rides high with Hollow Dreams
new album, big plans for the future and songs that dwell on the
dark side of life. Ishani Ranasinghe catches up with the members
They are a heavy
metal band that incorporates a zillion different sounds. This is
how the members of Stigmata describe themselves.
Colombo by storm four years ago when they burst onto the music scene,
and having recently released an album ‘Hollow Dreams’
that has so far sold over a 1000 copies, they are currently riding
The name Stigmata
was chosen for many reasons. After coming up with a list of names
they surfed the net only to find out that they were all taken. Then
they happened to notice an album titled Stigmata. Considering the
kind of music they make; music that illuminated every expression,
they thought this name was most appropriate.
mainly talk about the dark side of life,” says Suresh de Silva,
the lead vocalist of the band. According to him, there is enough
of joy and happiness, “we have to look at the other end of
the scale as well”. He feels that this is why most people
relate to their music.
relating how he got into this kind of music says, “There was
a time when there was an overdose of Michael Jackson and similar
stuff, so a hard rock band was a welcome change.”
So who are his
inspirations? As it turns out, the list is quite long. On the vocal
side, there are the likes of ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Nevermore’,
Rob Halford, and Matthew Barlow. “As a song writer I get inspiration
from many,” says Suresh citing poets and writers Steve Harris,
W.B Yeats, Robert Frost, Warrel Dane and Jean Arasanayagam.
wanted to be a guitarist he says he became a vocalist by accident.
“When we first started we needed someone to sing.” There
has been no turning back since.
All the members
of Stigmata feel that they were drawn to this kind of music because
of the honesty in it. It was also non-conventional. “It is
important to show both the ugly and the beautiful side,” says
Suresh. Their music was a form of expressing this.
music is my voice,” says Tennyson Napoleon (20), the guitarist
in the band. “Sometime back TNL Radio used to have a show
called ‘Z Rocks’ which I used to listen to. I heard
this song called ‘One’ by Metallica and got hooked on
to the music.”
He says that
as a band Stigmata have always strived to be original. “I
think the originality and the honesty of our music is what draws
in the crowd.” They believe that it is important not to do
covers all the time and instead do their own thing, “We have
to do what we are good at.”
(20), is the bass player of the band. His interest in heavy metal
music was quite sudden. “One day I just woke up and decided
I liked rock music,” he says laughing. On seeing the amused
look on the others’ faces, he explains that the rest of the
band whom he has known for a while, also influenced him. He is inspired
by many; Thilak Dias and Shobi Perera to name a couple. “Music
has become a huge part of my life and I get a real kick out of it,”
says this young man.
two kinds of fans,” says Suresh adding that there is a group
that listens to their music and is inspired by what they write.“Then
there are the people who don’t really like us but respect
us for what we do,” says Andrew Obeysekere (21). Andrew has
been playing the guitar for almost nine years. “Bands like
‘Aerosmith’ and ‘Guns ‘n’ Roses’
got me into rock music,” he says. Drawing inspiration mostly
from Yngwie Mamsteen, Andrew is also a lover of classical music.
“I like to listen to Bach and Beethoven.”
Dreams,’ Suresh explains, is a concept album. “Each
of the 11 tracks speaks about different things.” Shehan adds
that each song elaborates on a certain theme and a situation. “It’s
like a chapter in a book where at the end it all weaves together
to bring out a story,” says Suresh.
As for recording
another album they say they have big plans. “The material
on ‘Hollow Dreams’ is a bit old, and we have a few new
ones now.” It will be fresh, they add. “We are now more
developed and technically advanced than when we first started,”
says Suresh. “But this doesn’t mean we have drifted
away from what we started as,” chips in Nisho Fernando.
in the group at 18, drummer Nisho says that the rest of the band
inspired him to play. “Being in the band and playing this
kind of music really keeps me happy,” he adds. Danny Carey
of ‘Tool’, Lars Ulrich of ‘Metallica’ are
some of the drummers that inspire him a great deal.
play for events,” says Nisho, clarifying why Stigmata do not
appear on a regular basis at a particular venue. This is because
they want to be in total control of what they do. “It is also
because we don’t want to get stale,” says Suresh explaining
that unless you have this amazing repertoire where you could be
different every week and not repeat your songs, people are likely
to get tired of the music.
They claim to
have gone through much ‘torture and torment’ to get
where they are now. So four years down the line has it all been
worth it? “Definitely,” they chorus enthusiastically.
“When we first started it was a bit hard,” says Suresh
recalling how people were intimidated by the music. Now the floodgates
have opened and there is an audience for this kind of music.
They are hoping
that in the future they will be able to sign up with a record company.
“Rock Company has done a lot for us,” adds Suresh. So
how do they react to the fan base they seem to have? “We are
quite new to this autograph and photograph scene,” says Suresh.
The others agree. They all hope to continue being a part of Stigmata
and continue doing what makes them happy.
Apart from being
members of a rock band they are also involved with their studies
and work. Suresh is a copywriter and a student, Shehan is also studying
and a tea broker by profession, Andrew is preparing for a computer
science degree while Tenny works on visuals at an advertising firm.
Nisho, the only one who is not studying having just finished his
A/L’s, is happy being a water polo player, “and a good
one at that” adds Suresh.
In just over
four years Stigmata have made their prescence felt; their music
has meant something one way or the other to a lot of people. People
listen to their music and at times don’t know if they are
to be happy, sad or just depressed. This is the effect they have.
As the band puts it they are not saying they are perfect at what
they do, “we simply aspire to be perfect”.