My Inspiration: Not Now Norman – Shut Your Mouth | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Berwick-upon-Tweed’s charismatic rock outfit Not Now Norman follow up the success of their two recent singles Little Cheryl and Little Frankenstein with their brand new single Shut Your Mouth. The track is a soulful, riff-filled anthem with classic and heavy rock elements to it. Its lyrics discuss domestic abuse and the words that frontwoman Taylor-Grace Mitchell wanted to say to her abuser when she herself was a victim of it. 

Here, Taylor-Grace tells us more about what inspired the track…

Shut Your Mouth is probably the most personal track we’ve ever done. I had written about a bad relationship before with the song ‘Judas’. But the relationship in ‘Judas’ doesn’t compare to this nightmare. I have been stalked, punched and I had my life threatened. I had to spend hours on the phone listening to him scream insults and berate me, if I tried to hang up he would call and message me threats until I picked up the phone. The police were involved on a few occasions and needless to say, this whole ordeal left me traumatised.

It started as a self-therapy session after escaping domestic violence. I wrote everything I wanted to say to my abuser, but was too afraid to at the time for fear of retaliation. As I wrote it all down, my Dad (who is also my guitarist) was in the middle of writing a riff that had this new level of sass that I hadn’t heard yet. I was still adding the final harmonies to the track Run Boy when I started recording the draft vocals which had about 24 vocal layers on it. Because of the amount of work I was putting into Run Boy and the fact that the two tracks were focused on the same subject, I started to get creative with the direction for ‘Shut Your Mouth’. I began experimenting with the harmonies to capture the anger and pain. 

By the time it came to the 1 year anniversary since I escaped, more people were coming forward about what happened, I realised the track was no longer about my pain. It became about other victims, whether they had suffered at his hands or at the hands of other abusers. As time went on, and more people started coming forward about his behaviour, the more the harmonies became symbolic and uplifting for me. I started to feel more like my old self, and maybe stronger in some ways and I wanted the same for the listeners. I wanted them to feel the ‘fire’ build up inside from beginning to end and for them to feel part of the song instead of just listening to it. The pandemic made recording as a band impossible, but it meant I could focus on what I wanted the track to sound like. Because Shut Your Mouth was very personal it was important to me that it sounded ‘perfect’. I wanted the guitar and bass to change the anger into freedom and reignites the fire inside that abusers try to extinguish. I wanted the drums to demand attention and scream ‘I’m talking now, not you’. They serve as an ‘attack’ on the dwindling control of the abuser and encourages victims to not stay silent. By the end of the track, the listener is encouraged to shout Shut Your Mouth and feel themselves once again. The more I worked on it, the more emotion and power it needed. The track started to represent not just anger, confidence and power, but the support and strength I was getting from friends, family and loved ones. I want the song to be the support and confidence that victims need to leave their abuser, as well as being the strength that survivors need to carry on and reclaim their life.

Working on Shut Your Mouth felt as though I had an army behind my back which is something that not every victim or survivor has. The song isn’t just about me anymore. It’s about other victims, whether they had suffered at his hands or at the hands of other abusers and say ‘This person has done this to me as well’. It’s a reminder to victims that they are not alone in their fight. Shut Your Mouth is a statement that says I, and many survivors around the world, won’t be bullied into silence. Our graphics designer, Jack Nassau, made sure that was obvious in his design. He’s a talented artist and was given a difficult task of reflecting the attitude of the song. It captures the sass, attitude and loudness of the track obviously and subtly. Using bold colours and subtle representation of imagery, such as the zip, highlights every aspect of the track. I highly recommend him to anyone looking for artwork. 

Not Now Norman has gained a reputation for our confrontational lyrics and ‘in-your-face’ delivery and performance, but this one I think takes all that to the next level. To sum it up in one sentence: if our previous songs hit you, this one will leave you with a concussion.

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