Monthly Archives: June 2015

Billy Carter Releasing Their Debut EP at Tonight’s Second Saturdays Gig

Billy Carter are playing a special album release concert tonight (June 13) for their debut EP at Ruailrock in Hongdae.

Billy Carter 1

Playing a mix of blues, rockabilly, and garage rock, the Seoul trio are quickly gaining steam in the local indie scene for their rollicking performances.  And with a new self-titled EP to celebrate, tonight’s show will likely get extra wild.

“People can come or not come – it’s their choice,” offers vocalist Jiwon Kim.  “But it’s better to come, that way you won’t regret missing it!”

Tonight’s gig takes place as part of the monthly punk showcase Seconds Saturdays, which after taking a four-month hiatus following the closure of Club Spot was re-launched in March.

“We respect the concept of Second Saturdays and we’re really happy to be releasing our EP at the show,” says Jiwon.  “Four great groups are helping as guest bands and there is going to be a happy hour where you can get two beers for the price of one!  And we’ll be giving everyone who pays to come to the show a free copy of our EP too. It’s more than a great deal!  We won’t make any profit with this show, but that’s okay because we just want to see the club packed.  We’re going to do a 12-song set that will include all of the songs from our EP along with two acoustic songs that we don’t play very often.”

billy carter 2

While Billy Carter have been playing as a trio for the past year, the act was originally formed in 2011 as a duo between Jiwon and guitarist Jina Kim.

“Jina and I had been friends for a long time,” Jiwon shares.  “We actually met at university.  When I saw her for the first time, I knew we would be friends.  I thought we had the same taste in music and more importantly I saw that she was the only person who smoked the same brand of cigarettes as me.  So I thought if we were friends, I could borrow one off her when mine ran out!  One day we had a chance to smoke together and I asked her if she liked punk music.  She said she liked Iggy Pop and we became friends.”

Prior to forming Billy Carter, Jina sang and played guitar in Kickscotch and Jiwon had made guest spots on albums by Rux and Skasucks (she’s now a full-term member of Skasucks) and sang live with Attacking Forces sometimes.  The two actually came together as Billy Carter for a very specific goal – to play together while traveling in the UK.

“We’d decided to go to London together and thought it would be more fun if we could play there,” says Jiwon.  “So we made a two-piece band and started playing.  Billy Carter was a kind of a project band for our journey in the UK.  But after coming back to Korea, we decided to keep it going.”

The two spent nine months together in London and played as much as they could while they were there.

“We didn’t have any connections or people who could help us so we just looked for anywhere we thought would let us perform,” says Jiwon.  “We once found a place looked like a pub with a small stage and went in to ask about auditioning.  It turned out the place was a gay cabaret so we couldn’t perform there.  But the staff told us about another place and we took part in an open mic night there. The promoter liked us and we started to play there regularly.  We landed up playing almost every weekend at many different clubs and pubs and the receptions we got from people were great.”

All of the tracks on Billy Carter’s self-titled EP were written prior to drummer Hyunjoon Lee joining the band just over a year ago.  And while they have more material to share, they felt that they weren’t quite ready for a proper album just yet.  But on the plus side, after listening to their solid eponymous EP most fans are definitely going to be waiting for more new stuff from Billy Carter.  And as far as I’m concerned, the idea of “always leave them wanting more” is a very good adage to follow.

“Our sound is totally different from our former incarnation and we need more time to still develop our sound together.  One year is not a long time for us and we don’t like to be in a rush to record songs.  Instead we prefer to practice lots and play many gigs to make the sound of each member gel before recording.  So if we were to have started with a full-length album, everyone would have to wait a lot longer for a record from us.”

Billy Carter play at Ruailrock on Saturday night as part of Second Saturdays.  Tickets are 15,000 won and includes a free copy of Billy Carter’s new EP.  The show starts at 9:30 pm and A’z Bus, … Whatever That Means, Command 27, and Pegurians are also on the bill.  For more information, check out the concert’s Facebook event page here.

billy carter poster

Glastonbury to Get a Taste of Juck Juck’s “Psycho”-delic Rock

Juck Juck Grunzie have been a fixture of the Korean indie scene for nearly a decade. As their name indicates, they trace some of their musical heritage back to the grunge sound of the early ’90s, but their music is perhaps best described as psychedelic noise rock. Drawing inspiration from a diverse range of musicians from Bjork to King Crimson, their at times slow and sludgy sound can surprise you by giving way to frenzied chorus lines and unexpected blasts of raw attitude.

