Kathie Jarra is back with a vengeance! Surprisingly enough, she did not return under the monnicker of JARRA. Instead, this blonde rock vixen baptised her new outfit STYGMATA. Her first-born album “Bleed” will certainly make the fans beg for more. This vicious attack also includes a cover by SLAYER. You can guess already in which musical direction her sound is heading. All the more reason to get in touch with Kathie again and let her have a say about this new release. STYGMATA will make you bleed!!!!!
Congratulations on the release of your album “Bleed”. When did you form this new band?
Kathie Jarra: “First of all, thanks you guys for having me and for all of your support with my transition from JARRA to STYGMATA. For “Bleed”, the recording line up was technically together only for the sessions on the CD, but the formation of the recording band came about I would say approximately in 2004 - 2005 just after I left JARRA. A new touring band is being decided now and the intention is to have a permanent line up by the next record.”
Why didn’t you release “Bleed” under the monnicker of JARRA or KATHIE JARRA?
Kathie: “Well, both were considered, but I really wanted to reinvent myself with the new music I was writing and thought if I could really find a cool band name that I loved, I would love to have one. I also felt that there would be less of an attachment to my past band and that just felt good to me to really start over fresh.”
Who came up with the name STYGMATA and why did you choose this name?
Kathie: “Oh, I always wanted to have a bad ass band name, but it seemed that many of those were already taken and for most of my career I kept it simple just using my own name. I was familiar with the phenomenon known as Stigmata and so one night while I was meditating on what could be a new name for this project, it just popped in my head. It really fit the title as well and then it all just snowballed from there into the artwork and concept for “Bleed” overall. I didn't tell anyone for a while about the name until I researched the name and found the ancient spelling of STYGMATA with the "Y" and also that there were no other bands using it. When I did mention it to others after I completed the mixing of “Bleed”, the response was so good that I made the call to use the name and was able to also get the dot com for us as http://www.STYGMATA.com. Seems to be well received so far. It is always interesting conversation, when people ask about the name choice.”
How did you get in touch with the band members of STYGMATA, and did they play in other bands and if yes, tell us about it, please...
Kathie: “When I first moved to AZ alone before we signed to Lion Music for "Test Of Faith" (JARRA's debut CD), I didn't know anyone there so I started going out and seeing other metal bands etc. I also went to a local drum-off competition. When I went to the drum competition, I saw Mike Armstrong there and was really impressed with him, but didn't introduce myself at the time. Later, I found out that he was drumming for a local Phoenix band, called SIPHON. That was in 1999 and we just moved about in the same AZ metal circuit while JARRA got signed in 2000 and toured our first CD, but Mike and I had not formerly met yet.
When I left JARRA and started to look for local AZ musicians to hire for my solo CD, I thought I would talk to Mike about possibly drumming on the CD for me as a side project outside his band. When I asked him if he was interested he said yes, so I hired him for the drumming on “Bleed” and began looking for the other members so we could begin rehearsals. The male vocal intro scream on “Kill The Rainbow” and the male vocals on “Hate” are actually Brent Guitterez, the singer/guitarist for Mike's band SIPHON. I wanted some male vocals on “Bleed” for those two songs and I asked Brent to come by the studio to check it out and he said yes and did an amazing performance for me as well. I just asked him for what I wanted and he delivered in a huge way. HB Abels, who played bass on “Bleed” was referred by Mike and is a studio engineer, who also plays in his own band, BEYOND THE NOW, also based in Phoenix. It was very easy as well. He came to the audition and played the tunes and we moved forward. He is still a good friend and also busy with his own band. Judas is a family man that was referred to me by a close friend in AZ, that prefers to remain anonymous to protect his family privacy and only plays for his own enjoyment. This was a one time deal for him. He was given the songs and came to rehearsal and the studio and that was the extent of that relationship. It worked out beneficially on both sides.”
Must we see STYGMATA as a sidestep from JARRA, or is this your new solo band and is JARRA history from now on?
