(L to R) Yusuke Sumita (g), Norihisa Fukuda (b), Hideki Fujimoto (vo), Yuichi Ishiguro (dr)

Interview with Yusuke Sumita (Guitar)/DEFILED
Translation by Mayumi (Far East Extreme Metal)
Posted on December 16, 2001

What are you doing recently?

Yusuke : Hello, everybody!! We, DEFILED, are currently rehearsing for new songs, which you will be able to listen to in the next album. In the meantime, we periodically organize and play at serial gigs called "Bizarre Voice" for Death Metal fans here in Tokyo. We hope to record the new album sometime in the late summer or autumn of this year.

Last year, DEFILED replaced the drummer to Ishiguro. Has this replacement affected your sound?

Yusuke : Yuichi joined us after the departure of our old drummer, Naoki. The basic components of our sound have not changed, however, new songs, which we are composing now, should sound much faster due to increasing of blast parts ,

By the way, last year you had an interesting live performance with MERZBOW (on December 15, 2000, in Tokyo). How did this curious collaboration by Noise Music and Death Metal occur ?

Yusuke : The other day, Mr. Akita from MERZBOW and we talked over dinner about this idea, and it actually came true. We are really satisfied to experience its very interesting output. (Translater's Notes: Thay did this collaboration this year too!!)

This year, you performed at March Metal Meltdown (April 6&7, 2001) in New Jersey, U.S.A., as well as the last year. How was like the reaction of the audience there ?

Yusuke : We are pretty sure that we received more appreciation than we had expected. Plus, we were lucky, because the time for performance allocated to us was enough good to be checked out by a lot of people. Sound monitors, however, were a bit difficult to handle as usual. I appreciate the flexibility of American bands who can always deal with such unstable equipment.

Did you aim at the world-wide success when you started DEFILED ? What were your main activities before you launched into the world ? Aren't you interested in Japanese domestic tours ?

Yusuke : To be honest, when I started, I did not mind whether DEFILED could be accepted in the world. We just put a lot of efforts into establishing our own sounds, although I sometimes dreamed if we could launch into the world. It was just 4 or 5 years ago that one of my dream, which is to release albums from one of major underground labels abroad, changed into realistic. Anyway, before we confirmed to expand our activities to the world, we did a lot of domestic tours. We traveled around in Japan to play, from such northern cities as Sapporo and Aomori to western cities such as Nagasaki and Kumamoto. Of course, we also visited small cities where people hardly could find Metal gigs. In the year of 1996, we played more than 70 times just in Japan, such a narrow country as you know. Anyway, I still reminisce these early days ; since we could not afford our accommodation, we slept on the street or on the roof of our poor van in summer, and we sheltered from the coldness of winter in the van, being wrapped by a blanket ; we could not take the shower for several days. I have to say, however, we had not only struggling matters but also countless good memories. We can never forget the warm welcome that we received from fans on the road. These piled experiences we obtained through the past domestic tours always encourage us to play abroad. Of course, we would like to have domestic tours again if possible, although we do not think we can play 40 times continuously anymore.

When you had no connection with the world scene, how did you appeal yourselves to it ?

Yusuke : We sent out demos as much as possible, anyway. We shipped our demos to all zines and labels we knew. Now I sometimes doubt if some of our ways of promotion were fruitless, but none the less, I believe we learned a lot of things through these shortcomings. Compared to the methods of promotion we often used in the early times, nowadays they have changed into more convenient ones ; we can do interviews via email and printed-zines have been getting replaced to webzines. When we started, we printed a lot of flyers, put them in envelops, and distributed them out via snail mail. As everyone took such a manual method at that time, we manually circulated thousands of our flyers anyway.

When did you first feel that your band had become well-known ?

1st mini album 「Defeat of Sanity」
Bizzare records BR94001 1994

Yusuke : No, not yet. I do not think that we have got enough familiar to every metalhead in the world. We have to do our best to attract more people anyway.

DEFILED played in Korea in 1997 and 1999. Please tell me what made you play there. How was the reaction of Korean fans ? I am afraid if my this question is inadequate here, but I heard Japanese music was forbidden in Korea at that time (in 1997) , so why were you able to play there ?

Yusuke : Because our singer, Fujimoto, used to go to Korea frequently in order to research for his final report for Bachelor's Degree, he got to know many people there. One of his Korean friends usually organized shows in Korea., and this friend also gave us a chance to play there. As you told me, in Korea, Japanese music was forbidden at that time, so we visited Korea as secret guests. Of course, since our name was not listed in the flyers of the shows, people had never been informed that we would play. I mean, the Korean audiences there had never expected appearance of a Japanese band until the show began. The reactions of Korean audiences were really great, definitely. Actually, of their reactions, there were some points that we were a little bit surprised at : the manner of their giving appreciation to us, which was different from Japanese fans' one, and kitty screaming of female fans. But each of their reactions was also respectably intriguing, good experience to us, and delighted us very much.

