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Martyrdom Interview; Thorns and Betrayal
Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 01:00 AM PST
Contributed by: Sage

Martyrdom Interview

Heathen Harvest:  Greetings and thank you for taking on this interview!  How has this Chinese Winter been treating you thus far?
FU:  Thanks. This winter is ok for me. Everywhere in China is getting warmer except south China, which is a little bit strange, don’t you think so?

HH:  Can you tell us how your life is in Beijing?  What is your day job?  What does your daily life encompass?

FU:  My job is related to market analysis in an automation equipment company. This work is somewhat busy but I feel lucky that I still have got some time on other things.

ZU:  Living a very normal life as most of the office workers.  I am a lawyer that deals with the projects of initial public offer and merges and acquisitions, nothing to do with music. 

HH:  Your lyrical themes have been listed as "Pagan" at times -- can you give us a good explanation of your spirituality and what it takes up in your life?
FU:  The story in album “Pagan’s Hymn”was written by Zu Hui. It is about a person fights with various difficulties. We all like this kind of material, though “Pagan” has nothing to do with our life. Moreover, I personally believe mainstream in this world may not be always right. I often do what I think right (under the condition that it is not harmful to others), even though it is not understood or accepted by mass public.

ZU: actually that title has nothing to do with pagan belief but only a symbol of the lyrics of that album.  I wrote a story of a pagan warrior that does not actually exist, who fights his enemies alone.  I did so because I was quite interested in some works of heroism, such as Starwars, Terminator, Alien, and Bathory’s Blood on Ice etc.

HH:  All of your releases so far have been through Dying Art Productions which means your working relationship with them must obviously be good -- is this true?
FU:  Yes, definitely true. We have very good relation with Dying Art, both on music and non-music fields. We are good friends, we share many interests and common feelings all around life.

ZU: Definitely true.  I had already been very good friends with Li Xu, the creator of Dying Art for many years before Dying Art was established.

HH:  How is the Chinese metal scene?  Obviously your band draws mainly from black metal but it seems that there are an array of fantastic artists in your country, not only from metal but also neofolk like Bloody Woods and even guitar-worship like Lee Powell.
FU:  Chinese metal is young and growing. There is a big culture difference between western and eastern world, which produces many distinctions in music, art, science methodology, and attitudes of seeing the world. In my view, rock and metal have strong “western culture” attribute, or characteristic, only because they came from western world. This makes Chinese metallers somewhat hard in pursuing their “true” metal. Lots of Chinese metallers spent great time on trying to consolidate Chinese elements and western metal style together, to make their music not only national-appealing but also international-appealing. This is not an easy task. However, Chinese metallers is gaining experience during this process and becoming mature gradually.

ZU: There is no material change for the metal scene in China in the past 5 year, in my own opinion. It seems that more young fans joined the army of metal, more bands were set up (however, with really limited levels), more underground metal records were released, and some mainstream metal bands released their official publications, however, it cannot be said that metal music in China had grown stronger, in my opinion. There is no official registered label or record company for metal music, and there is no full-scale metal gernes, except extreme metal and nu-metal. There are very rare bands playing the styles beside extreme metal and nu-metal. There is no metal band that has a official releasing contract, there is no professional metal players, there is no official cd sales in record shops. Domestic metal songs are not able to appear in radio and TV. Chinese metal struggled all by itself 5 years ago, and it is still struggling all by itself now, nothing more.

HH:  What bands are you close to in China?  Are most metal bands pretty close with one another?  Are there any "outcasts"?

FU:  We have close relationship with Ululate and Zaliva-D. Hellward and Sudden Death are also our good friends. I don’t know much about others, most bands may have 1~2 “bandmates”, but not as close as how we are in my opinion. Outcasts, I think this is widely existed. One band may be outcast just as an individual is.
ZU: Ululate, Hellward and Sudden Death.  We got close with them because of the personal relationships.  But for the other metal bands in Beijing, I seldom know them because we are far from the Beijing metal circle.  I think “outcasts” is a very proper word to describe us.

HH:  Your only full-length was seen in 2002 entitled "Pagan's Hymn".  When can we expect another full-release from Martyrdom?

FU:  We are current working on the 2nd full-length album. Hopefully it will be released around the end of 2008.

ZU: We are working on the new stuff now, hope the new album can be finished within 2008.

