Stigma Does It Better!

an interview with Vinnie Stigma

by Frank Fornsaglio, Mike Siciliano, and John Siciliano.
Transcribed by Mike Siciliano

It's November 26th and after a great display of hardcore punk by the masters of the music, Agnostic Front, we (Mike Siciliano, Frank Fornsaglio, and John Siciliano, known here as HellTime) approach the godfather of NYHC himself, Vinnie Stigma. The 40 plus year old hardcore legend known as "Stigma" is sporting his trademark Pittsburgh Steelers gear and out-of-character flaming red spiked hair. Well anyway, he cordially invites us backstage and notices that my tshirt says "ITALIANS DO IT BETTER!", to which he says "yeah you got it right buddy!" We descend into the depths of Pittsburgh's rock club Graffiti and begin the interview. His answers are brutal and concise, just what you'd expect from one of NYHC's few living legends. Just because AF sucked from 1987-1993 and might very well suck after this new album, doesn't tarnish their reputation of being the hardest, the roughest, and the most "New York" of all the other bands that came from their era. To put it simply, Stigma is, always has, and always will be coolest guy in the world!

HellTime (HT): What do the girls think of your new hairstyle? (referring to Vinnie's bright red/pink hair)

Vinnie Stigma (VS) : They like it, I've got spice in my life. I'm gonna be a punk rocker 'til the year 2000 and then I'll change back to a skinhead

Friend of Stigma (FoS): The Y2K skinhead breakdown(laughs)

VS: Yeah sure!

HT: So what do you think about Giuliani (Mayor Rudolph, running for NY Senator) and the "art thing"?

VS: y'know, ah, everybody knows I hate him. He's no f**king good, he's a piece of s**t. Y'know he's a Nazi, he's an a**hole. I don't know what kind of f**kin' Italian he is! He ain't my kind of an Italian!

HT: He's going for the vote

VS: Yeah, f**k'em!

HT: What do you think of Hillary (Rodham-Clinton, also running for NY Senator)?

VS: F**k her too! She's a carpet-bagger and a scaly-wagger!

HT: Vinnie Stigma for mayor of NYC, right?

VS: Yeah I'll run for mayor.

FoS: Mayor of the lower east side (laughs)

HT: Yeah bring the strip clubs back, so tell me about the new album.

VS: New album Riot Riot Upstart just came out. New video, y'know, 17-18 new songs, whatever, give or take a song, what the f**k? A lotta lead guitar, really well done, one of my best albums as far as studio work; I really I can play guitar! I didn't know that, it's news to me!

HT: Did you like Lars Frederickson production work?

VS: He did good, Lars.

HT: You like Billy (Milano)'s better?

VS: Naheh, I don't know, I like Lars I think, I don't know. Two different records.

HT: Yeah Billy seems to like to mix his back-up vocals way up there.

VS: Yeah (laughs)

HT: How's the Tour so far?

VS: So far, so good. No Innocent Victim are good, good guys, we're gonna go to Europe with them.

HT: What do you think of the Steelers this year Vinnie? (if you're new to the AF legend, Stigma is a long time Steelers fan)

VS: Well look over there (points to rack of clothing), there's my Steelers hat, my Steelers shirt, my Steelers Sweater, my Steelers watch. They're not playing so good this year, y'know 500 and under, but hey I'm a fan, f**k it, y'know?

HT: Do you ever think Guitar Magazine will have you on the cover next to Yngwie

VS: I wasn't on the cover, but I was in it once way back before they had color covers and before they started having guitar players that play with one finger. Way back then, I don't remember when, f**k it whatever. At least I'm a real guitar player, I don't play with one finger, y'know? I don't tune down low and play with one finger and if that's in guitar player magazine, shame on them and f**k'em too! I refused an interview with them and I'm doing an interview with you, so there you go.

HT: What are your influences?

VS: Bruce Lee, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra, and Black Sabbath.

HT: What's it like being on Epitaph Records?

VS: It's allright. I gotta a lot of good friends on there, I'm friends with everybody, so it's good like that.

HT: What gear you playin' through now?

VS: Same amp I've had since day one, since I played here 15 years ago so minus 15 years off your life and I was in Pittsburgh, but it goes back further than that, so say 17 years.

HT: Back in the Electric Banana days huh?

VS: They should fry that Banana up! It was great, it was, y'know it was Hardcore the old days, the horse and wagon days y'know? Pioneers.

HT: John and Judy (Zarra, owners of Pittsburgh's oldest dump, the Electric Banana) pull the guns on ya?

VS: Sure, y'know them, love'em! Is it open? I don't think I'd ever play there again!

HT: Mike Watt, y'know from the Minutemen, played there last year

VS: Who?

HT: (laughing) So why isn't "Toxic Shock" on the set list?

VS: It sucks, that's why! That whole period sucked! But it's ok, we're back in the swing now.

HT: So which is better AF english or AF en espanol? (referring to this summer's "Por Vida 7")

VS: Englishspinglis**t depends on where I am. If I'm in South America, I like Spanish, if I'm here I like English. Ya gotta communicate with your audience y'know? We do it in Japanese when we're in JapanDomo!

HT: I got this Enola, PA video of you guys from 1986, they got these two bozo's looking like Dan Lilker's bastard cousins playing guitar, where the hell are you at?

VS: Oh yeah, no I quit. I couldn't take the metal, had to straighten things out and put'em back on the right track.

HT: About the tattoo parlor

VS: Yeah New York Hardcore Tattoos 127 Stanton Street. Me and Jimmy from Murphy's Law opened up a tattoo parlor, with like a little record store and tshirts and we carry local records, Hardcore! It ain't a boutique, it ain't a salon, it's a tattoo parlor the way it's supposed to be! With a barber chair in it from the 1880's. No tattoo parlor I've ever been in has a barber chair, I've been in millions of tattoo parlor's, not one! I said 'If I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it right!' Yeah these parlor's today look like salons, all these weirdos hang out there! And they look at you with a nasty look, like they better than you! They all want tribal tattoos. What tribe you belong too? (mockingly) What you in Africa, you were born; get out of here! Look at these people today.

HT: So what do you think about punk today?

VS: Well there's the old punk, the new punk, the crusty punk, I just don't like punk rock with rules, y'know ya gotta wear this, ya can't eat that, ya can't do this, ya can't do that, you gotta be this, you can't be that punk rock: do what the f**k you want!

HT: Allright, you're trapped on a desert island with Kenny G, Michael Bolton, John Tesh, N*sync, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Blink-182, U2, Celine Dion, Creed, Steve Perry, and that kid from Jerry Maguire. They decide to have a jam session with you as their audience. You start to make weapons out of coconuts and bat wings, who do you kill first?

VS: Ithat's a real tough question. I don't know, maybe Michael Bolton first, cause he's the most annoying and he's always everywhere. The kid from Jerry Maguire, I could kill him. Kill'em all. Celine Dion, I'll kill her last 'cause I might want to f**k her a couple of times and then kill her. So I guess that's about how it goes. I'll kill'em from A to Z. Start the alphabet I won't discriminate cause I hate the all! That was a good question! Last comment, hardcore lives! If it ain't hardcore, it ain't s**t!! Those people that swim off the island, pull the cork, sink the f**king island. Kill the pig bash its head! Kill the pig bash its head! LORD OF THE FLIES! Right? Allright thanks fellas, nice shirt Mikey (Siciliano, referring to the "Italians Do it Better!" t-shirt)

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