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03/07/2010 – Interview with STIGMA

Earlier this year the Italian Deathcore band STIGMA (official website) released their second album "Concerto For The Undead" via Pivotal Rockordings. This is the follow-up to their 2008 debut "When Midnight Strikes!". For this release the band toured extensively and got their name out. For the new release the band booked the Fear Studios and worked with Jona Weinhofen from BRING ME THE HORIZON. The result is a more powerful, more free-sounding STIGMA. The music still contains Hardcore elements, but lies closer to Melodic Death Metal. In any case, STIGMA improved on several levels and delivered one of the many highlights of 2010. You can read the review of "Concerto For The Undead" at this location.

Like last time, vocalist Vlad took the time to answer the questions about this new album, the line-up change, and more.

Stigma logo

Like before horror stories formed the basis for another album, this time "Concerto For The Undead". Will this always be part of STIGMA, the horror aspect?

As far as I can see yes, I think horror will keep on being our main influence. After our first two EPs I was sick of writing lyrics about real experiences and personal things, so I talked with the guys and came to the conclusion horror was a common passion and something we'd have got many different subjects to work on, both musically and lyrically. Then we wrote our first album, "When Midnight Strikes!", which is a concept based on '30's horror classics, like the first "Dracula", "White Zombie" and the first "Frankenstein", we loved working on those themes, so when time came to write a new record I decided to work on one of my all time favorites, which is "Tales From The Crypt", the subject of our new album "Concerto For The Undead". I already have ideas for our next one, so yeah horror will still be a part of our music.

Stigma VladOn "When Midnight Strikes!" the lyrics dealt with vampires and werewolves. What did you choose this time?

As I said I decided to write a concept about the US comic "Tales From The Crypt", which also became a very popular tv series in the early nineties. We chose our favorite stories out of the real comics and I wrote lyrics out of them, sometimes telling the whole thing, some others just focusing on some characters or focal points of the story. The reason why I decided "Tales From The Crypt" is mainly because gives a wide range of stories, characters and everything is devoted to pure horror twisted with some good grotesque humor!

Speaking of lyrics: the promo didn't have any and on your MySpace you posted a link to a pdf with the lyrics. Does the retail copy of the album contain the lyrics or does the fan also get a thin booklet with cartoons?

The only way to get all the lyrics is downloading them from our website! We decided to do something different and considering "Tales From The Crypt" is a comic and we were lucky enough to have one of the best designers around to work on our album artwork, we asked him to do a comic box for every song, so people can get the general vibe of the song and then search for the real one and read it carefully to actually experience the song at the best!

Did you work in the same way for this new album like you did for "When Midnight Strikes!"? I mean, in terms of writing, recording, ... I'm asking because I found the songs sounding less -core and more Melodic Death Metal.

To write this record we basically listened to the old one and underlined what we think are the weak points of it: we wanted this to be catchier but more technical at the same time, especially on the guitars, we wanted this to be way more live oriented and easier to listen to for many times after the first spin.I don't think there's a big difference in genre between our debut and "Concerto For The Undead". we simply pushed ourselves further and evolved our sound.

Vocally there's only rough and screamy stuff, which I think fits best with the music. Plus, the kind of screaming also fits well. However, several bands also have clean vocals. You've decided not to go that way, which I don't mind at all. But why?

There's not a precise reason for that, simply, I talk about monsters having a great time tearing hot chicks apart, so I think the voice is working perfectly on that matter shah!

Also noticeable on "Concerto For The Undead": Stefano's drumwork. He's good! Very good! Did he ask for more responsability or did you write the songs in such a way that complex drumming would be required?

Stefano always had a personal way of approaching his instruments, he's very good and lots of people notice that, so he basically added what he wanted on the record and the result is really various and I'd say not stereotyped.

Concerto For The Undead cover"Concerto For The Undead" also sounds much better, more powerful somehow than the debut album. That is largely due to the work done at the Fear Studio. Was the overall production an important element before you hit the studio?

Yeah we had a great time at Fear Studio, we felt welcome and even if we had a very tight schedule to fit in Scott Atkin's and Jona's plans, we managed to record at the best and focused on every aspect of our sound. We worked with Jona on pre-productions and then tracked everything at Fear Studio with Simone Mularoni and Sym Bertozzi, after that everything was sent to Scott Atkins who mixed and mastered in the UK. We're really proud of the sound we achieved on this record.

