All posts by Jon

Death conquers Korea in cross-country tour

Under the manifesto, “Many Nations, One Underground,” Conquest for Death represents the hardcore/thrash/death metal/punk communities from three different continents. With members from the US, Japan, and Australia, these guys are quite well travelled and spend a lot of time on the road.

“Playing in a touring, underground DIY hardcore punk band has taught us volumes about ourselves and the world we live in,” says the band’s website. “The lyrics to one Conquest for Death song state, ‘Metal taught me history, punk taught me geography’ and these words are totally true.”

They’re coming to Korea as part of a four-country East Asia tour that also includes dates in Mongolia, China, and Japan. The Korea arm of their tour, with shows in Seoul, Daegu, and Busan, was put together by JP of Korea’s own tri-continental band MyManMike (with members from the US, Korea, and France), though they won’t be able to open at all on this tour due to their own geographical distances.

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Conquest for Death Seoul show

Date: Friday, April 24
Time: 20:00
Venue: Space Moon
Price: 10,000 KRW
Bands: Nahu (grindcore), Kitsches (hardcore punk), Christfuck (grindcore), Dead Gakkahs (fastcore), Gonguri (doom), Scumraid (crasher crust), the Geeks (youth crew hardcore)
RSVP on Facebook

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Conquest for Death Daegu show

Date: Saturday, April 25
Time: 19:00
Venue: Urban Lounge Bar
Price: 15,000 KRW
Bands: GoldenTicket (melodic punk), Sidecar (skatepunk), Bettyass (skatepunk), Propeller21 (skatepunk), Strikers (skatepunk), TodayXSpot (hardcore)
RSVP on Facebook

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Conquest for Death Busan show

Date: Sunday, April 26
Time: 19:30
Venue: The Basement
Price: free
Bands: Manixive (melodic metalcore), All I Have (hardcore)
RSVP on Facebook

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Broke in Korea celebrates 10 years of underground music

About one decade ago, I was sitting around with Paul Brickey (guitarist of Rux, Suck Stuff, Heimlich County Gun Club). “We should start a zine,” Paul told me.

Things took off from there. Determined to find a name with “ROK” in it, we considered RagnaROK (too metal), bROKen, and unbROKen, before finally settling on bROKe, which suited us fine as at the time we were both unemployed and living off of more stable women.

Paul started the Broke in Korea message board, and I put together the first zine, released sometime in early spring 2005. Since then, over ten years, we’ve averaged two issues per year. Broke is always available for free, and usually we only print a few dozen copies and hand them out at a designated concert, serving formally or informally as a release party.

This time, marking its 10th anniversary, Broke in Korea is releasing issue 20 at Jogwang Studio/Jarip HQ in Chungmuro, with eight musical acts packed into the night from 19:00 to 23:00 on Saturday, April 4.  The show is 10,000 KRW.

These bands include some familiar names, as well as several new ones. The show will be headlined by melodic punk band …Whatever That Means, as well as hardcore acts Yuppie Killer and the Kitsches. Also supporting the lineup are anarcho-punk band Jordan River and experimental soloist Tyler Brown. The show will also introduce new audiences to Joongshiki, a rock group fronted by Jeong Joong-shik, former frontman of punk band Tungbin Braza, as well as the raw punk band Chong-kook and new wave band Her Collection.

Many of the acts will also be profiled in Broke in Korea 20, which will be available free of charge at the concert.

posterwebClick to RSVP.

For past issues of Broke in Korea, you can visit this page to download PDFs.

Return of Second Saturdays

It’s been almost half a year since the closure of Club Spot, and the punk scene in Hongdae still feels untethered, lacking a home like what Spot (and before that Club Drug/Skunk Hell) provided. But one of Korean punk’s best showcases is returning this Saturday, March 14, at its new home in the subterranean club Ruailrock next to Rolling Hall, near Sangsu Station.

