Chthonic Discusses Terrorist Threat Against North American Khaos Tour
Band Photo: Chthonic (?)
There's no other way to describe “Takasago Army” other than an absolute masterpiece of an album that's going to go down in history as one of the best metal albums of the past decade. It made enough of an impression on me that I absolutely had to meet the band myself. This was the first time since I was writing for Ultimate Poser Blog that interviewing a band had managed to turn me into a drooling fanboy. Thankfully, I was able to meet all of Chthonic, and found that everyone in the band is absolutely 100% awesome despite my wide-eyed fanboyism emanating as an aura around me. Freddy Lim was cool enough to chat with Metalunderground.com about Taiwanese politics, the Far East metal scene in Asia and Oceania, and an actual terrorist threat against the band's most recent North American tour.
Matt: I'm here with Chthonic who have released, in my opinion, the best metal album of the year. How do you feel about the positive reception that “Takasago Army” has gotten?
Freddy: We've got a new way to write songs this time. At the beginning I kind of wondered if the fans and critics would appreciate that. We used to write metal songs first and then add Taiwanese elements into the songs later. Now we write Taiwanese songs and then make it heavier and heavier and tried to make it into how we'd like it as a metal song. It's the opposite to how we wrote songs before. But we appreciate so many positive reviews and feedback from fans. We really appreciate that.
Matt: I like how each of your albums has a different feel to it. “Mirror of Retribution” was very different from “Seediq Bale” which was also very different from “Relentless Recurrence.” Would your next album be a follow up to “Takasago Army” or something totally different?
Freddy: I believe we're going to follow in the style of “Takasago Army.” Jesse and I, we are the two main songwriters. Jesse's 31, I'm 35. We are at an age where we've found the perfect feeling with everything and know how we want to write songs. So it's not about trying different things. It's about feeling very comfortable writing songs now.
Matt: I've noticed that you're very outspoken politically, what are the politics like in Taiwan? You have the Pan-Blue and Pan-Green coalitions running but what do those parties stand for for people who don't know?
Freddy: I don't want to judge things by the political parties. But the majority of people, they really stand for human rights and freedom and they don't want to be occupied by any other nations again. It's not about parties, it's about how Taiwanese people think. People think that the Pan-Blue party is more Pro-China. But I'd say that the people who voted for the pan-Blue still stand for the rights of Taiwan, they just think that the Pan-Blue party would help Taiwan be more into the international society. No matter if it's an economic or political way. The true voice of the Taiwanese is about freedom and rights that we have as a country right now.
Matt: I know that In Taiwan there are three languages spoken because there are three main populations. There’s the indigenous population who speak Taiwanese. Then there were the Chinese settlers who came during the 16th century, then you have the people fleeing the communists during the 20th century. Then you also had the Japanese who came when Taiwan was a colony, which is why you still get NKH in Taiwan. Is Taipei a very multilingual city in the same way that Montreal and Miami in North America are?
Freddy: Yes. In the South of Taiwan, the people speak Taiwanese. If you go to the mountains, you encounter different tribes who speak different languages. In Taipei, you have a very multilingual city where people speak different languages everywhere.
Matt; Within Chthonic's music, you've always had a very strong sense of your own country’s myths. Are you going to continue that or go with the more historical themes on “Takasago Army?”
Freddy: We have no idea yet. Jesse and I just talked about this a few days ago. We were just thinking about a new album. There are so many good stories and myths everywhere in Taiwan in different tribes. We just need to find the right story that gives us the right passion. We really need some story that can let us feel very passionate on those subjects. Right now we have different concepts and we're searching for which one is the best. We are researching different concepts now.
Matt: You said on stage that you were getting threats against your band from the Chinese?
Freddy: About two weeks before the tour. Angela (of Arch Enemy) got an e-mail from a Chinese nationalist. He was saying that he was living in the United States and to watch out for Chthonic who will play with you. If they saying something like, “Free Tibet” again, I will go onstage and kill them. So please warn them. Angela forwarded the message to Doris and Doris was pissed off because we've got a lot of Chinese fans in China who support our music and appreciate it. All I want to say is it's very rare to see a Chinese guy who supports his government so hard because everybody hates their government. Our Chinese fans in China, their internet is blocked so they can’t go to Youtube or Facebook. So if they want to watch our music videos, they have to find some illegal way to go to Youtube or Facebook. So we know a lot of Chinese fans who hate their government. So it's rare to see a guy who supports his government so hard. Doris and Angela talked about this a lot so they decided to not respond to that guy but still protect what we believe. That's why we got Amnesty International for so many shows in this tour. Like Yesterday in Now York and in LA, we got Amnesty International to set up tables because we didn't know when this guy would come. He might just be somebody hired by the Chinese government. So we got more people to know about human rights things and freedom so if he really appeared at one of our shows, he might want to learn something or change his mind and be more supportive of democracy.
