Monthly Archives: October 2013

Sweet Guerillaz Reunite for a Show on Sunday at Prism

Sweet Guerillaz will play their first gig in nearly three years on Sunday, October 27 at Prism in Hongdae.  The Cheongju punk band last performed together in January 2011.

Sweet Guerillaz

The quartet’s hiatus was caused by everyone needing a bit of downtime from the band.  The break wasn’t intended to last this long, but all of the members have been busy with other things, which has made it more difficult to play together.

“We wanted to take a rest because everyone was getting tired,” says guitarist Ssangzoo Han.   “We never had any plans to break up.  We just needed to take a rest.  But then everyone’s schedules weren’t matching up and we weren’t communicating well with each other.  But everything is good now!”

During their time away from Sweet Guerillaz, Han and drummer Hwangyong Lee started the electro-rock group Gravity.  Meanwhile, vocalist and bassist Jungmo Yang released some solo pop music.  Although everyone has kept themselves busy with their other musical pursuits, Yang reached out to his bandmates about starting things back up as Sweet Guerillaz.

“Jungmo suggested playing together again, so we decided to do a reunion concert,” says Han.  “We all wanted to play with Sweet Guerillaz again.  And we wanted to put on a good concert for everybody.  We’ve been practicing together every week for the last three months to get ready for our reunion gig.”

While Sweet Guerillaz were on hiatus, guitarist Youngho Sunwoo decided to part ways with the act.  So the group hired guitarist Eungki Kim from the Cheongju punk act Love Myself to fill the vacancy.  He’ll make his Sweet Guerillaz live debut on Sunday night at Prism.

Sweet Guerillaz Buttons

The band will have copies of their debut full-length, 2008’s “Follow the Rainbow,” on sale at Prism, and they will have new buttons and stickers available too.  Fans can expect to hear each of the melodic, high-energy tracks from “Follow the Rainbow” during the gig, along with a trio of “new” numbers.

“We’re going to play all of the songs off our first album and some new music as well,” says Han.  “We have 13 new songs prepared, but we’re only going to play three at the reunion concert.  The new songs were actually written three years ago before we took a break.”

Now that Sweet Guerillaz are performing together again, does that mean those 13 songs are going to surface on a new album sometime in the near future?

“We’re making plans right now, but we’re not ready to record yet,” says Han.  “But we definitely want to record a new album soon.”

Sweet Guerillaz play at Prism on Sunday night.  The Strikers and Counter Reset will open the concert.  Things start at 7 pm and tickets are 20,000 won at the door.  For more information, check out the Facebook event page for the gig here.

Sweet Guerillaz Poster

Things We Say Celebrate Their New EP At Club Spot on Saturday Night

Seoul / Cheonan hardcore act Things We Say will be playing their first Korean gig since completing their summer North American tour on Saturday, October 26 at Club Spot in Hongdae.  The show will serve as the CD release party for their latest EP, “Time to Change.”

Things We Say

Things We Say, which features members of The Geeks, No Excuse, and Animal Anthem, started writing the songs for “Time to Change” last year and began recording the EP in April.  The album was released in Korea through local hardcore heavyweights Townhall Records in August, but went on sale overseas prior to that as the quintet was selling the disc at their gigs in the US and Canada.

“We kind of had to rush to finish it on time as we really wanted to bring copies of the album on tour with us,” says vocalist Victor Ha.  “I actually got to hold the CD in my hands for the first time at Incheon Airport on the day we flew to the US.  So the CD first came out on July 27.”

Things We Say CD Cover

With members spread across two cities and everyone having other commitments, wrapping things up in time for Things We Say’s overseas jaunt was a bit challenging.  But despite working with a tight deadline, Ha says everyone enjoyed themselves when making “Time to Change.”

“The whole process was a lot of fun,” he shares.  “(Guitarist) Seungjae and I live in Cheonan, and the rest of the guys live in Seoul.  (Guitarist) Bialy is a full-time student and the rest of us have full-time jobs.  All of that made it hard to schedule the times for recording.  We couldn’t always be together.  Whoever could come to the studio would record their parts after their work, so we usually finished a recording session by 2 or 3 am.  And of course, after that I had to drive down to Cheonan and work in the morning.”