Juck Juck Grunzie 1

The band recently announced that they had been invited to perform in late June at one of Europe’s most renowned music festivals, Glastonbury. Despite this recognition, they remain committed to a DIY ethic, working with the support of other bands in the community and organizing their own tours. When I arrived at the cafe for our scheduled interview, they were busy booking their own plane tickets for their upcoming tour. I sat down with vocalist/keyboardist Ahreum Lee and guitarist Jeehye Ham to discuss their upcoming shows.

Of course the first thing I asked them about was their reaction to being picked to play Glastonbury. When they heard the news, the band had just finished a typically powerful set and was instantly reduced to tears. “The first time we heard from the promoter that we’d been accepted, we cried. We all hugged and cried,” Ahreum explained. “We’re really happy and excited to play as it’s such a great festival with a great history.” Despite the importance that such international exposure could hold, they are trying to stay grounded and are cautious about describing this as their big break.

Juck Juck Grunzie 4 (photo by Dirk Schlottmann)

Juck Juck has gone through many changes both musically as a band and personally as individuals since emerging in 2007. Having released their first EP, “Soundchecking,” in 2011, they finally released their full-length debut, “Psycho,” in late 2013. Guitarist Jeehye explained that while they started out quite focused on developing a certain sound, now they are more comfortable and confident with their style. Ahreum sees the band as an extension of herself: “It’s hard to describe because it’s like talking about your life and getting old and you’ve been changed, right. So when we change, our music also changes.”

Having been somewhat intimidated about interviewing a band who are known for their aggressive and impassioned performances, I was taken aback to find myself the only person with a beer in hand. It was Friday night after all, and most of my experiences told me that this was a prerequisite to the whole rock ‘n’ roll thing. Surprisingly, Ahreum informed me the band prefers to stay dry. “We’re like grannies,” she joked. “We like to sit in a room and chat with cookies. We love tea but don’t drink alcohol.”

Two of my favorite Juck Juck songs to see performed live are their rollicking rendition of Dead Kennedys’ “Too Drunk to Fuck” and the title track of their last album, “Psycho”. I asked them about the meaning behind the latter, which has become their trademark. As it turns out, it is based on an incident experienced by Jeehye’s mother who, before Jeehye was born, was knocked unconscious after inhaling carbon monoxide fumes from burning coal briquette, a traditional method for warming homes in Korea. She survived, coming to only after hearing the words “psycho, psycho” whispered in her ear.

Having played shows at the 2012 Jisan Valley Rock Festival, City Break 2013, and the Spring Scream Festival in Taiwan in 2013, the band is amped about their upcoming European tour with shows in Germany and the UK. To date, their most memorable gig was at the old anti-eviction squatter struggle known as Duriban in Hongdae. Ahreum described the scene vividly to me: “We played on the third floor at Duriban and the whole floor was wobbling because everyone was jumping together in excitement.” She felt a sense of unity that would be hard to replicate, “[At that moment] everyone shared the same goal and the same mind in the same space.”

This sense of unity, family and community was a recurring theme throughout our interview. When I asked if there was enough support for local music, Ahreum suggested that it would be good to see public funding going into supporting smaller shows where local bands can receive the attention they deserve. She feels that it can be difficult to get recognition at larger shows when there are big name acts playing. The band also made it clear that they are grateful for the support of other bands and musicians in the local scene. “We want to thank the people and bands that have supported us,” Ahreum said.  “We play shows and tour DIY style and so without their support and help, we couldn’t make it.”

In this DIY vein, Ahreum held a public gig-slash-wedding party with husband and fellow musician Adam Hickey of band New Blue Death. A number of her friends were hesitant to come out at first despite it being their wedding day as they had never been to an indie show before and didn’t know what to expect. Juck Juck hopes to break down these barriers and Ahreum said she would like to see more people feeling confident enough to come out to shows: “Even if you’re alone, you can enjoy the show.”

Fortunately, you’ll have the chance this weekend to do just that as Juck Juck are holding a fundraiser concert at Mudaeruk to help them cover their European tour costs.  Known for electrifying crowds with their dynamic stage presence, the band promises to put on an energetic performance on Sunday, June 14 and is even perfecting a taekwando-inspired dance routine for the show. Until their first fundraiser show last Saturday at DGBD, the band had been on hiatus for three months, so this is a great opportunity to get to see them before they head of to take on Europe. Sunday’s show will start in the afternoon and will include a flea market and non-stop performances from a total of eight bands including Apollo 18, Hellivision and Vidulgi Ooyoo. Juck Juck will also be unveiling two brand new songs that will most likely wind up on their next recording, a work in progress they hope to complete by next spring.

