NIVIANE – A Talk With NORMAN SKINNER (Lead Vocals)

Posted on October 31th. 2017

Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM

Jason: Hello Norman and welcome to Metal To Infinity.  I’d like to thank you very much for taking time out of  your very busy schedule to speak with us.  I know that your Current band:  Niviane was formed in the Fall of 2014 but that you didn’t join the band in 2015.  I  was curious if there was a previous Singer the band worked with before you joined?

Norman: I didn’t know it at the time of joining the band but they were indeed working with a previous local singer that was not working out.


Jason: Could you please tell us the story of how you came to join the band:  Niviane?

Norman: I was in a transition phase of my career as my solo SKINNER line-up was undergoing a line-up change and had just parted ways with DIRE PERIL. I posted a quick blurb on my Facebook that I may be in the market for a new project. The same day I received a message from vocalist Brian O’Connor (Deadlands, ex-Vicious Rumors) that his friend Claudeous had a new power metal band that needed a vocalist. I already knew Claudeous and contacted him. He sent me 3 tracks to check out. I wrote lyrics and recorded all 3 songs in 2 days and upon hearing what I had done was asked to join the band.


Jason: The band’s debut CD:  The Druid King comes out on November 3rd, 2017 on Pitch Black records.  Being that the band had been together for a year by the time you joined the band I was curious how involved were you with the song writing process for the Debut CD?

Norman: In actuality the band had only been together maybe 6 months when I was recruited. At that time music for 2-3 of the songs on the debut had been worked on. Many of the ideas were there though. I was given full reign vocally and for any restructuring that may have been needed. I was lucky enough to be involved from almost the very beginning.


Jason: Could you tell us the story of how the band landed the deal w/Pitch Black records?

Norman: I have been signed to multiple labels in the past and had also ran my own label for a few years so I had a good idea of how we needed to present ourselves to potential labels. First we completed recording our album and made sure both the production and packaging was top notch. We put together a very strong EPK and simply shopped it to management & labels worked with Traditional & Power Metal bands. Ultimately we received multiple offers and had the luxury of weighing our options. Pitch Black seemed like the best overall choice.


Jason: How happy are you with the way Pitch Black Records has been to the band?

Norman: So far so good… The communication has been there which is huge especially when dealing with a label that is a continent away. They have been willing to assist us with anything we have needed thus far and are keeping us in the loop when planning next strategic steps. The real test will be the CD release and marketing push. Similar to a hired official. Have to see if what you were presented and \ or promised actually happens.


Jason: How excited are you for people to hear the band’s Debut CD:  The Druid King?

Norman: I am extremely excited. The band and all involved with this album really did a spectacular job. I believe vocally this may be my best offering to date and the songs are all very strong. We’ve received such positive press and feedback from the media and we only hope the Metal music community love the album just as much as the reviewers have.


Jason: In regards to the Debut CD:  The Druid King what can you tell us about the new CD:  How many songs are on the CD, who produced it?

Norman: The Druid King contains 11 epic tracks. No filler on this album. We recorded the album at Alien Productions Studios in Carmichael California with Jeff “JK” Northrup (King Kobra\XYZ) at the helm. We wanted a very dynamic and heavy sound which is exactly what we got. The album turned out better than I could’ve imagined.


Jason: I know that the band is based out of Sacramento, CA.  Is there much of a Metal or even music scene there these days?

Norman: We are just about 2 hours north of the San Francisco Bay Area. The music scene here is not as big or bustling as the Bay Area but there are some good bands and a few decent venues to play.


Jason: I read on the band’s Official web site that your favorite quote is “The Fireman is magical….if you rub his helmet he’ll spit in your eye.”  Where did you come across this quote and talk a little about why this quote means so much to you?

Norman: HA HA!! So… I’m not sure if it is a favorite quote but it’s definitely memorable. In an early episode of the animated show South Park, Eric Cartman refers to his penis as a Fireman as informs his friends that his mother told him that is what you are supposed to call it. He then goes on to say that she says “The fireman is magical… if you rub his helmet he’ll spit in your eye”. Whenever anyone asks me for a favorite quote I use that one. I always get a laugh out of it.


Jason: I also read on the band’s official site that you’re also known as the Metal Chameleon.  Do you remember who gave you this nick name?

Norman: No, I don’t. It was around 2004-2005 I believe. I was fronting IMAGIKA at the time and one of the reviews of our album ”Devils On Both Sides” the reviewer called me a Metal Chameleon to describe all the different voices, tones etc. I would use from song to song. I didn’t think much of it except that it was cool. Later I saw the analogy used again and then again. I can only assume those other reviewers read the 1st one and it just grew from there. I embrace it… I like the nickname.


Jason: I  understand Norman that the first concert you ever went to was Day On The Green in 1991 which featured performances by Metallica, Queensryche, Faith No Moore, and Sound Garden.  What do you remember most about that Concert?