“We were looking at several different places to move to, and Ruailrock just felt like the right place,” says Jeff Moses, the man behind World Domination, Inc. and the melodic punk band …Whatever That Means. “We really like the simple punk rock basement feel that it has. In general, the simplicity and size of it kind of reminds me of the local punk shows I grew up going to and the old days at Skunk Hell.”

The first Second Saturdays event of 2015 will feature five great bands from around Korea. As usual, …Whatever That Means will anchor the event. They’re joined by ska-punk stalwarts Skasucks, Gwangju skatepunk band BettyAss, garage rock band National Pigeon Unity, and fiery female-fronted rock band Diealright.

11010618_10152870327016492_3669075967133829977_nClick to RSVP

“When we started booking Second Saturdays, we just wanted to make a fun show where people could come out, have a good time, see bands from different genres playing together, and have a few drinks,” says Jeff. “And with how hit or miss weekends can be here in Hongdae, we wanted everyone to know that at least once a month, there’d be a regular show they could count on. That’s it. Good bands. Good people. Good times …and cheap drinks.”

Party 51 screenings in English

A few years ago, Hongdae was the location of a brilliant moment in Korean underground music history. Musicians looking for an affordable place to practice and have concerts connected with Duriban, a small noodle shop undergoing a struggle for its existence. And you can relive it all in the new documentary by Jung Yong-taek, Party 51.

Duriban was located a couple hundred meters out Hongdae Station exit 8, past the Lotte Cinema, near where exit 4 is today. In Duriban’s former location, there is an empty lot filled with weeds. The restaurant owners were offered 5 million won in compensation, from the 25 million they originally put in. Then on Christmas Eve 2009, 30 hired goons entered the restaurant while there were customers eating to forcibly evict everyone. The very next day, Duriban owner Ahn Jong-nyeo returned, forced her way into her shuttered, destroyed business and began a 531-day sit-in protest.

That period presented a unique opportunity for Hongdae musicians, who now had a free place to go to practice, put on shows, or just hang out or even sleep. The main musicians who gathered here were bluesman Ha Heon-jin, grind band Bamseom Pirates, neo-folk musician Danpyunsun, Hahn Vad of Amature Amplifier and Yamagata Tweakster, and noise musician Park Daham. They rallied behind Duriban, forming Jarip (Independent Musicians Collective) and holding the first 51+ Festival on May 1, 2010, which is depicted in the early moments of the movie.

The film premiered on December 11 at theaters around the country, but four screenings with English subtitles are being offered at Indieplus, located near Sinsa Station. Tickets are 7,000 won. Here’s the schedule for the screenings with English subtitles:

12.29 (Mon) 20:30
01.03 (Sat) 10:30
01.07 (Wed) 20:30
01.11 (Sun) 16:10

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“Duriban was a kind of utopian moment in Korea’s capitalist society, and I doubt there will be another situation quite like that again,” said director Jung Yong-taek in an interview with Broke in Korea. “That Duriban period will never occur again, and there will never been another like it.”

Kingston Rudieska get Aggro

If you thought Kingston Rudieska‘s last release — Ska n’ Soul with Dr Ring-Ding — was too short, now they’ve gone and put out a full two-CD album. This latest project, titled Everyday People, shows off the nine-piece ska band in pure form. Simply put, they’ve never sounded more like themselves before.

The secret weapon in their arsenal this time was Brian Dixon, music engineer extraordinaire. You might have heard some of his music from his time playing guitar in the LA dirty reggae band the Aggrolites, but his main love is in producing music. Dixon was in Korea this September to record, giving Korea Gig Guide enough time to ask him a few questions about his mission here.

How were you convinced to come to Korea?

An old friend of mine, Walter Dunn, works for the US military and is stationed in Korea. He told me about Kingston Rudieska and that they were going to do a new album and that I should engineer/produce it. He told me they were great musicians, but they needed that “grit” that I’m known for.

Brian Dixon (right) with Walter Dunn, former vocalist of Stingers ATX

Brian Dixon (right) hangs out with Walter Dunn (left), former vocalist of Stingers ATX, at a Kingston Rudieska concert at Sungkyunkwan University.