“Time to Change” is the follow up to Things We Say’s 2007 offering, “Our Decision.”  It’s no secret that six years is a very long time to go between releases.  From the sounds of things, the delay may not have been planned, but it was well justified.

“It was just that everyone was too busy living their life, especially me.  After ‘Our Decision,’ I got married and had three kids so I had to spend most of my time with my family.  It got harder for me to come out to Seoul for shows during the weekends.”

All of the guys were able to get some time away from work, school, and family responsibilities so that Things We Say could perform at one of North America’s premier hardcore events, This is Hardcore Fest.  Prior to the band’s August 10 appearance at the Philadelphia festival, they knocked out a dozen dates in the US and Canada.  And although Ha may be a dad now, that didn’t slow him down one bit as jumped and thrashed around to the band’s anthemic, fast-paced cuts.

“The tour was so awesome,” he says.  “I couldn’t have expected it to go any better.  It was just so good. We had a lot of fun and great experiences.  We made so many good friends there, too.

“I think my best memory from the tour was being onstage at This is Hardcore Fest. We arrived in Philly on August 9.  We had the day off, so we just hung around there talking to people and seeing all the great bands.  And then we got to play in front of so many hardcore kids at the fest on the next day.  The time we spent there was so great.  It was like flying around in a dream.  I felt so good being there.”

The band will have some of the leftover merch from their summer tour on sale at Club Spot on Saturday night.  Along with it being the release party for Things We Say’s “Time to Change” EP, the concert is also the release bash for Burn My Bridge’s “Connection” album.  To mark the occasion, the first 40 people to arrive at the show will get a free set of 1” button pins for Things We Say and Burn My Bridges.

Things We Say buttons

Things We Say play on Saturday, October 26 at Club Spot with Burn My Bridges, The Geeks, Find the Spot, and The Kitsches.  Tickets are 15,000 won and the show starts at 7 pm.  For more information, check out the Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for the concert:

7:00 – 7:30 The Kitsches
7:30 – 8:00 Find the Spot
8:00 – 8:30 The Geeks
8:30 – 9:10 Things We Say
9:10 – 9:50 Burn My Bridges

Things We Say Poster

Love X Stereo Showcasing Their New Material Overseas

Seoul electro-rock group Love X Stereo are halfway through their first North American tour. The jaunt was originally set to start in late September with a pair of performances at Cincinnati, Ohio’s Midpoint Music Festival, but delays with the act’s US touring visa forced them to sadly cancel those dates along with two shows in New York.

Finally receiving the necessary stamps in their passports on October 7, the group caught the next US-bound flight and arrived in time for their October 9 gig at Fontana’s in New York. They’ve since done a few other shows in New York (including a set last Friday as part of the renowned CMJ Music Marathon), traveled to Toronto for an appearance at Indie Week Canada, and did a club concert in Vienna, Virginia as well. Their remaining shows will take place in New York, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts.

Love X Stereo performing at the CMJ Music Marathon on October 18

Love X Stereo performing in New York at the CMJ Music Marathon on October 18

Gigging internationally is not an easy task, but Love X Stereo’s vocalist and synth player Annie Ko felt that she learned a lot from all the work that went into booking, promoting, and finding funding for the act’s initial foray overseas.

“The planning was a good experience, but it was exhausting as hell,” she shared before the band began their tour. “You get to know all these people who are willing to support you, do business with you, and try to communicate with you. That’s all the good stuff. However, you still need to reach out to everyone more and more to let them know who you are and what you are capable of. It’s like a never-ending rabbit hole.”

Glow EP Cover

In September, Love X Stereo released their third EP, “Glow.” The offering boasts four new tracks and three remixes (the digital version of the album contains five remixes) of cuts from last year’s “Off the Grid” EP. The tunes on “Glow” are well-crafted and infectious. Possessing a distinct pop edge, the material has a lot of crossover potential and should equally appeal to fans of indie music and mainstream alternative rock/pop music.

The songs on “Glow” were written and recorded in August. Completing everything in such a short time frame was challenging, but the group are happy with the finished release.

“We were worn out by the tight schedule and we felt stressed,” says Ko. “But we love the new songs. We think they’re very well made, catchy, and easy to listen to.

