DECEMBER 6, 2020

ROCKWiRED NOTES: AS STRANGE AS ANGELS I got on the phone with NORMAN MATTHEW of AS STRANGE AS ANGELS it was a whole hour before he and drummer MICHELLE GRAVES were going to kick off a livestream performance on YOUTUBE. The excitement was electric and tangible even over the phone, but then again, it was the eve of the release of the band's new single THE CURSE – a thunderous active rock stomper that is all about raging against the darkness and stepping into the light. The subject is not entirely unexpected coming from MATTHEW – a songwriter who has made a decent coin within the heavier side of rock – but the rah-rah-rah comes at a most frightening time for music and music makers. In the throes of a pandemic that has only worsened it is the fighting spirit of active rock that seems to be the only music addressing the crisis and AS STRANGE AS ANGELS have their work cut out for them in a grim way. Things couldn't be further away from the time I first spoke with MATTHEW five years earlier.

In 2015 ROCKWIRED MAGAZINE was in its prime and NORMAN MATTHEW was on the eve of releasing a new album with his then-latest solo project MURDER FM. With production by BO HILL and remixes of MATTHEW's headbanging material served up by none other than TOMMY LEE, it seemed as if MURDER FM was on its to active rock glory. However, life had other plans MATTHEW who found himself in the midst of a bitter divorce which led to soul searching, putting music on the back burner and prioritizing fatherhood. However it was through fatherhood that MATTHEW rekindled his love for music making and the resultant creativity as spawned his new band AS STRANGE AS ANGELS. In the year before the pandemic, the band's two singles MIRROR MIRROR and MIRACLE had graced BILLBOARD's ACTIVE ROCK CHARTS signaling something new and exciting in the world of rock. When they released the follow up single NEVER BROKEN, it arrived at the beginning of this COVID-19 nightmare but not before charting favorably on all of the right streaming services. Now AS STRANGE AS ANGELS is setting out to continue their lucky streak despite a global pandemic.

ROCKWIRED had a chance to catch up with NORMAN MATTHEW of AS STRANGE AS ANGELS before the release of their new single. Here is how the interview went.

Your single THE CURSE seems like it's tailor made for these frightening times. Describe what it's like trying to release new music in this chaotic environment?
It has really been interesting how this whole thing has rolled out. Back in March of 2019 we released the two singles MIRROR MIRROR and MIRACLE and they both managed to chart really well on the BILLBOARD TO 40 ACTIVE ROCK CHARTS and it felt great being this new band that was getting this kind of reception right away. THE CURSE is a single that is coming in on the heels of of our last single NEVER BROKEN which came out in the time before the pandemic got started. At the beginning of the year, we had all kinds of festival offers and we were really gaining a lot of traction. We even went to New York to work on the video for the song and I remember that moment in time being our first introduction to the pandemic. Instantly it felt like everything changed for the worse. All of these shows and festivals that we were going to play were canceled and all of a sudden everything you are working for is is gone. THE CURSE was actually supposed to be released a lot earlier but we chose to wait until we thought that this pandemic was going to be over but it's actually kind of disconcerting to know that the pandemic is still hear and seems to be getting worse. As a matter of fact things feel just as intense as when the pandemic started. However, we've released the single now and it seems to speak to the times that we are living in right now. There is a lot of chaos out there right now and this song is about railing against it. So to answer your question, releasing new material during a pandemic has been challenging but rewarding at the same time. As a band, we've resolved to keep on going and we've adapted, changed and evolved in the process. That is also the takeaway for the new single as well. Now with the release of THE CURSE, we've been able to crack a million streams on SPOTIFY.


