Track-by-track guide to Stain’s Flesh and Form

We’re bringing back the Track-by-track segment, widely known for being the only place in the local media landscape where the music’s authors take you through the greatest secrets and tiniest details of their music. This mostly happens when the opportunity arises, which, with one hundred percent certainty, has happened this time. Our guests are members of the rising Belgrade band called Stain. The main theme of this listening session is their debut album titled Flesh and Form.

Debut album, eight songs, and a bunch of music videos are what we’ve had the chance to see and hear from these Belgrade grunge rockers so far. As far as music is concerned, we won’t delve too much into details since they will explain that themselves. Realistically, if we didn’t like them, we wouldn’t have followed them all this time. Now, we’ll make a little exception and focus on the guitar part of the musical spectrum. The long-haired guy with a Les Paul in his hands is, as far as we’re concerned, the main weapon of this quartet! For some reason, guitarists and their guitar skills are not given enough credit on the local scene, or rather what and how they convey to the songs. Neither are guitarists Serbia region bold enough to show what they know and can do, for some strange and incomprehensible reasons. Listen to the work of Stain’s guitarist Ivan Ljubičić on this album, and you’ll see that the guy isn’t ashamed to deliver a good riff or play a beautiful and memorable solo! Maybe guitar music isn’t trendy today, but it’s always nice to hear it all, and as a fellow guitarist, I simply have to commend this guy!

Since this is a rewrite, or better to say, a translation of the original article that appeared in the Serbian language back in 2022, we need to add the biggest news regarding the band Stain. They are about to embark on their first international tour, outside their country of origin. It is a big moment for the band from the Serbian scene, and you can check everything out on their social media profiles. But enough already, let’s now delve into the secrets of the album Flesh And Form revealed to us by Ivan Ljubičić (guitar), Nikola Đurović (vocals), Aleska Pejović (bass guitar), and Staša Rudić (drums).

Spiral

Although chronologically speaking, “Spiral” is not the first song we made, it is the most accessible for new listeners. It is the shortest of all the songs on the album and therefore served best as an introduction to the whole album. Ivan (guitar) found inspiration for the main riff and lyrics while listening to “And I See You” by the band Lem Jem (which unfortunately no longer exists, but you can find the song on YouTube).

He Who Disappears

Ah, this is our first song! Stain was initially a cover band, and Pantera and Metallica were an integral part of our setlist, as can be heard in this song. Interestingly, the riff was created at the first rehearsal when Staša joined in April 2015. From that moment on, we knew that the four of us had “clicked” creatively. We later changed the arrangement for the album recording to make it harmonize better with the songs we later made.

Faceless

A song the audience already knows by heart and one we’ve recorded in the studio the most times (4 times). Due to its structure, catchiness, and simplicity, we often refer to it as the “Enter Sandman” of our modest but strong opus. After “He Who Disappears,” there were some unsuccessful songs, so “Faceless” officially becomes the second song we made. Đura already had a finished text, but what was new in the instrumental part and what was new for our creativity at that time was the counterpoint between the guitar and the bass guitar, or the simultaneous playing of two separate melodies that differ rhythmically. When we add the vocal melody to all that, we get a “formula” that we often use in further songwriting.

Flesh and Form

The alpha and omega of our creativity. The song was created immediately after “Faceless”, but we worked on it for a long time. The idea for the chorus came during rehearsal, and then we created all the other parts in accordance with it. We experimented with psychedelic instrumentals in the middle and managed to find a place for it in the whole song. In that central chorus, you can hear the freight elevator from BIGZ (rehearsal place in Belgrade) multiple times. Its creaking is very characteristic, so we recorded it with a phone on one occasion and decided to incorporate it into this part, so this song also has a part of BIGZ in it. We simply consider this our best song in every way, which is why the album is named after it.

The working title of this song was “Mexican spaceship.” Don’t ask us why.

Fade

This is one of those songs that arise spontaneously in the moment and are not touched much. Aleksa played the riff on the bass guitar for Đura in the studio, and Đura immediately had an idea for the melody and lyrics. Soon after, Aleksa also contributed to writing the lyrics, so the song was almost finished. We struggled with the central instrumental part because we were trying to make something “interesting,” but after a lot of lost nerves, we focused on the emotion and played something very simple. After that change in the approach to creation, the song was finished in two rehearsals, and we recorded that central part live in one take to better convey that raw energy and emotion.

In Touch with The Sky

A song we always say is intended for the fairer sex. It was created very quickly and was the last song we made for the album. It deviates a bit in style and sound from the other songs and, textually, puts “her” in the foreground, which is not usual for our songs. Interestingly, Ivan didn’t have an idea for the solo section at all, and that lasted a few rehearsals. Finally, Đura and Aleksa jumped in to help, giving him ideas, references, and guidelines, so together we made a solo in one rehearsal and completed the song.

The Heel

The inspiration for the riff came from Tool’s cover of the song “You Lied,” but the song soon took its own course. In this song, you can hear influences of progressive rock, especially from the second chorus to the end of the song. We simply let the song carry us; sometimes it’s simple, sometimes it follows typical hard rock structures, and sometimes it’s progressive, like The Heel. It’s interesting that Đura received the lyrics for this song during the album recording process. Once, while having a party in our studio in Bigz, in a burst of inspiration, he “scribbled” the entire song’s lyrics in maybe 5 minutes, so this song also carries the “spirit” of that place within it.

It’s also interesting that we called this song “Peta” (because it was created fifth in line) until it got its real name, and well, Heel in English means fifth.

OK

A stoner ballad that nobody asked for and that just happened to turn out the way it did. Again, the spirit of the studio in BIGZ is woven into this song, whose recognizable riff was created by spontaneous jamming of Aleksa and Ivan wrapped in the board of light refraction of curtains. The solo in this song is Ivan’s favorite, and he recorded it on a technically faulty and poorly tuned handmade replica of a Fender Stratocaster. But that hollow, gritty tone was what Ivan was looking for, and sometimes just those tones are hidden only in guitars worth 200 euros.

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Listen to Flesh and Form album here: