By Shawn Despres
We last wrote about Apollo 18 just prior to the September 2009 bash for their first full-length CD, “ Album” (or “The Blue Album”). At the time, things were going really well for the Ilsan trio and their awesome hybrid of post-rock and post-hardcore. They’ve gotten even better since.
Just to recap, between February and September of last year the group issued an EP, “Red,” and the abovementioned long-player. They received an EBS and KOCCA sponsored Rookie Music Award and appeared at both the Jisan Valley Rock Festival and the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival. They traveled to Tokyo for a pair of gigs as well.
In November EBS and KOCCA again recognized Apollo 18’s efforts, selecting them as the best new Korean band of 2009 in the Hello Rookie final.
“It was good to be chosen,” says guitarist Choi Hyun Seok. “We were surprised. We still don’t understand why we were picked to be the winner.”
After the victory, the group began working on “Violet” – the final chapter of their three disc colour-themed series. While writing new material in December, they received funding from KOCCA to re-record the entire “Red” EP. Adding a few numbers originally intended for “Violet” to the mix, the nine track “Red+” was issued a few weeks ago in mid-January.
They returned to the studio shortly after to lay down “Violet.” The EP, which is also known as “0.5,” came out at the end of January and the band are playing a CD release party for it this Saturday night (February 20) at Club Spot. Another great offering from the group, the instrumental affair sees them further expanding their sonic boundaries with the well-crafted math-rock cut “Song A.”
“We are always getting better,” Choi offers. “‘Violet’ is the middle of our progress.”
Earlier this month it was announced that Apollo 18 have been nominated for two Korean Music Awards for “Rookie of the Year” and “Best Rock (Album).” While they appreciate people taking notice of them, prizes aren’t something the band is seeking.
“We were a little surprised, but not that much because we won Hello Rookie,” explains Choi. “In all honesty, we don’t give a shit about winning things. We are thankful for the interest, but we are a rock band. That’s the only thing that is important to us.”
Despite it not being a high priority, if they do win what will they do with their Korean Music Award?
“We’ll drink beer out of it with our friends,” laughs Choi. “After, I would give it to my mother. She has our Hello Rookie trophy too.”
“Red+,” “Blue,” and “Violet” should be released in Japan sometime this year. The band and their label, Estella Records, are hoping to arrange licensing agreements for North America and Europe as well and plan on making all three albums available through iTunes this spring. After putting out four CDs in the span of twelve months, Apollo 18 are ready for a break from the studio.
“This year we want to focus on just playing shows,” Choi says. “There has been a little more attention in us since we won Hello Rookie and we’re getting on more well-organized and higher profile concerts. We want to continue to get better.”
Apollo 18’s “Violet” EP release party takes place on Saturday, February 20 at Club Spot in Hongdae. The gig starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are 15,000 won with one free drink. Donawhale and National Pigeon Unity will open the show (Lo are listed on the poster, but are no longer available to perform). Word has it that local belly dancer Eshe, who starred in Apollo 18’s music video for “Orbis” from “ Album” (“The Blue Album”) will join Apollo 18 onstage for a pair of songs.