Onwards And Upwards: An Interview With Normandie

Photo: Dominic Meason

After the release of their second album, White Flag, Swedish post-hardcore band Normandie have been touring relentlessly. We caught up with drummer Anton Franzon and singer Philip Strand ahead of their set at 2000 Trees festival to talk touring, new music, and interesting venues.

Hey guys, how are you feeling about playing tomorrow? Is this your first time here?

Philip: Yeah, it’s our first time here at 2000 Trees. We’ve heard a lot about it. There used to be a similar festival in

Sweden where you can actually bring your own booze from the tents to the stages and I like that vibe. I love it.

Anton: Yeah, it’s a really nice vibe here.

We think so too! Can we ask about the process you guys go through to pick songs for your sets?

Anton: What do we do…? Uh, we kind of like the least-played songs, and the best-known ones.

Philip: It’s kind of hard to fit them in, the festivals we play now, we’re on for thirty minutes. We’re on a headline run right now so are doing an hour every night, except for at this festival… I guess we just take the headline set and cut out the songs that aren’t the most popular. It’s pretty tough – you want to keep it intense but at the same time, you know, manageable.

Totally. How was the run of shows here after releasing White Flag?

Philip: We did the original first White Flag tour run in March. There was about 15 headline gigs. It was a lot of fun. It was pretty crazy because we had three singles out for between six months and three months, the album came out in November. Playing in March was perfect because people were really stoked and knew the songs. Yeah, we couldn’t expect a better reception. The crowds sang along and all that.

Nice! What went into making White Flag then? Was it different to your first album?

Philip: The first album was tricky because we had two members leave the band and we had to start over, almost from scratch. We had three songs that would cut it for the album. That took two months of writing and almost one month of recording and mixing.

Now we can build on the base that we found, the foundation of us four in the band and really, over the last one and a half to two years, finish up and understand what we wanted the record (White Flag) to be about. We like to have some kind of message behind them so, yeah it took one and a half to two years, but it was mostly just us finding the solid ground again… You lose members and things move around all the time; you’ve got to find yourself. It’s like coming out of a relationship, you start building again, I guess.

What’s next for you guys throughout the rest of summer and this year?

Philip: We’re doing this run now, we’re writing a new album right now. We have 20 demos with maybe eight that are a solid cut for the next album. Really, we’re working fast right now because, as I said before, the solid ground is already set so we just keep on from where we came. We’re also looking at multiple options for support tours this fall in the UK. We have three different options that we’re running through to see what fits us the most – a longer tour with a band and smaller cities and venues, but more shows, or a bigger tour. So yeah, those are the options with three different bands, so we will come back this fall either way.

Sweet. And how are you guys finding the music scene here in the UK compared to Sweden?

Anton: We don’t play very much at home because the scene in Sweden is not very good. We try to save it and play there once or twice a year. The scene here is amazing, we’ve played here three times in one year. It’s been great every time, so fun.

Philip: The Hands Like Houses tour last year was the first of three tours we’ve done in the UK in the last year. It is different playing here because we’re a foreign band, so as with Hands Like Houses, when we come over people think it might be the only time they can see us in a year. It becomes, I think, a better reception because it feels like you’re meeting someone for the only time that year and you really cherish that moment. The crowd is way more interactive and after the set, they talk to us at the merch. We always like to hang out afterwards and meet the people that we’re playing in front of. It keeps on building and we’re finding a really good foundation in the UK. It started off with us doing the first headline tour in the UK in around 2016, then there was a Yellowcard tour, the Hands Like Houses one… We keep on coming back and performing six songs or nine songs a night and just smashing it as hard as we can.

What’s it been like playing different venues here over the years?

Philip: We’ve seen more venues in the UK than we’ve ever seen in Sweden! You have plenty of good options. One of the tours we might do this fall is a bunch of unis, and the ones we’ve done so far have been really good. Like Stylus in Leeds, they’re well-built and the stages are really good. It’s a lot of money going into the PAs so everything is of high standards. I love it.

Sweet. And what can you tell us about the new music you’ve been working on? Are there any new sounds or styles there?

Philip: We’re going to continue experimenting to see what the core of Normandie is, and try to maintain that. The rest is just fun and games, trying not to stay in the box too much. As long as we know exactly what Normandie is, whether it’s a type of fill, a breakdown, a guitar sound, my vocals or whatever, and that’s in the middle, I think we’ll be fine. So that’s what we’re doing now, just experimenting. Like we did on White Flag, we brought in choirs and had a bunch of different percussion going into the record, trumpets and stuff. Finding the core is the most crucial thing and the rest is just having fun – you can really hear a band having fun on an album.

Totally. Anything else exciting happening this year then, or is it just onwards and upwards for you guys?

Philip: Onwards and upwards, that’s what it is!

Awesome. Thank you so much for your time and have fun playing tomorrow!

Philip: Thank you, and thank you to the UK people for the reception, it’s been amazing.

Normandie have since announced their UK tour in October/November and will be supporting Dream State. Dates below.