Patients Return to the UK With New Songs and a New Drummer

With catchy hooks, aggressive riffs, and a punk energy that lights up the stage, a Patients show is never to be missed. They’re taking their exciting blend of drums, bass, and keys underneath punchy lyrics to the UK for the third year in a row for a tour that starts today. Just before setting off from the peninsula, bassist/vocalist Sumin Jo and keyboardist Hyuckjang Kwon sat down with Korea Gig Guide to talk music: where it comes from, where it’s going, and why it’s always fun but never easy.

(2016) Patients 3

How did you get guys together?

Sumin: Before Patients, I played in a metal band. Four years ago, I was playing with Patients, and Hyuckjang was playing with another band. We used the same practice studio back then. I thought his style would be good for Patients as at that time we had no keyboard, just guitar.  So I asked him to join. And we got a new drummer earlier this year. His name is Soowon Choi. Hyuckjang knew him and recommended him to me. From the first moment we played together, it sounded great! We’ve been playing together for five months now.

Hyuckjang: He adapts very quickly. He is a great drummer.

Your sound has developed a lot over the years. What brought about these changes? Can you describe your current sound to new fans?

Sumin: When we first started, the band members liked 1970s classic punk rock and 1990s punk rock, so we modeled our sound after those styles. Over time, we studied more as musicians. When we released our first album, we were satisfied with our development. But we also wanted to develop a more unique sound that we could call our own. Around then, Hyuckjang joined Patients. We went to the essence of punk rock music and did what we wanted. Hyuckjang, Soowon, and I all have different tastes and we draw from all of those when making music. That is Patients’ sound today.

Hyuckjang: When I joined Patients, we were working on our second album, “18.” I wondered how we could make a rocking sound without guitars and we talked a lot about it. We wondered whether to use the keyboard to make heavy sounds or to create unique sounds. We tried lots of different things and were happy with the results on the album. Recently, Soowon has joined and brought his own sound and we have been trying to integrate electronic punk music with that. Before it was more of an analog sound, and then we had more of a digital sound. Now our sound is really close to the electronic keyboard sound we were imitating and paying respect to. You can look forward to seeing how our sound has developed on some new singles we’ll be releasing soon. We have two new songs right now called “Space Call Girl” and “Game Boy Game Girl.” We’ll be playing these songs during our upcoming UK concerts and will be recording them after our tour.

How do you expect Patients’ sound and style to grow in the future?

Sumin: The only thing that will not change is that we’re going to do whatever we want to do. That will never change in terms of attitude. I don’t know how our sound will change. I don’t think that far ahead. Ultimately, Patients is Patients. We don’t think about genres or styles because … well, that’s not our style!

Your music is marked by a lot of raw punk energy. After over 10 years of playing on stages in different parts of Asia and the UK, what inspires you to keep up that fiery energy?

Sumin: In my head, I’m still young and immature.  And I think I’m still like a teenager with my love of music. So I feel like that kind of energy comes out naturally. I don’t count the years, I just live as usual. I do what I like as soon as I find something, you know?

You’ll be touring in the UK for the third time from May 25 – June 5. What are your expectations for this tour?

Sumin: It is first time going overseas with our new drummer so I’m sure we will have fun.

Hyuckjang: I’m looking forward to going to Angels, a strip club in Liverpool!  Also, we’re excited about playing for audiences in the UK – they’re really great and welcoming.  And we’re excited about drinking lots of great British beer too. But we’re not looking forward to the food.

What are the biggest challenges you expect to face?

Hyuckjang: Traveling between cities with all of our gear is a bit challenging. I use an 88-key keyboard. It was like dragging a coffin around when we went to Liverpool last year. I looked like an undertaker, not like someone carrying music equipment. Actually, as we were traveling between London and Liverpool people were asking why I brought a snowboard with me!

What should new fans expect from a Patients show?

Sumin: They can expect to see something they’ve never seen before. If they come with an open mind and heart, I’m sure they’ll have a great time.

