20 Questions with Scott Norris-Of Reverie

Scott Norris is the lead guitarist of Ottawa-based Of Reverie.  His band rocks hard…but there’s more to the man than just rockin’.  He’s a guitar instructor at School Of Rock in Orleans, Ontario.  He’s an actor who appeared in the Canadian film Queer.  He also taught Korea Guitar a new word that all metal players and fans can relate to…bangover.

Of Reverie is vying for a spot on the 2015 Vans Warped Tour.  Help them out and vote for them here:  http://warped.battleofthebands.com/u/OfReverie

You can also check out their new lyric video for Parallels here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFn5lgcIm84

Finally, pick up Of Reverie’s music on iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/of-reverie/id786417618

Without further ado, here are Scott’s 20 questions:

1.  What attracted you to the guitar?

I grew up in a musical house, my dad has been a blues/rock player for his whole life. When I was a kid I always wanted to play like my dad – so at the age of 10 I dug up one of his old guitars (which just happened to be his ‘74 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Gold Top) and started to play it. From there it clicked, I found the one thing I was truly passionate about.

2. What was your first guitar and how did you get it?

After picking up the guitar, that same Christmas my dad got me a red Fender Squire Strat to learn on. Once I actually showed I was committed to learning the instrument I got my first real guitar – a Jackson DK30.

What are you playing now?

Currently I’m playing an FGN (Fujigen) EFL-DE-M and it’s one of the most beautiful guitars I’ve ever played. I’m stoked to be part of their team – check them out at www.fgnguitars.com !

3.How did you learn the instrument? Did you take lessons or are you self taught?

I actually kind of went back and forth while learning the guitar. I started just teaching myself, then as I got more serious, I decided to take lessons at a local music shop. I studied with a few different teachers there and progressed fairly quickly until I got to a point where I decided to teach myself. Around the age of 15 I hit a wall that could only be surpassed by learning my theory. I then studied with Michelle Foucault at another local music academy where I began to delve into Neo-Classical influences.

4. Who were your biggest musical influences?

I have a wide range of influences because over the last 12 years of playing my interests have changed several times, but I still consider all the people who have influenced me over the years to be crucial to where I ended up. That being said, my dad was the reason I picked up the guitar and from there I was heavily influenced by Steve Vai, Randy Rhoads, and Eddie Van Halen. Once my interests turned towards the heavier side of the music scene, I was greatly influenced by Alexi Laiho and Dimebag Darrell, and I began to appreciate classical composers such as Vivaldi and Paganini. As for present day, I love drawing influence from musicians playing the same genre as myself, and then putting my own spin on things. I’m a huge fan of Jesse Cash (ERRA), Tim MacMillar and Luke Hoskin (Protest The Hero), and Josh Moore (We Came As Romans).

5. What was the first concert you ever saw?

When I was a kid, I was a huge Nickelback fan (Silverside Up era), my parents got me tickets to one of their concerts for Christmas.

Let’s talk about your band, Of Reverie:

10687120_630758297035909_4838039354956836486_n6. It’s always interesting to learn how bands chose their names. Can you tell us how Of Reverie decided on this band name?

When Of Reverie was first starting out, all the original members had a few names on the table that we liked. We were looking for something unique – and we all agreed that Of Reverie stood out as something different.

7. What was your first show like with Of Reverie?

Our first show was insane – we opened for Woe, Is Me (Rise Records) at Mavericks in downtown Ottawa and it was a packed venue. There were more people there than any of us had ever played to before, but our hometown supported us and went nuts for us. I’ll never forget that show! .

8. Your Facebook page describes your band, Of Reverie, as metalcore and post-hardcore. Explain what this is and how you became interested in it.

I’m not a huge fan of the genre game, but I generally see these titles as a form of polished-sounding metal that has a mix of clean vocals and screaming vocals. My favourite thing about this genre of music is that you can get away with just about anything and there is such a wide array of interests you can hit. You can be a band that focuses just on vocal talent while the instruments and song writing take a simpler route, you also have the option of being a band where you have more screaming than singing (or vice versa), or you can be a band that wants to incorporate a very complex writing style full of various time signatures and tempo changes – but at the end of the day it can all fall into one general category. I’m also a huge fan of orchestral arrangements within metal music, which this genre is big on!

