Posted on September 05th. 2018
Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
His real name is Norman Kiersznowski but US Metal worshipers definitely know him as SKI, the vocalist from Deadly Blessing and the legendary “Ascend From The Cauldron” effort, one of my absolute faves of all time !
Norman also thrilled me with his extreme high pitched vocals as he participated in other bands like Altered State, Faith Factor, Obliterator and stuff…. Throughout several decades, he delivered the very best in vocal service, … take it from me that after all those years, Norman’s throat is still in very good shape, high pitched to the core !
Recently he joined a Judas Priest cover band named Metalgodz, better watch out for Rightful Heir as well. Working on a new album for this band, heard one song so far and was immediately astonished about the way Rightful Heir offer their way of Metal.
I’m ultimately honored we have the might SKI on board of the Metal To Infinity Webzine page, one of my vocal idols able to answer the following questionnaire…. Let’s get started !
Stefan: May I welcome you here at my humble webzine, thanks a lot in advantage for you willingness participating the following conversation. First things first Norman, at what age you decided to become a singer in a metal band – who were the guys inspired you?
Norman: Well first off let me thank you for having me, us metal heads have to stick together, we are a dying breed ya know. Let’s see, I started singing when I was 15… I admired the early 70s singers like Perry, Dennis De Young and Walsh. Journey, Styxx an Kansas vocalists I studied them and emulated them in my very first band called Zygo. We did a lot of covers at first and then started writing our own brand of rock n roll, then the 80s came with Halford, Dickinson and Tate, I had first attended a Kiss concert and some band called Judas Priest was opening. When that singer open his mouth, I said to myself, hmmmmmmmmm that’s what I wanted to sing like. So to answer your question I started singing metal in the early 80s with my first metal cover band called Tormentor which eventually formed into Deadly Blessing, with Tommy Brown on drums, David Galloway on bass an Mr. Chuck Wild on guitar, along with me and Tony Kerr, the originals of Deadly Blessing.
Stefan: Was Deadly Blessing your first band ever – who was the founder of the band actually?
Norman: No my first band was Zygo, then Deadly Blessing, Altered State, Obliterator, Ffaith Factor an now Rightful Heir. Stage 3, my working cover band an my new Judas Priest tribute band called Metalgodz… me and Tony are the founders of Deadly Blessing.
Stefan: As a longtime worshipper of US Metal, Deadly Blessing’s debut album “Ascend From The Cauldron” is still one of my beloved albums ever ! In what way did you experienced this era?
Norman: Well thanks to you my friend, it amazes me how 8 songs could make such an impact in the metal world. Looks like we made our mark, ashamed we never made the album number two which was in the works with 5 new songs written for strange twist of fate that never saw the light of day, all of the NWOBHM and Queensryche were big with us at the time of writing this album and even Stryper when I wrote ‘Deliver Us From Evil’.
Stefan: One last question about Deadly Blessing, for what reason you left the ranks back then?
Norman: I didn’t leave the band, we were suppose going on tour with Queensryche for 6 months so I left my union paying job to go on tour. When everything fell through I was out of a job and had bills to pay, I went back to my future father in law with my tail between my legs practical begging for my job back, he said I’ll get u back in but I don’t know at what position. I worked in a steel drum factory… how metal does that sound haaaaaaaaa, so any got a job back working between 3 ovens a 500 degrees. Having long hair in the summer and working with 3 hot ovens, I decided to shave my head since we weren’t going on tour. I no longer looked like a heavy metal singer so they fired me. True story I even had Tony tell a reporter at Keep It True Festival in 2004 to clear my name, that I left the band were all lies and I forgave them all.
Stefan: The time had come to do something new and you joined several bands, what will you say about those years playing with these groups?
Norman: After I got fired from Deadly Blessing it crushed me for a long time, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. So I wanted to come back with a vengeance and teamed teamed up with the band Altered State in the 90s, we did a 6 song demo and never got signed in fact… we changed our name to Mindsrealm right at the end of that break up cause some other, more famous bands, had the name. We just got our first vinyl deal with a European lable I can’t say who you, yet since were under contract, then after Altered State I did a studio project called Obliterator with Nick Douglas on bass an Reggie Wu on guitar and created a 6 song demo, without a record deal. Then in 2000 I was in a band called Factor Five we did a song for a Queensryche CD called “Rages of the Mind” a tribute to ryche we did ‘Nightrider’. My good friend Keith Menzser from Mystic Force asked me, Factor Five evolved into Faith Factor in 2006, we did a 3 song EP and got signed… then we released “Against A Darkened Sky”… those 3 songs on the EP never made it onto the full album and now in 2018 Rightful Heir from Ohio USA was born.