Bring me back to the formation and genesis of AS STRANGE AS ANGELS. What inspired the change from you previous band, MURDER FM, to this band?
It was really crazy! Before all of my personal problems I had this solo project called MURDER FM. That was when I first met you. This about five years ago. I had this album that was produced by BO HILL and the remixes for the album were done by TOMMY LEE. Everything seemed primed and ready to go and then before I knew it, I was going through divorce proceedings. It was a mess. It was a very challenging time and there was tons of collateral damage. The constant battling took a toll on me and soon I found that I didn't have the heart to keep going with MURDER FM or music in general. Despite all that I was going through, I felt that I was a father first. At the time my son was two years old. Now he is six. I had to be there for him but at the same time I felt hurt and I needed people to step and be behind me and it didn't feel like that was happening. I ended up not doing music for a couple of years and that was a strange place to be because I had been in the music industry since I was sixteen years old. I didn't do any of my own music but I still wrote for artists for other artists, but its' different when you are writing for someone else. You aren't exactly putting yourself into the music in the way that you would if it was your own music. I think I just needed a break from music. I've been playing since I was five years old and had a developments with CAPITOL RECORDS by the time I was sixteen. I had a lot of good fortune for most of my career so all of the problems with my divorce and losing my passion for music began to feel like life balancing itself out.

Then one day, it felt like something had changed. My son was like 3-and-a-half or four years old and he walked into my home studio and started banging on the drums. He wanted me to pick up the guitar and jam with him. It was amazing! All of sudden I realized that music making was something that I wanted to share with my son. So I've got to say that my son inspired me to get back into making music making for myself but I knew that this time I was going to have to offer something different. AS STRANGE AS ANGELS was my new lease on life and my chance to do things differently. I use different guitar tunings. My hairstyle is different and I don't wear eye makeup. Even the music feels like it comes from a totally different place than before. As a musician I feel like I'm playing by a different set of rules. I'm not afraid to portray vulnerability through my music and because of that, I think this new material is lot more relatable to people than it was before and people need relatability now more than they ever did. I still remember stepping out onto a stage with this new music and really feeling nervous about how all of it was going to be received, but once we started playing and the crowd was getting into it I felt like I was ten years old all over again. Whatever feeling I was trying to chase, I found it and it feels good to share it with people.

AS STRANGE AS ANGELS is comprised of you and MICHELLE GRAVES on drums. What is it that she brings to the table of this band that makes the experience worthwhile for you?
When AS STRANGE AS ANGELS first got of the ground, for live purposes it was a full band that featured C.J. PIERCE on lead guitar and NATE STITCH on bass. MICHELLE and I rounded out the rest of the band. That was in the good old days when we could do shows. However, C.J. Went off to work with DROWNING POOL and we were in a bind to find a guitar player to replace him. Then the pandemic hit and we weren't able to get together as a band and do shows or even rehearse. So we decided that the band was just going to be MICHELLE and I and I couldn't ask for a better band mate. We're like a heavy metal WHITE STRIPES and MICHELLE is just an amazing kick ass drummer and I love the female empowerment that comes with her being a drummer. I think it's great to have her sending out a positive message for girls who may want to become musicians. It feels good to be around that kind of energy.


What is the idea behind THE CURSE. What do you think should be the takeaway for a listener?
The whole idea behind THE CURSE is all about getting that anvil off of your chest and chasing the demons in your life away. We all have demons that we have to deal with. We are always searching for a little peace, especially now. It's all about putting the anger away and being strong enough to forgive someone and maybe even forgive yourself. It's all about bringing light into a dark world and kicking the door open and moving forward. That is what we all want now. The song is about triumph.

I understand that a music video is supposed to be be released for THE CURSE sometime in January 2021. What can you tell us about the music video?
We're in the middle of getting the video edited as we speak. This is the first time that I've ever directed a music video and I'm looking forward to doing it again. The video we are working on is a conceptual video and not much of a performance video. It's going to be in black and white and it's all about people coming together. The video is really going to offer up something different and I can't wait for people to get a look at it.

Given our situation with the pandemic, what do you see on the horizon for AS STRANGE AS ANGELS?
Well getting for this live stream in a few minutes so that is really going to be exciting. So far we've received a lot of exciting festival offers for 2021 and I hope they stick. At the moment we're not sure about touring. We're very excited to get the music out to people and we would love more than anything to do some live shows but it's safety first. We've got to be extra careful right now with the pandemic heating up again and I've got my son to think about and I have to keep him safe. If all goes well and things go back to normal in the next year, we would love to hit the road. But in the meantime we're going to keep writing songs and that in itself is a good place to you. A couple years ago I didn't think that I could write anything again and now I can.

FOR MORE iNFORMATiON GO TO: Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

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