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In pursuit of Asian metal, Stigmata

Stigmata is a mark or spot. It may be a mark made by a pointed instrument, a brand, a dot. The word, ‘stigmata’ has made its place in hard cover dictionaries with its many implications over the years.

The emergence of Stigmata as a heavy metal outfit in late 1999 marks the advent of high decibel Asian-based rock music in Sri Lanka.

This is how the leader of Stigmata, Suresh fielded our (In Tune’s) questions in an interview about their band and music. This is their story and the fate so far.

I asked Suresh what it was like to form a rock band in Sri Lanka?

Suresh: Stigmata’s inception was in late 1999 after we realized that there was no one really creating Heavy Metal music back


Stigmata

 then. We were fortunate to have heard and seen Rattlesnake and Venom, who had been playing cover versions of the songs by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Sabbath Iron Maiden and ACDC.

We were at the mercy of the (majority) Clubs/Pubs, which would scarcely provide a platform for bands in pursuit of originality. A lot of people who hit Clubs/Pubs did not want to hear Sri Lankan Originals - they would rather have a Band playing cover versions the whole night through.

It was only a handful of supporters from Electronic Media and the Press who gave us an opportunity to be heard.

Has Stigmata been playing originals from the start?

Of course... That was our motivational factor. There is something wonderful in being able to create something of your own, to give it life and watch it breathe, to carve it out of raw emotions and give it nuance and shade.

Does Stigmata play European-based rock or American-based rock? why?

Stigmata plays Asian Heavy Metal. We don’t care for trends and what lies at the core of popular culture, merely because what is deemed fashionable today will be a dead trend tomorrow.

What makes Stigmata unique is that we incorporate Heavy Metal, Thrash, Speed & Death Metal, Rock ‘n Roll, Hard Rock, Classical, Blues, Latin, Jazz and Baila into our musical landscape.

But we have Eastern elements too. We pursue to have a good balance between intensity and intricate shade/subtlety. The world better be ready for this Wave of Asian Heavy Metal that is spreading throughout the world right now.

What is the band’s present line-up?

Our Two Kick ass Axe Grinders are Tenny & Andrew, Jackson is the master of the Skins, Vije is our charismatic Bassist and I am the front man/lyricist/vocalist.

Is playing cover songs bad for an upcoming rock band?

Not at all, in fact it’s the most logical thing to do. No band can develop an original sound as soon as they start off.

Any superstar rock band from Sabbath to Maiden, From Cream to the Yardbirds, From Aerosmith to Slayer & Morbid Angel... They all started playing covers before developing their own sound.

Have you had any tracks that has gone internationally? What are they?

Our songs have received a fair share of airplay in the US, in Europe, Australia and countless parts in Asia. Our last album ‘Silent Chaos Serpentine’ has received lots of good international reviews including a very gratifying review on International Metal site www.tmetal.com, our Official Website and Myspace is among the most viewed (www.stigmata.us, www.myspace.com/stigmataartiste) and our Live Videos have received over 3,000 views on www.youtube.com

Are there any bands which has particular influence on Stigmata? In Stigmata we are inspired by many artistes, NOT influenced.

Are you thankful to any persons or institutions for the band’s success so far? Who and what are they?

I suppose first of all - Andrew, Tenny, Vije and Jacky for being an unbelievable unit, then everyone within the Stigmata fold and family who have kept faith and encouraged us through all our psychotic endeavours.

Rock Company, 891 Eden, everyone in Electronic Media and Press who has supported us, all our peers, Shobi (who has stuck with us from day 1!), Shaffi, Ajith, Senaka and Rohan Perera, the Friday Jam, all our respective sponsors and stakeholders... But we are mostly thankful to our Fans everywhere for passionately standing by us through countless ordeals.

Who write songs for Stigmata?

Errrr... Stigmata.

Do you promote religion or any cult through your music?

Music is something that is spiritual on its own. Religion has its own politics, fallacies and hypocrisies to deal with, and I personally believe and feel your religious views should be left out from your work of art.

So. No.. We do NOT promote religion or occult practices through our music.

What are your immediate plans for the future?

Right now Stigmata have completed 5 new tunes. We will work on a few more and then decide where it would be best to record our next album.

We may play a couple of new tunes at our next gig ‘Chaos Invited’ which will be on Sunday the 20th May at Clancy’s at 3 in the afternoon and it’ll go on till about 8pm.

Our good friends Paranoid Earthling are the guest act that evening.

Stigmata will also do a handful of concerts in Kandy, Seeduwa and overseas.

Where would you do gigs on a frequent basis?

We don’t play gigs on a regular basis, save for some of the Rock Company events. We play selective gigs and choose our concerts with a great deal of thought.

We headline festivals and outdoor concerts but also organize our own gigs once in awhile. We love playing to different crowds.

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