9. Tell us what’s happening with Of Reverie these days.

We just finished recording the instrumentals for our upcoming sophomore EP, which we’re still keeping the details under wraps for, at Allspark Studios with Doug Meadows (Horizons/Producer)! We’re really stoked on the way things are turning out for it. We’ve dropped a few little teasers for what people can expect on our Facebook page!

10. What can people expect when they attend one of your shows?

We’ve always been a band that takes great pride in our live show. We like to pack as much energy as we can into one set and play it as strongly as possible. We spend a lot of time practicing, both on our own and as a group, to ensure a solid live performance that reflects us as musicians!

11. For the uninitiated, list some mandatory metal-core/post-hardcore albums that every fan of the genre should have.

Again, I’m not a huge fan of the genre game, so I’ll put 5 albums that I think every fan of the genre should have, although some people might argue they belong elsewhere, haha.

a. The Word Alive – Deceiver

b. August Burns Red – Leveler

c. Born Of Osiris – Tomorrow We Die Alive

d. Erra – Augment

e. We Came As Romans – To Plant A Seed

(How about you, dear readers…Which albums do you think should be on this list? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page)

12. Which current guitar players have impressed you?

Jason Richardson (Chelsea Grin) is way at the top of this list right now. I recently saw a demo he did at NAMM this past year and was totally blown away by his technique. Jesse Cash (ERRA) is also up there, but mostly because of his diversity; he’s got another project called Ghost Atlas that’s full of music that’s a lot more tame and melodic. I think it’s really interesting to see metal guys come out of their shells and make music of a totally different genre.

13. As a guitar instructor, what are the three most important things7344_578664802245259_1309673757365362884_n you pass along to new players? What kind of music do these young, aspiring guitarists follow?

At School Of Rock (Orleans) we have a wide variety of students with a ton of different interests and goals when it comes to music. As an instructor, the number one thing I try to pass on is passion – you can take music as far as you want if you’re that passionate about it, but on the other side of the coin, if you don’t put anything in you won’t be getting anything out.

The second thing I try to pass on is the emotion of the song and learning how to tap into it – you can’t play a heavy Nirvana song the same way you’d play an acoustic camp fire song; it’s a guitarists job to dig into the tune and figure out how it needs to be played and felt.

Lastly, I try to instil the thought process that you can progress extremely quickly if you put the work in outside of the school, but if you don’t practice you won’t progress at all and you’ll be stuck in a rut for a very long time, which is also difficult to get out of. I’ve gone through all of these things and have had to learn my lessons the hard way, so I try to use my own personal experiences to make the learning process relatable.

14. Being a Canadian, can you list your top 5 Canadian guitarists?

This is a tough one seeing as most of the bands I listen to are based out of the States, but I’ll give it a shot!

a. I’m a huge Adam Gontier fan. I haven’t listened to Three Days Grace since he left but everything he did up until that point is so passionate. I also admire his ability to play and sing so well simultaneously.

b. Doug Meadows, who I’ve now worked with twice at Allspark Studios is an amazing writer. I also had the pleasure of touring with Horizons and listening to their songs every night was awesome!

c. Luke Hoskin (Protest the Hero) is an amazing guitarist. PTH’s music speaks for itself in terms of complexity, but I also really admire the fact that all their recordings have been done the old school way and still come out sounding extremely polished and clear.

d. Tim MacMillar (Protest the Hero) again is just a phenomenal guitar player. I remember seeing a play through video of their song, “Bloodmeat”, and he mentioned something about not knowing very much theory. It just astounded me that he was playing the things he was without knowing his theory.

e. Last on the list are Spyros Georgiou/Brendon Padjasek (Structures). I don’t listen to these guys as much as I should, but I really admire the way they control their chaotic sound. There’s a lot of dissonance and conflicting riffs all happening at once, but they found a way to make it sound awesome.

15. Is it easier now to make it as a band with social media as opposed to the old days of stapling flyers to posts? How do social media sites like Facebook and Twitter help you as a band?

