All posts by Jon

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.

business

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.

hcgc_playground

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.”

suckstuff_jonghee

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.

Dr Ring Ding did an impromptu performance at the one-year anniversary celebration of Jamaican jerked chicken restaurant Zion Boat in Hongdae.

Korea + Germany = Jamaica?

From left: Seok-yul (Kingston Rudieska vocalist), Jeongseok (Kingston Rudieska trumpeter), Dr Ring Ding, Tehiun (Tehiun & Purijah guitarist/vocalist

From left: Seok-yul (Kingston Rudieska vocalist), Jeongseok (Kingston Rudieska trumpeter), Dr Ring Ding (Germany), Tehiun (Tehiun & Purijah guitarist/vocalist

It’s still too rare that Korea’s indie bands connect with the outside world. Which is why it was so great last summer when German dancehall/ska/reggae juggernaut  Dr Ring Ding for the Jisan Rock Festival, where his band Dr Ring Ding Skavaganza shared the stage with Korea’s own Kingston Rudieska and Japanese ska band Doberman.

“Dr Ring Ding, along with the Skatalites, has been my favourite for more than ten years and still one of the musicians who influenced me,” says Oh Jeongseok, Kingston Rudieska’s trumpeter. “Ever since I first loved ska I’ve loved his music, so I never expected to meet him for a performance and make an album together.”

“I had heard of Kingston Rudieska before,” says Dr Ring Ding. “Joep van Rhijn [former Kingston Kitchen bandmate, from Rotterdam Ska-Jazz Foundation, now located in Daegu] gave me their CD and I was amazed. It’s wonderful how they play. I really love it.”

Dr Ring Ding did an impromptu performance at the one-year anniversary celebration of Jamaican jerked chicken restaurant Zion Boat in Hongdae.

Dr Ring Ding did an impromptu performance at the one-year anniversary celebration of Jamaican jerked chicken restaurant Zion Boat in Hongdae.

Before returning to Germany, Dr Ring Ding spent a day in the recording studio with Kingston Rudieska. “I think Jeongseok said while I’m here we might as well record something,” says Dr Ring Ding, who is not  a real doctor. “While the others [in Skavaganza] were sightseeing, we went to the rehearsal studio and rehearsed.”

“Because of our busy schedules, the album was recorded in one day,” says Jeongseok. “Before recording Dr Ring Ding and we had a few hours of rehearsal and decided what we should play.”

What started as a one-song recording quickly turned into a four-song EP, and with an additional dub put together by the good doctor, they produced Ska ‘n Seoul, the first ever Korean/German ska collaboration.

With four songs and an additional dub track, this EP represents Kingston Rudieska at the top of their game, and you can tell they’re having the time of their lives with Dr Ring Ding as he shows off his vocal prowess. The album includes a cover of “Johnny Come Home” by the Fine Young Cannibals as well as a climactic rendition of the classic spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” with Dr Ring Ding playing the role of the preacher and Kingston Rudieska as his flock. There are also two originals, with Dr Ring Ding taking center stage on “Your Sweet Kiss” and sharing the mic with Kingston lead vocalist Seok-yul on the sugary bilingual tune “Bad Company,” a reworking of an old Dr Ring Ding recording.

drrdkrsThat album comes out this week. Dr Ring Ding is back in Korea to promote the album, and if you missed his impromptu performance in Zion Boat last Saturday (pictured at the top of this article), don’t miss him this Saturday at a joint concert in Sangsang Madang. “Dr Ring Ding will play many classic songs and play together with Kingston Rudieska,” says Jeongseok. “It will be a great one-of-a-kind performance.”

For his second time in Korea, Dr Ring Ding has left his regular band at home, instead opting to fly solo and have Kingston Rudieska as his backing band.

“In the reggae/dancehall world that’s a common thing to do,” says Dr Ring Ding, who has previously done a similar thing with bands all over the world. “If you see the old Reggae Sunsplash concerts there are backing bands for eight or twelve solo artists. So that’s easy of course. One person has to travel and meets with a band that knows exactly what they’re doing and what the solo artist is going to do.”

