The Blake Norton Band is an original five-piece rock band, based in Cork City, Ireland. Founded in 2012 by bandleader and namesake Blake Norton, the band is a unique sonic patchwork of diverse and passionate influences, encompassing elements of rock, pop, blues and folk.
To call Blake Norton a journeyman would be an understatement. He began his career as a professional wrestling journalist, working as an editor for H&S Media in Chicago a month after his 18th birthday. Despite his admitted “total lack of aptitude, or even basic common sense” for school, which saw him expelled from English and his Classical Studies teacher specifically cite Norton’s attendance as a reason he left the profession to become a tax collector at Dublin Castle, Blake’s tragic Leaving Cert results can surely be partially credited to a 3am interview with cage fighter Dan “The Beast” Severn the morning of his higher level maths exam.
By 19, Blake was a network head for gaming juggernaut IGN.com in San Francisco. While stateside he trained to wrestle in the famous Hart Family Dungeon in Canada, and upon returning to Ireland, he opened his own wrestling school. Blake’s very first class included a burly young Dublin lad named Steve, who would go on to become WWE world champion at Wrestlemania under the name “Sheamus.” In the following years, Blake would work as an actor, a television presenter (RTE’s “The Den” and BBC’s “Uncle Max” among others), a professional wrestler, an event organiser & manager and currently as an acting and life coach.
Oh; and he also plays music.
If Blake’s professional life has had many mistresses, then music must be considered his missus. Five days a week, if he’s not already booked for gigs, he and the boys will be working on new material up in the Blackpool rehearsal studios in Cork.
Blake learned the guitar in 1995 from Roy O’ Driscoll of the great 90s Cork Indy band “The Orange Festtishes.”
“Roy didn’t put a huge emphasis on theory, which is a good thing, as I’ve since learned that I suck at it. What I learned from Roy is how to adore music. How to be sincere. I’m still trying to achieve the sincerity he embodied. When he played, he would make the guitar his best friend and confidant, an extension of himself. It always brought out his love for the world. He’s an amazing performer and was the best teacher I ever could have had.”
Throughout his travels, wherever Blake would be, so would a guitar;
“When I’m low, and with the great fortune of my adventures, lows are inevitable and they can be imposing, playing the guitar… the strings seem to draw those clouds from my mind’s sky, makes me shine again. And when I’m high, when a great moment of joy takes me, the guitar takes the overflow and forges me a tune. And then I get to remember that feeling forever.”
During the turbulence of his parents' divorce and father’s emigration back to America, eleven-year-old Blake became indoctrinated in the ways of alternative rock. He became a devout disciple of Nirvana and their grunge contemporaries, with his own trademark bleach-blonde hair and writing sensibilities a direct influence of Nirvana’s iconic frontman Kurt Cobain. As time went by, Blake’s tastes extended into all genres.
“I have the good fortune to have had just beautiful melodies, ideas, come to visit me. They knock on my door, and when I’m being smart and listening, I invite them in. Then I have the privilege of escorting them to the band. They’re wonderful musicians with a variety of influences and unique perspectives. Through the prism of the band, these ideas unfold from my monochrome mind into a rainbow of colour. Every rehearsal is like a front row seat to my favourite band. What they do is just magical.”
Blake wrote his first album, Addicted To Emma, with the band Romance Is Dead. It was released independently, and supported by a pub tour of Ireland, highlighted by a Hot Press interview, and live appearances & airplay on top national stations Newstalk and RTE. In 2012, Blake was cast as the frontman of a fictional band in the feature film Working Class Heroes. By the time filming wrapped, the band had evolved into a real-life project, and The Blake Norton Band was born.
Percussionist Con Doyle is well versed in many different musical instruments, and experienced in multiple genres of music. Doyle rose to national renown after developing and performing alter-ego Grandmaster Cash, a battle-tested rapper from the infamous Cork ghetto of Rochestown, which was featured on TV3, performed countless gigs and festival appearances, and was the subject of two award-winning “mockumentary” style feature films, The Grandmaster Cash Story and Cashback. His picture was placed on the Wall Of Fame at The Pavilion, one of Cork’s most popular music venues. As well as being a key member of The Blake Norton Band, he is currently the songwriter for doom band Soothsayer, and a member of tribute band Lost Paradise.
Bassist Marc Derham and guitarist Nick Abat are both students of Music at St. Stephen’s College in Cork. Marc is a manager at The Kino, Cork’s famous venue & theatre. Nick has contributed to several Cork music projects, including metallers Broken Remnants.
Rounding out the Blake Norton Band, guitarist Antti Kauppinen has played is a number of rock and metal bands in his native Finland, and, for a while, in North Carolina. A careful listener will hear the influence of Angus Young, Mark Knopfler, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, Steve Cropper, the Edge, and David Gilmour in his playing.