This is a tough question to answer. The uprising of social media has given a lot of bands more opportunities to get their name out there but as much as it makes things easier, it also forces bands into a vast pool of everyone else doing the same thing. So as much as it’s easier to reach out to people, I think everyone is working just as hard, if not harder, to be seen and heard but it’s very much a different kind of work in comparison to going around and stapling up flyers. Social media is an amazing platform because it allows bands to talk and relate to their fans, there’s no separation that causes people to not be able to just shoot us a message that we can all see/ eply to on our phones. I love being able to have a conversation with anyone who takes the time to talk to us!

16. How do you prepare for a show? Is there a certain practice regimen that you stick to?

I generally start out by stretching my neck, legs, and back to keep the “bangover” to a minimum and make sure I don’t throw anything out of it’s place while jumping around on stage. As far as guitar warm ups, I’ll whip through some linear exercises I learned from my old guitar teacher, followed by some dexterity exercises that I learned from A.J. Minette (The Human Abstract). Then I’ll just jam a bit to get my fingers moving!

17. How’s the metal scene in Ottawa/Canada/the world? It kind of took a backseat for a few years. Is it back?

The metal scene in Ottawa is fantastic. We love playing our hometown because everyone here always make it an incredible experience! We’ve felt, for a long while, that Ottawa has had our back and that feeling definitely hasn’t gone away since the very first time we stepped on stage. I think the Canadian metal scene is definitely moving uphill; there are a lot of amazing bands that are either just getting noticed or are just coming out. As far as the world’s metal scene goes, some of the things going on in Europe and Japan are just insane, it would be a dream come true to play Download or Reading Festival – or something of a similar scale!

18. What is the most surprising music on your mp3 player?

As I mentioned, I’m a pretty big classical fan (though very particular about it), so you’ll find some Vivaldi and Paganini on my iPod for sure. Apart from that, I’m also a fan of rap just as long as it’s actually music and not the top 40’s style product placement kind of stuff. My two biggest artists that accomplish that are Aesop Rock and Eminem, so their albums are kicking around on my iPod for sure!

Photo credit: Matt Dillon
Photo credit: Matt Dillon

19. What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on stage…a Spinal Tap moment?

In August 2014 we opened for Motionless in White – it was the biggest crowd we had ever played to. We have some stage risers that we use, but this particular stage had a raised section at the front that we put our risers on top of. The first note of our set I went to jump on the riser (something I had done in practice dozens of times), but since it was significantly higher I lost my balance as the riser slid forward. I tried to regain my balance but there was no way – there was also a barrier at that show and I toppled into it. My band almost missed the next few notes because they were laughing at me, haha. Anyways, I got back up and finished the set but that was definitely embarrassing! My knee was also numb for a few months after that.

20. Give us your opinions of the following metal core bands:

All That Remains: I remember listening to these guys in high school. I really liked them back then but kind of stopped listening to them after a while.

As I Lay Dying: I was a big fan of The Powerless Rise. Too bad about their vocalist issues though. Wovenwar (which is most of the main members’ new band) is one of my favourite bands now though!

Avenged Sevenfold: I was never into these guys. I was never a huge fan of the vocalist or their writing style. But I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done!

The Dillinger Escape Plan: I’m guilty of never actually listening to these guys. I have heard some phenomenal things about them though, and have lots of friends who are into them!

Bullet For My Valentine: This is another band I was super into in high school. I like their earlier stuff the best, I haven’t listened to them in a while though!

Bonus Questions:

Tell us about the movie, Queer, which you appeared in.

Queer was a very interesting experience for me. When I was in my final year in high school I was part of a specialty program that centred my whole curriculum around television broadcasting. I spent a decent amount of time with Kerry Chalmers (Producer/Director) tossing around ideas he had for this production but it didn’t get off the ground until about 2 years ago. The movie centres around a young man who’s struggling with his sexuality and what he goes through as far as coming out, getting bullied, and learning about the LGBTQ community. It’s a very real movie – you won’t find anything sugar coated and nothing was beaten around the bush. Chalmers wanted me cast as the bully because of my appearance, though it was totally out of my comfort zone because I’m far from a bully, haha. I wanted to be a part of it to support the cause regardless, so I agreed to the part. I learned a lot from the experience and got to meet a lot of amazing people. Since the production has finished, Chalmers has been working hard to get it into the right hands so it can be seen and heard – it has the potential to help a lot of people who are going through that same ordeal, and I would love to see that happen!

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