All posts by Dain

Review of the 2014 Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival

On August 2, I headed out to Penta Park in Songdo, Incheon, to see day two of the ninth annual Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival. Having been to Pentaport at both of its previous locations, I was keen to see if the new site justified the travel (about two hours from Apgujeong on the subway).

photo courtesy of Pentaport

(photo courtesy of the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival)

Arriving at International Business District Station, I exited the station to the sounds of the festival, and after a short walk, finally arrived for my fifth Pentaport.  I was impressed by the grounds.  Whilst Penta Park may lack the vibrant natural setting of other festival sites, Pentaport was well thought out.  All the stages were close together with a nice camping area around the outskirts.  There was also a sizable food area and an excellent wide space set up for the main stage.  Each zone also managed to have its own unique atmosphere.

With regards to the music, I caught the tail end of Japan’s Orange Range’s energetic and engaging set on the Pentaport Stage.  The Mimi Sisters were charming the Moonlight Stage as I headed to the Reggae Zone for the first of the day’s surprises, Acollective.  Despite a few sound issues, the seven-piece group from Israel wowed a small but enthusiastic crowd with their unique sound and charismatic performance.  Describing themselves as a mix of “boogied-folk, electronic-jazz and a Middle Eastern-bluesy twang,” the group displayed many different sounds and influences, but still sounded cohesive and familiar.  This is an act that I definitely hope comes back to Korea.

Next up was The Inspector Cluzo on the roofed Dream Stage, and despite having high expectations, they absolutely blew me away. This two-piece French rock outfit take the basic idea of a band like the White Stripes or the Black Keys, and add loads of French charm, humor, and even a dash of house and lounge music into an otherwise loud, raucous show. Walking onto the stage dressed like a million dollars, drummer Phil Jourdain and guitarist/vocalist Malcom Lacrouts riled the crowd up before launching into their excellent set. They thanked their local fans, stating that it was in Korea (and Japan) where they first became popular, and finished things by reducing the drum kit mid-song, one piece at a time, without skipping a beat, until finally just the kick and snare remained. The Inspector Cluzo left the stage with many new fans and promised to return to Korea again.

I headed back to the Pentaport Stage for Boys Like Girls, who, whilst not being my cup of tea, worked the sizable crowd well.  Apparently this was their first show in over a year, and they ran out of songs so they finished by playing their hit “The Great Escape” a second time. I hung around for Idiotape, and having seen them in clubs, was eager to see how they were received on the main stage at such a large rock festival. I needn’t have worried; they swiftly proved that they deserved their spot.  A tight set, electrifying visuals, a wonderful sunset, and some fun camera work of the dancing crowd made it an amazing performance.

Kasabian photo courtesy of Pentaport

Kasabian (photo courtesy of the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival)

I popped back to the Dream Stage to check out The Horrors, but I found them a little downbeat and headed back to the main stage for Kasabian. I first became a fan of Kasabian after seeing them at Pentaport in 2008, and love their latest album “48:13.”  The band stormed onstage to loud applause with “Bumblebee” and had the crowd eating out of their palms. Next came “Shoot the Runner,” albeit with a little Kanye West thrown in, and for the next 90 minutes it was hit after hit for the Pentaport audience.  There were a few little surprises and it was great to hear “Doberman.”  They played a mix of songs from all five albums with a few covers and samples thrown in.  For me, it was an absolutely stomping set, delivered by a band at the peak of their popularity, and a great end to the day. They were worthy headliners and the crowd seemed to really enjoy all that they did.

After my ride home fell threw, I tried to get a shuttle bus home.  But the buses were sold out, which was frustrating, as at 15,000 won it seemed like it wouldn’t have costed the organizers very much to have more buses on hand.  So instead I literally ran for the subway, and made it halfway home before the trains finished and I had to take a taxi the rest of the way.  But this was my only complaint about an otherwise awesome day.  I look forward to next year when Pentaport celebrates its tenth anniversary!

(photo courtesy of Pentaport)

(photo courtesy of the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival)

 

 

Pentaport Still Rocks!

Since 2006, the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival has been an important part of Korea’s musical landscape.  This year’s fest will take place from August 1 – 3 at Penta Park in Incheon. Offering a mix of huge international acts, popular Korean legends, and up-and-coming bands, alongside DJs and great food, the fest is well-suited for a weekend of rocking out!

