You guys haven’t played a show in a while. With all of that pent-up energy, who is your best bet to spontaneously combust onstage?
Probably all of us. I think we last played live in May before we were waylaid by a serious injury to one of our members. It's been over half a year of extreme frustration for all of us with little in the way of release, and we very nearly saw someone in our band shuffle off this mortal coil forever. Now we're ready to show people we're back and we can't be stopped by anything.
Revilement has played a lot internationally. You’ve toured around SE Asia several times, and even went to Finland last year. For me, all that touring would be a dream come true. What’s the reality of it? And how are the audiences in Finland? My impressions from afar are that Scandinavian fans must be intense.
The reality of it is actually not as bleak for us as it is for most bands. We tour, but generally it's not more than two weeks at a time. It's not like we're out ten months of the year or anything like that. We all have jobs and families we have to get back to. In Finland we were there for a month but we were extremely well taken care of by our friends and tour-mates Hammerhed and their families. They put us up in their homes and showed us just how seriously the Finns take hospitality. We were treated like nothing less than family in the spirit of true underground unity.
We always have a place to stay when we go out on the road and food and drink in our bellies, so there's not much to complain about. Even on the worst day on tour you're still in a completely new place, seeing new things, meeting awesome and at times insane people, playing your own music, and getting paid a little something. So it beats the daily grind every time.
As for the audiences in Finland, they are incredible. Metal is such a deeply-ingrained part of the culture over there. You can turn on mainstream commercial radio at two in the afternoon and hear death metal and no one even bats an eye at it. It's just normal there. Coming from a place like Taiwan where extreme metal is still something of an oddity, it was definitely refreshing. The Finns also love their booze like no other culture I've seen so far, so when you combine heroic feats of alcohol intake with extreme music, you're bound to see some fireworks. We saw everything from fistfights to mosh pit knockouts when we were over there. Can't wait to go back.
I’m also curious about you playing in Vietnam, Singapore, etc. Do you think conservative environments create a fiercer crowd? That pressure has to get released somehow...
I would say that's a factor. The more a regime tries to tighten its grip on society the more the people will look for a way to push back, and extreme music is definitely a part of that. But the ferocity of the crowds in those places is more about unleashing personal feelings of angst and oppression than it is about doing things that are actually violent towards society at large. It's a personal outlet, first and foremost. No one is trying to hurt anyone else, but they are looking for a way to exorcise those negative feelings of dealing with oppressive forces and having an overly conservative world view pushed down their throats. It's the same no matter where you go, but it surely gets ramped up when you go to places where from the moment you're born you are treated as a potential enemy of the state and propagandized from day one.
I know you’ve got a lot of great war stories. I think you posted once about drinking beer out of someone’s old shoe on stage? Have I got that right? What was that all about?
Yeah that was in Manila, and the shoe was mine. As far as insane crowds go, that was one of the craziest we've ever seen. From beginning to end kids were running across the stage and jumping off tables and anything else they could find. I usually play barefoot, and in responding to the energy of the crowd I just spontaneously picked up one of my shoes from beside the bass drum and poured half a Red Horse beer into it and knocked it back. The crowd loved it but when I finished I realized that was the only pair of shoes I'd brought for our Philippines tour. We had to head to the airport right after our set and I've never been waived through airport security faster. I also dumped a beer or two over my head during our set and by the time we got to the airport I smelled like a brewery. The guards were pretty anxious to see me on my way as quickly as possible, let's put it that way. But they did ask me for a CD on the way through. Turned out they were metal heads.
You’ve also got a funny Underworld anecdote or two... In honor of our dearly departed bar, may I ask you to tell us a story?
Some of our best shows were at Underworld. Back in our earlier days there was an ex-pat team that used to come to virtually all our gigs, consisting of an American named John and an Australian named Jared. John was well over six feet tall and Jared was built like a fire hydrant, and they quickly built up a reputation on the local Internet forums here as menaces to be reckoned with in the pit. So this one time we played at Underworld John and Jared showed up as usual, and I noticed that there was a table set up right in front of the stage where our people usually like to mosh and get a bit rowdy. A few people sat there politely sipping their drinks while we played. I think they just happened to be there, they weren't there for the show. We got about halfway through our set and I half-jokingly said that during the next song I wanted to see that table fucking destroyed. We kicked into the next song and over the din I heard Jared yell, “Dude, throw me over the fucking table!” John picked him up like it was a dwarf toss and chucked him straight into the table. There as broken glass and booze flying everywhere. After that they decided maybe putting a table in front of the stage for metal shows wasn't the best of ideas.
