Posted On 25 Apr 2019
Dallas, Texas based As Strange As Angels is former Murder FM front-man Norman Matthew‘s passion project. He has released a new single “Mirror Mirror“, and it’s already been added to Spotify’s Rock Hard and Loudwire’s Weekly Wire playlist. The single is also the title track from the forthcoming debut EP, which will be out tomorrow on April 26th.
After Murder FM went on hiatus in 2016, Norman focused on raising his son after a divorce rocked his personal life. While juggling the work of running his music school, The Sound Foundation, and his fatherly duties, he found the turmoil that he was going through was beginning to come out in the music that he was writing. “For the first time, rather than speaking to the song, I let the song speak to me. I had never written lyrics that were a parallel of my life. Then I realized, I have a voice, and I need to be a voice for the voiceless.”
The result of that reflection is the new 4 song EP “Mirror Mirror“, which Matthew has aptly dubbed “heart rock”: From the heart, for the heart, by the heart. Say what you feel, and feel what you say. The title track was co-written and produced by former RA front-man Sahaj Ticotin (Starset, Sevendust, Stitched Up Heart). The other 3 tracks – “Love and Death” (which features CJ Pierce Of Drowning Pool on guitar), “Days Go Bye”, and “Right Beside You” were produced by Norman and Mick Kenney (Motionless In White). The recording features a heavy and melodic sound that is instantly familiar and yet unique – and is unlike most of the other music that is currently out in the Rock world. As Strange As Angels has previously released a single “Waves” in 2017.
Throughout his career Norman Matthew has shared the stage with rock luminaries Rob Zombie, Korn, Deftones, Five Finger Death Punch, The Pretty Reckless and Gemini Syndrome. He has also appeared on the Vans Warped Tour.
Says Norman: “As Strange As Angels is a story with many chapters – each chapter needed to be given its own soundtrack. Whatever felt right, I ran with…. I didn’t care about genre and labels. I just needed a vessel to call my own as a mechanism to communicate what I was thinking and feeling. I’m so thankful for all the amazing people who have helped me bring this release to life. Those who picked me up along the way, never gave up and never stopped believing in me. Plenty of people let go at a time when I needed them the most. But I channeled that and let it fuel me. I took a step back and learned how to live life again. As Strange As Angels is a testament to that – a gift in many ways. I owe much of myself to all those that kept my blood flowing and my heart going – and I owe all of myself to my son.”
Connect With As Strange As Angels Here:
Official website: https://www.asstrangeasangels.com/
Youtube Channel: https://youtu.be/HqB_g_AihTc
Bands in Town: https://www.bandsintown.com/a/14805247-as-strange-as-angels
Learn more about Strange As Angels in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
Norman Matthew – As Strange As Angels: In great spirits in Dallas, TX! It has been such an exciting time!
Now that we are into the 4th month of the new year, how has 2019 been treating you so far? What are some goals that you have for yourself this year? How are those New Years Resolutions going?
ASAA: 2019 has been epic! One of my first goals was getting As Strange As Angels off the ground. The project has been swimming in my heart for a couple years. I had a tough go with my personal life for the past couple years. All of it I channeled into the release of this project. So far, my New Years resolutions have not only been reached – but exceeded. I am thrilled at the moment!