HH:  You're obviously very influenced by Emperor which can be scene through the shirt you wear live as well as your terrific cover of "I am the Black Wizards" on Pagan's Hymn.  What other bands influence you?
FU:  Emperor does have influence on me in extreme metal field. I was also influenced by Iron Maiden, especially on the riff application into the movement of music. I also like some songs from Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Deep Purple, ACDC, but I haven’t seen any direct influence from them on Martyrdom’s black metal work.

ZU:  Most of my favourite bands are very old metal bands, such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motorhead. You can tell Iron Maiden’s influence on us in our songs.  For black metal, I like Emperor, Bathory and Immortal. Personally, I am also very interested in thrash metal.

HH:  "II" was a CD-R EP from 2003 on Dying Art Productions.  Your first track on this EP was "Sons of Cathysia" which is an "adapted dance of Yi nationality".  Are you nationalists?  Are you strong supporters of the Chinese government?

FU:  I am not a nationalist. The purpose of writing Sons of Cathysia was to try a style based on national material and develop the music beyond the original material. This song has nothing related to whether I support government, though I support government to provide a peace and steady environment for its people.

ZU: No we are not nationalists.  For the second question, I am unable to answer before I understand the standard of “strong supporters”.

HH:  What are your political beliefs?  How do you feel about America and the current state of the Middle East?

FU:  Personally I pray for peace. Regional military conflicts have negative impact on global development and will contribute to the end of this world.

ZU:  We do not have any political beliefs because we rarely pay attention to politics.  Personally, I only pay attention to the change in legislation and state policies that could affect the capital market.
For America and Middle East, maybe you can get a better answer from Bush and Rice.

HH:  How do you feel about Taiwan and the recent success of the band Chthonic?

FU:  In the current situation, Taiwan really needs a government with good foresight. I don’t hope to see any war around Taiwan. I don’t listen to Chthonic, but I hear that they showed strong political attitudes in their lyrics, so I am not so sure whether their success is due to music or to lyrics.

ZU: Chthonic is commercially sucessful but stupid in their lyrics.  I can understand their reasons to do so for getting more young supporters and becoming famous by pleasing those politicians. 

HH:  What are your thoughts on Christianity?

FU:  I have few idea on Christianity but I think people should have their own believes.

ZU: Nothing special for us.

HH:  You recently released a split with Ululate and Heartless -- can you tell us more about Heartless?

FU:  I have no direct contact with Heartless, but I believe Heartless must have many good ideas.

ZU: Heartless is a one-man band. That guy is still an university student in Shandong Province. He plays all the guitars and basses himself, so that Heartless still acts as a studio band.

HH:  In the early days of black metal as you know there were many Church Burnings and deaths associated with black metal bands.  Have there been similar reports in china? 
FU:  I haven’t heard of such reports in China. For Chinese black metallers, expressing ideas from music is much easily approached than from actions.

ZU: No, because it is difficult to find a church in Beijing.

HH:  Are you influenced by artists or authors of any kind?

FU:  Besides music, I like movie of disasters and historical wars, but I can’t say which artists or authors I like most. I recently get interested in “Reincarnation” topic and started to read a book named “Many Lives, Many Masters” by a psychotherapist Dr. Brian L. Weiss. He, as a professional in science area, discovers what he found in human spirit field. (such as reincarnation of soul). 

ZU: Some books, movies can inspire me sometimes, but it is difficult to tell which artist or author directly influenced me.

HH:  Are either of you involved in other projects?
FU:  Zu Hui participated the production of Anti-XXX album by Dying Art. They put many crazy ideas together, generated a free-style music CD. That was cool and interesting, and I would like to join if Dying Art plans to make Anti-XXX II or Anti-XXXX or what else.

ZU: Yes, I play in a side-project called Anti XXX, a grindcore/no wave band.  Anti XXX can be interpreted as “unknown antibody” or “be against something”.

HH:  Where is the female once-vocalist of Seraph today?  Is she still involved with music?  Will she collaborate with Martyrdom at some point?

FU:  I don’t have her news after Seraph. I don’t think there is no opportunity for us to collaborate, but it may not be under Martyrdom.

ZU: So far as I know, she is living in Shenzhen, a southern city in China and working in a financial company as vice-president.  I am not sure whether she is still interested in music.

HH:  In 2002 both of you attended university in the United Kingdom to earn your master's degrees.  How was this time to you?  Did you enjoy your time in the UK?  What university did you attend?