Some crowd favorites are “Sipalsegi,” and “Idiot vs. Psycho.” Can you tell us a little about their inspiration, etc?

Sumin: For “Sipalsegi,” I thought about how “chung” (affection) and “han” (resentment) are big big characteristics in Korea and wrote about them in the lyrics. As for “Idiot vs Psycho,” when I was young, I always fought with our former guitarist. I fought with him seven days a week, all night long. Back then, I wondered “Is he a psycho? An idiot?” and I started writing the song while thinking about that. It’s about the battle between people that don’t understand each other.

What is your songwriting process?

Sumin: Often one member comes to practice with an idea and then we work together to complete it. Hyuckjang mainly makes the arrangements for the music and melodies. The words and emotions tend to come from me and Soowon creates a lot of the rhythms.

What is your favorite song to play live?

Sumin: “Space Call Girl” because it’s one of our new songs. But I like all of our songs.

Who are your favorite bands in Hongdae at the moment?

Hyuckjang: National Pigeon Unity, Trampauline, and 57.

Sumin: I like all of those acts too, but I’ll choose some different ones. I’m going to say Heynam Sin and Patients, DTSQ, and AKUA.

And who are your favorite UK bands?

Sumin: Sex Pistols, Inspiral Carpets, and New Order. I like the Manchester sound and classic punk rock.

Hyuckjang: Pink Floyd, The Cure, and Iron Maiden.

And non-UK bands?

Hyuckjang: The Australian band The Griswolds, Pollock from Spain, and Metallica.

Sumin: There are too many too list!

You recently added Club Steel Face to Steel Face Records and your Steel Face Rooftop 3639 space. How is the club doing?

Sumin: Hongdae has big, wonderful concert halls like Sangsang Madang and Rolling Hall. There are also small clubs like Badabie too. I was thinking that it would be great if we had a tiny and stylish performance space that had a great sound system like the ones in concert halls.  That’s the kind of place we thought we’d love to play in. And that’s why we decided to make Club Steel Face. The club is doing well. I like that we have a place where all our friends can perform in a really nice space. Club Steel Face was recently written about in the US magazine Paste, which was really cool to see. Come check it out!

Here are Patients UK tour dates:
May 25 Chester @ The Live Rooms
May 26 Manchester @ Night & Day Cafe
May 27 Whitchurch @ Percy’s Cafe Bar
May 29 Liverpool @ Liverpool Sound City (Cargo Stage)
May 31 London @ Windmill Brixton
June 5 Worthing @ Bar 42

Patients 2016 UK Tour
 

 

 

 

Victim Mentality Release New Single Before SXSW Return

Hard-hitting glam rockers Victim Mentality are heading back to South by Southwest (SXSW) this year bringing with them their screaming vocals and lightning quick guitar riffs. Frontman Krocodile sat down to talk with Korea Gig Guide about their Heavy Metal Is Back full-length album, touring, their new single and more. Despite songs to the contrary, we were interested to learn that Krocodile doesn’t like singing or writing songs about sex, though the self-proclaimed heavy metal god is in search of groupies and new love. Get a taste of the man who “doesn’t like Korean music or people,” but rather “loves Judas Priest, for America is the best!” in our Q&A below.


You have become well-known both here and abroad for your style and classic heavy metal sound. As there have been some changes in the lineup and style recently, can you start by introducing Victim Mentality to our readers?

We are Victim Mentality, a Korean glam and heavy metal band. We are a very famous and huge band in Korea! Everyone knows me. If you guys don’t know me, there is a problem. You must be a criminal! If you guys don’t know about Victim Mentality, search for us on Google and YouTube, and then you can pretend you already know us.

How did you all get into music and heavy metal?

Before my memory existed, I listened to and played heavy metal music. My mother told me that when I was only two years old I was already playing heavy metal guitar. Heavy metal was my destiny. I didn’t choose metal, metal chose me.

You have a unique heavy metal style with quite playful lyrics. What is your songwriting process?

