Lee Norris – Exclusive InterviewNate Brown
OLD: You guys play a lot of different venues – large and small. Are there any differences in vibe at these shows?
Lee: We feed off of any kind of energy that we get. We’ve played in front of 5 people, and it’s been one of the best shows we’ve ever had. We’ve played the Shiva Festival in Michigan, in the pouring rain, and people were just standing out there wanting more; it’s a cool feeling, but the energy level seems consistent with us. We vibe off of whatever we get.
Anytime we plug in and do it, we try to give everything whether it’s 5 or 5000. It makes us feel better. We get off stage, and if we feel like we did half of a job we don’t feel good about ourselves.
OLD: You guys won the Best Rock Band in the Carolinas. Can you tell us about that?
Lee: That’s actually an award the band got shortly before I came along. The first year they were out, they built the scene really fast for themselves, and that caught the attention of the people around that. Which is really cool for them, and when I joined the band, that made me want to be a part of them even more.
OLD: When you originally joined the band, was it a difficult decision?
Lee: I met the lead singer in a country band. We were filling in for our friend’s band. We had never met each other. We went to high school together, but it was four years apart. We played together, and he’s like, “You’re a good drummer, but I’ve got a drummer now. But, we might need you in the studio…” because he was having some trouble with the meteroome. I was initially trained to be a studio drummer for them … and everything just worked out right. Their drummer went on tour for 3-4 weeks and just wasn’t feeling it. I stepped right in and had 3 days to learn the full live set, and then we had a sold out show.
One of the guys I had never played with at all, and he just walks up on stage … “Hey man, I’ve never met you before, but let’s have some fun tonight.”
OLD: Your grooves are solid, driving rock grooves laid right in the middle of the song’s pulse. How do you come up with your drum parts?
Lee: The most challenging thing for me is being tasteful. That is the most challenging thing I think for any drummer. You can chop something out and you can do an incredibly hard fill somewhere, and you can make a rhythm that’s a little more complex, but it comes down to what is the basic melody line and what is the basic rhythm of the song. You’ve got to build on that without overshadowing anything. That’s the hard thing. You want to make it interesting enough not to lose anybody’s attention, but at the same time, you can’t overshadow the rest of the song. So, it’s all about being tasteful. I grew up with rock ‘n’ roll and country, so I mean it’s kind of one of those things … the drummer’s the metronome. You can’t be fancy too often. You keep time for everybody.
OLD: Did having a background in country music help to develop the style of play you use with Another Lost year?
Lee: Not so much … As far as pocket playing, yes, but the style of playing that I thrive from and really was influenced by growing up was Abe Cunningham from the Deftones … and bands like He Is Legend … but it’s a combination of everything. You’ve got to love music. I love delta blues, and for a drummer that’s not a fun style of music to play, you’re just there, hanging out and keeping on it.. .but I love it all. Any chance I get to play.
Actually right now, we just rolled up in our RV, and I pulled out my kick drum and am setting up stuff. It’s 11 o’clock in the morning, and I’m just trying to get the chance to play my drums for a second.
OLD: How do you find time to play and to warm up while on the road?
Lee: I’ve got a practice pad. I do the same stuff I’ve been doing since high school. I’ll break out my old marching book and refresh some things. It’s bascially just a practice pad. Nothing fancy. You don’t get a chance to play your drums in a set. We don’t get to touch our equipment too much other than being on stage. I was home for a week not too long ago, and I only got to play maybe 30 minutes. I got a brand new drum set, and I only had 30 minutes to play it, and I was just heart broken, but it happens. That’s what it’s about.
You get that 45 minutes to an hour and a half of stage time, and you make what you can with it.
OLD: What kit are you using?
Lee: When I started off with this band I had an old set of Yamaha DPs that I just kind of pulled the wraps off of and sanded down myself. Shorty after that, my label got me some PDPs, and I used those for a little while, and I just recently got a Pork Pie kit from my friend Diana with Wind-up Records.
OLD: When Another Lost Year was featured on the Nikki Sixx radio show, did you notice any increase in traffic on the site, sales or fans after that feature?
Lee: When it comes to the numbers and social media, it seems to come after new radio markets and stuff like that. We’ll get jumps of a couple of hundred. Last week we had a jump of like 2,000 Facebook likes, and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. We start looking around and realized we got released in some market … something like Indonesia, something we would have never expected … that’s always reassuring that we’re doing the right thing when you see something like that.
And there’s times when we’ve gone a couple of months when we only got a couple hundred Facebook likes … just because we weren’t as busy … being in the studio took a toll on our statistics. When we go home it almost feels like you can watch it stop. It’s just one of those things. It comes in spurts … just depends on where we’re getting released in new markets. If we’re hitting a new area, we can really watch it jump.
OLD: Do you have any advice for our OnlineDrummer.com visitors and members?
Lee: I’ve been told “no” on bands my entire life. This is my first real attempt at a band, as far as playing in a band and playing shows. Growing up, I wasn’t ever the best drummer in my group of friends. I hung out with a lot of great musicians, and it was always kind of a fight to get into something. Just to try to get with something and stick with it, and then somebody else who was better would come along and I’d get kicked out. I worked hard and got told no a bunch, and I found a band that was willing to stick with me, and we’ve grown.
The whole thing about being successful is you have to sacrifice everything. I don’t have a car. I barely have much when I go home. Everything else you sold and got rid of to do this has made this go that much farther. Play as many shows as you can. Be told no. You’re going to be stopped … you just have to find ways around it. Play more shows. You’re going to play a lot of shows to bartenders and owners, but those shows will get you more shows if you do your job and you’re good to the people that let you come into their establishment and play.
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