Kathie: “Really great question!!! I feel JARRA is history now and STYGMATA will be my new life. At least, that is where I am today. I really cannot see me going backwards, but I also learned in life to never say never. However, at this stage of the game, this is my new band and I am really excited about it and looking forward. JARRA was a great band and a great time in my life and I will embrace it as I move on. I love change. I know most people don't, but I seem to thrive on it. Going backwards and staying still is not really my style. I love the unknown (laughter). It keeps life more interesting and I have never been accused of playing life overly safe and never in fear.”
And please explain the meaning of some of the songs to us, like “Holy Lies”, “Sea Of Red”, “Bleed”, “Hate”, etc.
Kathie: “Holy Lies” is a little tale about the lies they told about Jesus. Hence the term, “Holy Lies”, “Sea Of Red” is a metaphor for the pool of lies, that some people can feed others. “Haunted” is a love song written from the other side and fearing about being forgotten. “Bleed” is basically a love song and the term “Bleed” throughout the CD and the song itself is a synonym for 'feel’. From the female perspective she is asking him to bleed or feel her pain. “Kill The Rainbow” was just a poke at DIO, since the song is about the night in Phoenix when I met Ronnie Dio at ALICE COOPER’s bar (laughter). That was a great night and I wrote it to tell my story of my meeting Ronnie. I wrote it exactly the day after. “By Myself” that’s where I always seem to end up due to my zero tolerance policies in relationships. “Hate”, I wrote after seeing some teenage boys covered in blood after a wicked and really violant moshpit and “Crawl” is the usual story of the man, that needs to win his love back after the big mistake. “Spill The Blood” is a SLAYER tune. I have to ask Hanneman about it, but seemed to fit this CD, yes? I like to approach singing my songs as I am singing from a different part of myself and each is its own character in the play.”
What are your influences for the musical part of the CD concerns?
Kathie: “My major influences throughout my career have been DIO, ACCEPT, SCORPIONS, PRIEST, SLAYER, MSG and of late, PRIMAL FEAR. It is hard for me to hear where I come from, but I am sure there is some of everyone in there somewhere.”
In which way does STYGMATA differ from JARRA in your opinion?
Kathie: “I would say musically, a rougher edge, a bit thrashier and heavier. Professionally, easier working with the people. There were no problems with addictions, wives and egos distracting from the music this time.”
How did the press react towards your new CD so far?
Kathie: “I have to say, we got pretty amazing reviews already and tons of support worldwide from the fans and the distributors and we are only in our pre release now. I feel sooooo blessed. I knew the CD was solid and that I worked really hard on all the elements, especially after having to pick up the pieces of JARRA, etc but wow, I am happily surprised that we are scoring so high in the reviews. However, I am loving it!” Are there any negative reactions, too?
Kathie: “No, none at all. The only thing everyone seems to be encouraging is that I secure a permanent line up for STYGMATA and keep making more music. I will take that as a good thing. I want STYG to have a permanent line up as well. I would have loved to have a permanent band for the recording but it was just not possible at the time and so I will accept that this is part of my path to that destination now.”
The story of the drummer in STYGMATA is rather odd. He’s blind and has got a six degree black belt in karate, so you told us. What happened when Mike came to audition for your band, or did you know him for a longer time already?
Kathie: “Yes. Well, Mike and I are the odd couple for sure. The New York, at the time, in Phoenix, metal chick singer and the blind karate metal drummer (laughter). As I mentioned, Mike and I met in Phoenix, when our bands played the same circuit between 1999 -2002. We do get along very well and have had quite alot of fun times during the recording and rehearsals. We are still good friends and talk, when we can. We actually did the 'audition' at his rehearsal place, because he has his own deal set up in his house so that he does not have to move gear for rehearsals. From what I recall, it was Mike and I and Judas and a bass player friend of Mike's that sat in, while we were waiting to contact HB for the bass position. I had given them some of the “Bleed” tunes really rough on cassette or something to listen to and then we ran through them a few times for a few hours. It clicked and we decided to go forward with the recording. It was easy. Mike is more alert than most drummers because there is no way to "que the drummer" for endings and changes, etc, so we did heavy rehearsals and everyone knew the songs in their sleep. It was easier than working with alot of people, that supposedly can see. Mike also used a click track in rehearsals which helped the entire record overall.”