Pentaport Banner

Big International names on this summer’s bill include Kasabian, Travis, Starsailor, Boys Like Girls, The Horrors, Suicidal Tendencies, Maximo Park, and The Inspector Cluzo. Korean acts include iconic rock/pop singer Lee Seung Hwan, Daybreak, Idiotape, Crash, Kingston Rudieska, Rux, and many others. The music plays out over five stages, and begins around lunchtime on all three days.

Main stage headlining acts Kasabian and Travis both previously played at Pentaport in 2008. At that time, Travis received a fantastic reception closing the main stage on Saturday, one they appreciated so much they came back to Korea the following year. Their mix of pop, rock, and feel-good vibes has made them fan favorites here. Currently gigging in support of their seventh album, last year’s “Where You Stand,” the Scottish rock act were last in Korea in March, but that’s not stopping Travis from coming back to wow local audiences once more.

Back when they played at Pentaport in 2008, Kasabian had only released two albums but have since grown to become one of the UK’s biggest bands. Their fifth album, “48:13,” came out in June and quickly rose to the top of the British music charts, just like their previous three albums did. Renowned as a killer live act, earlier this summer Kasabian was one of he headliners at Glastonbury.

Tickets for Pentaport cost 110,000 won for one day, 154,000 won for two days, and 187,000 won for all three days of the fest. Tickets can be purchased at the main gates all weekend long. Check out the full timetable for all of this weekend’s performances here.

Incheon Pentaport Rock Fest Poster

Rocking out in Daegu for Big Day South

This weekend, there will be a whole helping of noise rocking from Daegu during the city’s first Big Day South festival.  With a focus on not only putting on a great night, but also striving to showcase a taste of the talent and creativity that exists in the area, the organizers are also keen to bridge the gap between the foreign and Korean communities.

Big Day South Picture

[b]racket Magazine, I Like Many Records, and Angle Magazine have teamed up to present this event that promises the cream of the crop from not only Daegu, but also Busan and Ulsan, and there are even a few top-quality acts traveling from Seoul to perform. Two great venues, craft store Social Market and iconic music hall Club Urban, are sharing the hosting duties that will see musicians, dancers, and even spoken word performers take the stage.

Dogstar, November on Earth, Colours, The Curses, Say Sue Me, Yamagata Tweakster, Yukari, and many others are to be joined by Andrew Blad, Mine Lee, as well as art demonstrations from Leon Choi, William Joseph Leitzman, and Moke. There will also be food for sale, with all proceeds going to local charities. More details can be found on Facebook, including directions, so follow the link below and do support this great event.

Where: Social Market (12 – 4pm) & Club Urban (5pm – late)
When: Saturday April 26th
How much: 15,000W for a day ticket. Concessions will be available for those wanting to enjoy just one of the venues.
PLUS: The first 70 people to buy all-day tickets at Social Market will receive a wonderful screen-printed poster from [b]racket magazine’s very talented Jess Hinshaw.

Find out more about Big Day South here.

Big Day South Poster

 

Crying Nut Take On the World

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.

Crying Nut 3

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?

Flaming Nuts Album Cover

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.

Crying Nut 16

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.

Feb 23 Gig

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

So Many Fests!

With a few great festivals having taken place this year already, the next three months sees a plethora of big events for music lovers in South Korea. No matter what genre you are into, there is something for you, and it begs the question, is there too much?

Here is a brief overview of what you can expect in summer 2013 in terms of big music festivals.

Ansan Valley Rock Festival – So the spin off from Pentaport has now changed its location and name, only for someone else to steal their previous name and location. Confused? This one is the team that has been behind the last four Jisan Valley Rock Festivals, and has now moved to Daebu Island, but is keeping the same dates and set up. With a very strong line up, including big names Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Skrillex, Stereophonics, My Bloody Valentine, The XX, Foals, and Fun performing alongside a range of other acts, this continues to be the one to beat this summer. Will the new location improve things?

One- and three-day tickets, plus camping packs, are all on sale, and the fest takes place on the last weekend of July, from the 26-28th.  One-day tickets cost 140,000 won in advance and 160,00 won at the gates.  Three-day tickets cost 240,000 won in advance and 260,000 won at the gates.  Information on buying tickets in English is here.

Jisan World Rock Festival- The old venue, almost the old name, but an all-new event – the first Jisan World Rock Festival has surely surprised a few people with its strong line up. Jamiroquai, Placebo, Weezer, Nas, The Dandy Warhols and Switchfoot join an array of local and Japanese bands. Taking place on August 2-4, it could be the dark horse of the summer.

