Video

A metalhead in Taiwan: How a Saskatoon musician found home in East Asia

Joe Henley went from a shy Prairie boy to an author, journalist and frontman for Taiwanese metal band Revilement.

Joe Henley went from a shy Prairie boy to an author, journalist and Taiwanese metal band frontman

"I just like being a part of this community. I've met friends through this that are now lifelong friends that take care of me, like family" - Revilement lead singer Joe Henley reflects on how much moving to Taiwan has meant to him. 4:46

Joe Henley grew up in Saskatchewan. He was a bit reclusive and never quite fit in. That led him to spend a lot of time reading, writing — and listening to metal. But he always kept his musical tastes private for fear of judgment.

Henley eventually left Saskatoon and attended journalism school in Halifax. The experience of leaving his hometown felt freeing — he could more fully explore who he was without expectation. At the end of his degree, mostly on a whim, Henley decided to pack up and leave for Taiwan where he could continue his journey of discovery.

With very little money and no job, he began his new life in Taiwan. Now, years after his move, he's ended up becoming a freelance journalist, an author (his first novel is called Sons of the Republic) and the lead singer of a Taiwanese metal band called Revilement.

Joe Henley on stage. (CBC Arts)

In the video above, you'll meet Joe and hear his story of becoming part of the metal community. And although it doesn't sound like he's coming back to Canada permanently anytime soon, he has a new relationship with his homeland: "I miss Canada. You come to appreciate the place you come from as you get older because it loses that veneer of being the place that you had to escape from. So I think moving abroad has, in a strange way, brought me closer to an appreciation for my Canadian identity."

This story was directed in Canada by Chris Hsiung and in Taiwan by Roger Cheng with Keng Chaung on camera, Patty Ku on sound and Kent Chen acting as production assistant.

See Revilement in Canada this summer at Montebello Rockfest, June 22-25, and Armstrong MetalFest, July 14-15. Joe Henley's second novel Bu San Bu Si, about a Taiwanese punk band, will be released in March by Camphor Press.

Watch Exhibitionists Sundays at 4:30pm (5 NT) on CBC.

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