Before Mr. Sohn left the band, he wrote the songs and I wrote the lyrics. Now I write everything. First, I make a riff and then I write the melody and add the lyrics to the melody. It’s simple.

As you have many English speaking fans as well, can you talk a bit about the lyrics to the title track from Heavy Metal Is Back to help them get a sense of what Korean fans already know?

We disrespect other styles of music and musicians. They are very famous in Korea, and we disrespect them. Actually, we envy them. But heavy metal chose us, so we can’t find another way. So, we just play heavy metal. The song “Heavy Metal Is Back” is very complicated to explain. People ask heavy metal musicians why we have long hair. They wonder, “Short-haired people can’t play heavy metal?” We don’t know the answer. But I must have long hair, because I am heavy metal. Maybe I can play heavy metal with short hair, but… It’s a complex emotion. We disrespect other musicians who play other styles of music, but actually I envy them. They are very famous and have lots of money. But I can’t change my music, so I play heavy metal and we say heavy metal is back. The story of the song is, although we are not that bright and not that famous, heavy metal is back.

Your first full-length album, Heavy Metal Is Back, is filled with driving drums, fast-paced heavy metal riffs and screaming vocals. And of course, a few ballads mixed in. Which track was the most difficult to record? Which are the most fun to play?

“Love of Sixtynine” was very difficult. I don’t know why, but the singing was very difficult. That is not my style, so it was difficult only for me. I don’t know about the other parts. I just sing on that record, so “Love of Sixtynine” was very challenging. “Is It My Child?” is a fun song. That and “Pubic Lice” are the most fun songs. “Love of Sixtynine” is fun too. Our new song, “I Hate Hiphop,” is my favorite song to sing live these days.

What do you like to write about?

The songs about sex are very fun, but I don’t think that can be the major subject. There are so many subjects besides sex that we can talk about with people. Sex is not a topic for sympathizing with many people. Perhaps sex, women, love, and similar things can stimulate people, but that’s all.

You released a brand new single last week. Please tell us about it.

It’s called “I Hate Hiphop.” Actually, I don’t hate hip hop. Hip hop is a favorite genre in Korea. But if we attack them, we can make noise. That noise can make money. So I made the song. The song and music video are very serious. If you watch the video, you can feel how I deeply hate hip hop. But the truth is, I don’t hate hip hop. All kinds of music are equal and respectable.

You’ve played major showcases both in Korea and abroad. What have been your best performances?

The best performance was at SXSW in America. We really loved Chosun Galbi, a Korean restaurant in Austin, Texas. It is 10 times better than food in Korea. Because of the American cows, the meat is much better. So, it tastes 10 times better than in Korea.

What are your expectations and goals for this year?

Love. I want to find new love. Actually, I broke up with my girlfriend last month, so I need new love and I expect to have a new romance in Austin when we play at SXSW again this month.

What can US fans who haven’t seen you yet expect from Victim Mentality?

I have the holy spirit of the metal gods. So they can expect money and to have good luck in money, health, etc. It’s difficult to explain in English. Sharing info about us and seeing us play can improve your luck. Most of you can earn lots of money if you see our concert!

Any final comments for fans who will see you at SXSW?

Thank you for reading my interview. Come to our show. Share our articles. Share our schedule. It can help you become healthy and rich. It will help my wealth, too. Let’s help each other! Thank you.

Victm Mentality SXSW Poster

Victim Mentality will play two shows at SXSW in Austin, Texas this week.  Here’s their gig schedule at the festival.

March 16 Austin @ The Belmont (Korea Night I: K-Pop Night Out Showcase)
March 19 Austin @ Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room (V-Rox Showcase)

Music history keeps moving on

A couple of events recently have made me all too aware of how everything is constantly changing in Korea, including the music scene. The biggest news of late (imho) is that the best music store in Korea, Hyang Music, is finally shutting down, closing its doors on March 12.