Due to this, the songs felt as if you were more free now to write and play what you wanted. As if you were released of some burden, whatever it might have been. Or am I thinking in the wrong direction? :-)

I'm really happy to know you totally noticed this aspect! The production of this record sounds way more STIGMA than our debut, songs are way more what we'd have loved to write for our debut as well, so your description perfectly describes reality in this case.

What made you choose the Fear Studio? Location? Contact with Simone Mularoni? Anything else?

Sym, the guy who worked with me on tracking vocals, plays in a great band called THE MODERN AGE SLAVERY and sometimes works at Fear Studio, so after chatting with him and talking with Jona we decided to use that studio because has great gear and a really professional crew, of course, but also cause it's a really positive ambient and you can work without distractions to your music.

Stigma - bandNo Ettore Rigotti to produce, but Jona Weinhofen behind the desk. How did he get involved and is he part of the reason why the new album sounds so good (see two questions above)?

Jona is a good friend of mine and the very first important musician who felt in love with our music and showed interest in STIGMA, so after a few chats we came to the conclusion it'd have been awesome to have him working with us. He didn't work on the sound of the record, cause that was Scott's job, but he helped us to reach the right level of concentration on our music, giving us suggestions and working on song structures with us to make sure everything was at the right place.

Scott Atkins, who worked previously with bands like BEHEMOTH and CRADLE OF FILTH handled the mixing and mastering. Was the Pivotal's choice or did you have a say in this? Plus, what is he like to work with?

Scott was a choice we decided and we're really proud of it! He's a great guy, I knew him since his time in STAMPIN' GROUND, which is also one of our all time favorites, so it's definitely good to have his touch on this album. He's extremely professional and really into the music, a perfect choice really.

The line-up has changed again: Giacomo Poli joined as second guitarist. Was it necessary to have a second guitarist again? Or is it mainly for gigs that you decided to add him to the line-up?

Yeah, we parted ways with our former guitar player Morgan after our euro tour, last summer, then we finished writing the album and went straight into the studio. We found Jack after lots of tryouts, it wasn't an easy mission, but he perfectly fits into the band and he's a great addiction to the line up. We needed a second guitarist to have a great sound on shows, plus we wanted someone very dedicated to the band and willing to work hard.

On the other hand, (click for the bandpage) shows it differently: Andrea Bailo is out of the band. That's a mistake, right?

Yeah, Andrea is of course still in the band, Morgan isn't anymore.

Jamie Hope (ex-THE RED SHORE) and John Hunt (ex-DEAD TO FALL) made a guest appearance on the album. Are you guys (longtime?) friends or did you really want these guys to add something to the compositions?

We met Jamie in the UK when we opened for THE RED SHORE and kept in touch since, he's a great guy and exactly what we wanted to have on that song. He's voice is heavier than everything and you can feel it listening to "3000 Years And Still Keeping It Real!". As for Jon, DEAD TO FALL is another of our all time favorites, so I got in touch through the internet and he showed interest in singing on "Prove You Are A Man!", he's awesome and we kept in touch since the recordings, really a great singer and awesome frontman!

So far you've played many gigs abroad (like Ieperfest) and in Italy. What was it like? And especially at big festivals, do you prepare differently than for smaller gigs? Or are you more nervous?

Yeah, we played more than 200 shows so far! We love to play out of our country cause people cares more about our music and shows interest in the band, in our country unfortunately people only cares of international acts so it's harder to have your band to grow for real. We love both types of shows, festivals gives you the chance to conquer new people, while smaller ones usually let you feel the reaction of the crowd in a better way.

Any tour plans for "Concerto For The Undead" (playing separate gigs or with another band)?

We are nearly done doing our italian headlining tour, we played some festivals in Germany, Hungary and Belgium and in August we'll tour for a few gigs with UK death heroes TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED. We've more touring in talks so we'll have news soon on this matter!

Gigs attract fans. How would you compare your popularity in Italy with other countries? Where are you most known and which country loves you the most?

We love Belgium, really, and Germany as well! Italy is really strange, sometimes people digs shows smoothers none comes to see bands playing! UK could be awesome but sometimes is really bad, it's a great "gym" for building a band and experience touring at its best and worst eheh!

That's it from me. Thanks for taking the time to reply. Good luck with this new release and supporting gigs. Any last words are yours to add. :-)

Thanks a lot for giving me the chance to tell you more about us! Keep safe!

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