I have traveled the world, but had never been to Korea. Kingston Rudieska are a tight band and I wanted to make them sound the way I hear them. It was a very easy sell. Getting to go to a foreign country to record ska/rocksteady/reggae is a blessing.

Can you explain your philosophy on music production? What makes a recording have grit?

My approach is so simple. I have the band play live together in the same room. No headphones. No separation. I put them in a circle, so they can all see each other. The band always plays better in their natural environment. This is how they rehearse. This is how they sound the best. It’s so easy.

What is one thing you can zero in on about Kingston Rudieska that you would say is truly unique and special?

I instantly Ioved their “Asian” take on Jamaican music. They do it differently than musicians from California. Musicians from Los Angeles have a certain take on Jamaican music. Asians have their way. Both are valid, in my opinion. Life isn’t fun if you eat the same dinner every night.

Is there a lot of what you would consider “Koreanness” in their music?

There’s some, but I wanted more. This was a big discussion during the recording. They wanted a more traditional Jamaican sound. I wanted a more “Korean sound,” using ancient traditional Korean melodies and instruments. They seemed a bit confused why I kept asking them to do that. Five thousand years of culture… it is amazing to me. Finally, the last day, they indulged me with a “jam session” – they pulled out two ancient Korean songs to play. It was amazing! They actually embraced their 5,000-year-old culture and played the music that is in their souls. Beautiful.

Why was it decided to do a second disc?

When I do production/engineering work, I usually ask the band to do a “jam session” for me. This is helpful for a number of reasons. I get to hear what the band is sounding like in that particular studio. I can check all of the mics. The band starts to relax and have fun, which makes recording their songs much easier because the studio can be stressful for musicians. Kingston Rudieska was against my idea at first. It’s just not the Korean way. On the last day, we finished with the recording of all their songs, so they allowed my “jam session.” That became the second disc. The second disc isn’t “perfect,” but it has a certain energy that is even higher than the album. An incredible few hours that I will never forget. The band was on fire!

How will this album compare to earlier Kingston Rudieska recordings?

I recorded them the way they were meant to sound!

The double album Everyday People was released at the start of the month, but the release party is happening on Saturday, December 13 at MUV Hall, around the corner from Sangsang Madang in Hongdae. The concert starts at 7 pm and tickets are 35,000 won in advance and 40,000 won at the door.

Kingston Rudieska Everyday People For more information, RSVP on Facebook.

The Death of Club Spot

One of Korean punk’s main institutions, Club Spot, will be closing its doors this month. Since 2006, Spot has served as one of Hongdae’s best-known punk clubs. This dingy basement was the proving ground for countless starting bands, as well as a social catalyst for the music scene. Many foreign bands have played here, inlcuding US pop-punk band the Queers, Dutch hardcore band No Turning Back, and Japanese metalcore band Aggressive Dogs, to say nothing of all the bands coming to Korea to play the annual Korea/Japan Punk Fest.

Spot Entrance

“Spot has been my home for the seven years I’ve been here,” says Jeff Moses, frontman of melodic punk band …Whatever That Means. “I think I’ve spent more weekends there than not. I saw one of my first Korean punk shows there. I met so many of my friends there. I met my wife there. We had our wedding reception/punk show there. Our band’s first show was there. Our first two album releases were there. It’s the first place I bartended in Korea and the first place I worked as a concert promoter in Korea. It’s really been a huge part of my life for a really long time.”

Jeff and his wife Trash have booked shows at Club Spot under the brand World Domination, Inc, including the recently concluded 2nd Saturdays, a late-night showcase held on the second Saturday of each month, and the annual Still Alive series of Halloween shows. This year’s Still Alive takes place on Saturday, October 25 and laments the closing of the venue with a powerful assortment of Korean punk, ska, hardcore, and kimchibilly bands stretching from the dawn of punk in Korea to some of the scene’s youngest acts.

still aliveLineup:
Crying Nut (Chosun punk)
Rux (streetpunk)
BBLT (pop punk)
Burning Hepburn (punk/ska)
Skasucks (ska)
…Whatever That Means (melodic punk)
The Geeks (youthcrew hardcore)
Streetguns/ (kimchibilly)
The Pinheads (Ramones tribute band)
Yuppie Killer (kill your parents hardcore)
Resolute (oi punk)
Rudy Guns (ska-punk)

RSVP here!

