‘We want a fairer society’: Freddy Lim, Taiwan’s metalhead MP

The frontman of metal band Chthonic has also won two terms as a member of Taiwanese parliament. He explains how music gave him a voice – and what he wants to say next

The Guardian
Date: 17 Aug 2020
By: Rob Sayce

 Freddy Lim performing with Chthonic in 2015. Photograph: Pichi Chuang/Reuters

It’s a crisp December night in the heart of Taipei, and Freddy Lim is presiding over a campaign rally to remember. Flanked by his bandmates, and looking out over a 50,000-strong crowd, he steps to the front of the stage and lets out a guttural scream. Even without the CO2 cannons, video screens and orchestra at his back, or the facepaint daubed on his forehead, it’s an unlikely scene for a parliamentary candidate in the thick of a re-election campaign.

“During the campaign I was so exhausted every day,” he remembers, looking back on the events of 21 December. The night’s rally-cum-concert has just been released for posterity as Taiwan Victory Live, his band Chthonic’s latest live album and concert film – as well as a document of his two vocations, metal and legislative politics, mid-collision. “But on stage, I felt like I’d been refreshed, like there were thousands of people at my back and I could do anything,” he grins.

“Those people banging their heads and moshing, exchanging energy with you, they provide something very unique, deep in your soul, that can support you to keep going. I’m so happy we did it, because my team had debates over whether voters might have wanted their member of parliament to seem more serious. If I went back to being a metalhead, would it be a good image? But a lot of fans and supporters, after that concert, tried to mobilise campaigns to convince people to vote for me in my district. I don’t think any other kind of event can do that.” He held his seat.

Since forming in 1995 with Freddy on lead vocals, Chthonic have become cultural ambassadors for Taiwan – its history, myths and struggles. China maintains that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China: not a sovereign entity, but a rogue province that will one day be brought under its control. Acknowledging Taiwan’s independence, and risking reprisals from China, has therefore become awkward for other countries. As a result, Taiwan is excluded from the World Health Organisation and the United Nations, has official diplomatic ties with only 14 UN member states, and since emerging as a democracy in the late 1980s and early 90s, has faced internal tensions between pro-independence and pro-China factions.    [FULL  STORY]

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