Monthly Archives: March 2016

Victim Mentality Release New Single Before SXSW Return

Hard-hitting glam rockers Victim Mentality are heading back to South by Southwest (SXSW) this year bringing with them their screaming vocals and lightning quick guitar riffs. Frontman Krocodile sat down to talk with Korea Gig Guide about their Heavy Metal Is Back full-length album, touring, their new single and more. Despite songs to the contrary, we were interested to learn that Krocodile doesn’t like singing or writing songs about sex, though the self-proclaimed heavy metal god is in search of groupies and new love. Get a taste of the man who “doesn’t like Korean music or people,” but rather “loves Judas Priest, for America is the best!” in our Q&A below.

You have become well-known both here and abroad for your style and classic heavy metal sound. As there have been some changes in the lineup and style recently, can you start by introducing Victim Mentality to our readers?

We are Victim Mentality, a Korean glam and heavy metal band. We are a very famous and huge band in Korea! Everyone knows me. If you guys don’t know me, there is a problem. You must be a criminal! If you guys don’t know about Victim Mentality, search for us on Google and YouTube, and then you can pretend you already know us.

How did you all get into music and heavy metal?

Before my memory existed, I listened to and played heavy metal music. My mother told me that when I was only two years old I was already playing heavy metal guitar. Heavy metal was my destiny. I didn’t choose metal, metal chose me.

You have a unique heavy metal style with quite playful lyrics. What is your songwriting process?

Before Mr. Sohn left the band, he wrote the songs and I wrote the lyrics. Now I write everything. First, I make a riff and then I write the melody and add the lyrics to the melody. It’s simple.

As you have many English speaking fans as well, can you talk a bit about the lyrics to the title track from Heavy Metal Is Back to help them get a sense of what Korean fans already know?

We disrespect other styles of music and musicians. They are very famous in Korea, and we disrespect them. Actually, we envy them. But heavy metal chose us, so we can’t find another way. So, we just play heavy metal. The song “Heavy Metal Is Back” is very complicated to explain. People ask heavy metal musicians why we have long hair. They wonder, “Short-haired people can’t play heavy metal?” We don’t know the answer. But I must have long hair, because I am heavy metal. Maybe I can play heavy metal with short hair, but… It’s a complex emotion. We disrespect other musicians who play other styles of music, but actually I envy them. They are very famous and have lots of money. But I can’t change my music, so I play heavy metal and we say heavy metal is back. The story of the song is, although we are not that bright and not that famous, heavy metal is back.

Your first full-length album, Heavy Metal Is Back, is filled with driving drums, fast-paced heavy metal riffs and screaming vocals. And of course, a few ballads mixed in. Which track was the most difficult to record? Which are the most fun to play?

“Love of Sixtynine” was very difficult. I don’t know why, but the singing was very difficult. That is not my style, so it was difficult only for me. I don’t know about the other parts. I just sing on that record, so “Love of Sixtynine” was very challenging. “Is It My Child?” is a fun song. That and “Pubic Lice” are the most fun songs. “Love of Sixtynine” is fun too. Our new song, “I Hate Hiphop,” is my favorite song to sing live these days.

What do you like to write about?

The songs about sex are very fun, but I don’t think that can be the major subject. There are so many subjects besides sex that we can talk about with people. Sex is not a topic for sympathizing with many people. Perhaps sex, women, love, and similar things can stimulate people, but that’s all.

You released a brand new single last week. Please tell us about it.

It’s called “I Hate Hiphop.” Actually, I don’t hate hip hop. Hip hop is a favorite genre in Korea. But if we attack them, we can make noise. That noise can make money. So I made the song. The song and music video are very serious. If you watch the video, you can feel how I deeply hate hip hop. But the truth is, I don’t hate hip hop. All kinds of music are equal and respectable.

You’ve played major showcases both in Korea and abroad. What have been your best performances?