Matt: On the topic of human rights, what do you think of the push for democracy that’s been going on in the Middle East?
Freddy: In one way, most of the people are happy to see the revolutions going on in the Middle East. On the other hand, this is the most crucial time that everybody should pay attention to the situation and care more about what's happening since humans rights violations often happen in these situations. Lots of women might be raped or children killed as those warlords who want to take power might just do something bad. So it's a very crucial period. It's not that there’s a revolution, everybody applause, congratulations. People should pay more concentration to the situation in the Middle East or else it might go to the worst case scenario again.
Matt; There aren't many bands from your part of the world in North America. The only bands from the Far East that have really gotten a lot of attention over here are just AC/DC and Dir En Grey. Whereas, there are smaller followings for you, The Berzerker, and Sigh. Like Dawn of Azazel haven’t toured North America since 2006, Seraphim have never toured, Crash who are huge in your part of the world have never toured here. What do you think it would take to get the Asia and Oceania metal scene to get bigger in the United States?
Freddy: I don’t consider things to be big or small. I think this is about the time to accept different types of metal. Not just Asia or the Far East but how to make metal more multicultural. I do believe that metal can stay afloat unlike other genres of rock music because this is a genre that’s always developing something new and accepting other cultures. That's why metal can stand for so long. That's why metal needs to accept music from not just Asia but different parts of the world.
Matt: It's really amazing show you have the potential to become huge over here. Like in Taipei and Sydney, you’re already playing at some very large venues. Since “Takasago Army” has a more accessible sound, do you think that the next time around, you'll be playing longer sets with stuff like “Blooming Blades” and “Quasi Putrefaction” on your set?
Freddy: This is a very short set so we can only play some songs that we used to play with but we really want to play more songs from the new album and more songs from “Mirror of Retribution.” At this tour, I can feel that there are so many new fans in different cities. This was a very encouraging tour. Not like last time where we had a lot of troubles in 2009, this tour was very encouraging for us and we want to return as soon as possible.
Matt: Yeah, I went over to your merch table and saw that everything there was sold out including all the older albums.
Freddy: We got our merch based on how it sold it 2009. But all our merch was sold out in just 3 or 4 shows. So we had new shirts manufactured during the first two days and tried to order more and more and then we found out that we can’t have more so it's all sold out now. Yeah, it's really an encouraging tour.
Matt: Are there any plans to come back for next year?
Freddy: After the tour, we're going to go back to Taiwan for the Sing Ling Temple Concert.
Matt: The one with Lamb of God?
Freddy: Yeah, with Randy Blythe.
Matt: How'd that come about?
Freddy: He's a very cool guy. We had a lot of fun when we toured together in Ozzfest. Then when he played in Taipei, we had a great time. And Doris and Jesse have been very good friends with Randy. We needed something new for the Sing Ling Temple Concert, something exiting. So I just thought the other day, “why not Randy?” He's always saying that he can take his wife to come to Taiwan for a vacation so I said in an e-mail, “Why not now?” Then he said, “Okay” so it just happened. So in this tour we met so many good friends and let a lot of good things happened. And after the Sing Ling Temple concert, we've got the UK and Europe tour and then early next year, we've got some offers to come back to the US in the first half of next year. We really want to come back for a longer set. We're just trying to find the right offer to play.
Matt: With Arch Enemy, I know that you toured with them in the UK in January. Did they get you set up for this tour?
Freddy: Doris and Angela talked a lot. Just sometime during their conversation, we got on the bill. I'm not sure if it was before or after the UK tour. I don't really know.
Matt: Anyway, I wish you luck. Come back next year and hopefully you'll get more set time.
Freddy: Thank you. That's what we want. Maybe we'll be able to play some more songs from “Seediq Bale” and “Mirror of Retribution.”
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