Juck Juck Grunzie -- Jeehye 3 (photo by Dirk Schlottmann)

As for what keeps them going, besides the music there is a clear feeling of camaraderie between the members; they see the band as a family. Jeehye explained, “To put it simply, we don’t just make music, it’s about our relationship.” The band also wants to grow their community, inviting fans, old and new alike, to come out to see their shows and get involved in the local scene. Ahreum extends an open invitation: “We hope that those people reading this article will come out to our shows and get involved in our community.”

Juck Juck Grunzie play on Sunday, June 14.  The concert is a fundraiser show for their European tour and and will also include sets by Apollo 18, Hellivision, Ludistelo, Ankle Attack, Danppyunsun and the Sailors, Victim Mentality, and Vidulgi Ooyoo.  Tickets are 15,000 won and the show will run from 2 pm – 9 pm.  For more information, check out the concert’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the set times for Sunday’s concert:
2:00 – 2:40 Juck Juck Grunzie
2:40 – 3:30 Apollo 18
3:30 – 4:20 Dan Pyunsun and the Sailors
4:20 – 5:10 Hellivision
5:10 – 6:00 Ankle Attack
6:00 – 6:50 Vidulgi Ooyoo
6:50 – 7:50 Ludistelo
7:50 – 8:40 Victim Mentality

June 14 Poster

And here are Juck Juck Grunzie’s European tour dates:
June 25 Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Pussy Parlure)
June 26 Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Gully Outernational)
June 30 London, UK @ Windmill Brixton
July 1 Berlin, Germany @ Kantine am Berghain
July 4 Berlin, Germany @ West Germany

Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio Touring and Recording in France

Seoul dance-rock act Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio started their France tour at Midem in Cannes last night as part of the K-Pop Night Out showcase at the festival.  Along with their appearance at Midem, the group will also be playing gigs in Saint-Étienne and Paris before returning back to Korea on June 17.

Rock 'N' Roll Radio

Formed in 2011, the quartet were all formerly techs for YB and members also played in a number of smaller local acts including Go Go Beat, Anti-Roman, and Burning Flowers before coming together as Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio.  The group started last year on a high note by winning the Korean Music Award for “Rookie of the Year” and went on to do US tours in both March and October that saw them playing at SXSW, CAAMFest, CMJ, and Culture Collide.  Before their performance at the latter, LA Weekly pegged the band as one of the top groups to see and gave them a glowing recommendation saying, “…when you hear their laser-funk guitars and epic choruses, you realize Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio is light years ahead of what most Americans associate with K-Pop. In other words, they’re the band we should be talking about.”

Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio’s current France trek marks their first time gigging in Europe.

“Europe is very far from Korea so we’re definitely excited about this experience,” said guitarist and vocalist Naehyun Kim before flying to France.  “It’s always awesome to be able to play in new and interesting places.”

“Last year was our first time touring abroad.  While we were in the US we felt that the world was so big and wide, and we realized that we wanted to try and see as much of it as possible as Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio.”

Along with playing concerts, Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio will also be recording some music while they are in Paris.  The group will be spending a few days in the studio with producers Gregory Louis and Romain Tranchart.  Lewis used to be in the French band Aloud while  Tranchart played in the band Modjo.  Some may remember Modjo from their early 2000s worldwide hit, “Lady.”

“We’ve never worked with a producer before so this will be a completely new experience for us,” said Kim.  “The plan is to release an EP with the new songs in Korea and France.  It’ll probably come out around August or September.”

Between their shows and recording, Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio have a pretty full schedule in France.  But when they do manage to find a bit of down time, what do the group hope to do?

“I want to eat French food and meet French women,” said Kim.  “Beautiful girls always motivate us, and we’ve heard France has the most beautiful women in Europe!”

RNRR June 11 poster

Here are Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio’s France tour dates:
June 11 Saint-Étienne, France @ Thunderbird Lounge
June 15 Paris, France @ Le Buzz

RNRR June 15 Poster

And the band will also be playing in Korea on July 25 as part of the Ansan M Valley Rock Festival.

Help Juck Juck Grunzie get to Glastonbury

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Juck Juck Grunzie — heck, they were the first group I ever covered on this website. Well, things have been going well with the group, and now they’ve gotten an invitation to play at this year’s Glastonbury festival at the end of June (and at Berghain in Berlin on July 1).

However, traveling to Europe isn’t cheap, so the group will be holding a fundraising concert this Saturday evening at DGBD in Hongdae at 11pm. The show is just 10,000 won, and includes Table People, Baekma, and Cranfield.

It should be a lot of fun, and you’d be helping one of the best bands in Korea, so check it out!

JuckJuck Fundraiser