There’s a 10% discount on tickets until July 31.  One-day tickets are currently 112,500 won (but go up to 125,000 won on August 1).  Two-day tickets are 162,000 won (but go up to 180,000 won on August 1).  Three-day tickets are 225,000 won (but go up 250,000 won on August 1).  Information on buying tickets in English is here.

Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival - The oldest running event, going since 2006, has a few big names at this year’s edition.  Most notably Suede and Fall Out Boy, along with veterans Steelheart, Skid Row, Testament, and more recent acts like Blood Red Shoes, The Big Pink and Glasvegas. It’s handily located in Incheon and it takes place on August 2-4, meaning people have to make a big decision between Pentaport and Jisan World Rock Festival.

There’s a 5% discount on tickets until August 1.  One-day tickets are currently 94,000 won (but go up to 99,000 won on August 2).  Two-day tickets are 135,800 won (but go up 143,000 won on August 2).  Three-day tickets are 156,700 won (but go up to 165,000 won on August 2).  Information on buying tickets in English is here.

Super Sonic - In its second year, this two-day, mid-week festival is showing a nice variety, with big names including the Pet Shop Boys, John Legend, Earth Wind & Fire, Two Door Cinema Club, Hot Chelle Rae, and Will Moon, along with locals like Glen Check, Cho Yong Pil and Dickpunks. Information on buying tickets in English is here.

Citybreak - I waited with baited breath to see which festival would secure the two biggest names performing in Japan at Summer Sonic, only for none of them to grab Metallica and Muse.  So I was quite please to see this all-new event that is being shaped around them.  Along with the above mentioned headliners, this fest has already added Limp Bizkit, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Ash, Japandroids, Rise Against, The Used, Rocket From the Crypt, and White Lies along with Apollo 18, Kiha & Faces, and Goonam. Information on buying tickets in English is here.

There are also a few smaller events that are definitely worth checking out, most with predominantly local line ups, but they are all definitely worth your time.

Horock Horock festival in Daejeon (July 5-6)

Stepping Stone Festival in Jeju (July 13)

Busan International Rock Festival (Aug 2-4)

Lets Rock Festival (Sep13-14)

We will try to keep you up-to-date as more acts are added to all of the above events, so keep checking out Korea Gig Guide and good luck with your 2013 summer fest decisions.

One Drop East Finally Come North!

Busan’s premiere reggae, funk and soul band One Drop East are finally coming up to play in Seoul, not once but twice! They have picked one of the busiest weekends in recent times, with Green Plugged, the World DJ Festival and the Seoul Jazz Festival all taking place, but that is no excuse not to see them this Friday (May 17) - their show is on late just so you can see what many people in Busan and the rest of Korea have been talking about over the last few years. We sent a few questions to bassist Brian Kilrain so that you can get to know the act prior to their debut Seoul performances.

  1. Please tell us a little bit about One Drop East.

One Drop East started in 2006 and is one of the longest lasting foreign bands in Busan. It began as a way for us to hang out with the people we love and cover the music that brought us together – all reggae with an emphasis on the stuff out of New Zealand, ska, funk, soul and jazz. Little by little, original songs started making their way onto the set lists. After we won the 2009 Busan Battle of the Bands, we decided to put together an album, On Home Ground, which came out in 2011. Recently we’ve been getting offered larger festival gigs which has made the last few summers extra fun. Otherwise you can find us most Saturday nights jamming on some stage in Busan.

2. What makes Busan so conducive for great live music?

Busan’s live music scene is phenomenal. Part of it has to do with the fact that we’re blessed with so many great musicians. The rest of the credit goes to club owners like Kim Dongha at Vinyl Underground who bend over backwards to give us a place to play. Every night of the week there’s an open mic or show.  And if not, chances are people are getting together somewhere for an impromptu jam.

One of the things I love about Busan is the fact that there aren’t separate Korean and foreign scenes. Our size is small in that we pretty much know everybody making music in town, yet big enough to allow creativity and learning to flourish.

Last year, there was a World Music Night where players could showcase some music from their home country. We had music from Spain, Brazil, Haiti, Germany, Nigeria, and Jamaica. It was an amazing night, and stuff like this happens organically all the time!

