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XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Norman: We recently signed on with a label for the worldwide release of our debut album “The Druid King”. We can’t yet say with whom we signed as we are waiting for the label to issue their official announcement. The official release date for the album is November 3rd. We are working on potential tours to support the album in both the US and Europe. We are trying to find the right package that works for us. Other than that we are staying busy planning for a couple music videos and writing for our 2nd album which we plan to begin recording in the Fall.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Norman: The original line-up came together in March 2015 although some of the core members had begun writing together in 2014. Since then we had made a couple necessary member changes to solidify the line-up we have now.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Norman: It was by complete accident. A few of my friends in High School were planning to play a couple cover songs at the talent show. Their singer decided not to perform with them a couple weeks before the show. They asked me to fill-in last minute. I had never sang for anyone in public and my friends had never heard my voice. I was just in the right place at the right time and am always up for an adventure. We were disqualified due to stage diving and mosh pits. I was hooked after that.
Gary: At first, my wife. She was the one who pushed me into getting out of the bedroom and getting into a band. I was quite content playing along to Iron Maiden CDs. Then it was the fact that I had been missing out on sharing my talent with other musicians for as long as I have. We work really well together and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Norman: I grew up listening to Hard Rock and various styles of Metal. I started in garage bands and worked my way up through the club scene as do most musicians. I have taken classical voice lessons sporadically over the years to hone my instrument.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Norman: I believe our sound is powerful and has a bit of an epic feeling to it. Definitely heavy and melodic… combine that with the lyrical content and you have a very mighty and fantastic sound.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
Norman: We are hoping this debut album does well obviously. Within the next 3 years we’d like to release no less than two more albums. We write and record rather quickly. There is definitely no shortage of ideas in this band with 3 songwriters. We would like to get some successful tours under our belts in support of this album as well as some festival appearances as well.
Gary: Make more music, release more albums, destroy and dominate every city we come to!
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Norman: Ultimately it would be nice to be successful enough to make music as a career but the real fact is only a very small amount of musicians obtain that kind of success. My plan is to keep working hard and continue to write, record & perform music as long as I am able.
Gary: This is it!
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Norman: I enjoy all of it but to answer your question if I absolutely had to choose I think I enjoy the writing process the most. Creating the song from a few riff ideas and turning it into something special. When you finally get to hear the end result once the mix & master is done that is when the hard work is realized.
Gary: I enjoy both processes. I think it’s most rewarding to put a new song together and when it’s ready, five guys are banging their head to it and then we get to play it live and watch a bunch of people bang heads and raise fists. I have had people message me and ask if we are going to play specific songs. That is extremely gratifying to me because it shows me that the fans love what we do. I never write a song with the intention of people liking it. I write it because it’s what I like. The reward is seeing other people enjoy it as much as we do.
XS ROCK: What is the subject of some your songs about?
Norman: In Niviane I tend to keep the lyrical content to Historical subjects or Mythological topics. I will throw in something more personal here and there but tend to keep to those themes. No political or religious messages.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Norman: My mom was very supportive of any and all of my ambitions whether they were music related or something else. In fact she will still on occasion make it out to a show and always shows interest and asks what new things have been happening for me musically.
Gary: Hell no!! They hated metal and I think they hated me too.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Norman: “The Berserker” is easily my favorite as it is an ass-kicker and a favorite with the crowd. I am really enjoying some of our newer songs we have been road-testing for the next album as well “Fires In The Sky” & “Like Lions”.
Gary: Adrestia, Watch The Banners Fall, Into Twilight, Arise Samurai, Fires In The Sky, The Berserker…..I actually don’t think there’s a track I don’t like to play.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Norman: There are so many. I draw inspiration from everywhere… even from bands I may not like. Some standouts over the years however that I may have seen live that made me want to be “on stage” and perform… Iced Earth, Guns n Roses, Iron Maiden, In Flames, Led Zeppelin, Killswitch Engage… I could go on and on. A very diverse list of bands.
Gary: Iron Maiden is my absolute favorite band and Dave Murray was the guitar player I idolized. But they didn’t “inspire” me to perform. I was 43 years old when I played my very first live show. It was my wife who “pushed” me into a band, then it was the rush of playing live.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Norman: Wow! Um, that’s tough as I love so many bands. Perhaps Iron Maiden, Iced Earth, Savatage & Niviane!!
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Norman: This band for sure. The way we meld and work together is almost seamless. Out of the 14 albums I have recorded throughout my musical career this one is hands down my favorite. I am very proud of this upcoming release.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Norman: Anything that has me in charge! Ha! If I didn’t have this musical artistic outlet I would probably end up doing something else artistic. Perhaps acting, graphic design, writing…
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Norman: I am a fan of Sennheiser products and currently use their wireless microphones and in-ear wireless receivers. For my in-ear monitors I have custom made ones from ultimate ears.
Gary: What day is it??? Hahahaha. I am changing my gear more than some women change their hair! Lol I just ordered a Kemper Profiling Amp. But right now my guitars are all Ibanez Prestige and Matrix Amplification. Most likely Kemper Amplification by the time this interview happens.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Norman: That really depends on the region we are talking about. I think for Metal the rest of the world is in a better place than the United States. For Metal here in the U.S.A. if it isn’t Metallica, Iron Maiden or Ozzy Osbourne you are not going to get the same support and following you would in other countries. I think one of the most popular bands that are considered rock\metal is Five Finger Death Punch. Personally I find that really sad. The local metal scene in Northern California has some great bands but with the closing of more and more venues and less support in the underground for fans to actually go out and support newly emerging artists the future looks to be harder and harder for those good bands to make names for themselves here. Combine that with an oversaturation of surrounding bands that unfortunately in my opinion are not that good.
Gary: Northern California has a great music scene right now. I think it’s got a lot of talent, some of that talent is getting recognized and it’s a good time right now to be in the middle of all of this. We just destroy shit wherever we go!
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Norman: No surprises here. I’m pretty much an open book.
Gary: A lot of incriminating shit!!!
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Norman: Heavy Power Metal! Definitely has a melodic sound but overall driving and epic! Dual shredding guitars and high soaring yet heavy vocals.
Gary: Powerful, in your face, driven, yet melodic metal!
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Norman: Just a big thank you for your ongoing support and for those that may be new fans please check us out at niviane.com or at my official website normanskinner.net
XS ROCK: Good luck with the new album and thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!