“Both (2011’s) ‘Buzzin’’ and ‘Off the Grid’ were very experimental. We did whatever we wanted to do when making them. But ‘Glow’ is more strict and direct and has a stronger synth-pop influence. Our sound, style, and overall vibe hasn’t changed at all, but the songs are tighter and better produced. We have high expectations for this album.”

With three EPs now under their belts, can we expect a proper full-length effort from Love X Stereo anytime soon?

“We’ll make a full-length album when we’re ready,” says Ko. “As an unsigned band making our own way, it’s very difficult to produce a well-made full-length album without any sort of support. If we’re going to make a full-length album, we believe that we should be in a position where we can say, ‘We deserve this.’ Now isn’t the best timing for us, but when we know we’re ready, we’re definitely going to make a full-length album.”

Here are the remaining live dates on Love X Stereo’s 2013 North American tour. The band already have plans to return stateside again next spring as they were among the first wave of artists announced last week for the 2014 edition of Austin, Texas’ mammoth South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival.

October 25 New York, NY @ Left Field Bar
October 27 New York, NY @ The Delancey
October 29 Hamtramck, MI @ Small’s
November 3 Chicago, IL @ Elbo Room
November 4 Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR
November 9 Cambridge, MA @ The Loft at Tommy Doyle’s
November 10 Boston, MA @ McGann’s Irish Pub
November 13 New York, NY @ The Shillelagh Tavern

Love X Stereo poster

Korea’s Own Social Bliss

This weekend, Max Reynolds from Social Bliss will end his Korean tour with Seoul gigs at Freebird in Hongdae on October 18 and Phillies Basement in Haebongchon on October 19.

Max Photo

Hailing from the United States, Reynolds’ visit to Korea was triggered by his friendship with local trippy garage rockers Galaxy Express. Galaxy Express played at a venue operated by Reynolds in Lufkin, Texas called The Factory during their 2012 and 2013 US tours. Reynolds’ punk band, Social Bliss, opened each of the concerts.

“I really enjoyed Galaxy Express’ music from the get-go and was very fascinated by how good Korean language rock ‘n’ roll sounded to my Western ears,” says Reynolds. “After seeing them play, I started checking out more Korean bands like Crying Nut, Rux, Yellow Monsters, No Brain, and lots of others.”

Galaxy Express released a documentary flick about their 2012 American jaunt called “Turn It Up to Eleven 2: Wild Days.” The movie featured footage of the group hanging out with Reynolds and performing in Lufkin.

“I remember the day that movie premiered, I got like 50 Facebook friend requests from musicians and music fans in Korea,” says Reynolds. “I knew then that I had to play in Hongdae.”

Social Bliss started back in 1999 when Reynolds was in his early teens. The band has gone through several different lineups over the years, but has been very much a family affair since its formation.

“We’ve had more bass players in the band then I can count,” says Reynolds. “My little brother Nick used to play guitar, but he got married and had a kid so his time is spent on raising a family at the moment. He will be back some day. Now I have my dad on bass on my mom on drums. It’s going really well.

“Our early gigs were mainly in Texas dive bars. We’d play old blues, classic rock, and surf music. It gave me a really solid foundation to build on and I’m grateful for that. Back then we would play several one-hour sets a night. It was good training for sure.”

Reynolds is the only member of Social Bliss that was able to make the trip to Korea. Not wanting to simply play by himself, he posted messages on Facebook looking for Korean players to handle bass and drum duties during his gigs. After two weeks of doing this, he found drummer Jo Songhyun and bassist Ju Sarang to help him form a special Korean version of Social Bliss. Jo and Ju also make up the rhythm section of the new Seoul punk act Hey Teddy.

Social Bliss KR

The trio met each other on Wednesday, October 9. They played their first gig a mere four days later. The show was at Strange Fruit as part of Zandari Festa.

“They have been amazing,” says Reynolds. “What I’ve enjoyed the most about working with them is overcoming the language barrier. It’s been an interesting experience as I don’t speak much Korean and they only know a bit of English. But we’re having a great time together.”

I sadly had to miss the band’s debut on Sunday evening, but I ran into the president of Seoul indie imprint Love Rock, Ki Myoungshin, later that night and the first words that left his mouth were, “Max was awesome!”