How would you describe the music on “Bleed” yourself?
Kathie: “Oh, I would say heavy, melodic, powerful classic metal with some thrash elements in there...”
What’s your favorite song on the album, and why? Mine would be “Kill The Rainbow” because it does remind me of “Heaven And Hell” by BLACK SABBATH.
Kathie: “Wow, I will take that as a huge compliment and ironic as the song is about meeting Ronnie Dio. Hmmmmmm - that's a hard call. Because they are all your little children and you love them all, but if I had to pick one I would say, “Bleed”, the title track. It was written and recorded at a very intense time in my personal life and it is a love song, and really my way of pouring my heart out about it and very authentic and close to my soul. I love “Holy Lies” and “Haunted” and “Hate” very much also, because they are really fun to perform live guitar and vocal wise.”
Who came up with the idea for the beautiful artwork on “Bleed”? The drawings of the blonde lady with the Flying V are really excellent.
Kathie: “Thank you for that. It was a long hard labor of love for sure. Out of my head and onto the CD cover. The cover is actually me in a photograph and placed into the background courtesy of the cover artist. I had the 'visual' in my head for a long time and was always experimenting in my apt with my digital camera and tripod trying to find the right pose. I had the vision of a warrior chick in a church setting, but instead of a sword she would be wielding a flying V with stigmata wounds on her body. My great friend and soul twin brother, Roy Young, who did the artwork for “Bleed”, is a fantastic artist and had offered to assist with the artwork, if I could give him a picture of myself in that pose. He would put me in the church background that I envisioned and that he could also create also the ‘STYGMATA wounds' on my hands for me, etc. and so we agreed to work on the cover together. I had done some test shots in AZ wearing fishnet that were great and from a previous modeling photo session, but we could not use them due to needing my arms and torso to be naked skin, so that we could put the 'STYGMATA wounds’ on me. I had to reshoot the pic myself in my apt in a self portrait bare from the waist up in the warrior pose and submit it to Roy for the rest of the artwork to be done around it. The actual photo I took in my apt is the cover that he placed into the church background, which we worked on together choosing the colors, etc. I also wanted to have my eyes and another (self portrait also) photo airbrushed into the jacket art slightly because I didn't want to distract from the artwork with adding regular band pics, etc. He did that for me also. That was for the cover and the inside jacket. Roy did the entire on disk artwork and back tray artwork himself. On the next run of the CDs, when we go forward with the big release through our distributors, we will also be adding the bonus inside tray artwork also courtesy of Roy Young. The STYGMATA logo and The Karma Records Group logo were done by my great friend and graphics artist, Flip of Screaming Tiger Designs."
You also produced the album yourself. Are you satisfied with the final result, or what would you do different, if you had the chance?
Kathie: “I would say, that I am really proud and happy with the production of the CD for the most part. I used a combo of analog tape and Pro tools to get the drums nice and big. The only thing I would do more of is polish the vocals, but you can just keep going and going. There has to be a point, where you have to complete the project, but that is about all I would do. I love the guitar tones and the wetness of the CD as well.”
Did you already play live with STYGMATA?
Kathie: “Not yet, but I am in rehearsals now with my new drummer and the new line up should be in place just after the new year.”
Do you also play JARRA songs during a STYGMATA show?
Kathie: “So funny you ask, because I had no intention of that, but lately "Test Of Faith" has been getting some of the backlash attention, since “Bleed” released and many have asked me that and encouraged it so I would say, most likely, yes we will do a few songs off "Test Of Faith", but not sure which ones we will do at this time.”
Are you also intending to play any other covers, besides “Spill The Blood”?
