Pale Nothing Red Sign ~ Interview With Signo Rojo   2 comments

There is some dispute about what Signo Rojo actually means; the band say that it means “Red Sign” but everywhere else, it is said to mean “Pale Nothing.” Whatever it means, these sludge/doom genre-benders have come a long way from their rehearsal room in the span of a single year. Whereas most bands would have stalled out, they have put out their début EP out on the net; free to download – if you just referred the band to a friend or a blog via e-mail. After that, they took it one step further and put the remastered version up on bandcamp, on a name-your-price basis.

They are also, truth be told, very accessible. Their Facebook page is routinely checked by band member Hampus, and seldom do any fan messages go unanswered. It was through that accessibility that I was able to reach them, and have a little chat. This being my first interview, I hope I did a good enough job. So, without further ado:

Sarp Esin (Doommantia): Thank you for the opportunity. You know, most bands, underground or not, aren’t this accessible; hell, even with things like Facebook, one considers himself lucky if he gets a response at all.

Signo Rojo (Hampus): The pleasure is ours! Well, I guess when you get a bit more established as an artist or a band it can be quite time-consuming to be there for all the fans, answering mails, Facebook comments and whatnot. But I think it’s very important to interact with your crowd on some level, because nowadays music is more than just the music. It’s an identity and people can be ever personal with bands and that’s a bond you have to maintain. In our case, we are on the rise, and are very committed to our band and, luckily, we do have time to answer mails and be active on Facebook and so on.

S.E(D): I know what you mean, and believe me, we appreciate your time. You are definitely, as you said, on the rise, and looks like on the fast track as well. Just 2010, you announced two songs were being recorded and come 2011, you have an album (and a remastered/remixed version of it) out, and you’re touring, not to mention generating an impressive amount of buzz. How did you get so much work done in such a short time?

SR(H): Well, we started to record our songs in Autumn/Winter of 2010/2011. The recording process went over quite fast, but then the mixing took some time due to several reasons. But then a friend of ours made another mix of it, while we were e-mailing our asses off to different blogs, review-pages and so on. But I guess it’s hard work mixed with some luck that made some buzz. A lot of dedicated fans and bloggers out there gave us a lot of good reviews that led to others, and the wheel was spinning. I think it’s our passion for the music and playing live that drives us to really get our stuff out there!

S.E(D): I think the fact that the album was free to get, was a major fact in the word spreading. Further, given that you guys are one of the few bands on bandcamp.com who allow free downloads anymore, I feel like I have to ask: what’s your stance on downloading music as opposed to getting the physical CD?

SR(H): That could be a possible reason, along with frantic e-mailing from our side. But hey, it’s called “Promo album 2011” so, we couldn’t do it in any other way I guess than to put a pay-what-you-want price on it. The physical CD was meant to be sold at shows and be mailed to different record labels and booking agencies, just to bring sin some small amount of cash to get new merch and to get us a record deal or whatnot.

As for our stance, well, I guess we all are paying for the Spotify service (iTunes-like, don-demand music service mostly for PDAs – S.E.) and are mainly listening to streaming music. But on the other hand, we are buying vinyl records and shirts from bands, rather than real CD’s. With that in mind, I guess that’s why we put the songs up for free, and retained a physical release on the side for those who are interested.

S.E(D): Just by opening the MySpace page, one gets the feeling that Signo Rojo is a coherent whole, not just the sum of its parts. How important is the presentation of your material to you, and, I have to ask, what’s the story behind that awesome (and somewhat tattoo-worthy) owl?

SR(H): Well, it’s both important and not so important at the same time, let me explain. Signo Rojo is mainly a live band in it’s spirit, the rest is something you have to do to get listeners and a potential crowd. That said, I don’t mean that we don’t like to record songs and doing artwork, we love that part as well, it’s just that the live part is the actual goal for us.

The Owl logo was designed by Costin Chioreanu at http://twilight13media.com/ with some guidelines from us. He actually contacted us, really, and told us that he was digging the music. After a few e-mails back and forth, he had done a bad-ass looking owl for us. I guess we told him to make something mysterious with woods and owls and shit, but he had no restrictions. That’s how it should be to get the most out of an artist, no limits. And we couldn’t be happier by the outcome, so, cheers to you, Costin! Anyway, after the logo, I, myself, began to do some MySpace designs and the outcome is what you see today.

S.E(D): So the band didn’t use Costin for the rest of the layout?

