Tuesday 22 November 2016

Fiendish Times: An Interview with SITHTER

Japanese Doom/Sludge Metal collective – Sithter – released an excellent album called Evilfucker back in 2014. It was an uncompromising style of Death, Doom, Psych and Sludge Metal. The band showed their talent for lengthy and epic compositions that leave you with an unsettling feel.

The band have been going strong since 2006 and are about to release their even heavier second album – Chaotic Fiend on December 9th 2016 via Bonten Records.

Chaotic Fiend is a much more heavier and bleak offering compared to Evilfucker. It sees the band create a more psychedelic and doomier sound that allows them to play bleaker sounds to depress you with. It's an album that takes no prisoners.

I wanted to find out more about Sithter and my good pal Richard over at Sheltered Life PR arranged this interview with Takano (Vox/Guitars) and briefly Kagawa (Guitars) from the band.

Hi guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Takano: I am fine so far but but it has become colder here. I am careful about the cold.

Before we get start discussing your new album. Can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

Takano: Sithter was formed in 2006. I'm the only original member now and before Sithter I used to playing in a band called PSYCHOTOBLACK. After some of the band withdrew, we broke up, changed the name and started looking for new members. The band’s sound is almost same as PSYCHOTOBLACK. We had recorded a song at that time called ‘Chaotic Fiend’.
Hyo Kagawa (Guitar) joined in 2008; Mazda (Drums) joined in 2009 and I invited Wahei Gotoh (Bass) from the band Dhidalah in 2010.

Why did you call the band Sithter. Any particular meaning.

Takano: The master of the dark force.

Congratulations on the new album. Chaotic Fiend. Such a brutally dark and heavy as hell album. What can people expect from the album.

Takano: Thank you. Only when we finished did we realize that it’s more violent than our previous work. Punk, noise, hardcore, psychedelia, doom, sludge, everything we boil everything in hell's kettle when we’re recording.

Was it an easier or harder album to write and record for compared to your debut album.

Takano: We went into the studio to record our previous album’s songs almost completed. But almost all of the songs for this album were written the way we wanted to produce the album. Live and fast. The songs were finished in a short time. The previous album was recorded separately one track by one track, but for Chaotic Fiend we recorded drums, bass and guitar together. I recorded the second guitar and vocals later. The recording process was much easier than last time.

The album has quite a progressive and classic style of Sludge/Doom Metal but with hints of modern psychedelic rock/metal. Very different to your debut album. Was that an easy decision to create something different for your new album.

Takano: The concept was the same as the previous album. Our new one is like an extension of the last, in terms of arrangement, songs and artwork.

Did you do anything different when recording Chaotic Fiend compared to Evilfucker.

Takano: As I said earlier, the recording process was different. In addition, this time we had a guest player to create the opening piano for ‘Engrave The Misery’ and a narration for ‘Jerusalem Axe Masscre’. Both songs became more than what I wanted. Also we use various instruments this time like, Japanese instruments, "Koto" and Theremin. Engrave the Misery has been played for more than 10 years. A genius scholar who was a member of the time composed it. The original starts with a beautiful baseline, but this time I had the witch play the disturbing piano. I am singing about a tragedy that will never end, that will continue to occur in the world. It's a dark waltz.

The overall content of the album is very bleak especially the lyrics and riffs. What inspires you and influences you when writing music and lyrics.

Takano: The theme of lyrics, titles of songs are taken from old horror films and novels. But content and expressions are influenced from Japanese punk bands. I wrote about the fear and sorrow of human beings, without using direct expressions. The biggest influence for my lyrics is Japanese punk band Stalin.

You're from Japan and the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene has progressed steadily over the last 20 years or so. Especially with the global Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal community. Have you noticed this yourselves.

Takano: Across the world there are a lot of festivals for Doom/Sludge music and of course many bands are appearing too. Also there are lots of media, web sites and the Facebook community. It is wonderful but sadly this is not the case in Japan.

Do you get to perform gigs regular in Japan. Are there plans for you to travel overseas at any point.

Takano: We’re doing a lot gigs in Japan and we try to appear as much as we can. Also we share the stage a lot with the bands from various genres. We toured Korea in 2015 and we toured Taiwan earlier this year. In the future, I would like to go beyond Asia and we’re currently looking for shows in Europe, America, etc. Feel free to contact us.

How hard is it to perform as a band in Japan. Are things you would like to see improved. If so what things would you improve.

Takano: We are based in Tokyo and thankfully there are a lot of venues and studios here. That’s a good environment for band activities. The bands from rural areas visit here to play gigs too. There is a lot of music but there is not much Doom/Sludge bands and similar events. There are events that mix various genres and they are fun, but I think the event that sticks to Doom/Sludge is more necessary. I am doing Doom events several times in a year, but I really want to do them more frequently. However, we need to rent the venue for the event and it costs a lot of money here. We need a place that we can use with a more affordable price then we can make it worthwhile for the bands that play.

The album is being released on CD and Digital Download. CD by Bonten. Are there plans to release the album on Vinyl at all in the near future.

Takano: We do not have plans for that yet we would like to see it released on vinyl.

My favourite track on the album has to be Jerusalem Axe Massacre. 18 minutes of pure sludge carnage. Where did the idea for that track come from. What influenced you for that song in particular.

Kagawa:‘Jerusalem Axe Massacre’ was written newly for this album. Although it became a long number, I tried to minimize the riff and build up with an ensemble. I wanted to make it a dramatic slaughtering sound.

Takano: As the previous album, I decided that the last song would be a long length so I described about the image to Hyo (Kagawa). The title and artwork had been done for a long time. The theme is the revenge of Jerusalem. I asked American noise artist L'eclipse Nue for opening narration. He used to live in Japan before and now he back in the States. He recorded a few patterns of narration. I was planning to use it only for the opening but all the patterns were great so I used them all.

Words by Steve Howe and SITHTER

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR for arranging the interview. Thanks to Takano and Kagawa for taking the time out and doing this interview.

Chaotic Fiend will be available to buy on CD/DD via Bonten Records from December 09th 2016.