“The Strange Fruit show was great,” says Reynolds. “The club’s owner made me feel really welcome. I tried not to have too many expectations going into this trip, just that I would work my hardest and have a great time.

“The audience was beautiful. It was my first time playing for a non-English speaking crowd, and it’s definitely an experience I will never forget. My favorite memory from the concert was jumping over a cameraman and landing on (Galaxy Express drummer) Kim Heekwon.  Signing CDs for everyone after the show was really cool too.”

Both the Korean and American versions of Social Bliss are currently gigging in support of the band’s new “Will of Fire” EP. Released in September, the album’s six cuts were written over the last two years. Social Bliss recorded “Will of Fire” at The Factory between May and August.

“My friends really helped me with the album and pushed me to get it done,” says Reynolds. “My friend Stephen Harbuck laid down his credit card to buy some recording equipment and my village brother Bill Reynolds fronted the money for duplication and packaging. My tattoo artist Caleb Due drew my portrait for the cover. I’m extremely grateful to all of them.”

During his visit, Reynolds has had the chance to watch a lot of local bands and to meet plenty of fellow musicians. He’s eager to book as many of them at The Factory in the future as possible. And of course, he’s looking forward to returning to Seoul in the future to see all his new friends and fans again.

“I hope to have Galaxy Express come back to The Factory every year,” he says. “And I’d love to put on shows for Crying Nut, Goonam, Core Magazine, Bad Black Bones, No Brain, E-Visor, The Geeks, Kwon Milk and The Greatest Voyage, The Strikers, Apollo 18, and lots of others.

“I definitely want to come back next year. Next time I plan to bring my whole band. Hell, I might even bring my whole town.”

Now that Reynolds and his Korean bandmates have a week-and-a-half’s worth of practices and one proper concert under their belts, what can folks expect from the final gigs of his Korean visit at Freebird and Phillies Basement?

“Well the band is getting tighter and we are more confident now,” says Reynolds. “These last two shows are going to be high-energy affairs. Ju Sarang and Jo Songhyun are hungry newcomers to Hongdae’s indie scene and are ready to prove themselves. Songhyun is a wild man so anything could happen onstage.”

Max Reynolds and the Korean edition of Social Bliss will play on Friday night at Freebird. Doors open at 11 pm, and Reynolds is scheduled to perform at 11:20 pm. Tickets cost 10,000 won and include one free drink. On Saturday night, the band will play at Phillies Basement in Haebongchon as part of HBC Fest. They play at 9:30 p.m, and HBC Fest is free to attend.

Freebird Poster

Romantiqua, … Whatever That Means, and Tengger to Play at Shake Shop Vol. 9 Tonight!

The instrumental rock group Romantiqua, the punk act … Whatever That Means, and the experimental electro-pop duo Tengger will all perform at Freebird tonight (October 11) as part of Shake Shop Vol. 9.  The monthly bellydance/indie music hybrid show is co-presented by Korea Gig Guide and Dream Dance studio and will see Dream Dance owner Eshe and the lovely ladies from her Navah troupe collaborating with each of the bands.


Having been gigging consistently since spring in support of their solid “When and Where” EP, last month Romantiqua made their first foray overseas to play at Taiwan’s Beastie Rock Festival.

“Taiwan was great,” says drummer Anton Brinza.  “Beastie Rock was small, but it was really cool.  The location and the layout of the festival grounds were awesome.  It was meshed real nicely onto the grounds of a historical cultural park in northern Taipei.  Our performance at the fest was strong.  We’ve been playing well recently.  The audience seemed to like what we were doing, and we got a lot of great compliments afterwards.   I think we definitely learned a lot from the experience.”

The quartet are currently in the midst of recording their debut full-length.  The material for the album is all finished, but because of their recording studio’s busy schedule the finished disc may not surface until early next year.  But if “When and Where” is any indication of what to expect, Romantiqua’s new long player will be well worth the wait.