3. Tell us about some of your most memorable gigs.

Every time I step on stage with this band, I feel blessed. The most memorable show – the one we all still talk about to this day – was back in 2010 in Daejeon. It was one of our first festival gigs so we rented a bus, filled it with our friends and went on up. About an hour before we were to go on, the police shut it down – right in the middle of Apollo 18′s set if I remember correctly. For about two minutes, we were crushed. But then we found a club down the street, Yellow Taxi, that would let us play.

Meanwhile, all the people who had showed up at the rock festival were getting ready to riot. A lot of people had traveled had from all over Korea to hear some live music and they weren’t just going to leave without politely and constructively telling the cops what they thought of the whole deal. We put the word out to the Busan peeps about Yellow Taxi and they started spreading the word to everyone else.

Pretty soon an army of out-of-town music lovers were in cabs trying to find Yellow Taxi. It’s kind of tucked away from the main road so the band members started escorting people there. I had an orange light-up traffic wand and did my best department store parking attendant impression.

Less than an hour after the plug was pulled at the festival, we had a packed-out club down the street and all the time on stage we wanted. The thing I remember best is that we played with some kind of fury that night. Every band member was buzzing on the exact same wavelength and it just felt so damn good.

4. You are well known for great covers – what are some songs/artists you do?

Currently, there are eight members in the band, and that means eight wildly different musical tastes. Miles Davis, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Flaming Lips, Led Zeppelin, Boyz II Men, it’s crazy. When we choose a cover, a lot times we try to play it differently from the original. Usually that means giving it a reggae feel. We used to do a fun reggae version of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” We love playing any Bob Marley, and the irony that we’re a bunch of dweeby 30-somethings attempting some of the groovingest music ever made is never far from our thoughts. But sometimes we find the pocket. A large chunk of our cover songs come from Kiwi bands like the Black Seeds, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Katchafire. Anytime we do a cover, especially a Bob tune, it’s an opportunity to study the craft of reggae music. In those instances, we’re just students diving as deep as we can into what we love.

5. Who writes your originals?

Very few of our originals were completely written by just one or two members. Creation is all about collaboration. Someone comes to practice with an idea – it could be an entire melody with words or it could be a piece of a horn line or bass line. We throw out ideas and try them to see what works. It can be chaotic sometimes but it works for us. In fact, we’re just coming off a particularly fruitful creative burst and we’ve been happy with the crowds’ reactions so far.

6. Tell us about your gigs in Seoul this weekend?

It’s amazing we’ve been playing music together for so long and we haven’t yet played Seoul. But getting eight to ten people with regular jobs and families to do anything collectively is next to impossible.

This weekend we lucked out with the holiday and decided to take advantage of it. Originally, we were asked to play the New Zealand Wine Festival. The band was able to make that show, which is Saturday so we tried to book a club gig too. Club Ta already had a show going on early Friday but they graciously offered us the stage afterwards, hence the late start time.

So Friday is our Seoul debut at Club Ta. A friend hooked us up with Oops Nice and we’re lucky to have them open. Also, Gino Brann, one of Busan’s musical gems, will start the night off performing some music he recorded last year in Nepal. He’ll also be joining One Drop East to lend his sublime lead guitar to the mix. It all starts at 11:30pm.

Saturday is the New Zealand Wine Festival at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. This is exciting not just because of our Kiwi roots, but it will be a special show in that we’ll be playing it entirely acoustic. I’m lugging my upright bass to Seoul and our drummer will be downsizing to a djembe. We’ve had a lot of fun preparing for it. Songs we’ve played for years have suddenly taken on a different vibe. That goes from 4 – 8 pm and there’ll be, obviously, lots of great wine and food to enjoy as well

7. You have played all around Korea, but not as often in Seoul as we would like – how can we get you to come here more often?

Putting together these road trips isn’t easy. We turn down shows all the time because of scheduling issues as many members have families and day jobs. Plus, travel costs for eight or nine people can be outrageous. For all the people that would like to see us more in their city: seeing a One Drop East show should be one of those obligatory things people do when they visit Busan. The ideal trip should include raw fish at Jagalchi, passing out on the sand in Haeundae and shaking your ass to ODE.

8. What are your plans for the rest of 2013?

2013 has started a bit slow gig wise, but we’ve been writing a lot and have a ton of new material. We recently absorbed the incredible Violet Lea into the band so I’m excited to see where her many talents take us. She’s a classically trained vocalist so, half-jokingly, one of her first assignments was to learn the song “Uptown Top Ranking” by Althea and Donna. This song is about as down and dirty Jamaica as it gets and she kills it.

