ThisIsNotAScene caught up with guitarist Jesse from the iconic Taiwanese melodic black metallers Chthonic, before their atmospheric set at Damnation Festival, to talk about new recording techniques, creating a masterpiece and how many male metal fans are guilty of “judging women by their tits”.
You’ve had a busy year recording and releasing an album, playing festivals and now touring Europe. What has it been like?
Jesse: It feels a little bit different, we’ve been very busy but I’ve enjoyed it, I don’t like to sit at home a lot! I like it busy. It’s great to make new friends on tour – this time we’re with Turisas. We’ve played some shows together already.
Takasago Army is your 3rd album and continues the themes from your previous albums. What is the background the new album?
Jesse: Yeah, it’s a trilogy. We didn’t realise until some press people in Japan discovered that the stories are linked, but we didn’t do it on purpose. Seediq Bale is the beginning of the story, and Mirror of Retribution is about when the Japanese army come to Taiwan. Takasago Army is actually in the middle of the two stories, when the people are fighting with the Japanese army, not against them. The album’s mainly about Taiwanese identity because there are Japanese, Chinese and even Portuguese and Dutch governments involved in the island, the people don’t know who they really are any more.
You’ve released 2 versions of the album. One in Taiwanese and one in English, What led to this decision? Will you only play English songs in Europe or can we expect to hear Taiwanese versions too?
Jesse: I think you’ll get it in English. We chose Taiwanese too as it’s the best way we express ourselves. Maybe you can check it online; I think it sounds better in Taiwanese. People can’t understand Taiwanese, but Rammstein make music only in German, and people like that! We always do two versions for marketing purposes really; the other two albums have Taiwanese versions too, and the previous one, that we didn’t release in the UK.
The oriental elements are much stronger on Takasago Army, and sound great. What made you decide to channel the music in this direction?
Jesse: This time the writing process was different. Usually we write the metal riff first and then fit the other melodies around it, and we’ve done that for a few years. We wanted a change, and for people to think we are original. Now we try to write the Taiwanese folk melodies first, and then layer the heavy guitar on afterwards. So we construct the song with the folk melody as a basis. It’s been easier for us to do it that way too. I’m a very Western guy when it comes to music and Freddy (vocalist and oriental violin player) is more traditional in his way of composing those melodies. I couldn’t compose that, I’m a very metal oriented guitar player.
Chthonic have certainly won over UK fans, having been featured in some popular UK metal magazines and performed some shows here as headliners. Where will you conquer next?
Jesse: I don’t know. We’ll try to make better music. People have accepted us here now and we want to go on to create a masterpiece, something even better than our current album.
You’ve played both festivals and gigs as both support and headliners. Do you prefer one to the other?
Jesse: Personally I prefer smaller shows because you can be closer to the fans, after each song you can shake hands with them and I like that feeling. I’m just a bit afraid for Doris, she’s very famous and all the guys want to grab her! Every time we go onstage there are always guys shouting “Show me your tits!” But Doris always responds with “Show me your dick first!” (laughs) the other time we were watching a show and someone shouted at her and I was like “for fucks sake”. It’s not fair how some guys treat her; she’s just on stage trying to do the best she can. Men don’t get the same problems, it’s not fair someone should try and judge women in metal by their tits or whatever! I love the band Kittie, they’re strong!
What other bands will you see today?
Jesse: Well, I only know Evile… and Devin Townsend. It’ll be good.