ChthoniC was in town a few weeks back, touring in support of their 2009 release, Mirror of Retribution. Clarence, JJ and Ling had the opportunity to catch them backstage just before their show to have a chat with them about their music and all things random!
(Ed’s note: If you can read Chinese, click here for the original Chinese transcription of the interview!)
Freddy: Oh its ok, its great!
C: You guys have been to Hong Kong and Macau to perform, are these your first time there?
F: Hong Kong was back in 2003, we’ve been there quite a few times, yea the last time was 2003.
C: How was their reaction to your new album? Especially in Macau, you guys did not perform there before.
F: Very good. My impression was that it’s excellent.
Jesse: They were totally crazy.
F: Yeah. Especially since some fans from Guangzhou came over, it was great fun, and the fans from Guangzhou asked us when we could perform in Guangzhou.
C: And how did you guys answer to that question?
F: We replied that it was not up to us to decide. Wherever we get invited to play, we are willing to, but the arrangements have to been done on their side, we can’t arrange it.
JJ: I understand that you met the spiritual leader of Tibet, Dalai Lama, before. What was your impression of that meeting?
F: We met twice before, the second time was very interesting, because we brought a calendar, in it were our ghastly painted faces.
F: We all looked very fierce. He stared at those photos for quite a while, before telling us “You’re true demons.”
F: And he kept laughing, it was very fun. He mentioned previously when we were chatting that, in China, the government labeled him as a “Demon”. They said that he ate human flesh, described him as something really scary. And thereafter, when he saw our photos, he said we are the demons. My impression of him was that he is very amiable; he will always look at any situation in a positive sense, very positive. Hence, I feel that he is an inspiring elder.
JJ: Did you introduce your music to him?
F: We didn’t, we didn’t dare, we might cause him to go deaf.
F: He’s already more than 70 years old. I suspect that when I’m 70 my ears will get progressively worse.
JJ: In the Taiwanese music scene, there are lots of singer-idols and boybands etc. When Chthonic won the Golden Song award for Best Group, how did these bands react to that?
F: I don’t think they dared to have any reactions, we’re too fierce, they wouldn’t dare to say anything. Actually some of these singers, boybands; some of them are our friends as well. Like Monster from Mayday, I’m on good terms with him. And like him (points to Jesse), he has a lot of girlfriends who are singers.
F: Oh there isn’t?
J: It’s all gossip by magazines.
F: Yeah it’s all gossip, should be alright, they (the boybands) do not really say anything special, we do not say anything as well.
JJ: How did winning the award affect the band? Are you under more pressure when you compose?
F: Not really, the only people who are affected are probably our parents. Now they can relate to our relatives what we do for a living.
C: Make it clear to them.
F: Yeah! Make it clear to them. Every New Year, Mid-autumn Festival, when the relatives gather, we can tell them about it. When they ask my parents what we are doing, they did not have a proper response. Now they can say we won the award.
JJ: What do you feel about (Taiwanese comedian) Nine Holes’ parody of Chthonic? Do you think he was accurate?
F: I feel that it’s terrible! He never successfully parodies anyone. Thus, he has to carry a sign to say who he is imitating, put the name on the side.
J: No one knows who he is imitating.
C: He needs to have a display to let everyone know.
All: Yeah that’s right!
F: When I knew it was him doing the parody, I knew it’s going to be bad, he will definitely mess it up.
C: Did your family see it?
F: Of course, my younger brother gave me a call saying Nine Holes was going to do a parody of me, asked me whether I wanted to watch. My mom saw it too. My friends and relatives all called me to say Nine Holes was at it again. They lied to me saying I’m on CTTV, and I denied it. And when I switched on the TV, damn it it’s Nine Holes! It’s alright, no need to think too much about it.
C: Last year you guys release “Mirrors of Retribution”, and shot an MV for “’49 Theurgy Chains”. Some sequences in it were shocking; burning the KMT flag, and a stone carving of the head of Chiang Kai Shek. What was the Taiwanese media’s reaction?
F: They reacted rather excitedly, we were puzzled as to the agitation that resulted, it’s no big deal, it’s a creative work. The bronze statue of Chiang Kai Shek was thought up by our Artistic Director. We also did this MV with the hope that it will be a good video, there are no special meaning to it. If we wanted to politicize it we should portray (current Taiwanese president) Ma Ying-jeou instead, that would be big news. We portrayed Chiang Kai Shek is due to the fact that he was related to the story in the album, hence we are very puzzled over the media uproar, we did not expect that to happen. But it’s alright, they asked us and we replied that it’s nothing much, and it was forgotten.
JJ: It’s just to fulfill the requirements of the album.
F: Yes, the Artistic Director and Director, they discussed how to complement the album and the song, to make a good video, that’s most important. If we wanted to make it newsworthy, we would have portrayed Ma Ying-jeou.
C: We understand that the shoot for the video was rather lengthy?
F: Oh, we gathered at 5am in the morning, I think?
J, Dani: Yea, 4am actually.
C: Some bad situations occurred I gathered?
F: Because there were flames, and it kept dripping.
Dani: Burnt our hair.
F: Ended up we couldn’t do the shoot, we had to run out, and the lantern kept dripping and dripping. Everyone ran out. It was like SM, dripping wax. The fuel kept dripping.