Hyang opened in 1991 and was going strong when I first arrived in Seoul back in the late 1990s. Back then, Korea was full of music stores (around 5,000 is the most common number I’ve seen), with several huge Tower Records around Seoul, a huge Hot Trax at Kyobo Books, and countless small shops seemingly on every corner. But most of them died out when the music market collapsed in Korea more than a decade ago. Even Hongdae’s great Purple Records closed last year, and now Hyang has fallen, too.

Even in the heyday of the music industry, Hyang was still the shop to go to, especially for local indie music. Back then, it felt like you could keep up with most of the CDs being released by the local indie scene, and if I could find a release, I usually bought a copy. Hyang was a tiny store, but it was in such a convenient location for me, on the road connecting the Shinchon Subway Station and the Yonsei main gate (being around the corner from Voodoo Bar, my favorite hangout way back then, helped, too). I couldn’t begin to guess all the CDs I bought there.

Clubs, too, are always opening and closing in Korea. Ruail Rock recently shut its doors, for instance. One of the first clubs in Seoul that I used to go to was Master Plan, which was located in Nogosan-dong, about halfway between Shinchon and Donggyo-dong. I used to go for the indie rock music, but soon after it turned into a hiphop club, and for quite a while it was at the heart of the Korean indie hiphop scene.

Now the fine young music writer Emma Kalka has published a fine history of Master Plan in the latest Groove Magazine. It’s an excellent and informative read, totally worth your time.

I’m old and boring now, so don’t go out very music. But I don’t want to be one of those boring old fossils who complains about how much better things used to be. I’m sad to be losing Hyang Music, just as I’m sad to have lost the other music stores and clubs. But change isn’t all negative, and the music scene today is probably bigger and more interesting than it’s been since I’ve been in Korea. So cheers to Hyang and Master Plan and everyone else who has gone before. And I’m looking forward to hearing all the music that comes next.

(Cross-posted to my personal website).

Love X Stereo is asking for a little help

Annie and Toby, the very nice people behind the excellent group Love X Stereo, are looking for a little help funding their latest EP, We Love, We Leave, Part 2. So they’ve set up a PledgeMusic page asking for pre-orders, which will go to creating the new music.

There are three levels of support offered, so it’s an easy way to buy some good music and help a band out. And they’ve set up a couple of previews, so you can check out if it’s your sort of music — but if you like catchy electropop, it probably is.

Love X Stereo is going to be playing at SXSW again this year, and will play in San Francisco as well, so if you’re in the neighborhood, you should check them out.

LoveXStereo

 

 

Summer Festivals Ramping Up Again

Hard to believe that the summer festival season is starting up already, but it is. We have the return of the Valley Rock Festival to Jisan. It runs July 22-24 and its first lineup gets announced in a few hours, but it looks like Radiohead is going to be on the bill.

(UPDATE: Well, no Radiohead in the first announcement. So far, just two bands: Kula Shaker and Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Valleyrock tease

Beautiful Mint Life runs May 14-15, and its first lineup gets announced early next week.

Green Plugged Seoul is May 21-22, and will have Crying Nut, 3rd Line Butterfly, Galaxy Express, Winterplay, Pavlov and more.

The Seoul Jazz Festival is May 28-29, and it actually has announced a lot of artists: Corinne Bailey Rae, Pat Metheny, Terence Blanchard, Rufus Wainright, Nat King Cole Tribute Band, and plenty more to come.

UMF Korea is June 10-12.

Some of the shows have English ticketing on Interpark, but I’ll try to have better links as they turn up.

 

Gig Review: Galaxy Express, Dead Buttons, and 57 @ Strange Fruit on January 16

On Saturday night, I clambered down the stairs of Strange Fruit in Hongdae to see veteran indie rockers Galaxy Express perform. The band have committed themselves to a month of nightly performances at the tiny basement club in January. While this kind of demanding schedule is usually reserved for overseas tours when bands are fueled by the thrill of new environs, Seoulites now have the rare opportunity to see one of the city’s most loved indie acts any day of the week (barring Mondays).

While Galaxy Express is usually filling much larger live halls or soccer fields at outdoor festivals, they have decided to offer a more intimate experience for fans. Strange Fruit was definitely not built to hold big rock acts and does not allow much room for jumping around, but they had the place packed and bumping wall to wall.