Stefan: I know that you are strongly bound to your Christian faith, all the bands you were involved with so far can be described as Christian Metal bands, right? What about your strong connection in regards to delivering metal music in a Christian way?
Norman: No, Deadly Blessing was not a Christian band, only Faith Factor and now Rightful Heir. I became a born again Christian on April 13th 2008, but I believe God gave me this gift of music to use for him, as well as my heart desires. I believe if you are faithful to him, he blesses you with the desires of your heart, my first love is music, God created everything, even heavy metal or heavenly metal !
Stefan: Let’s skip to the present day Norman, via FB you told me you’re working on a new album with your new band called Rightful Heir ! Flammable curious as I am about every metal band you’re involved I’d like to ask when and by whom this new band was formed?
Norman: I was chatting with a Deadly Blessing fan on Facebook I named Stevie George a great admirer of all my work. So I said to him do u play, he said yes I do… I’m the drummer for Rightful Heir we’re from Ohio. Asked him, can I hear some of your music and he said youtube, i said ok and will check it out and after hearing the music I was hooked. But I didn’t like the vocals, so I told him that and said I can take this to the next level, if you want send me the music and lyrics. Let me see what I can do, fell in love with the music and the message, I’ve been praying and waiting for God to bring me the next thing he wanted me to do for him, so here it is a 16 sooooooong CD I’m currently working on. Having 5 more songs to sing on, heading back to Ohio for my session on October 12,13,14,15… “In The Name Of The Blood” will released in 2019 on our own label, we will control everything on our end up with the help of the holy spirit with direction and focus.
Stevie: The current version of Rightful Heir was started by drummer Stevie George and guitarist Chris Allen circa 2011, but they’ve been working together since like 1996, whether under the Rightful Heir banner or otherwise. I provide details on the history of Rightful Heir below.
Stefan: What will you say on the style of the band, name a few bands Rightful Heir can be compared with please.
Norman: Well to me musically, neo classical metal with power metal overtones, I use all my ranges high, low an mid ranged. I’d like to mix it up a bit on this using all my influences, throw them in a blender and out comes ski.
Stevie: Well let’s see, non-Christian bands: Dio, Maiden, Gamma Ray, Helloween, Queensryche, Fates Warning, Priest, etc. Christian bands: Sacred Warrior, Recon, Saint, Worldview, Barren Cross, Faith Factor, etc.
Stefan: I’m not sure but has your new band something to do with Rightful Heir released a couple of demo’s back in 1988?
Norman: Yes, that is the band but it’s and new line up now except the original drummer Stevie George.
Stevie: There was an 80’s Rightful Heir from the Youngstown area in Northeast Ohio (three of their demo songs are on Youtube), but this was an altogether different band from the first incarnation of the current Rightful Heir, which was started by drummer Stevie George and guitarist Dirk Waren in 1991. The main difference in the two groups is that the 90’s version was decidedly a Christian band who acquired the name ‘Rightful Heir’ after incorporating the singer of the defunct 80’s Rightful Heir.
Stefan: There is a 15-song loaded new album in the making, one song can be heard via YouTube. Listen to ‘Surrender Of His Mercy” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ulfvqve-ofI I’d like to ask you do the talking about the song, speak frankly.
Norman: Well, I didn’t write it so I’ll pose that question to the writer of that song.
Stevie: There will be 16 songs on our debut release IN THE NAME OF THE BLOOD, which will be a double album with 8 tracks per disc. There will also be a bonus cut, “March into Victory,” which we refer to as a ‘blessing track’ because it’s a free song for those who purchase the album, whether the CD or digital download. We plan to include a free ‘blessing track’ on all our albums. The promo cut “Surrender of His Mercy” (currently on Youtube) will be on the debut. It talks about our complete trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. By God’s grace, we endeavor to deny self and let the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within us take full control. The track “The Power Lives Within” also tackles this topic.
Stefan: Will you please introduce the other musicians active within the RH ranks?
Norman: I’m on lead/backing vocals; Chris Allen is on guitars and additional vox, as well as bass and keys; and Stevie George is on drums. We plan to be a 6-piece with the three other musicians joining us in the Lord’s timing. The core of the band is Chris, Stevie and me.
