Having been a long time fan of Galaxy Express’ work, especially their incendiary live performances, I was thrilled to be given a chance to sit down and talk to the three-piece rock outfit about, amongst other things, their upcoming second tour of the United States. This was a few hours before they rocked the stage at Rolling Hall in early February. Enjoy!
For the new fans out there, please describe Galaxy Express for us?
Juhyun: Galaxy Express make dirty animal rock!
How has the Korean indie/ rock scene changed since Galaxy Express were formed?
Jonghyun: At the time, there wasn’t that much hard rock music being played. There were heavy bands, but not as many gigs in Hongdae. Then we started, and I think people (now) know more about hard rock music.
In the spectrum between rock, metal, punk, pop, etc, where does Galaxy Express fit in?
Juhyun: We love heavy metal, modern rock, and we are also into original punk stuff. Jonghyun and I played in punk bands before, so Galaxy Express has punk roots.
What Korean bands inspired you growing up?
Jonghyun: Sanulrim, Shinawe, and most of all, Crying Nut. I saw Crying Nut play on TV when I was younger and their actions onstage were really inspiring and shocking.
Juhyun: We like old Korean pop and country music too.
What international bands inspired you?
Juhyun: MC5, The Stooges, Nirvana, The Clash, Metallica, Green Day, Oasis, and many Japanese bands like Guitar Wolf.
Can you recommend any new Korean bands?
Jonghyun: Telepathy and Pavlov. Pavlov have a really dirty feeling to their music that we really like.
Tell us about some of the more memorable gigs and venues you have played?
Jonghyun: We once played in a library in an elementary school in Cheonan. We played a cover of “Immigrant Song” and the kids really liked it. It felt like we were kind of in a zoo. It was a great performance. Last year we did our first American tour. We played at SXSW in Texas and in New York, San Diego, and Los Angeles too. The crowds were great everywhere. We also played in Canada and it was really good too.
What bands have you been compared to?
Juhyun: We are often compared to MC5, The Stooges, and classic rocks bands like AC/DC.
Your live shows are always well received, how do you prepare for them?
Jonghyun: We don’t like to prepare too much. We just try to always do our best, and we don’t want to have any regrets after our performances. We have been doing this for many years, so practise and experience definitely helps. We make our set lists on the day of each show. We talk about it together and discuss our feeling, our condition, etc.
You recently did a joint EP with the iconic Korean group Crying Nut. How did that come about?
Jonghyun: We did a Korean tour called “The Dynamite Tour” with Crying Nut last summer. We were preparing to release a CD single, and so was Crying Nut, so we said, “Let’s release them together.” We actually decided to do this in Jeju. We were drinking, talking, and have a party there and that’s when it came together.
What is your approach for song writing?
Jonghyun: Most of the time, Juhyun brings an idea, a riff or some lyrics, and then we practice together in our practice room. We develop it more and more, or we just jam out someone else’s ideas.
(At this stage all three members got humble and insisted the others do most of the song writing)
Juhyun: We all bring ideas in.
Next album plans?
Heekwon: We don’t know what we’ll do for our next album yet. We practice every day and have discussions, but we don’t know yet.
Jonghyun: Maybe the next album will sound more like Galaxy Express. It will be different like when we first started Galaxy Express. Back then, we had a lot of psychedelic things and were into very unusual stuff.
If you could do the soundtrack to any film, what would it be?
Juhyun: “28 Weeks Later” – we love zombie movies!
How are you approaching your second US tour differently from last year’s Seoulsonic tour?
Jonghyun: We’ll be doing more gigs. Last time we always played with the other Korean bands, but this time we will be playing with more local bands from each city we’re visiting. Also, we want to try and watch more local bands play, so that we can learn about their vision of rock ‘n’ roll.
Do you have many long-terms goals?
Juhyun: There is only one goal – keeping making music and playing shows.
What were the craziest crowds you have played to?
Jonghyun: Our 11/11/11 concert at Sangsang Madang was mad. Also, our gig at Pentaport last year was really fun. It was our first time playing the festival in the evening instead of during the daytime. We started as the sun was going down, and the lights were coming on. One audience member lost her mind and had to be taken away in an ambulance. Luckily, it was not a serious injury.
Galaxy Express will be opening for The RockTigers and Japanese legendary garage punks Guitar Wolf tomorrow night (March 3) at V-Hall in Hongdae. The show starts at 7 pm and tickets are 35,000 won at the door.
Next week Galaxy Express will be flying to the United States to perform at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference, The Big Spill Festival, the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival, and more places.
Here are the band’s American tour dates:
March 9 Houston, TX @ Super Happy Fun Land
March 10 San Angelo, TX @ The Deadhorse
March 13 Austin, TX @ (5:20 pm) Bernadette’s Bar (Indie Radio Rocks the World 2)
March 14 Austin, TX @ (2 pm) Zen Japanese Restaurant (Slab x Slab Fest)
March 15 Austin, TX @ (6 pm) Aussie’s Grill & Beach Bar (WeAre78704.com/Elevated Minds Music present: Music Madness)
March 16 Austin, TX @ (1:45 pm) Casa Chapala (Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Does! Does! Does! Showcases)
March 16 Austin, TX @ (4 pm) The Grackle (Grackle Rock!)
March 16 Austin, TX @ (11 pm) Soho Lounge (Official SXSW Showcase)
March 17 Austin, TX @ (2:30 pm) Tom’s Tabooley (Freddie Steady’s 12th Annual Frontier A Go Go Rock & Roll Hootenanny)
March 17 Austin, TX @ (7 pm) Pearl Street Co-op
March 19 San Antonio, TX @ The Korova (The Big Spill 2012 Festival)
March 21 Denton, TX @ Ol’ Dirty Basement (J&J’s Pizza on the Square)
March 22 Lufkin, TX @ The Factory
March 23 Hot Springs, AR @ Low Key Arts (The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival)
March 24 Dallas, TX @ Double Wide
March 25 Austin, TX @ Red 7