Kathie: “Oh, I don't think so, but if I did I would cover a PRIMAL FEAR tune any day! I had a dream last year, that I was singing "The Healer" with PRIMAL FEAR in Germany (laughter). You think maybe I could sit in one verse?”
Do you use any show effects during your live gigs or is it pure sweat, music and a 100% dynamic heavy metal show?
Kathie: “It has always been about the music and performance for me, so at this point STYGMATA will be great sound, great lights and pure sweat, music and a 100 % metal show! As the show grows bigger, I am sure we'll expand the visual effects and I am not opposed to trying new things and giving the fans more of what they want.”
Who is playing in your touring band right now? Did Jack Frost join the band as well?
Kathie: “As I mentioned the goal is to have a permanent STYGMATA line up at some point and I am in the process now of auditioning the last two members for the new permanent line up. So far, for the drumming duties I have signed on Austin, TX drummer, Joel Duhon. Joel has toured the world with many huge bands and is currently signed to Trick Drums as an Trick endorser (http://www.TrickDrums.com). Joel will be bringing out his bad ass purple custom Trick Kit for the STYGMATA tour and is a great showman and player with impeccable meter. He is excited about performing the tunes from “Bleed” and “Test Of Faith”. Jack has his own band and we have moved in similar circles for years, both being very busy with our own projects. Jack will be staying with SEVEN WITCHES and STYGMATA will have a permanent lead guitarist, but Jack and I are committed to doing some of the shows together as well, because we have been wanting to work together for a long time. So it will be announced as such letting everyone know when he will be joining us on tour.”
If you could support any band of your choice, which band would that be and why?
Kathie: “PRIMAL FEAR in a heartbeat, because I feel that our styles are similar and because they are one of the greatest metal bands ever and one of the best out touring today. The dream gig however, would be opening for DIO, because he has been my vocal mentor since day one and it would just be out of this world surreal and an honor. I am still going to try to convince him to sing a metal duet with me one day......”
Are there any touring plans for Europe yet?
Kathie: “Yes, tons in the works now. I am speaking with several bookers for Europe and we intend to go overseas to perform at the metal festivals in 2008 and on. We plan to begin warm up shows in the USA by March 2008. We plan to cover TX, AZ, NM, NV, CA first and then move to the East Coast covering NJ, NY, DE, MD, PA, before heading overseas.”
What are your future plans with STYGMATA?
Kathie: “At this time, we are making a decision on who will be handling the distribution for “Bleed” and also securing our booking agencies for the USA and Europe. We plan to be on the road for the next 18- 24 months and will also be securing our merchandising deals. We will have a permanent line up in place soon and I have already written four new songs for the next CD. However, I am looking forward to getting back out on the road and in no hurry to make another record any time soon."
You are also re-releasing “Test Of Faith” and “Jarra Live From Phoenix”. Why is that? And will these re-releases contain any bonus material?
Kathie: `Yes, I am toying with the idea of re releasing “Test Of Faith”, but only due to the increased interest in the CD since “Bleed” pre released and the fact that it is officially out of production and nearly sold out. I have had many requests for it, but they are getting harder and harder to find it seems. If we do the re-release it will have a bonus track. I have no solid plans for the “Jarra Live From Phoenix” at this time and am content to leave it as this rare little bird for now. It was a very limited release, but a very good recording I have to say the mobile engineer did a great job.”
Which other metal bands come from your area?
Kathie: “In Arizona, the bands that were the biggest that came out of the Phoenix area back in the day or were based in AZ were FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, SACRED REICH and MEGADETH and a ton of local metal bands. AZ had one of the best metal scenes in the United States for a long time and from what I am seeing living in other parts of the US lately, they still do compared to the other States I have witnessed.”
When you take a look at the metal scene of today, you see many new talented bands like HYDROGYN, IGNITOR, BENEDICTUM and JADED, who are quite successful. Did you also notice, that female-fronted or all-female bands have gained more success in the metal scene over the past few years? Why is that, do you think?
