Freddy Lim, frontman of the Taiwanese Blackened Death Metal band Chthonic, is easily one of the most interesting characters in Metal today. Not only does he write music focusing on Taiwanese history and mythology, as well as playing the erhu (Chinese two-stringed fiddle), he is also a politician and founder of the New Power Party, and former chair of Amnesty International Taiwan. As such, it’s Lim’s political life that brings him on a visit to Australia.
“I just arrived earlier today,” Lim begins, “and the flight was just eight hours, so quite easy, not difficult. The main reason I’m here is because I will attend a cultural and political conference tomorrow in Canberra, at Australian National University. So basically, it’s a political trip. But today I’m in transit in Sydney, so I want to check out the city.
“It’s a conference for the students,” Lim explains, “so I hope that I can share because I can see that there are many students nowadays who are quite interested in the relationship between Australia and the Asian countries, so they would love to know more about Taiwan. So I hope that I can share how Taiwan is going, what’s the direction, and how to strengthen the relationship between Taiwan and Australia, and also what Taiwan is like. Hopefully that should make more people understand Taiwan and to get involved in the relationship between both countries.”
As well as making music, Chthonic also recently produced and starred in the action-comedy film Tshiong. “It’s a film that we planned to do after our album ‘Bu-Tik’ in 2013,” Lim reflects. “It’s a comedy actually, but through that film we tried to encourage more young people to fight for what you believe, and to be more active and to do, not just to speak, not just to share information, not just to click ‘like,’ but try to do something for what you believe. So it’s a comedy with some messages.
“I think basically, the young people, especially our fans, all liked the interesting ideas in the film. But some older critics or others might not really like some messages, or some things that they feel are too aggressive. But it’s a film, so it’s more about creativity. I think it’s just an ordinary film that got a different reception.”
Along with Chthonic, the film and accompanying song Souls of the Revolution also featured Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe, of whom Lim speaks warmly. “He’s an excellent guy. Musically of course we can share so many ideas, but he’s such a nice guy with so many political ideas, social ideas, and he loves to cook! He’s just a perfect and very friendly guy you want to hang out with all the time. He loves to make barbecue! He loved to share food, and he loved to eat as well,” he laughs.
Somehow in Lim’s busy schedule, he’s found the time to wrap up work on a new Chthonic album. “The production has been finished. I believe that by the end of this year, the album will be released. So hopefully not being delayed again!” he chuckles wryly. “I’m very much looking forward to the feedback from the fans.
“The previous albums, basically I wrote them based on some Taiwanese history or some mythology, and the emotions inspired by those incidents, or different cases that give me different emotions like anger, sadness, etc. But this upcoming new album, although it’s still related to some historical incidents, I think over the last five years my life has been through some huge changes – not just because I ran for office, but also I got a baby, and also my father passed away last year – so my life has been very different in the last five years. So I think the new album will reflect more about my own life as well, so I think the fans can consider the album like the old ways,” Lim muses. “It’s a concept of Taiwanese history or mythology or folklore, but on the other hand they can find and associate with the songs their own personal emotions. So I think that’s something different, and people can feel different emotions, not only anger, but different emotions.”
When it comes to touring, Lim has to make his plans carefully. “Because of my Parliamentarian work, I can’t really tour like before,” he points out. “I can’t just go abroad for months. So I hope that I can pick some important shows to play, and then all the other shows in the tour, I think the band will find a substitute vocalist to play. So I hope that I can play in Australia, because it’s a country that’s closer to Taiwan.”
As for the political life that keeps him busy, Lim has some clear objectives. “My major goal would be first of all to make Taiwan share the same respects like the other countries in the world. What I mean is, Taiwan is still not an official member of most of the international organisations like the United Nations and the World Health Organisation, but I think I would do my best to help Taiwan to have the right foreign affairs policy and to strengthen the relations with other countries to prepare ourselves well, and to make more friends to make Taiwan be an official member of those organisations in the future. I will do my best to take the Taiwanese government in the right direction with the right policies,” he affirms with conviction. “That’s my important goal. But the second one, I think, is equally important: to build up the state as a platform the young people can more easily get involved in for political affairs, particularly if they want to run for office. I want to build the platform for those young people. So that’s why I formed the New Power Party in 2015, because I think it’s very important to have the new blood get involved in politics to make other things different, and so the politics can reflect the society better.”
As for a final message for Australians, Lim keeps it short and sweet. “I hope that next year we can play in Australia. Come to our show!”