically and business-wise before we started jumping in that sea of sharks. The music business paradigm has changed, and with everything so accessible you really need to know your own musical road before you travel down it. Once you pick that road, you need to destroy it.
CW AR: What are some specific SONAR X1 features that have elevated your production over past SONAR releases?
NORMAN MATTHEW: The ProChannel is pretty much my production world right now. Besides that, the ability to drag and drop anything I want basically anywhere gives me a creative edge that I have never had before. The work flow is fast and acts like a creative writing tool. Also, Skylight is allowing me to see things clearer. This will help anyone in my shoes who not only plays guitar or an instrument, but who also records “the big picture” from beginning to end – either for demo purposes, or on a real-deal track.
CW AR: You have shared some pretty big stages with some pretty well known bands; can you share a few of your favorite moments?
NORMAN MATTHEW: Seeing the guys from KORN watching us on the side of the Stage in an arena in our hometown was a pretty cool personal moment. I saw them some years before as an audience member and it was surreal to have them watching me – it was a trip!
Another one was my first big tour which was SEVENDUST and trading jackets (I know it sounds silly) with their lead singer Lajon Witherspoon. Their record at the time was my favorite, and it was cool to see how down to earth he was, as well as the band. It really gave me something to strive for and a reminder to always stay humble and thankful no matter where I end up.
CW AR: Your last video for “As Beautiful as You Are” was killer; do you have plans for a new video?
NORMAN MATTHEW: Thank you! First of all, I want to thank Europe for making it a TOP 10 request on SCUZZ TV. Secondly, I want to thank the US for making it Time Warner Cables “Most Watched Indie OnDemand Video” in 2010. The director Benny Ontiveros worked hard on it, so we let him keep the plaque. It was the least we could do, haha. We do have a brand new video which was also actually recorded in SONAR called “Machine Gun Kisses” and it is currently on High rotation on SCUZZ TV as well as on NME TV’s “Rock Show” in Europe.
You can find it directly on http://www.youtube.com/murderfm, www.murderfm.com, as well as other music video sites and channels. We will most likely be shooting another video later this year when the full length comes out.
CW AR: SONAR X1 is very customizable and versatile; do you utilize it differently than the normal setup?
NORMAN MATTHEW: To be honest, out of the box it has been amazing for me. As we progress in the process of recording the forthcoming full length, I’m sure I will adjust almost every parameter possible because I’m anal like that, but one of the most impressive things right out of the box with X1 is its functionality. I dont like to spend time learning, I like to spend my time writing and creating. The learning curve from 8.5 Producer to X1 was easy for me. I was up and running within 20 minutes and already adding ProChannel Compressors to all my old 8.5 tracks.
CW AR: Thanks once again Norman. Everyone here at Cakewalk respects what you guys are doing and wish you and the band all the best.
For more information on SONAR X1 please visit www.cakewalk.com/sonarx1.
For more information on Murder FM please visit www.murderfmmusic.com.