We’ve got enough material for a second album and we’re still creating. Writing and recording the first album was a great experience but I think we’re going to change it up for the second one and make it live. We really play best when the audience is dancing and sweating along with us so that’s the natural next step.

Finally, festival season is approaching! We love playing outdoors and on a big booming sound system. Hey, Ansan Valley Rock Fest – call us!

9. Any last words for potential fans out there?

I know this weekend is jam packed with music options. Green Plugged, Seoul Jazz and the DJ festival are all going down. Then, of course, Hongdae is always full of great music. But if you’re reading this, I’d say get warmed up wherever you like,  but finish your night rocking with us.  One of the things we pride ourselves on is our marathon sets. New Year’s 2011 we kept the crowd grooving until 4:30 in the morning. We go as long as you keep dancing.

It’s all up to you Seoul! The ball’s in your court. We’ll do our part – all you gotta do is show up.

One Drop East play at Club Ta on Friday May 17 from 11:30 pm with support from Oops Nice and Busan’s Gino Brann.  Cover is 5,000 won.  Check out the Facebook event page for Friday’s show here.  And there’s an event page for Saturday’s show as well here.

GALAXY EXPRESS RETURN TO THE US!

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

Upcoming Gigs & Big Shows

Here are some bits and pieces about upcoming tours and gigs.

- Greenplugged & The World DJ Festival are happening at the same time … again! The weekend of May 17-18 sees both of these multi-day events taking place. Stay up to date with Greenplugged here and WDJF here as they are both selling tickets already. WDJF have already announced that Dash Berin, DJ Bl3nd, and  Sven Vath will perform.

- UMF have recently sold a slew of half price tickets (80,000 won) and announced they have moved their date forward six weeks to June 14-15. They have also announced that Carl Cox, Armin Van Buuren, and Avcii will play. Expect more details to be announced shortly.

- The Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, which usually shares its acts with Japan’s Summer Sonic festival, MIGHT have some big names on board for this year’s fest. Metallica, Muse, Linkin Park, and The Stone Roses have been announced for Summer Sonic — will Pentaport be able to secure any of them?

- Galaxy Express and The Rock Tigers are both touring around Korea right now.  Those outside of Seoul should take this chance to see two of Korea’s busiest and most-entertaining live acts.

Galaxy Express play in Busan (Feb 1),  Daegu (Feb 2) , and Seoul (Feb 17).  The Rock Tigers play in Cheonan (Feb 23), Gwangju (March 1), Seoul (March 2), Busan (March 9), and Daejon (March 23).

Six-Band Party Rock Out for Those in Need

This Saturday night, there is a great chance to enjoy some live music and help an awesome cause.  An event called the “PSCORE Six-Band charity concert at Club Freebird” is on from 10pm. Obviously, there are six bands involved and it is based at Club Freebird!

PSCORE (People for Successful COrean REunification) is a Seoul- and Washington, DC-based NGO that focuses on a range of issues pertaining to North Korea.  More information about the organization can he found here.  This weekend’s PSCORE concert will include performances from The Essence, Les Sales, The Wasted Johnny’s, Samba Mamba, Love X Stereo, and The Studs Lonigan Experience.  The cover charge is 10,000 won, and all the proceeds will go towards funding for educational activities and social programs for North Korean defectors in South Korea, and activities focusing on information and awareness about human rights in North Korea.

For more information about Saturday night’s fundraiser gig, check out the Facebook event page here.

Apollo 18 Heading for New Space

As well as being an awesome live outfit who take their brilliantly recorded music to new heights on stage, Apollo 18 have also always impressed me with their obvious dedication and focus when it comes to the business side of things. In their short time as a band – just over four years – the powerful trio have released three EP’s and one album, toured Korea relentlessly, visited the US, Japan and Taiwan, won awards, wowed crowds at the Jisan Valley Rock Festival four times, and have shown a strong motivation to keep growing as artists and take their sound abroad. They are currently part way through writing a new album, and this week they are performing in Canada at the Pop Montreal festival.

Prior to heading to Canada, I managed to track them down to answer a few questions on the current state of all things Apollo 18!


How are you getting ready for your first trip to Canada?

Hyun-seok: We’re practicing a lot, getting equipment and backline sorted out, and trying to learn some simple French to use during Pop Montreal. We’re all really excited about playing in Canada and appearing at the Pop Montreal festival.

What can you tell us about the big festival in Montreal?

