Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Hideki Fujimoto of Defiled
Interview By Arto Lehtinen

Japan is more known for its advanced sci-fi/high technology, but when it comes to metal, it's a promised land of melodic power metal. Something is going on in the underground catacombs of the Japanese death metal genre during the last few years, with more brutal death metal bands popping up. Defiled is one of the longest running death mongers from Japan, and have gained the deserved attention with high quality and above all - deadly technical brutal death metal. The frontman of Defiled, Hideki Fujimoto, was picked on the eve of their upcoming Euro tour with Mayhem and Decapitated to tell us a little bit about the new album Divination and the Japanese metal scene.

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Good day to the land of the rising sun! Well, has the sun rose over there at the Defiled camp?

The sun is shining very well here thanks, and now DEFILED are preparing for the upcoming European tour that will be dared for six weeks in this spring with Norway’s MAYHEM and Poland’s DECAPITATED!



Speaking of the newest output called Divination, being the third full-length album, presenting the twisted yet technical death metal through the 14 tunes, it is pretty much obvious you must be damn pleased with how the album has turned out. Were you somehow afraid during the writing process about the possible duplication of some riffs or parts which may have been used in other tunes?

defiled3.jpg (58854 bytes)No. We’re always preserving many stocks in our minds, riffs and ideas, and will never suffer from the insufficiency. Well, we intentionally avoid having influenced riffs or parts from any other bands in the genre to be one and only, but no need to escape from our own past, I think.



Your material and style is known for being extreme technical with complex riffs and parts. Doesn’t having the technically complex material get to be a little bit too far for you to play? For example, in the live situation where possible mistakes can happen.

Sometimes we indeed feel it’s pretty hard to play the songs correctly on stage because we don’t stand bolt upright when we play, because we always get crazy. But, it’s quite possible, I can assert. In fact, “Divination” was recorded with almost no overdubs to get a raw, live feeling. Playing with accuracy doesn’t always make hyper-brutality, we think, and we attach more importance to the groove and raw sickness especially, on stage.



Have you ever considered composing more simple, straight-forward death metal stuff by leaving the complex and technical parts out, just unleashing a total nihilistic deadly assault?

It’s the matter of balance, we think. As you found almost all of our songs are complicated and twisted, but simultaneously we‘re always trying to make them to have some straightforward parts too. Any songs must be organic compounds and we don’t make so much of techniques or complexity. For example, our rhythm section had formal education at music schools and they are well trained actually. Even though, we still don’t emphasize the techniques only and treasure the spontaneous jams and so on.



You seem to rely on Tom Morris’ know-how to produce the Defiled material as you have visited there quite effectively.  Obviously you must have been damn pleased with the result achieved with him on your previous albums. I can’t help asking if why you decided to use the legendary Morrisound studios and Tom Morris in the first place?

First, I must say that Tom did “Ugliness Revealed” album only and the rest two “Erupted Wrath” and “Divination” were done by Jim Morris. We really love the brothers! They are great engineers, moreover nice guys and it’s always great to work with the real professionals like them. I heard some good producers are sometimes too arrogant and hard to associate with, though they are not at all. We decided to go to Morrisound first because many friends who had used there told us great words. And also it’s because we love the legendary albums produced by Morrisound and the bands like NASTY SAVAGE, MORBID ANGEL, DEATH, ICED EARTH and many more.


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Both Divination and Ugliness Revevaled were recorded at the Yellow Knife Studio in Tokyo and the rest of the production has been carried out with Tom Morris handling the mixing. Is it cheaper to record the material in Japan and give the DAT tapes to Morris, who then gives the final touches to the material?

The cost won’t be so different. We did this way just because of the matter of convenience. Yellow Knife is near our houses so very useful for us. We can fully be at home with the guys there.



Your lyrics don't deal with the traditional gore/mutilation oriented stuff, which several brutal death metal bands usually appear to bath in. Instead, you have focused on ladling more inspiration for the lyrics from the Japanese mystical and a little bit occultism culture, like the track, “Addicted to Occult Oath" and natural phenomenon and the mental derangement?

Yes, I’m not dealing with the typical topics for the genre and always looking for more unique subjects. For example, I’m interested in the brutality in Eastern philosophy and you can find some significance or Eastern originality from my lyrics. We Japanese have our own culture, literature, thoughts, philosophies and so on and I’m trying to reflect them in my lyrics. I think no Western bands can write the lyrics like mine.



Speaking of the Japanese mysticism and occultism, do you view that issue could fit more to the Defiled concept? Or do you just want to avoid getting involved with the occultism/mysticism issues?

That depends on how and when we do that. We just don’t wanna follow what others have already done in the past.



The front cover of Divination has been designed and made by Wes Benscoter, having been responsible for the art for bands Slayer and Vader. Didn’t he make the cover for the previous studio album as well, and how did you get hooked up with him?

defiled4.jpg (154414 bytes)Yes, he did our previous “Erupted” and “Ugliness” too. We met him first when he held his private exhibition in Tokyo in ’97. Then he once was living here and we made friends. We love his artwork a lot and think the one used for “Divination” is especially great!!



Does the art of Divination somehow represent the material of the album, or did Wes Bebscoter get free reign to carry out the cover art from his own mind?

