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 If ya like rock`n´roll, you probably haven’t missed Norton Records. They’ve been putting out their fine shit for over ten years now and if you’ve missed ‘em, here’s a chance to catch up. They’ve released albums with such fine artists as Link Wray, Esquerita, Hasil Adkins and modern bands like The Real Kids, The A-Bones and Untamed Youth. And they put out the greatest rock`n´roll magazine ever, Kicks. I interviewed Billy Miller over the phone. He runs Norton together with Miriam Linna. So, here’s the second part of our rock`n´roll record label spotlight series. Let’s get real, real gone for a change!

Inteview by Martin. Photos by Gunnar Johansson.


I just bought the new Dictators single.

Oh, do you like it?


They just left today for Spain.

They did? Yeah, they’re coming to Sweden soon.

Are you gonna see ‘em?



How come you released that?

Uhhm, I’m a big fan of theirs, big Dictators fan and y’know, I’m really good friends with these guys, so they wanted a single for their...y’know, and they hadn’t done any new recordings for awhile and I think they are actually playing better than ever. So we just got together and did this new single. Cause they’ve always been on major labels before and stuff, now they’re on a good label instead.

Is there going to be a new album too?

I don’t know about that. I know they’re looking to do a the best of the Dictators type album.

How come you got so interested in rock`n´roll?

Uhhm, haha. Jeez, I don’t know. I’ve always liked records y’know. Just crazy about records.

What was your first release?

Of Norton? Norton’s first record... Well, first we had these Hipsville albums and that was basically... I kept getting bugged by Tim Warren at Crypt and he kept saying ”Oh, man you gotta do a record! Oh, man you gotta do a record!” And I said, ”Nah, nah. I don’t know about that”. Because Tim was just startin’ out at that time and I kinda got him going on collecting records and he got me going in making records so it was kinda like, ”Awrite”. So we did that and then thru’ Kicks, our magazine, we interviewed Hasil Adkins and Hasil started sending tapes and then I said: ”Man, y’know, I hope to make a record out of this but I don’t know if anybody else want it?” You know Hasil... Am I crazy? And I took the best songs and we did this album ”Out to Hunch” and at the same time Hasil wanted me to put out some new recordings that he had made. So what we did was we put those two out and people jumped all over em’. It was great y’know. Right after that, uhm, I got a hold of these unreleased Esquerita recordings. And then right after that I got a hold of  unreleased Jack Starr recordings. And so, once I had that, I mean it’s a great way to start. Y’know Hasil, Esquerita, Jack Starr... And y’know hehehehe... And suddenly all the crazies were coming to us and y’know then we started recording new bands and stuff like that.

When did you release the first Hasil Adkins, what year?

1986. Ten years ago.

You gotta celebrate.

Ah, yeah. I’m trying...he, he,he.

So Kicks was before Norton?

Yeah, Kicks started in the late 70’s. Y’know, we were just kind of a magazine for likeminded people. And y’know, there was a lot of people at first when we came out, they were like, ”Ah, what’s this soul crap?”. We were writing about stuff nobody cares about, but when you look in those first couple of issues and you see stuff like Ronnie Dawson, I mean nobody had written about him in years. Y’know all these other things... Now it’s like a common thing. You go over to anybody’s house and they are all listening to those records. So it’s kinda cool.

Is there going to be a new issue?  

I hope so, one of these days. The record company has got us kinda swamped. Although we did get a bunch of great unpublished rock`n´roll photos and we are going to be doing a book with that. In fact, the guy who took the pictures of Esqeurita on the back of your Savage magazine, the guy who took all those pictures y’know. It’s pictures of Esqeurita and all these other guys, so it will be pretty wild. So that will be before any kind of Kicks anyway.

When is it going to be out?

Hopefully early next year.

How much work goes into an issue of Kicks?

Hehehe, way too much. Everytime one of them are done I go ”Oh, my god. What the hell was I doing?” Hehe.

There’s no magazine like it.

I appreciate that.

I think it’s the best about ”old” music.

