One of Korea’s busiest and noisiest bands, Galaxy Express, are getting ready to tour America for the third time.
This year the band have already embarked on a cross-country Korean tour in support of their newly released self-titled third album. Before heading to the United States, where they’ll play 28 concerts between March 7 and April 6, I managed to sit down with vocalist and bassist Lee JuHyun, vocalist and guitarist Park JongHyun, and drummer Kim HeeKwon for a quick chat about all things GE!
How does it feel to have your third album out?
JongHyun: It feels good, really good.
JuHyun: We are really happy with it!
How different was the writing and recording process compared to your debut double album and the 30 Days Project for “Wild Days”?
JongHyun: The quality of the new album is absolutely much higher than our previous releases, in both the recording quality and the song writing.
So you wrote, recorded, and released your “Wild Days” album in only 30 days, how long did this one take?
JongHyun: The new album? Oh, we started recording it in August. We started writing the songs right after we finished our spring 2012 USA tour. And we finished recording in late October.
What song took the least effort to write?
JuHyun: The intro song on the album, “Riding the Galaxy.”
JongHyun: It was very easy to come up with the music, and HeeKwon suggested that we have lots of yelling on the song, like “ahhhhhhhhhhh,” which made the lyrics simple to write too!
What song took the most effort?
JuHyun: “How Does It Feel.”
JongHyun: Yeah, “How Does It Feel” because it is kind of a new style for us.
You have obviously added a few new influences on this album, such as on “You and I.” Can you tell me about those?
JongHyun: We wanted to keep the energy of our past albums, but also try some different things this time around. We wanted to try and make things sound a bit more polished too. Some of our earlier stuff was pretty raw.
Are you ever worried that a song is so different from your past work that people will say, “That’s not a Galaxy Express song!”? A track like “Remember the Day” is quite different from your older songs.
JuHyun: We wanted to try some new styles of music, but still make music that we like!
HeeKwon: Sometimes we need to change things a bit in order to keep things interesting for us, and for listeners.
You released a documentary about your 2012 USA tour called “Turn It Up to Eleven 2: Wild Days.” Tell me about the film.
JongHyun: It was made by the same director that made the film “Turn It Up to 11” about us and Tobacco Juice a few years back. His name is Seunghwa Baek. He’s a good friend of ours and is also the drummer in Tobacco Juice. Seunghwa filmed the documentary over our whole spring 2012 US tour. It was like the camera was literally a part of his body! He followed us and was always filming.
JuHyun: It is like a diary of our trip!
What was it like being in a documentary?
JongHyun: Oh, it’s the same as our real lives.
JuHyun: We are just extras in the film!
JongHyun: But we are happy because the film will be screened at CAAMFest in San Francisco this month. It’s pretty cool that it’s going to be shown at an overseas film festival.
How are you approaching this tour differently compared to your two previous visits to the US?
JongHyun: We’re not approaching the tour itself any differently. But we’re going to play a lot more shows this time, and we’ll be visiting 14 states. It will be the biggest tour we’ve ever done.
What are your overall goals for this US tour?
JongHyun: We want to have lots of fun, meet lots of new people, and make some good friends. If we can make it through our month-long tour without getting in any car accidents, that would be good too!
With three full-length albums and four EPs under your belts, how do you go about making set lists nowadays?
JuHyun: Everyday is different, but most of the tracks are from our third album as we want to promote it and share the our new music with people.
JongHyun: And we also include some of our older popular tracks like “Jungle the Black.”
What music are you listening to now?
JuHyun: The Rolling Stones’ “GRRR!” compilation with their old songs and a few new ones too.
What’s your fave Stones song?
JuHyun: “Let it Bleed” – I listen to it all the time!
Aside from your upcoming American tour, what else do you have planned for 2013?
HeeKwon: We will release our new album in Japan at the end of May.
JongHyun: And we want to tour there too!
JuHyun: The Japanese version of our album will have one bonus track. It will probably be a cover song.
Jong Hyun: Maybe we’ll do a Ramones track!
If you ever ended up relocating to another country, where would you want to move to? Why?
HeeKwon: North Korea!
JongHyun: I think that Kim JongUn is young and studied overseas, so he must like rock ‘n’ roll!
Can you recommend any new or up-and-coming Korean bands?
JuHyun: Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio are really good. They have funky garage rock hybrid sound. The Wasted Johnny’s are cool too.
JongHyun: And Seokyo Group Sound. Their new album is good!
Is there anyone local or international that you would like to collaborate with?
JuHyun: Doing something with Apollo 18 would be awesome. Their music is really powerful and has a lot of energy!
HeeKwon: Girls’ Generation because I like Taeyeon!
You can check out Galaxy Express’ latest album on Bandcamp here.
Here are Galaxy Express’ USA tour dates:
March 7 San Francisco, CA @ Broadyway Studios
March 9 San Angelo, TX @ The Deadhorse
March 10 San Antonio, TX @ The Korova
March 11 Austin, TX @ Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
March 12 Austin, TX @ (5 pm) Mark McCrimmon Law Office (6th Annual Dart Music International House)
March 12 Austin, TX @ (12:30 am) Elysium (Official SXSW Showcase / K-Pop Night Out)
March 13 Austin, TX @ (3 pm) Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar (GnG Presents: West 6th St. Block Party “Louder Than Everything Else”)
March 13 Austin, TX @ (1 am) Easy Tiger (SPIN House Official Showcase)
March 14 Austin, TX @ (2:30 pm) The Grackle (Grackle Rock 3!)
March 15 Austin, TX @ (3:45 pm) Guero’s Taco Bar (Guero’s International Showcase)
March 16 Leander, TX @ The Carlton Ranch
March 17 Lufkin, TX @ The Factory
March 19 Hot Springs, AR @ Low Key Arts (The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival)
March 20 Memphis, TN @ 1884 Lounge
March 21 St. Louis, MO @ Blank Space
March 22 Indianapolis, IN @ Melody Inn
March 23 Milwaukee, WI @ Yield
March 24 Chicago, Il @ Township
March 26 Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
March 27 Lincoln, NE @ The Zoo
March 28 Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
March 29 Salt Lake City, UT @ Bar Deluxe
March 30 Las Vegas, NV @ Bunkhouse Saloon
March 31 Phoenix, AZ @ The Lost Leaf
April 3 San Diego, CA @ The Void
April 4 Fresno, CA @ Audie’s Olympic
April 5 Oakland, CA @ Eli’s Mile High Club
April 6 Los Angeles, CA @ Dim Mak Studios