The best performance was at SXSW in America. We really loved Chosun Galbi, a Korean restaurant in Austin, Texas. It is 10 times better than food in Korea. Because of the American cows, the meat is much better. So, it tastes 10 times better than in Korea.

What are your expectations and goals for this year?

Love. I want to find new love. Actually, I broke up with my girlfriend last month, so I need new love and I expect to have a new romance in Austin when we play at SXSW again this month.

What can US fans who haven’t seen you yet expect from Victim Mentality?

I have the holy spirit of the metal gods. So they can expect money and to have good luck in money, health, etc. It’s difficult to explain in English. Sharing info about us and seeing us play can improve your luck. Most of you can earn lots of money if you see our concert!

Any final comments for fans who will see you at SXSW?

Thank you for reading my interview. Come to our show. Share our articles. Share our schedule. It can help you become healthy and rich. It will help my wealth, too. Let’s help each other! Thank you.

Victm Mentality SXSW Poster

Victim Mentality will play two shows at SXSW in Austin, Texas this week.  Here’s their gig schedule at the festival.

March 16 Austin @ The Belmont (Korea Night I: K-Pop Night Out Showcase)
March 19 Austin @ Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room (V-Rox Showcase)

Music history keeps moving on

A couple of events recently have made me all too aware of how everything is constantly changing in Korea, including the music scene. The biggest news of late (imho) is that the best music store in Korea, Hyang Music, is finally shutting down, closing its doors on March 12.

Hyang opened in 1991 and was going strong when I first arrived in Seoul back in the late 1990s. Back then, Korea was full of music stores (around 5,000 is the most common number I’ve seen), with several huge Tower Records around Seoul, a huge Hot Trax at Kyobo Books, and countless small shops seemingly on every corner. But most of them died out when the music market collapsed in Korea more than a decade ago. Even Hongdae’s great Purple Records closed last year, and now Hyang has fallen, too.

Even in the heyday of the music industry, Hyang was still the shop to go to, especially for local indie music. Back then, it felt like you could keep up with most of the CDs being released by the local indie scene, and if I could find a release, I usually bought a copy. Hyang was a tiny store, but it was in such a convenient location for me, on the road connecting the Shinchon Subway Station and the Yonsei main gate (being around the corner from Voodoo Bar, my favorite hangout way back then, helped, too). I couldn’t begin to guess all the CDs I bought there.

Clubs, too, are always opening and closing in Korea. Ruail Rock recently shut its doors, for instance. One of the first clubs in Seoul that I used to go to was Master Plan, which was located in Nogosan-dong, about halfway between Shinchon and Donggyo-dong. I used to go for the indie rock music, but soon after it turned into a hiphop club, and for quite a while it was at the heart of the Korean indie hiphop scene.

Now the fine young music writer Emma Kalka has published a fine history of Master Plan in the latest Groove Magazine. It’s an excellent and informative read, totally worth your time.

I’m old and boring now, so don’t go out very music. But I don’t want to be one of those boring old fossils who complains about how much better things used to be. I’m sad to be losing Hyang Music, just as I’m sad to have lost the other music stores and clubs. But change isn’t all negative, and the music scene today is probably bigger and more interesting than it’s been since I’ve been in Korea. So cheers to Hyang and Master Plan and everyone else who has gone before. And I’m looking forward to hearing all the music that comes next.

(Cross-posted to my personal website).

Love X Stereo is asking for a little help

Annie and Toby, the very nice people behind the excellent group Love X Stereo, are looking for a little help funding their latest EP, We Love, We Leave, Part 2. So they’ve set up a PledgeMusic page asking for pre-orders, which will go to creating the new music.

There are three levels of support offered, so it’s an easy way to buy some good music and help a band out. And they’ve set up a couple of previews, so you can check out if it’s your sort of music — but if you like catchy electropop, it probably is.

Love X Stereo is going to be playing at SXSW again this year, and will play in San Francisco as well, so if you’re in the neighborhood, you should check them out.