Could you mention about the Korean Metal scene ? Later, you invited the biggest Korean Death Metal band, SEED, to Japan. DEFILED definitely contributed to build a bridge between Korean scene and Japanese scene.

Yusuke : We first met SEED when we played in Seoul in 1997. Hanging out with them after the show, I heard that they strongly wished to play in Japan, so I decided to help them out. After consideration, I talked to RITUAL CARNAGE about their hoping to play in Japan, and finally, SEED confirmed to participate in the Japanese tour of RITUAL CARNAGE for their 1st album release celebration. So, precisely speaking, we did not invite SEED, but RITUAL CARNAGE did. However, although the tour itself was quite well-organized without any particular trouble, there were some visa problems among SEED. Every Korean adult male is obligated to join the national military for two years and two months, but two of the guys had not finished this obligation yet. I therefore had to visit Korean embassy in Tokyo several times to ask for their visa approval. Anyway, once I saw their fantastic live after their successful disembarkation to Japan, I forgot every such trouble that I had been embarrassed at before. I could not say anything about their live but, "They are just great!!". I believe many witnesses of SEED on stage still remember their exciting performance.
By the way, when I personally visited Korea last year, I had an opportunity to hang out with SEED guys again. The original bass player who has just returned from the military continues to play under the name of "SEED" with a new line-up, but the new SEED have changed their musical style into Hard Core, not Death Metal anymore. The drummer, who was the leader of the old SEED musically, has formed a new Death Metal band called DOXOLOGY and has just resumed to compose their own music.. Since I feel sympathy with these guys as we both are Asian, I hope these Korean bands, DOXOLOGY and the new SEED, will be successful in the future. Well, talking about DOXOLOGY, they are U.S. style Brutal Death. The Metal scene in Korea seems quite similar to the Japanese scene. The current music trend there is something like Hard Core, rather than Metal. As for Death Metal, DOXOLOGY seems to be the only one Death Metal band over there, unfortunately. We feel it is a bit pity, and we wish if there were more bands and if the scene were more healthy… (Translator's Notes: DOXOLOGY came to Japan in September, 2001!!! Killer Brutal Death with Chris Barnes style deep death voice. You should check out them when they release a demo!!!)

The 3-week-length tour with INCANTATION in 1998 was an important turning point for you. Could you tell me how did you make the tour ?

Yusuke : I suddenly received email from John MacEntee of INCANTATION, in which he asked us to participate in their U.S. tour. I was very surprised, because I really suddenly received such an unexpected invitation though we had get in touch each other before. Of course, I sent the reply, saying "Yes!!" immediately, because we had no reason to deny the offer. Other than INCANTATION, we played with SKINLESS, JUNGLE LOT, VITAL REMAINS, DECEASED etc on this tour, and still we keep in touch with these bands. It was a really valuable tour for us, anyway.

INCANTATION are quite familiar to Japanese Death Metal fans. What was your impression on touring in the U.S. with such a notable underground band ? Also, please tell me if you have any interesting stories during this tour.

Yusuke : It was really cool and exciting to play every night in different cities in U.S !! Of course, no luxurious tour bus was provided to us, but we drove two vans for each bands. Driving long distance almost killed us, really. Probably, it is not easy to imagine for many Japanese fans how wide America is, but that was the same for us. Even though it looked not so far in the map, we could not find it was wrong until we actually drove. The average distance of moving per day of American bands is approximately 700 miles (about 1,100 km, equal to the distance between Tokyo and Fukuoka in Japan), so we had to drive on freeways for 8-11 hours every day. It was like a battle against myself to drive overnight… To avoid falling in sleep during night driving, I beat myself on my cheek or screamed loudly. Well, I really want to admire my toughness for the safety driving for three weeks without any accident. Of course, I know that a lot of American underground Death Metal bands repeat the same thing for several weeks once they are on the road, and I would like to give them full of my appreciation !!
Now, let me talk about some incredible episodes. We moved from one city to another with INCANTATION, who were like road guides for us, all the time. One day, however, we lost them… I mean, we had no guides to the next city and had to reach there by ourselves. Anyway, we could reach a city called Springfield in Illinois, where we believed that we were supposed to play at that night. But soon we noticed that "Springfield" where we should play was not in Illinois, but in Missouri !!! Of course, we rushed like a bullet through the highway to Springfield in Missouri. We almost gave up the show at that night, but fortunately, we could arrive there just in time. We had the similar happening in New York City too. If we had been late for 30 minutes, our show would have been cancelled. I can not tell you all, but I am glad that we could wrap up the tour without any visible trouble. Oh, I have one thing that we feel sorry about. We could not cross the border of the US. and Canada, I mean, we could not allowed to get enter Canada. To tell the truth, this spring, we were rejected to step into there, and that was the second time for us to be denied by the Canadian immigration. Consequently, we had to chancel a festival there. I wonder why the Canadian immigration service is so severe for band people these days… because two years ago, we had no problem to get enter Canada and we played there successfully.