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
ASAA: Music has been a recurring theme in my life since my mom took me to see KISS when I was 5 years old. I recently took my 5 year old son to see KISS! It was crazy, a “circle of life” moment, haha! I was mesmerized by KISS at 5…. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I wanted to do what they were doing. Then I heard “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses around 10 years old: I was sold and never looked back from there. Easiest choice I have ever made, besides being a father. I feel like there are some of us out there that don’t choose music – Music chooses us. It’s just a part of who you are and who you are supposed to be. It’s such a beautiful thing.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
ASAA: Ya know, around 2016 I seriously questioned being in music. I was in a band called Murder FM, and we were on an upward trajectory. We opened for rock royalty like Rob Zombie, Korn, Five Finger Death Punch – we were the opening act in arenas. Murder FM scored two Top 10 videos in Europe on Scuzz TV and we placed two tracks on the Rockband 3 video game. But life threw me a curve ball, and I ended up getting divorced. Sometimes life doesn’t prepare you for that kind of drastic, emotional change. My self-awareness at an all time high, and my self-esteem at an all-time low. I questioned if anyone would ever care if I was in music or not: Did I have anything important to say? Would I ever be able to make an impact? So I tapped out… I gave up on myself. I stayed busy by writing with and producing artists. I continued to teach music and production at my music school, The Sound Foundation (thesoundfoundationdallas.com). But, as far as my own music was concerned – I was all but done in my mind. But going back to what I said earlier – some of us don’t choose music, it chooses us. I found myself writing new music and I was right back in it. My son Dexter, who was 3 years old at the time was my encouragement and inspiration. I can’t imagine doing anything else! I love to teach, which is why I opened my music school – it is definitely fulfilling. I’ve always been a wrestling fan – if I wasn’t in music maybe I’d try my hand at that! Or be a hair stylist. I’m all over the place, ;o) Music is in me and I have to share it, it’s something I can’t escape.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
ASAA: The biggest surprise so far has been the reception to “Mirror Mirror”. At a time when I had so much self-doubt and uncertainty, to see “Mirror Mirror” jump out the gate the way it has is absolutely amazing! To do this solo, I was so extremely vulnerable…. There is something about that aesthetic has seemed to resonate with people. Every day brings something new and exciting, I’ve been floored by the positive repsonse. A welcome challenge was writing with ex-RA front man and producer Sahaj Ticotin (Motley Crue, Starset, Sevendust, Diamante, Meytal Cohen). He pushed me to places I never knew I could reach with my vocals. He tapped into a part of myself I was unaware was there, and was so incredibly encouraging. He believed in me, when I didn’t believe in myself. I was a mess and He helped me make sense of my mess – it was a beautiful experience.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming debut EP “Mirror Mirror” as a solo artist. What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
ASAA: It was a long road out of hell! I was in such a rough place in my head and heart and it took a lot of work. But the best part about being broken down, is that you get to rebuild. I decided to embrace a rough couple years and channel it into the music. As Strange As Angels is all about reinvention and evolution. I wanted to evolve in every possible way: Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I sat on many couches speaking with professionals; I lost 30lbs and grew my hair out. In a sense I grew a new layer of emotional skin. I saw myself for who I was, and started to become who I wanted to be. From there, putting the songs together was amazing. I started working with different producers and writers. I realized I couldn’t do things as a solo artist and expect the project to sound different from anything I had done previously unless I worked with different people – that really opened my eyes and ears to new possibilities. I was completely surprised at the final result. I approached writing, recording and the overall project completely different from anything I had ever done. I experimented with different tunings and keys. I tore up the playbook on the way I phrased my vocals. I made a conscious effort to not fall back on lyrics and arrangement ideas I would always use. It was intense and scary for a good part of the process. Then once I connected with Sahaj, all of a sudden it made sense. The blueprint was laid and As Strange As Angels came to life.
How do you think your current single, “Mirror Mirror” prepares listeners for your EP? What was the inspiration for the track?
ASAA: Absolutely! “Mirror Mirror” was inspired by my son. The song is about connecting to the real things that matter, and ignoring the noise in life. It’s about being at the crossroads of wanting to give up on yourself, but deciding to fight even harder than you ever have. For those that listen to it and connect to it – I want you to know, you are not alone in this life – Never give up. Flip the script and fight harder than ever! I hope it conveys the message to never let life destroy the things that matter most or make you lose sight of what matters.
Do you have plans to put out a full-length album of new songs in the future?
Norman Matthew: That or additional EPs, without a doubt! I am incredibly inspired at the moment, I have demoed upwards of 20 songs. Ideas are coming every day, it’s like the seal has been broken. Figuring out the blueprint for As Strange As Angels opened the creative flood gates. So as long as someone is willing to listen, I plan to keep delivering! And THANKS to anyone that has been an early believer.
How would you say that becoming a father has changed how you approach being a musician now?
Norman Matthew: Completely, in the best ways. What I write and release will be a part of my legacy – the moments my son experiences in real time with me now. Moments that will live on forever and he will be able to look back at. It has taught me to be responsible with my message, and still try to be impactful. I have learned to find the beauty in vulnerability in your life and in your art. Being a father, it encouraged me to work harder than I ever have with music. Because now life is so much bigger than just whats in front of me – it’s about my son, too. Every move I make, will be a part of his life…. So it has to be positive and impactful. I want to bring a light to people’s lives with anything I create.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started singing and writing songs?