Entry is 10,000 won with a costume, or 15,000 won without. “Be aware,” warns Jeff, “wearing a Misfits Jack-O-Lantern T-shirt, a name tag with someone else’s name on it, writing ‘BOOK’ across your face, and other lame crap like that…these are not costumes. They never have been, never will be, and won’t get you a discount.”

Club Spot Halloween 2011

Burning Hepburn

Burning Hepburn

Club Spot Halloween 2012

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Club Spot Halloween 2013

Misfits tribute band performed by Mixed Blood: Mixedfits

Misfits tribute band performed by Mixed Blood: Mixedfits

 

The Business trip to Korea

Remember that time that classic UK punk band came to Korea for a show? No? Oh right, probably because this is the first time this has ever happened.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Business concluded their tour of Japan and flew to Korea for their August 15 show.

“I’ve been to Japan before, but not South Korea, the Business vocalist and last remaining original member Mickey Fitz told Dave Hazzan in an interview for Broke in Korea. It’s one of those places that you – I wouldn’t say never considered going to – but it’s one of those places that doesn’t pop into your head because you don’t know anybody there.”

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A Business meeting at skinhead-themed chicken restaurant This is Chicken. From left: Bundy, Fish, Redboi (promoter), Micky, and Trots.

Formed in South London in 1979, the Business were influential in the Oi! music scene of the late ’70s, a movement that rejected academic and artistic pretensions in favour of working-class street anthems. They had an impact on many younger bands, even all the way over here in Korea. One member even mentions that they were contacted by Korean pogo-punk band Couch several years ago when the band was seeking permission to cover their song “Drinking and Driving,” and they received a stack of Couch albums.

The Business was originally active from 1979 to 1988, and after a few years they reformed with a new lineup. The current drummer, Bundie, and bassist, Trots, have been with the band for a decade, and guitarist Fish has known Fitz for 20 years, and since joining, they estimate Fish has played about 400 shows with the band. Business is booming for the Business, and the current lineup has toured all over the world. On this tour, they’ll be selling copies of their latest EP, Back in the Day.

Redboi and his Business associates check out the venue, with Prism manager Son Jae-woo.

Redboi and his Business associates check out the venue, with Prism manager Son Jae-woo.

This show was made possible by an encounter with Redboi, an American who recently moved to Daegu with his wife who serves in the US military and their son. Redboi had run into the band in Nashville, Tennessee, and he invited them to play a show in Korea. In order to make it profitable, he helped them set up a tour of Japan as well, leaving the single Seoul date the final show of the tour.

The Business will be playing at Prism Hall on Friday, August 15, backed by local Oi! band Resolute, hardcore band Things We Say, and streetpunk band Rux. RSVP on Facebook for the Business show here. On Saturday, they’ll be taking a break from performing to go to Thunderhorse Tavern, where an afterparty concert is being organised in their honour, giving more Korean punks the chance to meet the band and show off their music. The acts for this show are skinhead reggae group Pegurians, pogo-punk group Return Bois, hardcore band Mixed Blood, punk band Cockrasher, and new black metal group Peaz Deaz. RSVP for the afterparty here.

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Support the New Generation of Ska

So, there’s a free show at Thunderhorse Tavern this weekend. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to be cheap. The show is being held to support Team New Generation of Ska, a consortium of Korean skaholics (no, I did not make that word up) who have an ambitious plan. And I’m not talking about the Cass and Red Rock for 3000 won and 2000 won rum and cokes that will be offered from 10:30 to 11:30.

team_new_generation_of_ska_fundraiser_posterThis show is in support for a big ska festival planned for August 30, featuring Korea’s ska, ska-punk, and reggae bands, as well as two bands from Japan and one from America. They’ll be playing on Munwha Geori, the pedestrian-only street running between Sinchon Station and Yonsei University. And all this for free.

