Chthonic first came to my attention when they released the absolutely fantastic ‘Mirror of retribution’ album through Spinefarm records last year. Combining the punch of traditional black metal with elements of traditional Taiwanese folk music and instrumentation, a darkly theatrical look and intelligent, historical lyrics, the album was a step forward for the genre and sharp reminder that we ignore the burgeoning music scene in the far East at our peril. Having reviewed the album, we at SonicAbuse were lucky enough to secure an interview with Doris Yeh, the enigmatic bassist of the band in which we talked about the bands turbulent line up, their inspirations and ambitions. Now, with Chthonic once more touring the UK, this time as part of a heavy metal fan’s dream line up including British heavy-weights Malefice, the Swedish titans Grand Magus and the majestic Arch Enemy, we managed to catch up with Doris once again to discuss her feelings about the tour, the band’s recent single and Chthonic’s ambitions for the future.
“Hi there – we’ve actually spoken before when you were headlining a show in Nottingham so this is rather a follow-up interview to see how you’ve been getting on since then…”
1. This is the second time in the UK in a very short time – have you found that your fan-base has expanded as a result of these trips?
Yeah – in this time we’ve found that there are a lot of fans whom we met last year – they came to see our show again like in Manchester, where we played the night before last , there were some fans waiting outside for us and we’re very excited about the fact that we’re getting more fans and that the old fans are still there for us. We think the band is growing up and we’re really happy that it is.
2. One of the things that’s really cool about Chthonic is that after your shows you come out and hang with your fans – they must be very important to you?
Yeah – of course!
3. You’ve spent a lot of time on the road recently – have you had any time to write new material?
Eeer – actually this year we haven’t toured too much – we only toured in Asia and the UK so we’ve already written some stuff and we have some new songs already recorded as a demo and so… We’re always writing songs both at home and in the rehearsal room – we’re generally writing new stuff and it evolves on tour.
4. The last time we saw you, you were headlining and now you’re out on tour as part of The United Kingdom of Heavy Metal – how do you feel about being on a bill such as this?
I think it’s OK when a bad is growing up – I think we’re still building our fan base… I don’t know, it’s different but we take every chance to play so we don’t feel uncomfortable…instead we feel very happy to tour with Arch Enemy because we adore this band so it’s good – yeah.
5. Do you feel though, because you’re playing rather a short set, that that takes away from the more theatrical edge of your performance?
You mean – our set?
6. Yeah – when you headline you have the lanterns and masks…
Yeah – we don’t do that. But it’s OK, actually I think the most important thing is to do the performing so actually we kind of feel happy because we don’t have the trouble of bringing all that stuff with us! So it’s OK, yeah.
7. You did a single recently – Judas priest’s painkiller – what made you choose that track?
Actually that was our vocalist and guitarist who chose that because they’ve loved the band for a long time. I don’t have a big opinion about it; I just felt that we were ready to do some new single in this year so, Freddy- our vocalist and our guitarist, they chose that so yeah… We did think about ‘breaking the law’ but in the end we liked ‘painkiller’ more, so that’s why.
8. You’re playing with three other bands and you’re all very different – how do you feel you come across to the other fans?
I think it’s great for every band because people cannot just listen to one kind of music so I think fans want more different things to interest them and to entertain them. I think – we played in Ozzfest before – you know different kinds of music and open air and we enjoyed it very much and we got a lot of new fans over there – so I think it’s a good thing for a band to play on this kind of package tour.
9. You and Freddy are very involved in the Free Tibet movement – have you worked on anything connected to that recently or have you been tied up in touring?
Yeah – actually we decided (the band) we have an NGO organisation in Taiwan and Freddy is now the national amnesty chairman so… I don’t know – we care about human rights a lot so besides the music we do a lot of public issues in Taiwan but we won’t put them together in our music because it’s different things. But sometimes people will think we’re political but I think they don’t know too much about us – al our music is talking about history over Eastern Asia, so I don’t think… I think if we bring political issues to our music it’s different – maybe Western people won’t get used to this kind of music – that their bands bring some kind of issues into their music but I would tell them – that’s Oriental metal – we are not..we cannot be categorised by the Western music genre.
10. Do you feel, after all this touring, you’ve developed musically?
Yeah – touring will help a band to develop quickly and I think it’s time for us to come back to the UK because the last time we toured was October so after a year – I think it’s time for us to come back.
11. Can we expect a new album and a headline tour from you soon?
Yeah – maybe next year, I hope – next year we’ll release our new album and then we’ll see- yeah we’ll have our tour next year.. I hope!
Find out more about Chthonic here.