ASAA: I’ve grown quite a bit over time, but I had to get over myself first, haha! I used to be a shredder in my teens, and then I realized there is an art to songwriting. Since about 17 I have been chasing “that song”. Once I started working with Sahaj, I started taking more creative chances. I found that tapping into my soul and being vulnerable really opened new doors for me. When I was 15 and first started singing, it was just words coming out of my mouth: They didn’t mean anything. My mom used to tell me “Norm, you play guitar so well. Do you really have to sing?” LOL! The bands I was in never wanted me to be the singer, but I was the only one willing to step up to bat. Over time it became my thing, and I settled into the role. I learned that it’s not just words coming out in time and melody, because Music is the soundtrack to people’s lives and the lyrics are the story. It has to mean something, and it took some tough personal trials to realize that. But it also became the fuel for my fire.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
ASAA: Ya know, I rather enjoy it! I’m not much of a personal social media person and I am not the selfie kind of guy. I feel like why would anyone want to see me? But when it comes to my son, music and my music school – I enjoy spreading the word on it. The people and experiences in my life matter and I like to share those things. I took a break from social media for quite a while, no Facebook or Twitter – I only posted about business stuff. I took all the apps off my phone because I just wanted to connect to real life and live in the moment – and I still do. I don’t have FB or Messenger on my phone. I am the worst at responding to that stuff, it drives my friends crazy! But overall I have a good grasp on it, and my favorite way to connect is Instagram – I enjoy it’s simplicity. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” for me – so I let that do the talking. I will say, it has been amazing to see people’s responses to “Mirror Mirror”. I am fortunate to be given a chance to do this and I appreciate every bit of it and live in every moment of it. Life is all about gratitude for me these days – I am just so thankful someone would spend their time on my music.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
ASAA: Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Guns N’ Roses all inspire me to this day. I am all about Starset, Yungblud, Thirty Seconds to Mars, The Weekend, Fever333, The Veer Union. The honesty in Butch Walker’s music is spellbinding, I would love to work with him. Butch, Holla if ya hear me! I would love to continue to work with Sahaj on As Strange As Angels because He gets it and has broken open a well of creativity in me.
Where can fans see you perform next? Got any upcoming tour dates planned?
ASAA: My team and I were just discussing this last week, because we know we need to get As Strange As Angels on the road in the near future. We did some acoustic shows recently in New York, Arkansas and Dallas opening for John Corabi – talk about butterflies! I had never been so nervous in my life. Acoustic shows are awesome, but you are stripped down to your bare essence. I had not been on stage performing my own music in over 2 years and then just jumped back into the deep end of the pool! But in the spirit of evolution, I welcomed the challenged. No big show, No bombast – just three chords and the truth. It doesn’t get more real and honest than that for artist. I feel like it to me to another level as musician and I’m looking forward to doing more acoustic shows.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
ASAA: It would look like something from The Cure “Disintegration” era. Dark, yet colorful – very Tim Burton-esque, along the lines of “Nightmare Before Xmas”. I would want my son in the video with me!
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
ASAA: Ozark on Netflix! Because I love anything Jason Bateman does. Or if the series “Dexter” (who I named my son after) had a new season, that would be mind blowing for me. I had this crush on Jennifer Carpenter I still can’t shake. I would love the chance to score for a movie one day, it would be incredible. That’s on my list of to do’s musically.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
ASAA: HOPE. BELIEF. EMPOWERMENT! Again, I was down on myself – I wanted to give up and just be. But I wanted to set an positive example for my son. So I learned that when life hits you hard, You have to hit back harder. I truly embraced the saying “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger” – I live by that now. I want people to listen to As Strange As Angels and live in the moment and live in the message. Please know you aren’t alone – you need to grab life and make it yours. We only have one time around on this planet, so it make it your best life and don’t let people dictate how you live it! Enjoy every moment and everyone.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
ASAA: If you made it this far, Thank you for reading! If you read this because you are familiar with my work, Thank you for believing in me. I came back to the best embrace because the fans hung on and cared, and stuck with me in good times and bad. I believe that with the new “Mirror Mirror” EP dropping on 4/26 this is just the beginning. It’s a victory for all of us that overcome adversity in our lives – it’s not about me, it’s about US! Much Love \m/