Stefan: The new album is going to be entitled “In The Name Of The Blood, who wrote the songs – is it a conceptual effort and will it be unleashed as an independent album or maybe a label approached you to ink a record deal?
Stevie: The cd will be independent as we will have our own label called Holy Lair Productions. The songs are a team effort by the Holy Spirit, Chris and Stevie, along with my input. “In the Name of the Blood” refers to communion with the Lord based on who/what we are as detailed in the Word – heirs to God and joint-heirs with Christ. The Mighty One made this possible for all of us, dying on the cross and setting us free. The theme of “In the Name of the Blood” centers around the power of the blood of the Messiah – back when it was shed on the cross and to this day.
Stefan: Any specific idea on the release date?
Norman: As far as I know right now prayerfully and hopefully Christmas 2019.
Stevie: Lord willing, late 2019. Please keep us in prayer for finances, as well as mixing, mastering and production of all the songs. Our goal is to put out music that will break strongholds and offer praise & worship to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are going out to fight for the lost to be found; and for unity & maturity in the body of Christ in order to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), which is what our epic track “Unite as One” addresses. Our objective is for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to be in every song Rightful Heir writes and performs.
Stefan: What is your inner feeling with Rightful Heir? Does it feels like “this is it, this is something I will go it full forced?
Norman: Absolutely, funny thing is I never get to a second album with any band. They were already writing the second album called “Battlefront”, these guys are not lazy when it comes to writing, they don’t rest on their laurels. The spirit leads them and they write and write and write, and as long as I’m above ground I’m gonna ride this wave.
Stefan: Be sure that we at Metal To Infinity look forward to the release, as we have a burning passion for US Metal… keep us informed brother.
Norman: You will be the first to review my new band Rightful Heir, you give honest reviews an that’s what I love about your zine. I’ll get it signed for you to if you wish, everything is in the lords’ hand, and we take everything into prayer, the musicians, the right musician lyrics and message, hopefully a full fledge tour, with an incredible show to go along with it, lots of things in store for this metal ministry, things I didn’t have with Faith Factor. But it’s all in gods time an gods way, or it don’t get done, I just turned 56 on august 14th. and I still have a lot of metal to sing before I go home.
Stefan: At this moment, you’re also the front man of a Judas Priest tribute band called Metalgodz, right? Give us some more details on this formation.
Norman: Yes Metalgodz it’s a Judas Priest tribute band here in New Jersey. I put this band together to get me back in metal vocal shape, plus I always wanted to do this for myself and push the boundaries of my vocals from ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’ to ‘Painkiller’. The master and godfather of metal, a tribute to him and the band a lot of fun and believe are not a big challenge for me, we team up with other tribute bands like Maiden and Dio… I do tribute band nights at local bars and clubs, it going quite well and we’re getting know, hopefully take it to the casinos where the real $ to be made but will see take gig by gig.
Stefan: To conclude this conversation, let me ask you one last question … what was the best era of your life – what makes it so special in your opinion?
Norman: Would have to be at this moment my years in Deadly Blessing, where I developed my style and craft and song writing abilities. We were young an rebellious like any young band coming up the ranks. Had we gotten tour support from our label who knows what could of happen, or maybe it was not God’s plan for me and he stopped it. And that’s why I am where I am, after going through a cancer operation and coming up on 5 yrs clean, I’ll find out in October I truly believe God’s not done with me yet. Will Rightful Heir be my last an final chapter to this blessed life not deadly, only god knows if this is the final band for me. I’m going out on a high note born august 14th 1962….. died? What’s between the dash is yet to be written onward and upward my metal brother by the grace of U.S. Metal!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stefan: No further questions Norman. Awaiting the Righful Heir CD release, the honour was mine to have you here on the humble Metal To Infinity Webzine. Wish you all the very best with completing the album and loads of pleasure with Metalgodz ! Will you say some final words before leaving? Take your time and space to proceed brother…. Cheers !
Norman: I’m blessed, humbled and honored to do this for my biggest fan in Europe, I hope one day we get to meet face to face here, or in heaven. I am a sinner saved by grace, and you can too if you just say, I do believe God created me. I do believe Jesus died for my sins, come into my heart, forgive me for things I’ve done wrong, it’s that simple. Then pray, read his word, change your mind, change your heart, change your life… thank u all ! Metal blessings, SKI.