There are a few essential experiences for any Korean resident – like eating kimchi, a night in the noraebang, a photo from Seoul Tower – to name a few. Another not-to- be-missed experience is to see local legends Crying Nut perform live.
Iconic indie punksters Crying Nut need little introduction. Having formed in 1993, they made their live debut at Club Drug in 1995. Since then, they have released seven albums, sold hundreds of thousands of albums, played every stage possible up and down Korea multiple times, and even made various trips overseas. The five piece are often referred to as leaders of the “Chosun Punk” sound, but labels do not fit well. Their sound has been known to include punk, rock, metal, folk, reggae, rap, and more, all delivered with high levels of energy and their legendary sense of humor.
They are also officially the best-selling indie act in Korea, although that doesn’t stop them from regularly playing in small clubs in Hongdae to this very day – simply because they love what they do and are so brilliant at it. However, 2014 finds them not sitting back, enjoying their fame and being idle. They are preparing to head on their second tour of the US, which will included a stop at the SXSW Music Festival, and Korea Gig Guide was lucky enough to talk to lead singer/ guitarist Park Yoonsik and keyboardist/ accordion player Kim Insoo about their new album, their March American concerts, and how they prepare for their live shows. Enjoy the interview!
How would you best describe your band to new fans?
Park Yoonsik: I’d say we’re energetic, romantic, and fantastic!
Kim Insoo: Hmm … how about the kings of chaos? Or maybe the hardest working men in the party business?
When did you start writing songs for Flaming Nuts? When was the album recorded?
Kim Insoo: We started recording Flaming Nuts in the winter of 2012, but we took a break from recording to focus on some concerts. When we started working on the album again, our schedule was really tight because our manger booked our album release concert even though the album was still being made. And then he went ahead and moved the album deadline up despite us already being short on time. That bastard!
Crying Nut have been playing music for a long time. What motivates you to keep making new albums?
Park Yoonsik: Yes, we’ve been playing for a long time, but our thinking has changed a lot between now and when we were 20 years old. Always being able to approach our music with different mindsets is what keeps us making new albums.
Kim Insoo: We keep making new music because it’s fun to do. I can’t think of anything more fun than being in a rock band.
Flaming Nuts has lots of different influences and sounds on it. Are you ever worried that a new track is too different from Crying Nut’s sound? How far would you stretch “Crying Nut’s” sound? Would you ever include country music, hip-hop, dubstep, etc. in a new song?
Park Yoonsik: We don’t worry about our sound too much. We just make music that we think is fun.
Kim Insoo: Our other albums have a lot of different influences and sounds on them as well. Flaming Nuts isn’t so different from them. It may be tough to work dubstep into a future song because I don’t know exactly what dubstep is. I have a hard time distinguishing dubstep no matter how much I listen to it. It just sounds like FSOL to me.
How is Flaming Nuts different from your other albums?
Park Yoonsik: We made Flaming Nuts completely on our own. We did all the writing, recording, producing, mixing, and mastering all by ourselves. I’m really proud of all the work we did.
Kim Insoo: Flaming Nuts is also the shortest album we’ve ever made!
Why are you guys excited about playing at SXSW again?
Park Yoonsik: We’re really honored to be able to play at SXSW again. I’d love for us to do some busking-style street performances during the fest if we can. When we played at SXSW in 2012, we met a great band named Melvoy from San Francisco. I’m hoping me can meet lots more awesome musicians this time around and become friends with them too.
Kim Insoo: We had a lot of fun in Texas during SXSW 2012, so I’m happy to go back. Maybe there will be a lot more people at our show this time because of Psy.
What were some of your best memories from your 2012 US tour?
Park Yoonsik: Meeting Melvoy during a gig they played on the street in Austin was really cool. I’m glad we could become friends with them. During our official SXSW showcase, too many people packed into the venue where we played and the police came. It was definitely a cool rock ‘n’ roll moment!
Kim Insoo: I met lots of Mexican people while I was in Texas. They were always smiling and really kind. They bought us beer and tequila too! During SXSW, some bands gave us free CDs. They helped inspire us to produce Flaming Nuts on our own.
What are your goals for your March 2014 US concerts?
Park Yoonsik: We’re going to play some gigs in Texas and California, have a lot of fun, and hopefully make lots of new fans and friends.
Kim Insoo: I hope that we play hard and drink hard! I’d love to go to a gun range in Hollywood where you can shoot guns from World War II, but I don’t think there will be time for that.
Do you get nervous playing for non-Korean audiences in other countries? Do you prepare for concerts overseas any differently?
Park Yoonsik: I don’t get nervous at all, but it is more challenging to communicate with audiences in a different language.
Kim Insoo: For concerts in the US we do prepare differently. We need to make sure we have US power adaptors, 110V! We’ve got no choice over that one!
Crying Nut has released a lot of music. How do you choose your set list for concerts? Do you feel guilty if you don’t play popular songs like “Luxembourg” or “Speed Up Losers”?
Park Yoonsik: We work together to make set lists. I don’t feel guilty about not playing certain songs at concerts. I think we’ve got a lot of good songs.
Kim Insoo: We usually talk about set lists the day before a gig. We have many members, so everyone always has different songs that they want to play. We decide together which ones we want to play. We do a lot of gigs, so everyone eventually gets the songs they want in a set list.
What songs from Flaming Nut are your favorites to play live? Why?
Park Yoonsik: I like to play “Lego.” I think it sounds cool and the lyrics are good too.
Kim Insoo: I like “Summer” because it sounds like Mexican music.
Crying Nut has played many, many concerts since 1995. What have been some of your favorite concerts to play? Why?
Park Yoonsik: Our 15th anniversary concert was one of my favorites. We got to decorate the stage how we wanted and the sound was perfect. We recorded the show for a DVD too.
Kim Insoo: It’s hard to choose, but I really enjoyed our Tokyo concert that we played at Shinjuku Red Cloth on February 9. The person who organized the show is a Crying Nut fan and a friend of ours. Many fans in Tokyo came to the show even though it was snowing heavily. I was really touched.
Lastly, if someone is going to see a Crying Nut concert, what food and drink should they have before the concert to get prepared?
Park Yoonsik: They should eat nachos and drink lot s of beer.
Kim Insoo: They should eat dried chili mango and drink beer and Southern Comfort.
Crying Nut will open for Yellow Monsters on Sunday, February 23 at Sangsang Madang in Hongdae. The show starts at 6 pm and tickets are 40,000 won. Galaxy Express and Asian Chairshot will also play opening slots.
Here are the dates for Crying Nut’s US tour:
March 8 Pomona, CA @ Characters
March 9 Los Angeles, CA @ Redwood Bar & Grill
March 11 Austin, TX @ (10:30 pm) Elysium (Official SXSW Showcase)
March 13 Austin, TX @ (5:15 pm) Spider House Cafe and Ballroom (The Texas Rock N Roll Massacre 2)
March 14 Austin, TX @ (4:30 pm) The Dog & Duck Pub (Exchange Entertainment presents)
March 15 Austin, TX @ (6 pm) Antone’s Records (Freddie Steady’s 14th Annual Frontier a Go Go Rock & Roll Hootenanny)
March 16 San Antonio, TX @ Limelight
March 18 Los Angeles, CA @ Cafe Nela