Q) Who are some of your musical influences?
Markus: Metallica, Iron Maiden
René: Also Iron Maiden
Gerald: Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, David Bowie, Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, Dio and so many more.
Q) Talk about the story behind your new song “Lies of War.”
Markus: After the Ukraine war started, we wanted to write a song about it because we said that there is actually no such thing as another war in Europe. And then we came to the fact that actually no war can take place without propaganda, without lies, because you have to lie so that a war can begin at all.
Gerald: There’s also always fake news coming up, which is also being worked out and rehashed in the meantime. In the past I think fake news was something “that was done just like that” – it was called propaganda. Nowadays, we are a bit more sensitive so that we don’t fall for something like that anymore, especially the young generation. This goes in the same direction; these are also just lies that are such fake news and that’s what it’s about. This song is against that.
René: I see that the same way, and that doesn’t just apply to the war, but in general there are topics everywhere where this fake news appears, where some things are claimed, and against that this song is actually exactly the right thing to do.
Q) What do you think it is about the song that fans connect to?
René: The contradiction in terms regarding the subject of war and the statements that some politicians make that also need to be questioned.
Markus: I think that the fans definitely get, that war and lies are directly connected and the fans also take that with them.
Q) How does the video for the track play into the message behind it?
René: What the video brings across very well for me is that on the one hand there needs to be some defense for every country. On the other hand, not every country has to start a war over all sorts of things and drag other countries along with it. In the video it is well conveyed that the soldier has understood it well and at the end throws away the weapon.
Markus: Not only does the soldier have to understand that they are lies, but also the normal population. That’s why the woman throws away her smartphone at the end. That’s our understanding: something doesn’t fit here and that’s what the clip is supposed to express.
Gerald: And, in the end, we also throw away the war lies. This is the united message to all.
Q) What is your song writing process? Do you need music before you can create lyrics?
Markus: I, as a guitarist, need a theme, which I try to project and compose with my instrument. So, it is a template for me and if the singer then also brings the right lyrics on it, then it is brilliant.
Gerald: As a singer, it is of course the storytelling. This is every story that is in the head, or arises there, also has a melody. As a musician, there is logically already a mood. If the mood is sad, it is a minor key. That means there is always music in the background, and you already have a melody in your head when you write a text. Most of the time, I already have a story with a message in my head that wants to come out.
Q) How much of hand do you have in the production of your music?
Markus: We have 100% influence on our production and how we want the songs. In addition, we are glad that we are supported by our producer, who also has another view and his experiences flow in.
Gerald: And thus, an opinion we can trust. This is Matthias, with his two studios in Nuremberg, Germany and in St. Vigil, Italy. He has a lot of experience, is a musician himself and can often feel his way into our projects. This also sometimes leads to a discussion and in the end we do it completely differently again. That’s how it is with our own production.
Q) Your album First Call is out now. What are some themes you explore on it?
Markus: That’s actually a question that goes more to the singer, because with “Arabian Nights,” “Spanish Pride” and “Fire” these are all themes that have to come out. In it, all kinds of topics are treated: the fire on the asphalt or this mood in the Arabian region from melancholic to aggressive and that is just well treated by the lyrics.
Gerald: Exactly. It’s definitely different themes. It’s not a concept album that deals with only one theme. What’s also important to us is that each song has its own soul, each song has its own story, each song has its own message – like in the first album the song “Lies of War.” Of course, the themes of the individual songs still fit together, which is why they have become the one album “First Call”.
The song “Spanish Pride” is about the pride, for example, of the Spanish conquerors but also the great suffering that was done to the indigenous population. The theme of “pride” can also be found in the song “Arabian Night.” It’s about the pride of the Arab world, which also suffers a lot from the conflicts and wars. This appears in the second bridge as a line of text: “Arabian Night / with all your might / shine bright.”
Q) Which of the songs off the album stands out for you as a personal favorite and what makes it so significant for you?
