Samer Bata chats to metal boys Emporer Chung ahead of their appearance at this years Download Festival.
In the face of danger and extreme conditions a lone Penguin battles his way through 12 beastily beasts to find glory and become a legend. This is the premise for creative supremos Emperor Chung’s upcoming debut concept album ahead of their appearance on the Pepsi Max Stage at Download Festival 2013- The only unsigned Nottingham/derby based band to manage that achievement so soon after their inception.
The band have shared a few serious thoughts about what Emperor Chung is all about, and a bizarre insight into where everything is heading and how prepared they are for the tough road ahead.
Explain to us what is Emperor Chung all about?
Emperor Chung is a happy band! We aim to write catchy fun music in a genre that usually takes itself a bit too seriously. If you dig a bit deeper you’ll find an epic adventure involving penguins!
How did the band start, was there any particular influences that you wanted to bring to the fore-front?
Dan: The band started when me and Danny left our old band and wanted to make playing music fun again hence the crazy artwork and story. We listed bands that we liked to listen to at the time and planned on melting them altogether as well as talking over a ridiculous story. We got Eddie in to drum for us who we already knew and then thought about a suitable rhythm guitarist – we then thought f*** that and got another beast lead guitarist in instead – Richard Shaw.
After trying out a couple of singers we stuck with Martin Jackson and his piercing howl!
From the start we wanted a catchy but progressive kind of sound – our kind of signature I think is our duel guitar harmonies which have been there from day one.
There are some interesting imagery and characters associated with the band, what are these characters about?
Dan: They were just born out of mine and Danny’s insane ramblings – thinking about a concept album we threw loads of ideas out there – Chung sounded a bit oriental so the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac came up and we just went from there – a horse with mole hands – an Ox with a blender for a tail that ends up being used against him in the song “Downpour” turning him into oxtail soup. The whole story can be summed up by a vengeful penguin killing his way through the 12 signs of the zodiac culminating in a final battle with Emperor Gillete who is being controlled by a parasitic ancient man-eating motherf***ing spider disguised as his moustache!! It might sound like we were high at the time but we weren’t……no really we weren’t! I don’t think we’ve had a serious conversation for years – we talk a lot of s***!”
The band came about after the demise of a successful Ilkeston band, was it hard to start fresh?
Danny: It didn’t feel hard, we were having fun writing the basis for the story, the artwork and the music. I think the most stressful bit was getting a vocalist but he just popped up one day and there we were. One of the rules we had from the start was that we weren’t gonna rush anything and in the end it paid off!”
The band’s sound is different from any projects various members have been in, how would you describe to new fans?
Epic sounding, with catchy melodies, big choruses, heavy grooves and intricate riffing. Crucially, it has a very uplifting vibe in many of the songs. In terms of other bands, probably Alter Bridge crossed with Coheed & Cambria but there is a huge amount of influences all mixed in there.
You are playing download 2013, have you prepared for the role? What are your plans after the slot on Pepsi Max stage?
We are doing a lot of work getting our album and music video recorded so there is more of us out there for folks to experience before and after Download.
After Download we will be signing a major multi million pound deal with Sony and doing a worldwide stadium tour, releasing the Emperor Chung comic book series and have an anime series based on the characters. We will probably be huge in Japan!
Seriously though this in itself is a dream come true for all of us, we will just ride the wave and see what happens and hopefully make good choices and have great fun along the way!
What song are you most looking forward to playing at Download?
Dan: We haven’t finalised a set list yet but if we play “I Vow This Day” that would make me happy. I think it’s the song I’d most enjoy to watch and listen to – driving verse – chunky chorus and the obligatory duel guitar harmony middle. In fact I might have to jump into the crowd to have a listen myself!
Martin: I personally am most looking forward to Pyramid, as it has my favourite chorus to sing and has a mean solo from Rich, plus some sweet leadwork from Danny in the verses. There’s a really cool oriental-sounding riff in it too, which is a lot of fun.
Danny: I’ll be happy playing anything stood on the Pepsi Max stage! I’m just looking forward to seeing how the Download crowd reacts to our whole set.
Tell us a little bit about your new single ‘Bloodline’?
The Bloodline was chosen as our first single because it showcases lots of different aspects of the band’s sound. There’s a mellow verse with a softly sung melody, a more chugging and slightly funk-influenced pre-chorus and an aggressive, heavy middle section. We also thought it has one of our biggest, most memorable choruses, which also displays our dual-lead guitars at the end.
The lyrics describe one chapter of our crazy story, where Chico is rescuing a load of captured baby penguins from the clutches of the Chicken character. The Monkey also gets involved too, it’s a bit mental…
What bands are most looking forward to seeing at download?
Dan: Friday is all about ‘Korn’, Saturday is all about ‘Alice in Chains’ and Sunday ‘Rammstein’ However there is a chance that he’ll get a bit overexcited though, drink too much – pass out and miss em all!
Martin: really looking forward to Katatonia, one of my favourite bands. Excellent atmospheric and dynamic doomy rock/metal from Sweden. Also I can’t wait to see Karnivool, who’ve I’ve never seen before and as mentioned are one of our biggest influences. And of course can’t forget Alice in Chains, they are bound to give an amazing performance.
Danny: Karnivool, Korn, Heaven’s Basement, Alice in Change, Stone Sour, POD, Europe, Limp Bizkit and about 50 more. Might have to cut the set short at this rate.
Eddie: Alice in Chains, Papa Roach, 3 Doors Down
Rich: am buzzing about Iron Maiden, Stone Sour and Katatonia
Finally, any amusing on stage moments you can share with us?
Dan: Whenever Martin Jackson does his signature “Take it easy” at the end of every gig, that is funny, creepy but funny.
Danny: Also look out for Dan’s “posed” leg that he does without realising it!
Interview by Samer Bata
Emporer Chung will appear on the Pepsi Max stage at Download Festival on Friday 14 June at 1pm – for more information click here