Kathie: “Well for one, metal fans are smart and they know what is good and they get it that women in metal are and have always been a huge part of the metal scene and finally not timid about acknowledging it. Also, and this is just my opinion, but the male element in metal being sooo dominate for so long, it's hard to find much originality. It seems that fans are bored of the same old same old and are hungry for fresh meat and women metal musicians seem to offer that up rather well. Women in metal are a plethora of amazing talent with a great future to come!!”
Besides STYGMATA, you are also very much involved with your own label Karma Records Group. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What must a band do to have their album released on this label, and what kind of bands are you looking for?
Kathie: “Originally, I started the label back in 1998 as a back up for more down the road in my career, when the first label we were talking to about "Test Of Faith" fell apart. I released "Test Of Faith" on the Karma Records Group label in a small run and we charted in Germany in the Top 15 ‘new metal releases for 2000’ in Heavy Oder Was?! magazine, which let to our signing with Lion Music in 2000. I then shelved the label for again, for down the road. When I left JARRA and at the end of my Lion deal, I had made that decision to go forward with my label and shop for distribution.That came very easily, since I had already moved a decent amount of product and I signed with Nightmare Records for worldwide distro for Karma. I signed and released CDs from two bands in that time and also released the “Jarra Live From Phoenix” CD, while recording “Bleed”. I have also just released “Bleed” on the Karma label and we will be announcing our distribution deal very soon. I released the two bands at the end of their contracts and although they did very well it took a lot of work and time and with the obligations to my new band I have put a hold on signing any new bands for the next 24 months. I will at some point sign and work with new bands and looking for melodic metal bands that work hard, have real talent and great songwriting and are willing to tour heavily. I look forward to helping other metal bands in the future for sure and producing them as well.”
Are there any (other) bands that signed to your label, or is the label stricktly meant to release your material alone?
Kathie: “As I mentioned there were two bands signed to Karma, that I had to release at the end of their contracts and so at this juncture, I am setting it up for my catalog now and as we grow bigger, I will expand the label with other new artists.”
Do you have any other hobbies or interests, besides playing in a band and running a record label?
Kathie: “Oh tons (laughter). I am heavily into meditation and am an avid reader. I am reading probably three books at any given moment and read as much as I can. I also swim alot. I am a pool baby for sure and love to work out alot as well, but love to do most of my working out in the water. I also love nature so I try to spend as much time outside in the garden. I am into organic healthy eating, so I have an organic veggie garden as well as a purple flower garden that I enjoy working on. That is where I get my quiet time. I also love to cook and love to feed everyone all the time.The most enjoyment when home alone however is the time I get to spend with my animals. I have three cats that are all rescues and they are my family and they keep me laughing and stress free. All of this is a nice balance to my loud and busy metal life.”
Do you believe in ‘stigmata’ and other inexplicable occurences? Maybe you can explain your answer with (some) examples?
Kathie: “Well, I have to tell you that I have studied alot of spiritual teachings and have had many paranormal experiences in my life, so I would have to say yes to that one. There are so many mysteries in the universe, that we will never know so I try to keep an open mind to everything. I cannot say I believe, that ‘stigmata’ is real. I can only say it is real to those that experience it. And for me if someone feels that strongly about something, I feel they have that right to believe as they choose. I have never seen it or experienced it, but I have had enough 'visits' from those that have passed over in my life to know there is something else going on here for sure. I have to tell you, I never thought when I chose the name for the new band or the cover, that so many would be speaking and asking about the phenomenon known as ‘stigmata’, but I have been told that great art provokes great thought, so this is really a great question and I love talking about it with people. Maybe we can figure it out? I have a feeling though most likely not......ha!”
You did some voice over work for some movies. Which movies are we talking about and what was it like doing this work?
Kathie: “It was actually working with the Villekon Chronicles Movie Project. I didn't do the voice-overs, but I was hired as the music supervisor on the early stage of the project to use some of my music from "Test Of Faith" in the film. The movie became a Graphic Novel Series and is now in the process of becoming a movie. Roy Young, who did the “Bleed” cover is also the artist for this movie. I am still in contact with Bryan Kinnard, the creator of VC and Roy and we all hope to work together with some of my new music, when the film deal is secured. As far as voice-overs, I would love to be a cartoon…. Maybe Disney needs a metalchick mouse?”