“The new album is going to take the energy up a few notches,” says Brinza.  “The EP was pretty tame in our minds – but tame in a good way.  Those three songs deal with personal freedom, escaping boundaries, and opening yourself to the world.  So, they’re more contemplative and positive.  This album will introduce a more aggressive element.  The songs will look at the boundaries we all deal with, the problems that prompt us to seek that freedom.  And, with these recordings, we are trying to capture more of the energy we put out on stage.”

Romantiqua have played a handful of Shake Shop events so far, and Brinza shares why he and his bandmates happily keep teaming up with Eshe and Navah.

“We think of Shake Shop as more of an ongoing, continuous collaboration, which is, I think, basically what Eshe intended to create when she started Shake Shop.  Not just with Romantiqua, of course, but amongst the whole indie community here.  And that’s part of the reason we like doing it, for that sense of camaraderie, not just among musicians, but artists of different backgrounds and sensibilities.  Romantiqua wants to be a part of something bigger, not just bound up in our own little world.  Eshe has created something really special in that sense, and we’re grateful to be a piece in that puzzle.”

...Whatever that Means

Shake Shop Vol. 9 will be … Whatever That Means first time to work with bellydancers, and guitarist and vocalist Jeff Moses says all members of the band – male and female – are looking forward to it.

“There’s going to be a bunch of gorgeous bellydancers in sexy outfits dancing around right in front of us while we’re playing, right?  Even Trash is excited about that!”

Moses admits he’s not very familiar with bellydance, but after a friend spoke highly of their experience at a previous Shake Shop event, he thought that having …Whatever That Means collaborate with bellydancers could make for a really cool show.

“When Eshe contacted me about the show, my first thought was, ‘Could this really work?’” says Moses. “I called up Sunn Row from The Strikers because I knew they’d played at Shake Shop before.  He said it was like nothing he’d ever done before and a lot of fun. That was all I needed to hear.  As for how well it will work, I’m excited to see and find out.  I know Eshe and everyone else are putting in a lot of hard work to prepare so I’m sure it’ll be great.”

Currently operating as a trio after the departure of guitarist Oh-Baeng a few months back, the group are working on their next full-length now.  The follow-up to 2011’s “Sounds from the Explosion” will likely have 10 – 12 songs on it, and … Whatever That Means are hoping to have the album finished by January or February.  The band debuted three new songs a couple of weeks ago, and Moses says that they’ll be playing them at Shake Shop as well.

“I think anyone who liked ‘Sounds from the Explosion’ will be happy with our next album,” says Moses. “It’ll have some of the heaviest songs we’ve ever written, some really melodic pop punk, and a lot of stuff in between.  It will definitely still has that …Whatever That Means sound that we put out on ‘Sounds from the Explosion.’”

The group will issue their first recording as a three-piece on October 26 at their annual “Still Alive” Halloween gig at Club Spot.  Titled “Hong Gu Goes to Prison,” it’s a three-song EP with covers of cuts by Operation Ivy, The Descendents, and The Adolescents.

Tengger Picture

Formerly known as (((10))) (and before that simply as 10), Tengger is a new band from Itta and Marqido.  Based in Jeju, the duo issued their first effort as Tengger “Electric Earth Creation” this past summer.

“We made the music for ‘Electric Earth Creation’ from last year to this spring,” says Itta.  “We wrote and recorded the album at the same time.  When we were 10 and then (((10))) we lived a nomadic lifestyle, and didn’t stay more than three months in one country.  But when I was pregnant, we decided to move to Jeju Island.  We thought the beautiful nature there made for a good childbirth environment, and our music has been influenced by our life there.  Daily life with a baby can be difficult, but we find enlightenment in every moment.  And we think this enlightenment permeates through our music. ”

Like the other acts on the bill, Tengger is excited about working with Eshe and Navah at Shake Shop tonight.

“I think Tengger’s music is good for collaborating with other artists,” says Itta.  “This is our first time to collaborate with bellydancers.  Eshe is a good friend and we like her dancing, so we think this will be a good performance.  Bellydancers express their impressions from the music with their bodies.  Our music is almost completely improvised, so I think we can get good feedback from their movements.”

Shake Shop Vol. 9 takes place on Friday, October 11 at Club Freebird. The show starts at 11:00 pm and the cover charge is 10,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Romantiqua, … Whatever That Means, and Tengger. For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Shake Shop 9 Poster