Norman: It wasn’t the very 1st concert but it was the 1st where I was able to go with just my friends. I had been to other concerts but always with a parent or someone else’s parents. I was 16 and had my license so I could drive us. I remember listening to metal mix tapes driving my Camaro to the show. Waiting outside early in line to make sure we had a spot up front. It was a coliseum concert and we had general admission. Walking out onto the field was a bit surreal. “Welcome to The Jungle” by Guns n’ Roses was blaring over the speakers as my friends and I ran up to the front of the field where the stage was. It truly was an amazing concert. I had never heard Soundgarden before and they were awesome. This was during their Badmotorfinger album. Faith No More was just making it big with their song “Epic”. Queensryche was receiving huge mainstream success with “Silent Lucidity” & “Jet City Woman” & of course Metallica’s Black album was the biggest in the world at that time.


Jason: Of all the bands you saw on The Day On The Green Concert which band would you say had the biggest impact/influence on you?

Norman: Out of those 4 bands… I would have to say Queensryche has. Early on in my singing career Geoff Tate was one of the vocalists I used to try and emulate. Faith No More would be a close 2nd as I admired his vocal versatility. Mike Patton would use his voice is many different and sometimes strange ways but it worked. He definitely is not a one dimensional singer. Neither band is a huge influence on me but each left their own impact and memories.


Jason: Talking a little more about those Day On The Green bands I have to ask you what do you think about Metallica’s latest CD:  Hardwired To Self Destruct?

Norman: That CD sure has gotten a lot of hype. I think it’s just an OK CD. I see this happen often with bands that put out a few not so great albums. When you compare Hardwired To Self Destruct against St. Anger of course it is a masterpiece. With that being said it doesn’t compare to their earlier catalog. Albums like Ride The Lightening & Master of Puppets destroy the new album. Of course this is only my personal opinion as a Metallica fan.


Jason: Talking a little bit about QUEENSRYCHE I’d like to ask if you’re at all a Geoff Tate fan and if so what do you think of the Current Queensryche Singer?

Norman: I was a very big Geoff Tate fan and have even had the pleasure of sharing a stage with him a few years ago. In my opinion he was one of THE premier vocalists in Metal for a long time and inspired many fellow singers I know. I personally felt a little betrayed when he began speaking about his disdain for Metal and began to steer Queensryche in a rock type of direction. I believe the split with Queensryche was the best thing for both camps. Although I do not really care for Geoff’s solo material he now can do what he wants and make his musical vision happen.

On the Queensryche side of things they of course now have Todd La Torre fronting the band. What can I say… the guy is incredible! Easily one of the best vocalists I have ever seen live. I have been lucky enough to have watched him perform with both Queensryche and Crimson Glory and he was spot on every time! One of those vocalists that make me want to give up singing… he that good. On top of being a phenomenal talent he is also a very down to earth and humble person. I have had the pleasure of meeting him on 3 separate occasions through mutual acquaintances although I highly doubt he knows who I am. HA HA!!


Jason: Last time I interviewed you Norman we were discussing your band:  Skinner.  Is that still an active project, can fans expect any new music from the Skinner band in the near future?

Norman: Yes, I do plan on releasing another solo effort under my surname SKINNER. I have been working with some very talented musicians over the last 2 years and am in the pre-production phase for my next album titled “The Dark Design”. I am hoping to begin recording drums in February\March 2018.


Jason: I understand that in your spare time you love going to catch a good movie…You and I have that in Common. I have to ask you what’s a recent movie that you saw that you just really loved?

Norman: Spider-Man Homecoming was excellent!! My kids and I see all the superhero & Sci-Fi movies. We are looking forward to Justice League, Thor: Ragnarok, & Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the coming months! Next movie for me will probably be Blade Runner 2049.


Jason: Once the Druid King is released what are the band’s plans as far as touring?

Norman: We are actively looking into touring opportunities for both the US and Europe. Our management has been in talks with a few big name camps that didn’t pan out and our label should be helping us with that as well soon. It is hard as we don’t even have the 1st album out yet. We are determined to tour this Spring\Summer.


Jason: In regards to the recent Las Vegas shooting rampage that took place earlier this week I have to ask as a Performer if you’re ever worried about the Security at the places where the band performs?  I mean let’s not forget that Pantera Guitar God:  Dimebag Darrell Abbott was murdered while he was on stage.

Norman: I try not to think about that aspect of being an entertainer. I understand that this world is full of crazy people that for whatever reason or agenda have no problem hurting others. Without going into my personal political views on mental illness or gun control I will say as a people and I include every human being on our planet when I say this. We should take all precautions, make smart choices and treat others the way we would like to be treated. There is a very fine line between always expecting the worse and being prepared. We can be smart and prepared without living our lives in fear.


Jason: Is there anything left that you’d like to say to all the Norman Skinner fans out there?

Norman: I am always appreciative of each person that has, is and may support my musical endeavor. Bands say it all the time but we truly could not do this without you. I try not to use the term fan because anyone that is a fan of me is a friend. The Metal world is smaller than most realize and we are one family. I look forward to everyone hearing the upcoming Niviane album and be sure to drop me a message on my website or on Facebook.