What are your future plans with STYGMATA?
Kathie: “My plans are to continue to make records and release CDs and stay on the road for the next few years. I have had some time to take a breath now and reinvent myself for this next chapter, so I am looking forward to doing as many shows as I can with this band and continuing to write the best metal songs I can. I do plan to work in film and soundtracks and keep my label going, but right now my plan is to secure STYGMATA as a great new band with lots of music to give.”
May we expect a second album of STYGMATA in the near future, and will there be any changes in the sound?
Kathie: “There will be a new CD. Yes, I have already started writing it. I would like to be out on the road for a while before I go back into the studio, but yes there will be another CD for STYGMATA soon. Chances will be that there will be a permanent line up and I plan to keep going into a heavier direction. I will always stay true to my class metal roots and combining my grind with my melody, but I am always up for more aggressive guitar playing and drumming.”
Are there any important gigs on the calendar for you?
Kathie: “Right now nothing confirmed, but we are tentatively scheduling two CD release parties for just after the new year. The tour dates will be posted at the label site at http://www.KarmaRecordsGroup.com. We are planning one in Texas and one in AZ. We expect that to be by mid March 2008. That is the time we expect to announce our distribution and merchandising deals. We will also be posting all of the tour dates and signings and new member announcements on the new band website http://www.stygmata.com.“
Where can people buy the new STYGMATA album, and is there any merchandising available for the fans? In other words, please advertise for your new CD here - it's free!
Kathie: “At this time the CD is available online at http://www.KarmaRecordsGroup.com as well as STYGMATA T shirts. We offer free shipping several times a year and free gifts with all orders and we ship worldwide. This is our limited pre release, that is actually almost sold out. There will be a new release with additional artwork in 2008, when we go forward with the distribution. In Texas retail the CD is available at Piranah Records in Round Rock (Austin), TX at the store location or on line if we are sold out at http://www.piranharecords.cc/ there is also a free gift with that CD sale.”
When exactly will the STYGMATA website go on-line, because it’s still “in progress”, as we speak?
Kathie: “Sadly, our webmaster and loving friend passed away in Arizona during the prep for the release of “Bleed” and all our files were stored in his things, that we are still waiting to retrieve. We will be up and running after January 2008, I believe and in the meantime the fans can hear clips of “Bleed” at the myspace site http://www.myspace.com/STYGMATA.”
Have you set any goals for STYGMATA and if yes, what are they?
Kathie: “Short term is to get our distribution and merchandising in order and hit the road for the support of “Bleed”. Long term is to have the permanent line up on the next few CDs and secure our presence in Europe.”
Do you have any personal messages for our readers?
Kathie: “I cannot say thank you enough to all the metal fans and everyone that has supported my transition from JARRA to STYGMATA. I appreciate all the great emails and myspace support and all the love everyone is sending to me. Thank you for the support of “Bleed”! Special shout outs to my metal buds helping out with promo, distro, shirts and the amazing street teams. Thanks to Mike Barker, Irfan Berk, John Wrobel, Nick in PA, Blake from Metal Pit, Marco from StereoInvaders and Benzoworld in Italy, Rainer Krukenberg in Germany, Metal Rules Magazine, Flip at Screaming Tiger, Roy Young, my drummer, Joel Duhon, JT at Trick Drums and most of all, Toine and Rita at Metal Maidens!!!”
The last words in this interview are for our good friend Kathie and her band STYGMATA....
Kathie: “STYGMATA supports http://www.metalmaidens.com. Toine and Rita rule!!!! Much love and see you all out on the road soon!!!”
Visit their official website at: www.STYGMATA.com
or My Space at: www.myspace.com/STYGMATA To buy the CD, go to the Karma Records Group at: www.KarmaRecordsGroup.com