Eight years ago, Ryu Jinsuk of Skasucks launched the New Generation of Ska concert series, always with the idea to grow it into something bigger and more global. This year, as well as bringing together most of the Korean ska and ska-punk scene, they’re inviting Japanese two-tone-influenced bands Rollings and the Autocratics, as well as California’s Bruce Lee Band fronted by Mike Park, the Korean-American guy behind Asian Man Records. This milestone DIY festival is completely crowdfunded, with no signs yet of corporate sponsorship.

This Saturday, you can sample two of the bands that are part of Team New Generation of Ska.

Rudy Guns play ska-punk in a similar style to Skasucks: fun and full of energy.

The Pegurians are a new skinhead reggae band featuring Janghyup of the Korean oi band Resolute on vocals, and Korea’s #1 rudeboy Jude Nah on keyboard. Although they are a near-perfect recreation of an early reggae band from the ’60s, they bring a unique new sound to Korea.

As well, Rudy Guns and Pegurians are joined by Dead Buttons, recently back from a tour of the UK which we reported on earlier this year, and it’s clear they have no intention of slowing down. They will also be joined by The Woozy, another rock n roll/rockabilly/blues act that’s a little earlier in their career but still doing great.

So, please come out this Saturday and show your support. For more information or to donate, please visit the Team New Generation of Ska Tumblbug page, or visit their Facebook page to find out how to make a bank transfer. Also, you can read an interview with Ryu Jinsuk about the festival over at DoIndie.

The show starts this Saturday at 9pm. RSVP on Facebook.

…Whatever That Means CD Release on May 10

Earlier this year, Jeff and Trash Moses celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. They also celebrated five years as a band, playing guitar and bass for …Whatever That Means, a project that debuted on their wedding night as a one-off thing for Jeff.

Now, they’re releasing their second full-length album, Sixty-Eight, Twenty-Two, a reference to the distance from Hongdae Playground to the apartment they lived in in Pennsylvania while Jeff was in grad school. The title song, with guest vocals by Jonghee from Rux, is about Jeff’s journey to Korea and turning it into his adopted home. “Where you grow up and where you’re from, they don’t always stay the same,” Jeff explains in the lyrics. Recently, they recorded a music video for the song in their Yeomni-dong rooftop home, further declaring that this is where they belong.

Impressively, they only got one call from the police.

Impressively, they only got one call from the police.

The album also includes a cover of the Suck Stuff classic “This Wasteland,” with guest vocals from Paul, the original songwriter/singer, as well as a proper recording of “Punk Rock Tourist,” Jeff’s condemnation of random people coming to punk shows and criticising the scene out of their own ignorance/experience.

10336648_248731691999847_8966933574919543865_nThe CD officially debuted at a show in Gwangju last weekend, and it comes out this Saturday at Club Spot. For the Seoul debut, they team up with Wasted Johnny’s, the only band in Korea with more confusing punctuation than …Whatever That Means, as well as Gwangju skatepunk band Bettyass, Seoul ska-punk legends SKASUCKS, Oi! Resolute, and skatepunk band 1Ton.

The show starts at 8pm, and 15,000 won gets you entry, a free CD, and the infamous free cocktail hour from 11 to 12.

RSVP on Facebook.

Heimlich County Gun Club CD Release on March 22

If you haven’t heard the name Paul Bricky before, then that’s on you.

A Korean-American army brat, Paul has been part of the Korean music scene since the ’90s. He once ran away from his home on Yongsan Garrison and lived in Skunk Hell in their original location closer to Sinchon. He played guitar in Rux for a while, and played drums in Beef Jarkey, the original band of Kingston Rudieska vocalist Suk-yul. After leaving for a couple years, he returned to Korea in 2005 and joined Suck Stuff, leading them through a period of great songwriting and taking them in new directions never before explored by Korean punk. Then, right as Suck Stuff was building momentum, right after getting signed to Dope Entertainment, he married his girlfriend Yumi, enlisted in the US Army and left Korea in 2007.