57
57

The show was kicked off by garage rock duo 57. Their set had its highlights with subtle moments building into big crashing riffs, but one gets the feeling these up-and-comers are still honing their sound.

Galaxy Express
Galaxy Express

Surprisingly, Galaxy Express were next to take the stage, explaining that they wanted to give the headline honors to Dead Buttons to celebrate their new album release. Galaxy Express belted out eight songs in quick succession without so much as skipping a beat, even slipping into some unexpected reggae with a few bars of Bob Marley ‘s “I Shot the Sheriff.” While the audience highlights were definitely “Horongbul” and “Jungle the Black,” a personal favorite was “Let it Out,” the opening track off their latest album, last summer’s “Walking on Empty.” While one might have forgiven them for stepping off the gas for a moment given their hectic playing schedule, the trio blasted out a frantic set to a full house and even relented to demands for an encore of “Oh Yeah!”

Dead Buttons
Dead Buttons

The night was finished off with the eclectic garage rock of Dead Buttons putting on the best performance I’ve seen from them to date. The band cranked out a more raucous rendition of their crowd pleaser, “Baby, Please Be Yourself.” It is safe to say that this rock duo have really hit their stride with their brand new album, “Some Kind of Youth,” with “16-22” standing out live as a great track. A cover of Galaxy Express’ “Oh Yeah!” wrapped up a fantastic night of rock and roll.

Galaxy Express play nightly (sans Monday) at Strange Fruit in Hongdae throughout January. Check out who they’ll be playing with each night by clicking on the photo below.

Galaxy Days

 

2 of the biggest Korean acts together on Tuesday

Sorry for the last-minute notice, but I just saw that 3rd Line Butterfly and Pipi Band (aka Ppippi Band, aka PPPB) are going to be playing tomorrow, Dec. 29 at West Bridge in Hongdae. Such a good lineup. If you’re looking for a good gig over the holidays, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better.

Ppippi

PpiPpi Band was the indie band back when I first arrived in Korea in the late 1990s, totally mesmerizing but also the anti-K-pop group. I think I bought and mailed off pirated versions of their second album to more than a dozen friends.

PpiPpiBand2 copy

3rd Line Butterfly is also a favorite group. I really enjoyed them in earlier bands (Huckleberry Finn for Nahm Sang-ah, 99 and other groups for Sung Kiwan). They’ve been doing smart, fun alt-rock for around 15 years now.

3rd line butterfly

The show starts at 8pm on Dec. 29 at West Bridge Hall, the new concert hall across the street from Seogyo-dong Cathedral. Tickets are 35,000 won at the door.

Singaporean Punk Rock Trio to Launch New Album in Korea

Iman’s League is a melodic skate punk trio hailing from Singapore. With a catchy and full-throttle SoCal-esque sound, the act recently became the first punk band to ever win Best Band and Best Song (Singapore) at the Anugerah Planet Muzik awards, a major Southeast Asian music awards show. Alongside local legends …Whatever That Means, they are poised to play a three-show tour hitting Daejeon, Gwangju, and Seoul to launch their new “Destiny” album this weekend.

SONY DSC

Korea Guide Guide interviewed frontman and namesake Iman just days before they christen their new album with a punk rock rampage across the country.

Iman’s League began as a solo acoustic act in 2007 and has now transformed into a high-speed punk group. Tell us about your transformation.

Initially Iman’s League was supposed to be just a solo project of mine. I kind of “quit” playing in bands after my previous band of 10 years broke up in 2007. That’s when I decided to just take it slow and play lots of originals acoustically. I played a lot of small pubs, community centers, and even weddings.

After a few years of doing that I decided to record an EP called “Crossing Rivers.” I played all the instruments on it. After the EP was released, I decided to bring two session musicians to accompany me during my live performances. That’s when I called up the other two members of Iman’s League, Ishyam and Anhar, to be my session players. I had known them since my teenage years, and we immediately clicked from there. Before we knew it, we were playing numerous shows in Singapore, and we also did a Malaysia tour in 2012. That’s when I decided that this should be a band rather than a solo project. We recorded a second EP, “Forever in 7th,” in 2013 and toured Indonesia and Japan in 2014.

