After Hours with Cade Episode 12: Norville

Published: Sep. 3, 2023 at 2:35 AM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - On After Hours with Cade, I sit down with local artists to discuss Lawton and Southwest Oklahoma’s impact on their career and how it’s helped shape their artistry.

For this final edition, I spoke with Norville, the elephant, the wizard, the whale, the band, a group comprised of nine heavyweight musicians in the Southwest Oklahoma area, hoping to inspire others to pick up an instrument.

Norville is made up of Justin Stevens, David Dodson, Dakota Hooper, Scott Rains, Seth Andrus, Garrett Glass, Matthew Shreve, Ryan Tyler, and Francis Balliet, who could not be present for the interview.

Initially supposed to be just a one-off gig, Rains hailed the forces of the rest of the band by posting online, seeking people to join him for a one-night performance. After the show, though, they quickly realized how invigorating it was to perform with one another, and thus the band was formed.

“When everybody got in the band, we had nine people to bounce the ideas off of, so going from those apartment demos to full-fledged songs that we record and play live has been about maybe a year and a half process,” Shreve said.

Coordinating times to practice for a group of nine can be a tedious feat, especially with many members being in other bands as well, but Norville makes it work seamlessly most of the time.

“A lot of times, we had to really jam in our sessions; we would just do them in the same day because that was possible. Lucavi would come in at eight or nine in the morning, jam for two hours, then everybody else in Norville would show up, and then we would jam with them,” Glass said.

Now, after about a year and a half of writing original material and touring venues in the Southwest Oklahoma area, the band is about to release their debut EP.

“We have five songs that we have recorded for this first EP; they’re our first five originals. I think we’re all done in the studio except for the vocals,” Hooper said.

“There’s a lot going on in the studio,” Shreve said. “We went through 1121 recordings here in town, who’s a good friend of ours. He’s a fellow musician, and he knows all of us. So, we went with him to record, and he was perfect about letting us kind of explore things in the studio.”

“Most of the recordings of us playing live music, you’re probably going to hear the same song done a couple of different ways. But when we get in the studio, we had time to sort of sit down and be like, ‘well, maybe we should have a run here. Or should it be fuzzier here and maybe more distortion or clean in this spot?’ And he’s really cool with just letting us take the time to do that,” Shreve continued.

At the moment, the band is gearing for an early October release for the EP, with a five-song track list and possibly music videos to come in the near future.

“We have a few ideas for a couple of our songs. It’s tough to get all eight or nine of us in one place at the same time. So, we’re trying to come up with tasteful concepts that doesn’t take too much work, but you won’t be able to tell it didn’t take a lot of work when you see the videos. I’m hoping we can do both, and that way we can have some cool visuals with our recorded music,” Stevens said.

Shreve said with Lawton being in the middle of nowhere and stuck right between Dallas and Oklahoma City, there are few trends being imposed on the musicians in the area.

“Everybody here just kind of makes weird desert music. You get a lot of eclectic tastes at that point, and I think putting all that together, Norville has created some really weird lineup songs, but it’s cool; they work together. We’ve got songs that sound like early 90s alternative, butted up against songs that are a little bit heavier, sort of Mastodon or Lamb of God inspired. But it also helps that we have a massive community of musicians; there’s tons of us, and we all really know each other really well, and we get along. So, there’s a huge exchange of ideas,” Shreve said.

“As Matt said about how we’re kind of isolated between the bigger metropolises, I feel like a lot of the prairie itself has its own vibe in itself that we all just kind of tapped into in our own special way. That kind of makes everything that we do really unique to the area. And I think that, especially with Norville, too. When you take all of those bands that all have such unique features about themselves, and then you put those bands in a blender, you get Norville, and I love it so much,” Andrus chimed in.

One thing Norville loves about performing in Southwest Oklahoma is the people and those who eventually become family after traveling to different shows and showing support. A big part of that feeling of family comes from the Railhead Saloon, which supports the band’s endeavors and allows them to perform quite frequently.