SR(H): No. It’s a small hobby of mine to make some art pieces and photo-manipulations, so I was trusted enough to do the layout for our album and I’m quite pleased with the result.

S.E(D): As are we. Now, the album has a crisp, well-balanced sound. It’s not over or under-produced, but it’s not all polished surfaces and smooth edges either. Where and with whom did you record it, and how did you acquire that sound?

SR(H): Me and Jonas (vocals and bass) are students at the Digital Sound Design program at our local university, BTH and Pontus (drums) just recently started studying over there as well, so we are quite spoiled with good equipment and studios at our school. We just grabbed our gear from our rehearsal space and began recording by ourselves. The sound is more or less what we sound like on a show, or at least, that was our goal when we started recording.

Jonas did the first mix, but to be honest, we don’t have a lot of experience in mixing sludge-metal so the outcome was not really satisfying. That’s why a friend of ours, Tim Uhlin, was kind enough to do a new mix for us. And we are really happy about that.

S.E(D): Now tell me a bit about the recording process. How does it come together for you? Do you have a set method of doing things?

SR(H): We didn’t have a method this time. We just wanted to go into the studio and record the songs in order to have something to show the world. We spent one weekend recording the drums. The weekend after that, we recorded the bass; the weekend after that, the guitars and so on… But next time, we’re going to be more prepared and have someone with us to exchange ideas with during the recording process.

S.E(D): Just like how you have no set method, your music isn’t set in a genre. There are post-rock passages, stoner grooves, doomy riffs… Can you tell me a little about your influences? Where do you come from?

SR(H): We have a lot of different influences within the band, and we all have different musical backgrounds, but in the end, we have all landed on the same spot and we’re enjoying the same kind of music nowadays. We’re all listening to bands like Mastodon, Baroness, Black Tusk, Bison B.C. and so on, but we’re also fond of some post-metal bands like Cult of Luna, Isis and Red Sparrowes. Throw in some stoner rock in the mixer and push ‘blend’ and you get Signo Rojo. Thanks to the variety of music we are listening to, we get a special sound. We are putting in all the different styles we like and trying to make it fit together, we haven’t really analyzed it that much. It is what it is, and we’re happy with what it sounds like.

S.E(D): Straight up “The Calling” stands out in the album, so much so that it is specifically the song everyone notices at first glance. Given that “Apotheosis” is a similar, more doom-laden song, why do you think “The Calling” is so out there?

SR(H): “The Calling” is a song that we wrote quite early on in the band and have survived through personal style changes within the band. As time went and we started to get a new sound that wasn’t that doomy and slow like “The Calling” and “Apotheosis” were. Our three new songs that we play live are even more uptempo and have more attitude, like “Lashing the Hellespont” for example. But it’s nice to have songs like “The Calling” in our live set to introduce some dynamics in the show, and we are quite surprised that people are digging that track, while we, on the other hand, have a few other personal favorites.

S.E(D): Now you are booking shows, and in your interview with ThisIsNotAScene.com, you even said you might be going to the UK. What are your plans for the future? Any new material on the horizon, or more touring?

SR (H): Our plan at this moment is to find ourselves a working partner, be it a record label or a booking agency, and then start recording our new songs this summer. We have a few tracks that we want to record and release, either on a new EP, or together with our favorites from the Promo album as a full-length. The result depends on whether we find a record label or not. But apart from that, we are looking forward to play some more live shows. There is really not that much booked at this moment, but we’re taking every chance we get to play for a crowd. And we’re really hoping to get outside the Swedish borders and play in Europe; or any place that wants us, really.

S.E(D): Well, this being my first interview, anything I forgot to ask that I should have?

SR(H): Well, I can’t come up with anything we’ve missed, really. It’s been fun answering your questions and we at Signo Rojo are very thankful for you taking the time to get under our skin!
Interview By Sarp Esin
Signo Rojo

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Posted May 3, 2011 by doommantia in Signo Rojo

2 responses to “Pale Nothing Red Sign ~ Interview With Signo Rojo

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  1. Signo Rojo is spanish for Red Sign. The pale nothing thing is a bad translation from swedish, the name of the region from where the band comes (Blekinge = “pale nothing” in swedish, not really true though).

  2. Figured it was something like that. Jonas, I believe, said in his ThisIsNotAScene interview that it actually originated from Elias (guitars.) He had, apparently, named one of his “home projects” Signo Rojo.

    I just chose that as a title because, both apply, in away:)

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