You describe your sound as “anime punk rock.” Could you elaborate on that?

One of my main influences in music is punk rock, and I listen to lots of Japanese bands like Hi-Standard, Dustbox and Total Fat. I also listen to lots of Japanese anime music. I would say that most of the Japanese anime music also has a bit of punk rock influence. I really love the way the music sounds so energetic and melodic. I have also been strongly influenced by American punk rock bands like No Use for a Name, NOFX, MXPX, and Green Day. So we kind of mix both of these influences into our music and decided to call it “anime punk rock.”

Iman’s League have toured Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan, and now, you are going to play Korea. Have you had any memorable tour moments?

There are lots of memorable moments that we’ve had while on tour. We often wake up late on the final day of tour and almost miss the bus ride home. One of us shouts, “The bus is leaving in 15 minutes!” That’s when all hell breaks loose, and everyone starts panicking. Just last week, Ishyam almost got stranded in Pahang, Malaysia when he got off the bus to buy some stuff, and the bus driver left without him. Luckily we managed to stop the bus.

What can we expect at your upcoming shows in Korea?

For this Korea tour we will be promoting our fourth release, “Destiny”. Our setlist will consist of all the new songs from the album. What audiences can expect is fast-paced punk rock music with lots of jumping around on stage. This is the first time the three of us are going to experience cold weather. We may get sick, but we are still gonna give 100%!

You’ve just made a new music video for the title track off of “Destiny.” What can we expect from the album?

This time around the songs are faster than our previous releases. “Destiny” also represents our personal musical journey as all three of us have known each other for a really long time, yet we only got together to form a band in our 30s. I can say that these has been the best years for us personally as we have accomplished quite a number of things over the last few years.

Iman’s League launch their tour with a show in Daejeon at Mustang (formerly Brickhouse) on Friday followed by Gwangju on Saturday at Club Boojik and Hongdae on Sunday at Channel 1969. More details can be found here: www.tiny.cc/ImansLeagueKorea

ILflyer

Five Questions with Johnny Sands

Zandari Festa 2015 will take place in Hongdae from October 2 – 4.  In order to spotlight some of the talent performing at this year’s event, Korea Gig Guide and our friends at Do Indie are teaming up to ask a bunch of acts five simple questions.

Johnny Sands

For the final installment of the interview series, we’re talking to the vocalist and namesake of the Liverpool-based act Johnny Sands. Including Joe Rhead on keyboard and bass, Johnny Sands delivers catchy soundscapes punctuated by vocals that flow and ebb. Now let’s get to Sands’ answers!

1) Why are you excited to be performing at Zandari Festa 2015?

It’s really exciting to travel so far to play my music to a new audience. It’s my first time in Korea and I can’t wait to sample the culture. I’m especially looking forward to exploring the Hongdae area over the festival weekend!

2) What can people expect from a Johnny Sands live show? 

The live show will be atmospheric, heartfelt, and spontaneous. There will be drum machines and guitars and above all a captivating performance.

3) For fest-goers not familiar with Johnny Sands yet, what should they know about you? 

They should know Johnny loves performing to a new audience in a new outfit in a new country with a new drum machine!

4) Aside from performing, what else would you like to do during Zandari Festa 2015?

When I’m not performing at Zandari Festa you’ll find me drinking coffee and playing chess in a local cafe, followed by watching every other band possible!

5) It’s important to stay hydrated at music festivals. What’s your festival drink of choice?

Drink of choice: coffee & water – and a morning grapefruit juice!

Johnny Sands will perform on Saturday, October 3 at West Bridge Rooftop at 9 pm. For more information about Johnny Sands, check out his Facebook page here.  To learn more about ZandariFesta 2015, you can check out the festival’s website here and its Facebook page here.