I heard that this tour with INCANTATION gave you a chance to contract with Nightfall/Terrorizer Records, which released your 2nd album "Erupted Wrath" later. Why did you sign with this label ? What points of DEFILED did the label like ?

2nd full album 「Erupted Wrath」
Nightfall/Terrorizer records
NFTR006 1999June

Yusuke : When we played in Chicago, we met Don Decker from Nightfall/Terrorizer Records for the first time. It was just after the release of the first CD of ANAL BLAST, so he gave us the CDs, greeting like, "My label just released this CD". To tell the truth, I could not recognize that the CD he gave me was by ANAL BLAST, but I believed it was by CRADLE OF FILTH, so I surprised like, "Oh, this is the guy who released famous CRADLE OF FILTH !!". Of course, it did not take a long time to find out the twisted logo was described as "ANAL OF BLAST", not CRADLE OF FILTH !! (Laughter). Then, I also found out that he was the singer of ANAL BLAST !! Anyway, he liked our show pretty much at that night, and we hung out together after the show, …well, I have to say, he had already got drunken when we started to drink (Laughter). At that time, we did not think about signing with Nightfall/Terrorizer, because DEFILED were under the negotiation with other label. However, as a matter of fact, we were a bit frustrated because the result of negotiation with the other label would not meet our demands.
Then, it was in the morning on September, 24, 1998, that I suddenly received a phone call from Don Decker. In less than ten seconds or so, he said quickly, "I am going to send you a fax. Please read it.", then he hung up the phone. 10 minutes after his call, I received a document regarding contract via fax. Then I asked him if he could accept the same conditions as ones of the other label that we had negotiated with. He said, "OK!". So, we decided to sigh with Nightfall/Terrorizer Records. However, after his first approach, because we had to clear some legal problems, it took more than a half year to release an album.

What is different between Japanese fans and American fans ? What could we, Japanese fans, learn from American fans ?

Yusuke : Basically, we both are all the same at the point of that we love music. Of course, each reaction to shows is different, but it is based on the cultural difference. There are more zines in the U.S., and this fact might be because the scene is bigger. In fact, I sometimes wish if we had more zines in Japan, but I do never feel disappointed on it. We would like to appreciate these all supporters of DEFILED from the world, though each fan's way of supporting is varied. Thanks to these supporters, we can definitely fuel up ourselves.

In 1997, the 2nd album "Erupted Wrath" was recorded at Brian Griffin's (BROKEN HOPE) "Qualitone Studios" in the suburb of Chicago, with his production, and mixed down by Jim Morris at Morrisound Studios in Tampa. Though it was the first recording abroad for you, didn't you have any trouble or difficulty during the recording ? I guess that you could have solved any difficulties with the assistance by Jim, who is a well-experienced engineer, and Brian, who is a real Death Metal guitar player and understands the situation surrounding Death Metal guitar players. On the contrary, the 3rd album "Ugliness Revealed" was recorded in Tokyo, Japan. Didn't you have any idea that you would record an album abroad again ? As for this 3rd album, however, the mixing was done at Morrisound again, but by Tom Morris this time. What was different between these two engineers ? Totally, are you satisfied with the production of "Ugliness Revealed" ?

Yusuke : When we recorded "Erupted Wrath", we had nothing to even feel confused, to be honest. From the beginning to the end, everything was different from the Japanese way that was familiar to us. In particular, we felt much difference in recording drum parts. It was totally opposite to our way that we used to do. Well, I would not to mention anymore because it will be too complicated to explain all differences, but I would like to stress that everything was different. We wanted dry sounds, especially for drums. Brian, who has played in a Death Metal band for a long time, seemed to realize well what we wanted. So we could trust him at this point. Of course, Jim Morris at Morrisound did great works for us. As for "Erupted Wrath", now we can find some points that we might mistake, but we have no remorse at all because we really dedicated our best effort to the recording. On the recording of "Ugliness Revealed", we tried to record by ourselves here in Japan bringing what we learned from the previous recording in the U.S. This time, we used a studio called "Yellow Knife" in Tokyo. The engineer there also understood what we demanded, and we could work quite smoothly. Mixing and other wrapping-up were, however, done at Morrisound again by Tom Morris, who is the brother of Jim Morris, since we had an opportunity to fly to America for gigs then. I like the sound of "Blessed Are The Sick" by MORBID ANGEL, and to work with him was one of my dreams in fact. I am very satisfied with the output of the recording.

