Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Big Week for Japanese Underground Rock Duo Moja

This is kind of a big week for Tokyo’s Moja.  Yesterday the two-piece released a new music video for the playful, spastic cut “China” from their sophomore album, “Super Ultra Gold 79.”  And this weekend they will be showcasing their explosive brand of bass-and-drums driven rock in Korea for the first time during Seoul gigs at Club FF (May 18) and Salon Badabie (May 19).

Bassist and vocalist Haru and drummer Masumi formed Moja in 2006.  The pair originally played together as part of a rock quartet called Gorilla.  When Gorilla’s guitarist and vocalist quit the band, Haru and Masumi decided to keep on playing music as a duo.  Since then they’ve released two albums (2009’s “Moja” and March’s “Super Ultra Gold 79”) and have performed throughout Japan and also in England, Wales, Italy, Hong Kong, the United States, and Canada.

Their Seoul concerts were organized by local post-hardcore act Apollo 18.  The groups met at Texas’ South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in 2011 and have stayed in contact over the last year.

“Our official SXSW showcase was at the same venue as Apollo 18’s,” says Masumi.  “They played after us and we thought they were amazing.  We spoke together and they said they thought our set was great too.  We’ve been friends ever since.  SXSW is a massive festival, so being placed on the same bill as Apollo 18 felt like destiny to me.”

Moja are currently touring in support of “Super Ultra Gold 79.”  The offering was recorded last year between March and December in New York and Tokyo.  Wanting to expose more people to their awesome music and try something different at the same time, the band opted not to make CD copies of “Super Ultra Gold 79.”  Instead the album is available only on limited edition vinyl or as a free download from Moja’s website – www.hellomoja.com (click here to be taken directly to the download section of their website).

“We feel that Moja are best experienced live,” says Masumi.  “So we really wanted this album to be a loud, high-speed, and chaotic affair – just like our concerts.”

Her description of Moja’s performances is pretty dead on.  Definitely noisy and wild affairs, Haru bounces around with infectious energy while Masumi flails around like a woman possessed while she abuses her kit.

Moja recently toured the U.K. in April, and rightfully received high praise for their concerts.  While in London, they also found time to record two new songs.

“The studio in London was amazing,” says Masumi.  There was a custom-built car factory, a skateboard park, and a studio all in the same building.  It was so cool.  We don’t know when we will release the tracks we recorded, but we plan to put them out as a special U.K. package.  We’ll play the songs while we’re in Korea too!”

Moja play Friday, May 18 at Club FF in Hongdae.  The show starts at 7:30 pm and No. 1 Korean, Juck Juck Grunize, The Magicians, and Gravity will also perform.  Moja play on Saturday, May 19 at Salon Badabie in Hongdae too.  The show starts at 7 pm and Apollo 18 and National Pigeon Unity will also perform.  Tickets for both the Club FF and Salon Badabie gigs are 20,000 won.

Here are the estimated set-times for both gigs:

May 18 @ Club FF
7:30 pm Gravity
8:10 The Magicians
8:50 Juck Juck Grunzie
9:30 Moja
10:30 No. 1 Korean

May 19 @ Salon Badabie
7 pm Apollo 18
8 pm Moja
9 pm National Pigeon Unity (This will be National Pigeon Unity’s last gig before starting their mandatory military service.)

Expect to Hear Plenty “Mo, Mo, Mo” from Momguamaum

Momguamaum will play their eighth gig tomorrow (May 13) at Club FF in Seoul.  Coincidentally, their performance will take place during the venue’s eighth anniversary celebration.

The Seoul three-piece is comprised of guitarist and vocalist Lee Woo-sung (ex-Cocore, Sagitta), bassist Seo Ho-sung (ex-The Plastic Day), and Kim Sang-woo (ex-3rd Line Butterfly, ex-Cocore).  It was Kim who first pitched the idea of forming a new group.

“Sang-woo was Cocore’s original drummer, so we had played together a long time ago,” explains Lee.  “One day he same to Sunshine (the Hongdae watering hole that Lee and his wife, the Sagitta’s Lee Jung-eun, own) and asked me to make a band together.  I’m a big fan of Ho-sung’s so I wanted him to be involved too.”

Although Momguamaum made their live debut this past January, they actually began playing together nearly two years ago.  Not happy with how things were sounding at the time, they shelved the band until they had a more clear vision of what they wanted to do.

“We had some practices together then, but we felt lost and didn’t know where to go musically,” shares Lee.  “So we decided to put things on hold.  We started jamming together again in September 2011.”

When they regrouped in the fall, songs came much easier to them.  After they wrote three tracks, they pitched their music to local indie imprint Boonga Boonga Record.  Liking what they heard, the label decided to sign Momguamaum.  The act crafted one more cut and then headed into the studio to record their debut EP, “Deja-vu,” in February.

“We recorded ‘Deja-vu’ over the course of two days,” says Lee.  “The recording sessions were very easy and fun.  The staff at our label were really surprised at how fast we finished it.”

Issued in early April, the excellent four-song offering mixes elements of indie rock, psychedelic, and even a bit of surf music.  “Fireworks” was chosen as the lead single for the EP and a music video was released for it shortly after “Deja-vu” came out.

A music video for the title track was filmed a few weeks back, and a video for “Time Capsule” is scheduled to be shot soon.  The fact that three of the EP’s four songs are being turned into singles is a true testament to how good it is.   Momguamaum plan to record more new material in the coming months and hope to issue another EP or possibly a full-length before year-end.

“’Deja-vu’ is my favorite song on the EP,” says Lee.  “It was the first song we practiced together when we started two years ago.  It took a long time to finish the track, but we finished it the way we wanted to so I’m really happy about that.

“After we finished making ‘Deja-vu,’ the other songs came to us very quickly.  We have so many ideas now of things we want to do.”

Momguamaum play on Sunday, May 13 at Club FF in Hongdae.  The show starts at 5 pm and The Moonshiners, The Freaks, Mary Story, Cold Cherry, and Have a Tea will perform as well.  Tickets are 20,000 won with one free drink.

Momguamaum will also play at Club Ta on Friday, May 18 with Lowdown 30 and Hanumpa.  The show starts at 7:30 pm and tickets are 20,000 won with one free drink.

You can follow Momguamaum on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Moz Live at AX

Labeled by famed music magazine Rolling Stone as one of “The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time,” highly influential British pop crooner Morrissey will be performing in Seoul on Sunday (May 6) at AX-Korea.

Sunday’s show marks Morrissey’s first time performing in South Korea.  Currently in the midst of an Asian tour, he’s already played throughout Japan and will be gigging in Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines after his Seoul concert.

Morrissey’s Japan gigs received very solid reviews, so fans in Seoul should be in for an entertaining night.  Morrissey changed his set list each night in Japan (check out the set lists for the shows here), and all of the shows featured 18 – 20 songs drawn from Morrissey’s acclaimed back catalogue with legendary alt-rock band The Smiths and his solo career.

Wanting to add a more playful edge to the proceedings, at his Tokyo concert on April 23, Morrissey’s backing band even played in matching black swimsuits.  You can check out a photo of the band and Morrissey taking a bow that night here.  Read reviews of Morrissey’s April 24 Tokyo gig here and of his show on May 2 in Nagoya here.

Morrissey plays on May 6 at Seoul’s AX-Korea live hall.  Tickets are 99,000 won and can be purchased at the door.  The concert will start at 7 pm.