FU:  I studied in University of East Anglia in Norwich. That time was wonderful. I like the life in the UK although it was full of hard working.

ZU: I spent one happy year in UK and got my degree sucessfully.  I will never forget the day of December 3, 2003, on which I got my degree and saw Iron Maiden’s concert, amazing!  I studied in the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

HH:  In April of 2006 you had your first live show.  Why did it take you so long to play your first show live?  How did the show go over?

FU:  Time is a key factor taking us a long time to the first show live. All members performed with Martyrdom have their own jobs, so we need to find a common free time for rehearsals and lives. The live was not so good, we found the monitoring amps were located on a wrong place. Anyway, it was ok overall but not as good as Dying Art 5 Years Live.

ZU: At the very beginning of Martyrdom, we wanted to make it to be a studio band with no live performance because we do not get disappointed with the poor quality of live performance. But by the end of 2005, we did some rehearses for the upcoming 348, and we are satisfied with what we did, so we decided to do a live performance.  We were happy with our debut show, but not quite satisfied with it because we made many mistakes due to the problems of the feedback speakers.

HH:  Why do you use a drum machine live?  Would you rather have a real drummer?

FU:  We have many fast-speed drum materials, but it was shame to say that we didn’t find a proper drummer for us.

ZU:  Finding an alien is much easier than finding a good drummer in Beijing.  We tried to recruit a drummer in 2006 but failed, so we decided to use the drum machine.

HH:  Have the gigs following the Dying Art 5 Year Anniversary show been succcessful?  Is extreme metal accepted in China by the government or is it something slightly secretive?
FU:  Yes, it was successful. It’s hard to judge the acceptance of BM by government. Not like pop, it belongs to a small pool of people. I don’t think government can clearly tell the differences between BM live and rock\pop live.

ZU: That gig was in Shanghai, we spent a wonderful day there and made some new friends.  Extreme metal is still living within a very limited scope.  Government’s attitute on extreme metal is neither support nor prohibit but ignore, because extreme metal is too weak to draw the government’s attention.

HH:  You actually closed out the Dying Art show which shows how much they respect you.  This is a big honor.  How does it feel to have such a successful show?

FU:  Dying Art 5 Years Live is successful for Dying Art and for us. I am glad more people start to notice Dying Art and Martyrdom through this show. However we found performance mistakes made by ourselves, which will drive us to improve in the future lives.

ZU: It was a great time for us, and we were happy with it. But we were not very satisfied with ourselves because we did not do as well as our rehearses. Anyway, it was a wonderful night.

HH:  I noticed that Ululate's front man helped you out on rhythm guitar live.  How did this come about?  Will you work with him more in the future or is he mainly just a stand-in for live gigs?
FU:  Lin Yue in Ululate is our good friend. Since we only have too members in Martyrdom, I am very glad he would like to help us as rhythm guitar for live. And it is not impossible we work together for some new ideas in the future.

ZU: By the end of 2004, I had some songs with Lin Yue just for fun.  I did vocal and he played guitar with a drum machine.  Then we start the side project of Anti XXX, resulted in a 30 minitues mini album.  After that he started to take part in Martyrdom’s rehearses and live gigs.  He will not take part in Martyrdom’s studio recording, but we can have further co-operation in some side-projects.

HH:  Who was the bassist who played live with you?
FU:  The bassist played with us is Mr Zhou Yanbin. We are good friends and I often play some blues and jazz stuff with him.

ZU: The name of our bassist is Zhou Yanbin, one of our best friends.  That guy is good at playing jazz guitar.

HH:  I want to take this chance to congratulate Fu.  You were by far the best guitarist at that show (no offense to the other bands) and you're incredibly talented, especially on the solo side.  I hope we'll see more complex guitar work with the upcoming album!

FU:  Thank you. I am very glad to hear your comment.

HH:  Thank you for accepting this interview.  Feel free to use the following space to say whatever you wish.

FU:  Thanks for your interests in Martyrdom. A lot of things came to me these days so I didn’t find a proper time to do this homework. Thanks to Emperor, I became calm and then finished this interview while listening to the “Scattered Ashes - A Decade of Emperial Wrath”.  As an ending, I wish you achieve a new success in your website business.


What's Related
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  • Sudden Death
  • Emperor
  • Iron Maiden
  • Black Sabbath
  • Ozzy
  • Deep Purple
  • ACDC
  • Martyrdom
  • Judas Priest
  • Motorhead
  • Immortal
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