How is your music developing these days? What is the band’s process for writing music? Are you fast or slow songwriters? And, when can we expect more recordings from Revilement?
We're finally back into writing mode, which got sidetracked by the injury I mentioned earlier. We kind of just let things develop at their own pace, generally. We don't try to rush anything. Allen (Guitar) writes all the music, and he comes to practice with whole songs already composed. Billy (Drums) and Vic (Bass) put their two cents in, but generally very little ends up getting changed. Allen is pretty meticulous and he won't bring us anything unless he's sure it's damn near a finished product. Once it's all done I put lyrics down and away we go. We're planning to hit the studio this summer and have album number two out late in 2014.
You worked with Freddy from Chthonic on their last album. Could you shed some light on that experience?
I've worked with them on the past two albums and that has really been a lot of fun. A very interesting challenge, I must say. Freddy comes to me when he has all his Taiwanese lyrics finished and the songs have been demoed. He provides me with a direct translation of his lyrics into English, and then it's up to me to turn those direct translations into workable English song lyrics. They do this because they release two versions of their albums now, one in Taiwanese and one in English for the international audience. It's tough sometimes because one line in Taiwanese might be four or five syllables, but the direct translation will be something like “I move like a demon through the darkened wood slashing my enemies' throats,” which I then have to condense into something more compact and also work into some sort of rhyme scheme. Their past three albums have also been a trilogy connected by a common storyline, so I have to remain as faithful to that as I can as well. But I greatly enjoy it because all of their songs have to do with Taiwanese folklore and history, and Freddy teaches me about bits and pieces of the local culture that I wasn't aware of before. It's always a learning experience and as long as they are willing to work with me I'll be happy to contribute in my own small way. They're an iconic band now, more of a movement here in Taiwan than a mere musical act. They're not afraid to speak their minds and reflect their true beliefs in their art. If I can help them represent that in the English-speaking world, it gives me a sense of personal pride as well, as I share their politics on matters such as Taiwanese independence.
You’ve also run the website TaipeiMetal.com for many years. As a passionate, knowledgable fan, how do you evaluate Taiwan’s metal scene? What is it doing well, and how can it grow and improve?
Taiwan's metal scene, I would say, is quite strong and very passionate. With extreme music it will always be a small collective of people making things happen. What it's doing well is just allowing things to grow. More and more young people are picking up instruments all the time and getting into heavy music, starting bands, and playing original songs. A lot of elders within the scene are music teachers and they pass on their love of this kind of music to the next generation, and bands that have been around for a while will put younger bands on the bill for their next show and give them a shot. That's how we got started out as well. Infernal Chaos gave us our first gig back in 2007. Now we try to do that when we can, too.
If the scene could improve in any way, I would say it could become less fragmented. It's still a young scene relative to say, Japan, but it's getting to that point where there are grudges here and there where people choose sides, and all of a sudden you have people who won't go to so-and-so's show—petty little things like that. People need to put those minor disagreements aside and just go out and support the music whenever they can. That's the only way things will continue to get better.
In a street fight to the death against armed thugs, who would you choose, in their prime, to stand beside you, and why: Slayer, Venom, or Motorhead?
Tough call, but never bet against Lemmy (Motorhead). The man is indestructible. He'll be playing shows ten years after he's dead.
What’s the meaning of life?
To take that tiny seed of opportunity and turn it into everything you dreamed of when you were a kid that society tries to beat out of you by telling you to play it safe and go to business school. If you're privileged enough to be in a position where you have a chance to make your childhood dreams come true, you have to seize that chance. Otherwise, there's no point. You might as well pack it in. That's what we're trying to do now that we're back—seize our chance and take our music as far as it can go. It almost got taken away from us, but now that we've got it back it will have to be ripped from our cold, dead hands before we give up.
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