Niviane: “A New Breed of American Power Metal”
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Sacramento based band Niviane formed in 2014 and recently recorded their debut album ‘The Druid King.’ Even though the album isn’t due out until later this year, Niviane is already working on a follow-up! It was great to talk to vocalist Norman Skinner to learn more about the band.
ALISON “METALBABE” COHEN: Hi Norman. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard and seen from Niviane so far and am glad that Online Metal Promo put us in contact for this interview.
NORMAN SKINNER: Thank you so very much! Although many of us are not new to the metal scene, this is a new band for us. We are really proud of what we have put together and the attention the upcoming album is receiving so far.
METAL BABE: That is great! Niviane has been branded with the awesome title of “A new breed of American Power Metal.” How would you describe your sound to someone who isn’t familiar with the band?
NORMAN: I was just told after our last show we sounded like Amon Amarth and Iron Maiden had a baby! We are definitely a hybrid of American/ UK traditional metal with a European power metal sound… The heavier side that is.
METAL BABE: Wow, that’s such a great description! And a compliment too! Niviane has been together about three years now. Who is in the band and how did you come together?
NORMAN: The band was dreamed up three years ago, but we’ve really only been together just over two. The original line-up of guitarist Mark Miner, bassist Rick Stallkamp, guitarist Claudeous Creamer, and drummer Mark Sprague were already in place and working on music when I was asked to join in March of 2015. Things fell into place very quickly and we began performing live two months later. Claudeous and Sprague lasted maybe five months before Niviane underwent a much needed line-up change bringing in guitarist Gary Tarplee and drummer Noe Luna. We’ve been writing, recording, and performing ever since.
METAL BABE: Awesome. Let’s talk about your debut album, “The Druid King.” What was the writing/recording process like?
NORMAN: The writing process seems to happen very easily and at a quick pace for us. We have three main songwriters in Mark, Gary, and Rick. Each of them demo song ideas in their home studios and send them to the band. Then I put these ideas in a rotation and work on the vocal melodies and lyrics. Whatever seems to come together first for me is the next song we work out in a live studio setting together. We went to Alien Productions Studios with JK “Jeff” Northrup of XYZ/King Kobra and recorded drums, bass, and rhythm guitars. The vocals, solos, and keys were recorded in our own studios and then mixed/ mastered by Jeff.
METAL BABE: Anything specific you can tell us about the album or any of the tracks? Is there an overall concept or theme lyrically?
NORMAN: Not a concept album although, perhaps we will do one in the future. Would be an awesome challenge… Lyrically for this band I tend to stick to historical and mythological concepts to go with the overall power metal vibe. Although I did sneak in “Into Twilight,” which deals with depression and hope. The next album I have branched out a bit, but for the first album it’s all about Druids, Frost Giants, Gladiators, and Vikings!! (LAUGHS)!
METAL BABE: “The Berserker,” which I think was the first single off the album, is pretty awesome. What can you tell us about the song, and did you end up doing a video with Mike Sloat?
NORMAN: The video was supposed to be shot back in July, but never happened. We are still working on getting that done and hopefully quickly to coincide with our CD release. The song was actually one of the later tracks written. It was one of those that just came together in the studio and we put the basis of it together in one rehearsal. It’s definitely a favorite for many of us to perform, and very dynamic.
METAL BABE: It’s great to be interviewing a band from the West Coast. How often do you make your way to Vegas or L.A. for live shows?
NORMAN: We have almost confirmed shows twice in Vegas this last year, and are working on some dates soon. We did play a one-off show in the LA area and plan to return.
METAL BABE: Great! You have some great vocal abilities and an impressive range. What type of training do you have as a vocalist?
NORMAN: You rock! Thank you! Initially I sucked… And not just a little. I was not a good vocalist in the beginning. I was self-taught for many years and was improving, but I wanted to be so much better. About five years into my musical journey I began a round of vocal lessons that lasted a few months. I took what I had learned and ran with it. I basically just do what I do and continue to practice what I was taught long ago. I have also taken single lessons here and there over the years if there was something specific I wanted to work on. In the end, for me, it’s all been practice, practice, practice.
METAL BABE: Well it’s definitely paid off! Who are your biggest influences as a singer, and if you had to pick just one, who would it be?
NORMAN: If I had to pick just one… Matthew Barlow (Iced Earth/Ashes of Ares). I am told we have very similar voices and style which is great as I love his work.
METAL BABE: That’s quite a compliment! What would be your perfect “dream” tour for Niviane? (Choose two other bands you would love to tour with.)
NORMAN: Fun question… Iron Maiden and Iced Earth. That would be a killer tour!
METAL BABE: You are right about that. That would be amazing! What’s next for Niviane? Are you already working on new material for your next release?
NORMAN: We never stop writing, so the new album is almost finished. We are hoping to enter the studio this winter to lay down tracks for album number two.
METAL BABE: What final words would you like to say to our readers?
NORMAN: Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you want to check us out further, stop at https://www.niviane.com/. Definitely hit us up on FaceBook, Twitter, etc. Hopefully we’ll see you all live very soon.
METAL BABE: Thanks Norman! It’s been great chatting with you!
NORMAN: Thank you so very much!