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Heimlich County Gun Club at the Play Out Festival in Hongdae Playground last year.

“I don’t think anyone joins for any single reason,” Paul told me in a recent interview. “For me the overiding impetitus was simply that I was a reasonably healthy and fit young man and my country was at war. I wanted to be a medic; I wouldn’t have done anything else.”

Five years passed, he survived basic training and served as an army medic in Iraq. Then in 2012 he was transferred back to Korea (assignment of choice!) where he found the scene had changed drastically.

Paul and Yumi in 2012 after returning to Korea.

Paul and Yumi in 2012 after returning to Korea.

“The Korean scene as a whole has largely left me behind,” he says. “The old friends that I counted as brothers don’t return the respect they demanded and received when I was younger. The younger people in the scene are unaware or uninterested in the contributions that I have made. Watching your influence fade is a very tough pill to swallow.”

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Paul did a reunion show with Suck Stuff which also saw his former bandmate Jonghee from Rux on stage.

After a reunion show with Suck Stuff and a few acoustic gigs, he started Heimlich County Gun Club, and his wife joined Chanter’s Alley. “For a while I had made up my mind not to start a band,” he says. ” As a foreigner band it’s difficult not to be a gimmick or a clown within the Korean scene or you focus on playing to the foreigner crowd which is often more interested in socializing and getting drunk rather than listening to live music. But I caved.”

Heimlich County Gun Club in Mullae.

Heimlich County Gun Club in Mullae.

Perhaps soaking up some country influence from his time in the army and life in Mississippi, HCGC has a definitive country sound to it. What’s more, it showcases Paul’s outstanding talent for songwriting, rendering real-life experiences in straightforward lyrics.

“I write tons and tons of songs,” Paul says. “I am in the low hundreds when it comes to songs that I have written. Some of these were just a few phrases that I liked, sounded semi-poetic or made an interesting statement effectively. I didn’t do as much writing as usual in the States. I was usually busy fishing, hunting, or working in my garden or yard. Some definitely were written in Iraq or at least I got the ideas in Iraq but for this album lyrical-wise I would say that about 60% of it was written shortly after I got here.”

The songs on HCGC’s new album, Stars and Streetlights, range from nostalgia about the old days in Hongdae, to his time spent in the US, to his experiences at war in Iraq. No matter what he’s singing, you can tell it’s about something that he has personally lived through.

“You know something, I find it nearly impossible to write about something that I haven’t personally experienced,” Paul explains. “I take songwriting very seriously and it is difficult for me to really insert myself into something so light and produce a well-written piece. I have been trying to write a song, just like a joke sort of, about Strelka and Belka, the first Soviet space dogs to return to Earth. I just thought that it would be fun to try and I can’t seem to make it work. At the same time I haven’t been able to write a song for my dog Sukie who died earlier this year. The song ‘Peace and Plenty’ draws some influence from the relationship that I had with my father who also died earlier this year.”

Paul's dad managed to see Paul on stage in 2007.

Paul’s dad managed to see Paul on stage in 2007.

Paul was originally supposed to only stay in Korea for a year, but that ended up becoming two. Next month, his time in Korea comes to an end and he’s moving to Oregon.

“If I had any say in the matter I would not have come back to Korea,” says Paul. “One thing that I envy about most people that I know is that they have a hometown. I want to put down roots someplace and Korea is not that place.”hcgc_poster

You can pick up a copy of the new CD at his Saturday show in Club Spot, where HCGC will share the stage with eight other bands from the Korean scene. The 15 000 won cover price includes a free CD and a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of Paul’s own homemade cigar-box guitars.

“It’s well time for me to bow out and yield the stage to the newer groups and for me to carry on to different grounds,” says Paul.

RSVP for the show on Facebook or preview the album on Bandcamp.