You have performed at Milwaukee Metalfest twice. Thus, out of the world countries, I could say, the main destination that DEFILED have visited was the U.S. Last year, you toured in Europe with DEMENTOR, and played in Malaysia, both for the first time. Are you planning to visit other destinations in the future ?

Yusuke : If you review the scene, you can easily find that North America and Europe are the center of the scene, but of course, we would like to visit such areas as Asian countries, Russia, South America, Australia etc.. We have no visible plan to visit these countries right now, but we occasionally receive invitations from these countries in fact. We would like to go to play anywhere if the time comes and the conditions meet with us.

Even in Japan, You played with many bands who visited Japan, like TESTAMENT, CANNIBAL CORPSE, MORBID ANGEL, VADER, IMPALED NAZARENE, MORTICIAN, ARCH ENEMY etc. Please tell me some episodes when you played these bands.

Yusuke : Each band that we played with is really memorable. Each live was very impressive and good experience for us, but especially, it was kind of honorable to play at the live recording of "Live In Japan" of VADER. Their performance at that night was really fantastic !! Also, bands such as MORBID ANGEL and TESTAMENT were killer !! When CANNIBAL CORPSE played here five years ago, we hung out together in Roppongi (Editors Note : a famous night spot in Tokyo) and enjoy not just gigs but other things together. We also learned a lot of things from the bands like ARCH ENEMY and IMPALED NAZARENE, who do not have the same musical style as ours. I would like to say that these co-performances are quite valuable chances for us.

By the way, the anticipated 3rd album "Ugliness Revealed" was finally released from Baphomet/Necropolis in the U.S.. How are the reactions of the press ? Are you satisfied with the promotional support by the label ?

3rd full album 「Ugliness Revealed」
Baphomet /Necropolis records
BAPH2115 2001 March

Yusuke : In Japan, I have not seen any reviews at this moment (May 2001), since it is categorized as an imported album (Editors Note : In Japanese small Metal media, albums that have a domestic license in Japan are dealt as first priority to get reviewed.). I think it has amicably reviewed by the most zines from the U.S. and Europe, but, well, I know, some seem to be severe on it. We are very satisfied with the support that we have received from the label. It is sure that now we have less self-works to promote than before, but of course, we do not cease to promote by ourselves.

Well, could you explain briefly the contents of your last album "Ugliness Revealed" ? I think the basic style is the same as the previous album, but it sounds more complicated and aggressive.

Yusuke : Yes, it is. Both sounds and lyrics are basically in the same vein as the previous album. I would be grateful if you regard it not just as "change" but as "progress" or "development" compared to the old album. As for lyrics, the context has not been changed fundamentally, but since not me but our singer, Hideki, wrote the lyrics this time, the point of view of the context might be different from old ones. Musically, we tried to compose middle tempo songs, which we had regarded as difficult to play. I have personally realized the difficulty of composing middle tempo music that sounds cool and never gets people bored. It is very important to create our own music, without losing DEFILED taste. Anyway, I can not describe the sounds here, but I would like you to listen to the album.

What are obstacles or demerits for Japanese bands to be active world-widely ? How did you conquer the obstacles ? On the contrary, what are merits to be a Japanese band, if any ?

Yusuke : Nowadays, since we have convenient communication tools such as internet and e-mail, it is not so difficult to communicate with people in the world if you have even a bit knowledge of English. The most serious handicap for us is the geographic distance between the West, which is the center of Metal, and Japan. We must fly with airplane whenever we go to the center of the scene, and it costs a lot of money and time. Of course, we had to pay for expensive air tickets from our own pocket money in the early times, but anyway we comforted ourselves by regarding it as "early investment" to us. I can hardly find any merit on being Japanese, if you are involved in Metal, but if any, we look remarkable at sight because we are Asian. In fact, people still sometimes ask us, "Are you Death Angel? Are you still existing??". You know, they broke up long, long time ago!!! (Laughter)

Finally, please give a message to the young generation who will expand their activities to the world. h the world.

Yusuke : Oh, we are still young generation!! (Laughter) Well, we believe we are still young, anyway. At least, we want to stay young in our minds. I have no idea to give anything like an advise, really… but just let's do it together, anyway!! Let's help out each other, and make our Japanese scene much better!! The more uncompromising bands we have, the more interesting the scene gets. If we have many bands creating real original sounds, not clone like copying of others, more people in the world pay attention to our scene, and I believe, the time will come some day. I think the most important thing is to play music with fun. Let's do it together!!!

Thank you for your interview!!! Stay brutal!!!!

DEFILED contact : defiledjpn@hotmail.com (Yusuke Sumita)
DEFILED Official Website : http://listen.to/defiled/

Pictures submitted by Yusuke Sumita (DEFILED)