The art was done by the dictates of his instinct and later he added and changed some elements to have it more suitable for the concept of “Divination”. We think he did really great work for the album!



Each album has been put by separate record labels; the first one called "Defeat of Sanity" came out by an unknown label named Bizarre Records. "Erupted Wrath" was unleashed by Nightfall/Terrorizer Records, and the previous album was released by the label run by Killjoy Of Necrophagia, named Baphomet Records. As far as I know, it was distributed by Necropolis. And finally, "Divination" was put out by Season Of Mist. Why did you switch from one label to another after putting an album out? Have you basically signed one off deal with each label and then were able to switch to a new label?

You're right; we're always trying to have our efforts to obtain the best fruits and it's the best way, we think. Bizarre Records was run by ourselves, for your information.



Have you signed a long term deal with Season Of Mist, or is it just once again a one-off deal?

I can say that we might work together again for our next release when we both agree to the result of “Divination.”

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Do you have to fund all the tours from your own pockets, or do you have the financial background support given by labels?

Season of Mist help DEFILED a lot for everything, of course including the financial aspect. We really appreciate their great work and help. Can’t wait for the coming European tour with MAYHEM and DECAPITATED… Here comes the time!!



You have toured heavily around Japan, opening for bigger bands, but you have done some gigs in Malaysia. How the hell did you manage to get a gig arranged there? When some big band has booked a gig there, the politician and religious conservative groups always seem to come up with various reasons for cancelling gigs. Did you face any kind of problems with them?

We went to the country in 2000, just after our first European tour, and no we didn’t face such a terrible problem at all then. Eric from PSYCHIC SCREAM productions hooked us up for the show and he did manage quite professionally. Though I know the political circumstances of some Southeast Asian countries are not suitable and don’t know what will happen when we have a chance to play there next time.



Do you prefer having a savage, crazy, maniac audience slamming, diving to the normal audience just standing and banging their heads? Which gig has been the most memorable thus far?

Any way of enjoying our music should be valued. I basically think as far as no one would be inflicted with a serious wound. The most memorable show for me was the one we did in Korea for the first time in 1997. The audience went totally crazy, banging their heads hard and screaming as hell, though, unbelievably almost all of them were sitting on their chairs! Well, it in fact was an illegitimate show because Korean government prohibited all Japanese cultures including music at that time and I guess people didn’t know how to open their mind well at the gig of this kind. When we went there after 2 or 3 years, the audience had come just same as Japan’s or Western!


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Do you prefer small club gigs with the intensive atmosphere to massive metal festivals where tons of bands have been booked?

We love both.  All we have to do is to do our best and keep the quality at any gigs!



You have opened for bigger bands on several gigs and tours both in Japan and The States. Which bands have been the most friendly toward you, or have you got along with all of them or had some problems in any way?

Fortunately all bands we have played and toured with were so nice and great! And now we are so much looking forward to this spring tour with MAYHEM and DECAPITATED! Once we met MAYHEM at a certain metal festival in The States several years ago, though I don’t know they remember that or not, and they were so nice there. Maniac and Hellhammer gave me their autographs for my girlfriend! I believe the tour with them will be great with a lot of fun and much excitement!!



Japan has quite a long history in the extreme metal since the 80’s when Messiah Death and Necrophile used to maul the underground scene with the primitive stuff, and of course the legendary Sabbat. The current extreme scene in Japan offers a lot of bestial and primitive death/black outfits. Do you think the newer bands carry the old school Japanese raw death metal legacy, or are they even aware of those old bands? And what about Defiled?

I was a fan of those bands you mentioned when I was in junior or high school and still love some staff of them. I don’t know what do the other newer bands think about the old bands actually though I know the fact that some good bands were born here recently. Hope the scene will get bigger soon.



Is there any demand for the real extreme metal in Japan? The power metal stuff like Finland’s Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius seems to appeal more to the local metal kids. 

Yes, melodic ones seem to always be well accepted in this country though I personally have never listened to the bands you gave… Individualism is getting established here, ha.



Does it bug you when people start talking about Japanese metal, and the one name Loudness seems to pop up? hahahhaha

No, I really respect many services that LOUDNESS has rendered all over the world. Every metal heads know the name LOUDNESS and we Japanese should be proud of that! It’s always cool to meet a metal head singing “Crazy Night” towered us in a strange country!



Obviously, a deal with the French-based record label Season Of Mist may has to guarantee some gigs for you to Europe.  Has anything risen in your negotiations between you and the label?

Yes!! Soon we’ll go there to kick your ass, kids in Europe!! We’ll tour with MAYHEM and DECAPITATED in this coming April-May. Arto, I’ll keep you updated on the tour dates or everything concerning this matter so please pass the news to your readers! Yes, DEFILED is coming really soon!!



It would be about time to put the period to this interview, and if you have something on your mind, let it go!!! Thank you for the interview Hideki!

Thank you too Arto! Readers, get ready for the tour this spring! And please enjoy “Divination” till then. We’re proud of the album and promise you’ll never be disappointed. Check out our web site for the updates... Can’t wait to see you all on the road! Stay brutal and support the Death Metal Underground!!

Band Website: listen.to/defiled