Well, people just think that we, or I, don’t like new music. But I just wanted to put stuff out and people could read it five or ten years later. And it would still be cool y’know. And the people who were making fun of me when I started, they were all writing about, y’know, the Talking Heads or Elvis Costello and this an’ that. Y’know, I just thought that was a bunch of crap. People are going to be talking Sonny Burgess way after they talk about Elvis Costello.

Which was the first new band on the label? Was that the A-bones?

Ah, yeah. The A-bones or the Untamed Youth... The first two albums came out at the same time. We got some other ones... Roy Loney, Jon and the Nightriders, Phantom Surfers. We get a million demotapes. People keep sending ‘em and sending ‘em and we only ever found one band off a demotape and that was the Hentch Men.

Who was in the A-bones?

Well... It was me, Miriam, Bruce Bennet, Marcus the Carcass, bassplayer and Lars Espensen on sax. That was like the line up for most of the time and then... Way before that we had Mike Lewis, who’s in DMZ and the Lyres and Mike Mariconda from the Raunch Hands.

How long were the A-bones together?

Ten years. Ten years to the week that we started. Hehehe, we’re big on tenth anniversarys around here!

What bands are on the label now?

The Hentch Men, the Flat Duo Jets, they’re actually playing here tomorrow. We’ve been working with them a lot. The Hentch Men, they were just here a couple of days ago. There’s actually been, the band’s not together anymore, but we’ve got a new A-bones album coming out. With unreleased songs. And we’ve been doing a lot of singles on new bands; Jackie and the Cedrics, they’re like the best live surfband there is. The Kaisers, they’re fantastic. We’ve got new singles with the Neanderthals, the Dictators... Plus we’ve been doing lots of Real Kids stuff too. They’re not exactly new but, I mean, I guess for’s new. Hehehe.

How do you get a hold of the bands you release? The old bands?

Just kind of from record collecting, just kind of from knowing what I like, what Miriam likes. Y’know, just one thing we just did, we just signed to get some unreleased Dale Hawkins recordings, which are real killer. You kind of... There are a lot of guys doing reissues and stuff but there’s certain labels that I think are just mainly from people who started out as record collectors, y’know. Crypt with Tim Warren, Telstar, y’know Todd Abramson, Bob Irwin at Sundazed. I mean, those are guys that I respect, what they’re doing and stuff. Hang on a sec...

That was Dexter from the Flat Dou Jets, he said to make sure that I told you about him.

Any upcoming re-releases?

We have some more Link Wray coming out.

An album?

Actually the Missing Links albums that were on vinyl, they’ll be on CD and there’ll be a fourth volume on vinyl and CD. What were we talking about.... Oh yeah, other labels. Labels that we admire and stuff.

I guess all of you , Todd, Tim, you and Miriam, knew each other?

Yeah, in fact, it’s real funny. I wish I could find it and send it to you to put in your magazine but... About 1983 I guess, when we all put out our first albums, we have a picture of me, Miriam, Tim and Todd all holding up our first albums. And one of these days we’re gonna look at this and laugh that we were making these stupid records. Hahahahaha! And now it’s all we do. We could take the same picture right now. Hehehe, in fact, Tim is probably wearing the same shirt. Hehehe. What else have we got coming up... Flaming Groovies, another live Flaming Groovies, a mini album. I told you about the Link Wray’s. We’re going to do Esquerita on CD. I’d rather do stuff on records than Cds, but I did get all these great pictures of him and I would like to use ‘em. Do you like Cds ok?

Yeah, I think they’re ok. Compilations can be pretty good, cause you can put so many songs on a CD.

Yeah, that’s the thing. Like some people wonder how come you put extra songs on the Cds and this an’ that. Like y’know, there’s room for ‘em. Like when we used to do only vinyl and I would try to put more than twenty minutes on, to get people their money’s worth. I just believe in, y’know doing your best with whatever you’ve got. Like the Link Wray double CD, we just put so many songs on cause we had room to do it. I guess a lot of people get, or are a little hardassed on vinyl, but now they go for CD a little more.


Associated time: Tuesday August 1 14 2007 14:00
Last update: Tuesday August 1 14 2007 14:30

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