JJ: For Chthonic’s world tour this year, other than new music, what are some new stuff that Chthonic would like to introduce to their audiences?
F: (thought for quite a while). Erm….What we are doing this year is more focused, concentrating on Asia. We wanted to go to the US at the end of this year, but we thought that US could wait. We have not been to Hong Kong for 7 years, Singapore 10 years, and Japan for about 3 or 4 years. For now, countries like Vietnam, we’ve never been there. Previously we were in talks to tour Indonesia and Malaysia. We can’t go Malaysia as their government said we could not do our corpse paint, otherwise we would definitely have gone there. Initially the stop after Singapore is Kuala Lumpur, but the government said no makeup. The promoter asked whether we could do without the corpse paint. We felt that it would be very odd. We also had invitations from Chinese promoters, but they are under a lot of pressure themselves. No matter what we allocate time this year, for us to tour more of Asia. So it’s not that out performance have something new and special, but to the (Asian) fans this (tour) is special.
C: Chthonic is releasing their new single in September?
F: Yes, initially we intended to debut it in Singapore, but because (keyboardist) CJ was not available, he is in the army till December, we have to get him to record the keyboard parts into a computer. Since he is in the army he did not have sufficient time to finish that. We were all prepared, everyone else was all prepared, now only the computer portion is not, hence we could not play it, no choice.
(Doris walks past the camera)
F: You have to look into the camera and say it was you.
D: Oh I’m sorry, it was me, is that alright?
F: They are asking questions, you have to answer.
C: Recently, you acted in a film (Tears), why did you choose to take up this role?
D: I was friends with the director, he was looking for an actress, to act as a Betel Nut Girl, I was trying to help a friend. It also somewhat fitted me, hence he asked me to fill this role.
JJ: Will you be taking up more acting roles in the future?
D: Subsequently there were quite a few, but I did not want to act in these. I don’t really like acting, plus the roles were weird.
F: Like a gangster’s boss’ woman, very odd roles.
C: Ever since you became the band leader of Chthonic, do you feel a lot of pressure, or be very intimidated by this role?
D: Yea, there will be some. But it’s alright, just have to adapt a little.
C: Dani dyed his hair recently, new image?
Dani: Not really, everyone’s hair seems to be really dark, it’s really warm, so I wanted to make things cooler.
C: You were shaved your head back in 2007 right?
Dani: Because it was too warm!
C: How about Jesse, you had much longer hair last time?
J: It grew too long, very irritating.
C: Ever thought of shaving? Get a new image?
J: This is good enough.
JJ: Anything that left a significant impression on you guys when you came to Singapore?
C: You guys first came to Singapore 10 years ago, anything changed?
D: Jesse probably can differentiate better.
J: Changed a lot.
C: Changed a lot? Have you been to our newly opened casino?
J: We passed by just now, and the place where I used to frequent.
C: Orchard Road?
J: It didn’t change much.
Dani: There was this very long building, like a boat.
C: That’s the casino.
Dani: That’s the casino?
C: Fu Lu Shou. There’s one over at Sentosa as well. Have you guys tried any of Singapore’s cuisine? Hainanese chicken rice?
D: We tried the Bak Kut Teh yesterday evening, we had the Sesame Oil Chicken noodles this afternoon.
C: Which dish did you guys like the most?
Dani: Probably the chicken noodles.
J: Fried Hokkien Mee.
C: How you, Freddy?
F: The Frog Porridge.
D: Our friend brought us to eat frog porridge the first time we came over to Singapore.
C: There’s a store that’s sells very good frog porridge.
D: The one that’s open 24-hours ?
J: In Geylang.
C: Yes, in Geylang, many things that are “good to eat”.
F: Frog porridge with lots of chilli tastes great, I keep adding more and more chilli.
JJ: There’s no frog porridge in Taiwan?
J: I bring you guys to the one at (Geylang) Lorong 18.
JJ: To see “Fish tanks”.
F: You seem to visit there often.
C: You guys know Singlish?
C: Say a few words in Singlish.
D: You have to speak to Jesse in Singlish before he will.
F: Why not you guys interview us in Singlish and Jesse will reply in Singlish.
JJ, C: Singapore how? Good? Shiok anot?
J: Okok, stop fooling around.
C: What are the plans for Chthonic this year? Other than releasing a new single, maybe a new album?
F: Doris will answer, I’m going next door to steal some beer.
D: Wait a while and go with everyone!
C: There will be more beer tonight.
D: We will be performing in Vietnam in September, and Japan’s Loud Park in October. We’ll be in Britain in November. Hopefully a new album will be out next year.
C: Still releasing under Spinefarm?
D: Most likely with Spinefarm. We had a good time cooperating with them.
JJ: Having performed with so many foreign bands, what other bands would Chthonic like to perform with?
F: Slayer. Or Coldplay. We will do a 4-band tour; Coldplay, Slayer, Ah Mu and Chthonic.
C: Bands of different genres.
D: We do not have any special wish to play with any particular band, whichever band we have a chance to play with, yea.
C: Will there be another major concert like Decade on the Throne?
D: If there were, most likely it would be held next year (points at Freddy). He has some issues with that.
F: I have none.
C: Your eyes says something else….
F: I’m thinking whether it’s possible next year.
C: And that’s all from us, we’ll see you guys later!
All: Thank you!