“I mean, they always show their support, whether they’re there in person at the front stage or at home, liking and sharing our Facebook posts, things like that. And I mean, they’ll give you good feedback, and it’s because they’ve just been so wrapped up in this scene for so long; they just know the ins and outs. It’s probably one of the best parts about being able to perform here in Southwest Oklahoma,” Stevens said.

“I live in Tipton, but from the first time I came over here to the trailhead and played with my band, Chasing the Coyote, we felt just a part of the group immediately. I mean, upon walking through the doors, it felt almost like your home away from home. We seem to have a really good group of people who enjoy the music and like to show up to the shows, and they’re engaged and all that, so I think that’s awesome, personally,” Tyler said.

With Rains covering the music scene in Southwest Oklahoma extensively over the past twenty years, he’s well aware of how hard it is for musicians to make it nowadays.

“There were a lot of bands at a certain period that Lawton was on the verge of just blowing up,” Rains said. “It didn’t to the level it should have, but we’re just carrying on a tradition. I know there’s generation of bands before those bands that were at that same place. Lawton has brought some of the greatest live shows I’ve ever seen.”

“I like to think we’re in that Echelon where people think of us like that. And, if you’ve never played live, it’s hard to explain it. If you’ve ever played live and had that one show that hits, then you understand. If you have multiple shows that hit it, you understand, and it’s crazy. It blows my mind to see people want to win,” Rains continued.

One area of concern the band does highlight is the lack of venues in the area and the need for more spaces for younger generations of music lovers as well.

“We need bigger places to play, or even if they’re small, I mean, just more places to play. Not everybody can be in the bar, like underage. The Vaska isn’t doing it very often, but when they do, it’s a good turnout. But they don’t do it every week. It’d be great for all ages. So that’s one improvement I would like to see,” Glass said.

“Yeah, a convenient place for any age because I remember when I was like, 14, I got to go to places that were having local shows, and that was that changed everything. For me, that definitely cemented that I wanted to be in a band more than just play guitar. And when those Vaska shows have happened, you can see people from children to teenagers just really having a good time. So, a convenient space for anyone to play or anyone to see a show would be perfect for this area,” Hooped added.

“Something like an outside amphitheater would be extraordinarily nice to have around here, where you can be able to have an all-ages event because the only thing we have is just bars to play at,” Dodson quipped.

Being able to experience live bands at a young age was a defining moment for many of the band members, which is why it hits a little differently for them, thinking they could be in the position to be inspiring future rockers.

“I keep remembering when I was younger, and watching local bands around the Tillman County area, and how cool and awesome I thought those bands were. Every time I got the opportunity to go watch them, I would. I remember having that passion for the music and wanting to become what I was seeing, you know, these guys on stage just playing, having fun, writing cool songs, and just having a good time with it. And if I were to be that for somebody, I think that’s the coolest thing ever, and I love it so much,” Tyler said.

Shreve says what makes Norville unique and stand out from other bands in the area, besides being made up of nine members, is their versatility and ability to just have fun with it.

“Norvell is like Batman, and that is it is an idea. It is no one man or group of nine men. It may be a group of 15 ladies at some point, a collective, if you will. It’s Scott’s baby. We’re all lucky to be in it. We know a lot of other talented musicians that we’ve spoken to who have a desire to do it. As far as a long-term goal thing, I think just pushing it to be as weird as it can possibly be for as long as we can and getting different people to get in it, getting more chefs in the kitchen to just put madness down, and go show it to people.”

After the release of their EP, Norville hopes to begin touring other areas of the state, like Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Norman, and even some places in Texas, like Dallas and Wichita Falls. And before we ended, Glass had wise words for those at home contemplating picking up an instrument.

“All you kiddos out there in Lawtonian land and beyond, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, wherever you are. Wherever your family lives, pick up an instrument, drumstick, guitar, bass, ukulele, trombone, whatever. And don’t be afraid to growl or scream, even if your mom is scared. She’ll get over.”

Norville can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify.