Meet The Norms: Rocking Cali’s Inland Empire & Beyond

Written by on June 26, 2014 in Gigs / Tours / Events, Interviews, June 26, 2014 - Comments Off on Meet The Norms: Rocking Cali’s Inland Empire & Beyond

The NormsThe Norms are an indie rock band that was formed in the summer of 2012 by lead singer and rhythm guitarist Gabriel Benitez Jr., and lead guitarist Austin McCracken. together they began songwriting with simple ideas and little ambition. Over time as their understanding of instrumentation grew, so did their desire to expand on these ideas. Following that summer, in between classes the two decided upon the name “The Norms” through a coin toss. Despite losing, the name was preferred to what had initially won. Later that year, through mutual friends they stumbled upon their first initial drummer Josh Abeyta. With three different musical backgrounds and influences the band began to develop a handful of their first songs, mostly in Benitez’s garage. In attempting to further create a more full sound, they brought on long time childhood friend Curtis Hatter on Bass. Adding this dynamic further developed their sound, and with humble understanding forged their ideology of music and how it should be composed.

The Norms

After a mutual separation with Abeyta, Benitez met their current and final member Eric Drake, who helped in establishing the final arrangements to their set list. With inspirations stemming from more contemporary bands like The Strokes and Vampire Weekend to older, traditional bands such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys, The Norms are an attempt to bring something to their genre that they hope and feel has not been heard.

The Norms were recently featured on Hollywood Underground Rock TV and have a big show coming up at well-known Hollywood live music venue Dragonfly on July 9. All Access Magazine Publisher/Editor Debra Stocker (AAM) recently interviewed the band (Gabriel Benitez Jr. – GB; Austin McCracken – AM; Curtis – CH; Eric Drake – ED).

AAM: Let’s start with a question I’m sure you get all the time, but it has to be asked: What’s with the name? How and why did you decide to call yourselves The Norms?

AM: We decided to call ourselves The Norms because we had a long list of names that I had written out and we had chosen between this and another name as the two best. To decide the name we flipped a coin, and The Norms actually lost. But we decided we liked The Norms a lot better than the other name. It also holds significance in the sense that it represents a statement that we are making. We feel that popular music has become convoluted and stagnant with musicians and artists who are perfectly okay with being generic and average. We are trying to not follow the trends of today’s popular music and attempt to create something that hasn’t necessarily been heard.

AAM: What do the Norms as a band feel they might be able to contribute to the pop/rock music landscape in your songs?

GB: Maybe something new and refreshing. As a band when we song write there is sort of a process that we go through in order to attempt consistency. For example when it comes to the lyrics, you have to make them so as to where they are vague enough to where you don’t know what the person is talking about, but relatable enough to where you can put yourself in the position of what the song is talking about. This isn’t the only way to go about songwriting as there are a whole lot of processes that do not necessarily follow ours. But it’s what we do. We try to be critical about everything so that we can be for the most part consistent.

AAM: It’s no secret that California – and Southern California in particular – was once THE epicenter for alternative, punk, hardcore, and indie rock. What’s the scene like today in the IE (Inland Empire) where you band is based – happening, lame, or??

CH: Well, from where we are from right now, you have certain locations that have their own clicks. The city of Hemet is really big into hardcore punk, while Moreno Valley is big into the rap scene. Riverside, the city we are from has a huge folk scene. You do get some spots of indie rock, but the majority of what’s out there is played acoustically. For the most part we are pretty different instrumentally.The Norms

AAM: Right now on my IPod, turntable, and or CD player, I am listening to (fill in the blank):

CH: Well I’ve been listening to Local Natives, Chvrches, Cheers Elephant, and Mike Snow.
GB: Bloc Party, King Krule, Future Islands, Mac Demarco, and of course Primus. Those guys are monsters.

AM: Cherub, Mac Demarco, Cheers Elephant as well, and Frank Ocean.

ED: I’ve been listening to a lot of Gospel music. Not necessarily one specific artist. I just have cd’s of songs from different bands.

AAM: A band is only as good as its best songs, right? What are some of The Norm’s best tunes, and why?

CH: Personally I like “Tomorrow”. It’s dark and it’s not a love song. For the most part none of the songs we have are except for “Notes,” but this song is dark and it has a chord progression no one really uses.

AM: This new song we’ve been working on is probably my favorite right now. It’s still underdeveloped, but the final product is gonna be sick.

GB: I like “It Takes Two”. It’s simple, but it generalizes our sound.

ED: I like “Wish You Well” because it has an interesting drum pattern and it has an exciting climax.

AAM: When can we look for the first album by The Norms to be released?

GB: Its in the works. There isn’t any official release date,  but we are looking to have something either by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

AAM: Where can music peeps catch up with all the latest Norms’ band stuff (websites, Facebook, band member’s phone numbers haha etc.)?

ED: We have our website, you can check us out on there. We are also on Facebook (, instagram@wearethenorms, and Twitter. It’s all connected on the site.

(The Norms perform live at Dragonfly, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, Wednesday, July 9)