My second interview with FEAR INDEX (Hong Kong Thrash Metal)
Date: 12 January 2016 @ Mong Kok, Hong Kong
By Kieran James aka Jack Frost
FEAR INDEX is: Chester Lo (vocals / rhythm guitar), Mathew Tang (bass), Douglas Li (lead guitar), and Lai Wing Hang (drums). Lai Wing Hang replaces the previous drummer Cyrus Wong.
Kieran James aka Jack Frost: Please tell us more about the recording process for your new EP Age of Wrath to be released on Greedy Sea Records?
Chester (vocalist / rhythm guitarist): We started…
Douglas (lead guitarist): Around 2014.
Chester: It was started on 14 March 2014 and first we recorded the guitar and bass at home. We recorded the vocals at Douglas’ house. For the drum part we were lucky to get sponsored by someone else to record at Live House in Hong Kong. We pretty much got all of the recording done in May.
Mathew (bassist): Yes, May 2014.
Chester: Then we started mixing and mastering all the stuff ourselves. We had some accidents in between. We were going through this in early 2015. We got stuck at the cover artwork. The illustrator is Douglas’ friend.
Chester: We were lucky we got a recording deal. The record label Greedy Sea Records approached us in early 2015.
Mathew: No, it is a brand new China label from Beijing.
KJ: You must be very happy that they approached you?
Mathew: Yes, for sure.
Chester: Lucky draw.
KJ: Did the record label ask you to do some Chinese songs?
Mathew: No, they just said to do what we want.
Douglas: They said they support our style.
KJ: Did they want any change to the music?
Mathew: No, they wanted it as close as possible to the original sound. They just wanted to let us get it to the world.
Chester: The founder of the label has played some extreme stuff. We were quite surprised that an extreme-metal guy will get us a record deal. He says he listens to all sorts of things.
KJ: How many copies did they make?
Chester: I guess 1,000 copies and 50 cassettes. They were done at the same time.
KJ: When was the release date?
Douglas: September 2015.
Mathew: In Hong Kong.
Chester: It was a little earlier in China, the shipping takes time.
KJ: What is the response for the album?
Douglas: Some of the audience liked the cover art and the music, including people from England and Japan.
Mathew: The record label has the network to distribute in Australia, UK, and Japan.
KJ: Did metal fans from any other countries contact you?
Chester: In the past half-year we have had fans on the Facebook from different parts of the world.
KJ: Did you get any response from our first interview last year?
Chester: Yes, a boy or man from Russia is very keen on our music.
Chester: We saw a few likes from there.
KJ: What are the best and biggest shows you played last year?
Chester: A-Fest in Malaysia; this is a metal fest.
Mathew: They had local metal bands and also Singaporean and Indonesian.
KJ: What was the crowd size?
Chester: We didn’t count as it was quite dark [smiles].
Mathew: The hall was pretty big. It was in a very famous indoor sports stadium. The crowd was possibly around 500+.
KJ: Are you happy with the way the CD sounds?
Chester: Yes. We were experiencing a tight budget. We were testing how tight we could make the budget.
KJ: And you said it cost HK$10,000 [17,709,000IDR / US$1,284] in total?
Chester: That is for the gear but some of the gear we own already so we didn’t need to pay for that.
KJ: Can you hear any problems with the album?
Chester: It is not the best, we tried to do it with the minimum budget; we used the digital recording methods; we had to sacrifice some warm [analogue] sounds from the album.
KJ: It’s OK; I think it is a very good sound.
Chester: We listen to MP3 format now; technology has helped us a lot.
KJ: Have you got any songs left that were not recorded?
|Douglas Li (lead guitar), Chester Lo (g / v), Mathew Tang (b)|
Chester: Yes. Over the last half-year I have drafted some ideas. Yesterday I got some more time to draft some songs.
KJ: Which parts come first in the writing process?
Chester: Guitar parts come first, then I work it around, add some vocals, lead guitar…
KJ: How about the guitar solos performed by Douglas?
Chester: I write a complete song and then I pass it to Douglas for the guitar solo.
KJ: Who writes the lyrics?
Mathew: Me and Chester.
Chester: Some are totally by me, some by him, and some we work together.
KJ: Do you call Age of Wrath an album or an EP?
KJ: Are there any plans for the full album?