Pavel: “Fire” – the song has a lot of energy.
Markus: “Arabian Nights” has a cool structure, many changes, a bridge and breaks. For me it is totally coherent. I also find the song interesting from the sound and interesting arranged.
René: “Spanish Pride” because as a bass player I found my own theme. It’s my favorite song on this album where I can let off steam as a bass player.
Gerald: Well, I think all the songs are great, that’s really a difficult question for me. But definitely a highlight is “Obsession” and that one is also fun to sing. It has quite a lot of variety. There’s this stadium-like chorus singing in it, which of course is fun when we sing it in multiple voices on stage. Then, there’s the contra part, where I sing in the role of the female lead. Then there’s this strong contrast at the end, where the chorus transitions into a second chorus and the story unravels again, where “he explodes in her head.”
Q) What songs off your album First Call have you been enjoying performing live?
Markus: So, I definitely like “Fire” because it’s a really cool live number that I enjoy performing. I also like playing “Deadline” live, even though it’s very heavy.
Pavel: “Arabian Nights” with the challenge of Arabian drums.
René: “Fire” – the fans can really join in live and there is a lot of power in it.
Gerald: Yes, I feel the same way, when they are already singing along with “Fire” and then we come to “Spanish Pride” and I notice that the audience is singing along with the chorus. Then, I have to say I have goosebumps moments. That was always the most beautiful thing for me so far to sing the chorus of “Spanish Pride” together with the whole audience.
Q) What can fans expect from a live Stigma performance?
Markus: Varied music in any case. Gerald, our singer, also changes clothes often, which means there is also show and there is an interaction with the audience. We try to take the whole audience with us because we just have fun on stage. We do an interesting program, so it’s definitely worth coming back and checking it out.
René: I always remember the first reactions to the album, which you can also read, that we went one be\er than our first debut album. That was so for me so the confirmation.
Markus: A special feedback for me was: every song – just a hammer, so always awesome. I think that’s what fascinates the fans and makes it much more interesting that not every song is just the same and not immediately know what comes next.
Q) Where are some of your favorite places to perform and what makes those locations so significant to you?
Pavel: People, many people.
Markus: For me, a favorite venue is first of all the right concert with the right music and that we fit in with it and that the audience simply enjoys it and that the atmosphere is right.
Gerald: A concrete favorite place of mine is the Rock Café Brown Sugar in Nuremberg. We call it “our living room” for fun, because we are from Nuremberg and, of course, it is especially cool to have a live performance in front of your own fans in your own city in such a cool place. That’s why we did our two release parties of the two albums there.
Q) Who would you most like to collaborate with on a song in the future?
Markus: A difficult question I think, because who to work with? If I imagine I can sit there with James Hetfield and see what he does and what I do and for the new song – that’s definitely interesting.
Pavel: With whom it doesn’t matter to me, the main thing is that I tick the same with the person and a song is created where we have the same emotions or the same idea.
René: Okay, there are a couple with whom I would like to write a song together. Many musicians I’ve known for many years, but I actually like to do the songs with the band members.
Q) What artist/musician are you currently listening to and why do you dig them?
René: There are several, but there are not so many. Chris Harms with his band Lord of the Lost, Iron Maiden and Lacrimas Profundere.
Gerald: Too many …why I dig them: Because musicians give their innermost: feelings. That’s why music is also my inner salvation.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
René: A big thank you that we have come so far in the short time Stigma has been around and we have our fans to thank for that. Thank you for liking what we play and celebrating it when we perform live. This, of course, includes family and friends and everyone who supports us in the background. Thanks to all the people out there who keep coming to our concerts and who also always write replies and comments when we post something and also think it’s cool what we do.
Gerald: You’ve already said a lot and it only remains for me to say: without you fans and supporters it wouldn’t be possible at all. We always get applause when we are up on stage and we want to give it back to you today. Thank you and applause!
Q) Who are some of your musical influences?