Pittsburgh's Winterforge Promotions Interviews Sithter on Chaotic Fiend

If you ask around about booking the gnarliest, most unapologetically crushing international metal gigs in Pittsburgh, you’ll know you’ve come across someone who knows their shit if they mention Christopher Woodford’s Winterforge Promotions. Kaala’s been in touch with WP for maybe a year or so now, trading notes on the Business of Brvtality, and when I moved back to Pittsburgh to get Kaala up & running here, well, it only made sense to team up.

So when Bonten Records got in touch with us a few weeks back about reviewing Sithter’s new album Chaotic Fiend, I couldn’t help but think it’d be cool to get members of the community here communicating with members of the community in Japan. Naturally Chris came to mind, so I gave him a few listen-throughs of the album (first coming back from a roadtrip to Philadelphia for the Invisible Oranges produced Anicon and Wayfarer gig), and after getting a very enthusiastic “Holy shit this album rips” out of him I asked if he’d like to interview the band to find out more. His reply: “Fuck yeah, let’s do this.”

So, without further ado, let’s do this.

Winterforge Promotions: How did everyone eventually meet? It sounds like everyone came from different corners of the Tokyo music scene.

Hiroyuki Takano (Guitar, Vocals): I was in a Doom band called Psychotoblack until 2005, but we broke up when one of the core members left the band. I wanted to start another band, so I decided to begin hunting for members.

At first, Sithter was just our female bassist Chie and I, and then we found other members just by posting online. But members kept quitting, so Sithter didn’t really cement for a while.

Then one day MONE¥I$GOD’s guitarist, Hyou Kagawa, called me, saying he was interested in playing with us. I’d played with him on bills before and thought his style was really outta sight, so I pretty quickly gave him the OK to come on board.

Our drummer, Mazda, was introduced by a friend, and honestly he surprised me during his audition with just how loud he could play. Soon after that, though, Chie had to duck out to have her kid, so we were without a bassist for a bit.

One night, we were playing a concert with a band called Dhidalah, and after I heard their bassist, Gotoh, play, I knew I had to invite him to work with us, which he did. And that’s how the current lineup formed!

WP: What are your main foci in extreme music? And was there a specific point at which you said to yourself that this is the type of music you wanted to play?

HT: Punk, Sludge, and Noise - I don’t think I’m very into “metal” as it were. And after Hyou came into the band, I also got into shoegazey noise. I think that all of that together is the style that I had always wanted to play. Be it the sound or the performance, I put a lot of importance on using music to express the specific flavor of brutality in my head.

WP: What made you decide to record with Shigenori Kobayashi of Noise Room for “Chaotic Fiend?” What was the recording process like?

HT: I’ve known Kobayashi since the days before he was running the studio, all told I've known him for probably about 20 years. So I’ve known for a long time that he produces great material with a really smooth workflow. So ever since he opened Noise Room, I’ve recorded there. For our previous album, we recorded each element individually, but this time around we recorded the drums, bass, and guitars together. I like to think that gives it a bit of a “live” feeling. Honestly, we didn’t really have any trouble in recording Chaotic Fiend.

WP: What were some of the influences on writing “Chaotic Fiend?”

HT: I’ve taken a lot of influence from 80’s Japanese punk bands for both lyrics and music. I made them as dirty as I could.

Hyou Kagawa: I’ve taken influence from things here and there. I don’t actually think of myself as composing music, but rather arranging the particular riffs and phrases that I’ve created over the years as the circumstances demand.

And when it comes to creating an album, the entire band works together on arranging those arrangements.

Originally, Chaotic Fiend was an 8 track album, but we thought there was something off about the whole feeling of it, so we threw together I Drink Your Blood to balance everything out. That took less than a month before we were ready to record it.

WP: How was your tour with Serbia’s Heretic Rites? How did this tour come about?

HT: The tour was totally awesome. It was actually my first time doing an extended tour, and also for touring wtih a foreign band. The guys in Heretic Rites were really great too, it got to feeling like family half-way through. It was really sad seeing them off at the end!

Bonten Records’ owner Katou was responsible for actually finding Heretic Rites and extending the invitation to them for a Japan tour. It was he and 2 others, including Mako from Magdalene Junen, that put the whole thing together, finding venues, booking bands, etc. I hope we’ll have more opportunities for other bands to come over and tour with us!

WP: For those overseas, can you give us some insight on Tokyo’s underground metal community? Do you see the community growing and diversifying?

HT: I think Tokyo’s scene is pretty messy, mainly just because there are so many bands and venues in a relatively small area, and with similar events on the same night all over the place. It would be great if the area could be better organized, but that’s a pretty tall order. On the other hand, there’s a really positive vibe to the whole scene, so I’m glad for that.

Hardcore, Punk, Grind, and Metal gigs are a dime a dozen, but Doom & Sludge shows are still few and far between, as are bands in the genre. I suppose that’s just how it is. But some time soon I think I’d like to do some big Doom/Sludge event, get a bunch of bands from overseas to participate too. But money’s an issue there: everything’s so expensive. If only there were a cheap, laid back venue to set something up at...!

WP: On both the “Evilfucker” and “Chaotic Fiend” albums there are audio samples from notable horror films (The Masque of the Red Death and Night of the Living Dead, for example). Would you say horror movies have shaped the sound of Sithter? What are your favorite horror films / directors?

HT: Oh yeah, Horror movies have had a huge influence on us. I’m a big Misfits fan, which got me into old Horror movies, especially vampires, psychic vampires, stuff like that. Hands down, any movie with Christopher Lee’s Dracula is excellent. George Romero’s Martin is great, too. I read a lot of vampire novels, too; really like Stephen King.

WP: Have you thought about touring America? What are your thoughts on the American doom / sludge / extreme metal music? If you could tour with one or two bands across America, who would they be?

HT: Oh yeah, man, I would love to get over to the States. I get the feeling that there’s a much bigger Doom/Sludge scene over there than there is here in Japan. Like, how rad would it be to get on an Maryland Deathfest bill with EYEHATEGOD or Sleep? I really like female-fronted Doom, so Sabbath Assembly is another band I’d at least like to see. Pittsburgh’s Dream Death, too.