Chester: That would be a long battle, writing a full album, we are working on it.
KJ: Your lyrics are about interpersonal issues and struggle, did you consider to experiment?
Mathew: There may be something that happens on TV or in your life and you want to write it down. If everyone approves we can try it out.
KJ: Is it a conscious choice to write in English?
Chester: Yes, we want to reach as wide an audience as possible.
Mathew: The wider audience.
Chester: English is the international language.
Chester: Except for song #4 titled “Haters”.
Mathew: That song is a very fast song.
Chester: It’s not the fastest.
Mathew: It has a kind of SLAYER feel to it.
Chester: We have changed our drummer. He [Hang] has to work today so he can’t join us.
KJ: Why did you change the drummer?
Chester: After some time the members have different tastes…
Douglas: And opinions.
Chester: We all want to go in different musical directions so he [Cyrus Wong] left.
KJ: What about Douglas, he is into power-metal shredding and you are a thrash band?
Chester: He can shred whatever he likes as long as he can help up the speed [laughs].
KJ: How did you find the new drummer?
Chester: We met him at the rehearsal space. When we needed to find a new drummer literally we asked his help to find another drummer then he wanted to have a try himself.
Mathew: It just clicked [laughs]. He gets the feel of the songs and he knows what we want him to play on the drums.
Douglas: He is not really a metal drummer but he has a lot of performance experience; that’s really important.
Mathew: It’s been fun for the new drummer because he just signed up and he gets to play these big shows. Everyone is happy and he is happy of course. He played at the show in Malaysia.
KJ: That was your first show outside Greater China region of HK, China, plus Taiwan?
Mathew: Yes, in Malaysia.
Chester: It was called Freedom Festival.
KJ: Do you think your live show is improving?
Chester: We are happy with the new drummer. He learned the songs fast so we can play tighter and more solid than before.
Douglas: And he has really good music sense. He really fits our music.
Chester: He knows other instruments.
Douglas: He can play guitar.
Chester: This makes it a lot easier for us to communicate.
KJ: What bands are you listening to recently?
Chester: SLAYER comes up first in line, the latest album.
Mathew: You need to check it out, it’s really great.
Mathew: There is a new ANTHRAX single out, it’s a really good song; you can check it out on YouTube.
Mathew: “Illusion” is the latest song we wrote [track #2 on the CD].
KJ: Do you think this is the best song on the EP?
Mathew: It has speed and song structure; you can tell it is more matured. When we first heard it from Chester we were pleasantly surprised. It is very challenging for us to remember. When the chorus comes Douglas has a melodic lead guitar thing going on under the chorus. Everything is really gelled together.
KJ: Do you think that is the best guitar solo on the EP?
Douglas: I say “yes” as it is really hard and challenging.
KJ: Will you all still play this music when you are older than me, say 50-60-years-old?
Douglas: I hope we can.
Mathew: Family? I guess so. Friends? It takes some time, let it be.
Chester: I try to mention it to them but I say more if they are interested. If not then let it be.
[Douglas starts to sing the song “Let it be”!]
KJ: In 16 days in Hong Kong I have only seen two people wearing metal shirts, both in Mong Kok.
Chester: Most of the bands rent a place for rehearsal in the industrial area of Kwun Tong; you might see more metal shirts there.
Mathew: The CD will be on the shelves in the stores soon.
KJ: Which stores?
Chester: Tom Lee musical instrument store, Tsim Sha Tsui.
Mathew: And we are setting up the online store now.
KJ: Will there be an album launching?
Chester: I guess not; the scene is not so big here. However, some bands had an album launching.
|Douglas Li, Mathew Tang, and Chester Lo @ Mong Kok, Hong Kong, 12/1/2016|
|Mathew Tang, Douglas Li, and Chester Lo @ Mong Kok, Hong Kong, 12/1/2016|
|FEAR INDEX 2014 formation: Left to Right: Mathew Tang (bass), Chester Lo (rhythm guitar / vocals), Douglas Li (lead guitar), and Cyrus Wong (former drummer) @ Hong Kong, December 2014.|
|FEAR INDEX 2014 formation: Left to Right: Douglas Li (lead guitar), Cyrus Wong (former drummer), Chester Lo (rhythm guitar / vocals), Mathew Tang (bassist), December 2014.|