Sang-yun: Pop Montreal is a five-day festival that in Montreal, Quebec that features music, art, film, crafts, and other events.  The fest will have over 350 bands playing in 40 venues around the city.  We’re really looking forward to performing as part of the festival.  We’ve heard from friends that Montreal is a really cool place.  We want to try poutine while we’re there!

Tell us about the progress on the new album?

Dae-inn: We started writing songs for our new album at the beginning of the summer.  We’ve got four songs written now, but we’re still tweaking them to make them sound exactly the way we want them to.  We want to make at least six more songs when we get back from Canada.  We’re hoping to release the album before the end of this year.

Hyun-seok: We started performing one new song at gigs a few weeks ago. I imagine we’ll begin playing a few more new tracks at shows pretty soon.

The “Black” EP seemed to have a subtle funk/ pop sensibility than was found in previous releases – what new influences can we expect in the new album?

Dae-inn: Um, we’re not sure yet.  We all like different styles of music, and with Apollo 18 we try to find a middle ground between what everyone likes.  I think the songs on the new album will be faster and harder, but also more psychedelic too.  But that could change.  Maybe we’ll work in an acoustic song or something else different as well.

You are the only act to play at the Jisan Valley Rock Festival for all 4 years of its existence – how does that feel?

Dae-inn: It feels good!  We play on the second stage for the first three years, and this past summer we performed on Jisans’ main stage for the first time.  We’ve had a great experience every summer at the festival and were so happy to be a part of it.  My only complaint is that sometimes the site gets too dirty during the festival.  We need to work together to try and keep the grounds cleaner during the Jisan Valley Rock Festival.

How do you prepare for a live performance?

Dae-inn: We go to the venue, have some drinks, smoke, and watch all the pretty girls in the crowd!

What does the Korean indie music scene need most of all?

Dae-inn: Diligence – Korean indie bands are lazy sometimes.  And Apollo 18 are too.  Everyone needs to work harder to build up the Korean indie music scene, both at home and abroad.


What is the best lyric you have ever recorded?

Dae-inn: Our music doesn’t have any proper lyrics.  If there are vocals on a song, it’s just me or Hyun-seok shouting or mumbling.  We treat vocals like another instrument.  They are more about the sound than the meaning. That’s why the inside or our Red album says, “All lyrics are yours.”

What is the best food/ drink to enjoy as you listen to Apollo 18?

Dae-inn: “Somaek” – a mix of soju and beer.  It’s one of our favorite Korean cocktails.

Looking back at your “Rookie of the Year” win at the Korean Music Awards in March 2010, how helpful was it to get such recognition then, especially as you were still so new to the scene?

Hyun-seok: We won the “Hello Rookie” grand prize in 2009 and “Rookie of the Year” at the Korean Music Awards in 2010.  We were thankful to be given both awards, but I don’t know how helpful they were.  I think a lot of Korean people don’t know what those awards are.  I think they made our parents really happy, though, so maybe they were helpful in that regard. After we won those awards and toured the USA last year our parents started worrying a little bit less about us being musicians!

You have released both EPs and albums – how would you describe the difference in approach when writing and recording both formats?

Hyun-seok: There’s no difference in writing music for EPs and full-lengths. For recording, the only difference is that EPs can be recorded faster.  Our original plan was to make “Black” a full-length album, not an EP.  We started writing music for the album in April 2011, after our USA tour.  We were given the opportunity to record “Black” at Zankyo Records’ studio in Tokyo in May 2011.  Because we only had a short amount of time to prepare new songs for “Black,” it became an EP.

Sang-yun: We’ve got more time to work with this time, so our new album will definitely be a full-length album.

Did you watch the movie Apollo 18 – how was it?

Dae-inn: I watched the movie.  It was okay.  Visually I thought it was really cool, but the story wasn’t very good.

Finally – if Apollo 18 members were all animals, what animals would you be?

Dae-inn: This is a great question!  I want to be a panda because pandas are really cute.  I could be the first Korean panda!

Along with playing at Pop Montreal, Apollo 18 will be doing a few other Canadian shows as well.  Here are their Canadian tour dates:

September 19 Hamilton, Ontario @ This Ain’t Hollywood
September 20 Ottawa, Ontario @ Zaphod Beeblebrox
September 21 Montreal, Quebec @ Quai des Brumes (Pop Montreal)
September 22 Toronto, Ontario @ Bovine Sex Club