Interview: Chthonic on politics, music and beyond


Chthonic are releasing their eighth studio album Battlefields Of Asura on October 12, the title of which comes from Asura – the Buddist god who fights against evil.

"We think in the modern world, many fields of society are all like Battlefields of Asura, such as the political field and financial field," says Chthonic frontman Freddy Lim

"The title reflects the album which is about lots of gods and goddesses in Taiwanese folklore, but also has deeper meanings behind them."

Outside of Chthonic, Freddy is a politician in his home country of Taiwan and the deputy leader of the New Power Party. 

Ahead of the band's new album, we chatted to Freddy about politics, music and how it all ties together. And you can watch their new video for A Crimson Sky's Command.

Your press materials say the new record's based on Taiwan's first political reform movement in the 1920s. Can you explain what the movement was, and how it came about? 

"Yes, those people started the first wave of modern political movements in Taiwan for pushing the Japanese government to allow Taiwan to have its own autonomous government or at Taiwanese Congress. But this movement failed in the early 1930’s. What inspired us is that in order to communicate with the general society and let more people understand and support their movement, these people cooperated with all forms of arts – such as music, theatre, literature and fine-arts."

Do you see that as the first step in the struggle for independence?

"In the past hundreds of years, many Taiwanese have tried various ways to resist the foreign colonial governments, including the use of violence and force. Therefore, it's wrong to say the movement in the 1920s is the first step of independent movement. But they are definitely the first step of trying modern political movement."

Do you see any parallels between what those reformers were doing in the 1920s, and what you're doing today in today's Taiwan as a representative of the New Power Party?

"I see more the parallels between what those artists were doing in the 1920s and what we’re doing today as musicians and artists."

What's your proudest moment in office so far?

"I think maybe in December 2016 we passed the draft version of Civil Code’s amendment that allows same-sex marriage. Although it’s just passed in the Parliamentary committee, and has not yet been read second and third, I can still feel the excitement for that day. And after that, in 2017, our Constitutional Court announced that Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition is unconstitutional, and it required the Parliament to pass the amendment in two years. So, in 2019, it seems like Taiwan will be the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage."

And what's been the biggest challenge?

"To keep myself calm, rational and patient, and stay optimistic to communicate with my own team, supporters, allies, opponents, medias, and the general public, and keep moving forward step by step."

What traditional instrumentation do you have on Battlefields Of Asura, and are you trying anything new you haven't incorporated before?

"No, this time we used the instruments that we have had used in our previous albums. But I think we found a new level of the cooperation between the traditional instruments and the modern rock instruments. For me, I can’t really divide instruments by instruments in this album, I think all of them work perfectly as one!"

What's Randy Blythe's involvement with the new record? 

"He sang in the song Souls Of The Revolution. We've known Randy since we met and played at Ozzfest 2007, after that we’ve been good friends for many years. We invited Randy to come to Taiwan to be our guest at one of our concerts in 2011, and  when we made a plan to film a movie, there was a role that suited Randy very much and he agreed to act right away! The song Souls Of Revolution is the theme song of the movie and on our new album!"

How do you plan to balance your political career with promoting the new album?

"I mainly focus on my Parliamentary works, and participate promotion of the new album with my spare time. So it means that we are not able to have long tours to promote the album like we used to."

What have Chthonic got planned for 2019 and beyond?

"Unfortunately, it won't be possible to have heavy touring schedules like before, but we don’t refuse to do short-term tours for two weeks, and festivals will be more possible for us to do. But of course it has been scheduled during the break of my congress session."

Battlefields Of Asura is out October 12 and available to pre-order now.

Eleanor Goodman
Editor, Metal Hammer

Eleanor was promoted to the role of Editor at Metal Hammer magazine after over seven years with the company, having previously served as Deputy Editor and Features Editor. Prior to joining Metal Hammer, El spent three years as Production Editor at Kerrang! and four years as Production Editor and Deputy Editor at Bizarre. She has also written for the likes of Classic Rock, Prog, Rock Sound and Visit London amongst others, and was a regular presenter on the Metal Hammer Podcast.