If ya like rockn´roll, you probably haven’tmissed Norton Records. They’ve been putting out their fine shit for over tenyears now and if you’ve missed ‘em, here’s a chance to catch up. They’vereleased albums with such fine artists as Link Wray, Esquerita, Hasil Adkinsand modern bands like The Real Kids, The A-Bones and Untamed Youth. And theyput out the greatest rockn´roll magazine ever, Kicks. I interviewed Billy Miller over the phone. He runs Norton togetherwith Miriam Linna. So, here’s the second part of our rock`n´roll record labelspotlight 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 youlike it?


They justleft today for Spain.

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

Are yougonna see ‘em?



How come you released that?

Uhhm, I’m abig fan of theirs, big Dictators fan and y’know, I’m really good friends withthese guys, so they wanted a single for their…y’know, and they hadn’t doneany new recordings for awhile and I think they are actually playing better thanever. So we just got together and did this new single. Cause they’ve alwaysbeen 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’tknow about that. I know they’re looking to do a kinda…like the best of theDictators 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 aboutrecords.

What was your firstrelease?

Of Norton?Norton’s first record… Well, first we had these Hipsville albums and that wasbasically… 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 thattime and I kinda got him going on collecting records and he got me going inmaking records so it was kinda like, ”Awrite”. So we did that and then thru’Kicks, our magazine, we interviewed Hasil Adkins and Hasil started sendingtapes and then I said: ”Man, y’know, I hope to make a record out of this but Idon’t know if anybody else want it?” You know Hasil… Am I crazy? And I tookthe best songs and we did this album ”Out to Hunch” and at the same time Hasilwanted me to put out some new recordings that he had made. So what we did waswe put those two out and people jumped all over em’. It was great y’know. Rightafter that, uhm, I got a hold of these unreleased Esquerita recordings. Andthen right after that I got a hold of unreleased Jack Starr recordings. And so, once I had that, I mean it’s agreat 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 startedrecording new bands and stuff like that.

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

  1. Tenyears ago.

You gotta celebrate.

Ah, yeah.I’m trying…he, he,he.

So Kicks was before Norton?

Yeah, Kicksstarted in the late 70’s. Y’know, we were just kind of a magazine forlikeminded people. And y’know, there was a lot of people at first when we cameout, they were like, ”Ah, what’s this soul crap?”. We were writing about stuffnobody cares about, but when you look in those first couple of issues and yousee stuff like Ronnie Dawson, I mean nobody had written about him in years. Y’knowall these other things… Now it’s like a common thing. You go over toanybody’s house and they are all listening to those records. So it’s kindacool.

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 didget a bunch of great unpublished rock`n´roll photos and we are going to bedoing a book with that. In fact, the guy who took the pictures of Esqeurita onthe back of your Savage magazine, the guy who took all those pictures y’know. It’spictures of Esqeurita and all these other guys, so it will be pretty wild. Sothat will be before any kind of Kicks anyway.

When is it going to be out?

Hopefullyearly next year.

How much work goes into an issue of Kicks?

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

There’s no magazine like it.

Iappreciate 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 putstuff out and people could read it five or ten years later. And it would stillbe cool y’know. And the people who were making fun of me when I started, theywere all writing about, y’know, the Talking Heads or Elvis Costello and thisan’ that. Y’know, I just thought that was a bunch of crap. People are going tobe talking Sonny Burgess way after they talk about Elvis Costello.

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

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

Who was in the A-bones?

Well… Itwas me, Miriam, Bruce Bennet, Marcus the Carcass, bassplayer and Lars Espensenon sax. That was like the line up for most of the time and then… Way beforethat we had Mike Lewis, who’s in DMZ and the Lyres and Mike Mariconda from theRaunch Hands.

How long were the A-bones together?

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

What bands are on the label now?

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

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

Just kindof from record collecting, just kind of from knowing what I like, what Miriamlikes. Y’know, just one thing we just did, we just signed to get someunreleased Dale Hawkins recordings, which are real killer. You kind of… Thereare a lot of guys doing reissues and stuff but there’s certain labels that Ithink 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. Imean, those are guys that I respect, what they’re doing and stuff. Hang on asec…

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

Any upcoming re-releases?

We havesome more Link Wray coming out.

An album?

Actuallythe Missing Links albums that were on vinyl, they’ll be on CD and there’ll be afourth volume on vinyl and CD. What were we talking about…. Oh yeah, otherlabels. Labels that we admire and stuff.

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

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

Yeah, I think they’re ok. Compilations can bepretty 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 theCds and this an’ that. Like y’know, there’s room for ‘em. Like when we used todo only vinyl and I would try to put more than twenty minutes on, to get peopletheir money’s worth. I just believe in, y’know doing your best with whateveryou’ve got. Like the Link Wray double CD, we just put so many songs on cause wehad room to do it. I guess a lot of people get, or are a little hardassed onvinyl, but now they go for CD a little more.