Heavy metal singer Nguyen Tien Hung has recently released the short rock film We Are Legend along with a double-sided album from his band of almost a decade, Black Infinity. He talks to Lorcan Lovett about the bible, shocked audiences, and his new rock label. Photo by Vinh Dao.
Tell me about your new short rock film We are Legend?
The main character is a young boy, a rock fan, who lives in Saigon, the big city, but he always feels alone. We are Legend means everybody becomes legends, every rock band in Saigon, or Vietnam, all the fans together will become legend, not Black Infinity. I wrote the script based on those four songs (from our latest album) and directed the film. It was the first film about rock in Vietnam so a lot of good feedback and anti-fans are also hating but a lot of people love it. I really like anti-fans. They’re really cool because they pay attention when we release something new. They know everything, they pay attention more than the fan.
You have the ‘number of the beast’ 666 in your phone number. Surely this is no coincidence?
I wanted to have this number because I was growing up with heavy metal music like Iron Maiden, Pantera, Black Sabbath. They had so many songs about that number. That number is for me something like a miracle number, like a fairytale. I had that phone number when I was really young. (The phone company) gave me a lot of 666 numbers and I chose which one is easiest to understand. Everybody knows about that number. But I’m not an anti-christ. I believe in God.
Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Ozbourne once bit off a bat’s head. Do you have any crazy stories from the road?
No. I’m not that kind of superstar like Ozzy Ozbourne. Actually I want to become a vegan, no killing animals. Maybe I will bite an apple, or an orange, but not an animal. I love animals. I don’t want to hurt them.
How difficult is it to find a label willing to back a metal band?
There’s no rock label here so it was the pop group label who signed us for the first album, then after that another pop music label then a film label. I just started a rock label, my own company, so I signed up my band. The label’s called Young Guns Records. We already have another band, one electronic band, a pop singer and one rapper, female singer. I started it last year. It’s kind of weird there’s no rock label in Vietnam and a lot of rock bands in Vietnam don’t know how to make an album. We know more the way of how to make it and now’s a good time to make it. We have to do it, there’s nothing here.
Where did the name Black Infinity come from?
That was my nickname on Yahoo Messenger a long time ago. I just like the black colour. If you are a rock fan, you like black, and Infinity means something huge, like the universe…Black Infinity, something like Black Sabbath. I don’t know if it’s good or not, I like it.
Heavy metal can be love/hate. Ever got booked for an audience who didn’t like it?
That’s not fun but funny. When I look to their faces they’re just like ‘what is (wrong with that guy)…’ when I just scream round (screams) and then look to when their face is changing. Like Mercedes, I don’t know why they invited Black Infinity to their event. Maybe they heard somewhere and then just invited us, they don’t know about our music. Their customer is all about elderly people – they come to the show and we just play. I don’t care and they’re like ‘what (is going on)’. It’s a really funny moment. I like it. We do have some rock ballad songs, some soft songs, they love it after that.
How healthy is the metal scene here?
It’s getting bigger and bigger. It’s growing up day by day, every year it’s getting more. Maybe the city is getting crazier, people need more release. They make bands, they play, they scream. People stress out from the office, they release at night time at the show.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your lyrics?
From the bible and love – the relationship with people. Love and the bible are really good for me to make songs. The bible’s about god and the devil. It’s a good thing to write down about the people, the belief, the trust, about the fallen angel, there’s so many good things.
What makes a good heavy metal rock band?
Just play from your heart, don’t fake it and you will become good.
What do you have in mind for the future?
For now we have a tour around Vietnam to promote the film (We Are Legend). We will film all the tour and make a documentary. I don’t know what next after that. I plan to do a solo album, we’ll see, maybe next year.