This visit also takes Dr Ring Ding and Kingston Rudieska on a press junket through Korean radio and TV, as well as this humble website. Their album will be released on Kingston Rudieska’s label Rudie System, and will also get international distribution.

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This Korean/German ska collaboration is a historic first for Korea as the country begins to find its musical voice on the global stage, and is sure to win over anyone who hears it.

Bands: Dr Ring Ding, Kingston Rudieska, Rude Paper
Venue: Sangsang Madang
Date: Saturday, 15 March
Start time: 6pm
Advance tickets: 35,000 won
At the door: 40,000won

RSVP on Facebook or buy tickets through Interpark.

2013 Korea/Japan Punk Festival at Prism Nov 16

Historically Korea and Japan have gotten along about as well as vinegar and baking soda. That can’t be said for the punk scenes of the two countries, which have been best of friends as far back as anyone can remember.
Poster for the 2013 Korea Japan Punk Festival
The longest-running bilateral punk collaboration would have to be the Korea/Japan Punk Festival, first held nine years ago on June 26, 2003 in legendary Hongdae punk club Skunk Hell, with nine of Korea’s best punk bands and seven bands from Japan. The following year, it was held in Anti-Knock in Tokyo.

Since then, it has been held almost every year, with the Korean shows moving to Club Spot after Skunk Hell’s closure. This year the festival is moving to the much larger and better-lit Prism Hall over by Hotel the Designers for its fifth time being held in Korea (ninth overall).

koreajapanoifest2004This year’s show brings a diverse selection of 17 great Korean bands, both young and old, together with five Japanese bands. One highlight should be the Discocks, a legendary Japanese band formed in 1992 that directly inspired the infamous Korean band Couch and Seoul’s pogo-punk scene of the mid-2000s. We’ll also get to see the Erections and 00squad, both who played the Japan/Korea Punk Festival last year. We’ll also get to see Osaka pogo band Beer Belly (who are promoted for this show as Bearbelly) and the Foolishness.

koreajapanpunkfest2011Some of the Korean highlights will be Korea/Japan Festival veterans Rux, Skasucks, and Daejeon’s Burning Hepburn, as well as  talented newcomers the Veggers and Dead Buttons, and new bands with veteran Korean punks 100 Blossom Club (with members of Spiky Brats, Cockrasher, Dirty Small Town, and the Patients) and Heimlich County Gun Club (featuring Paul Brickly, former guitarist of Rux and Suck Stuff).

Previously, the festival was known under the name Korea/Japan Oi! Fest, then Korea/Japan Oi/Punk Fest. The festival was first organised in Korea by Won Jonghee (lead vocalist of Rux and manager of Skunk Hell and Skunk Label) and Shin Hyeon-beom (Couch vocalist/guitarist). This year’s festival is being managed by Ryu Jin-seok (lead vocalist of Skasucks).
koreajapanpunkfest2012The Korea/Japan Punk Fests always make for great shows, as all the bands and their supporters always put on a big show for their Japanese guests, and the Japanese bands in turn always put on great performances. International friendships are made and the wheels are set in motion for future Korea/Japan punk collaborations, and you’ll never hear as much English spoken at a Korean punk show, as everyone falls to the common language for communication.

This show starts early at 2 pm because there are more than 20 bands to get to, but expect things to move fast as the bands whip through shortened versions of their sets to make time for everyone else.

Click here to  RSVP or find out how to book tickets in advance.

Seoul gets Headbutted

This weekend, Daegu punk band Mr. Headbutt (박치기 씨) finishes up their “world tour” across Korea, having bounced back and forth between interior cities Daejeon and Daegu before wrapping the tour in Seoul.

They’re pimping their new CD “Netizens Must Die!” and also delivering a long-overdue message advocating the death of everybody on the Internet. Described as “basic, unpretentious, non-cerebral but immensely enjoyable punk music” in Broke in Korea issue 15, the album will be on sale at Horus Garage in Daegu on Friday and Powwow in Seoul on Saturday. Joining them will be Giant Bear, the Veggers, and Skasucks for a fun night of Winter Solstice punk rock.

Although the members of the band hail from all over the English-speaking world, they apparently are from the future. As they say… “In 2751 Frognark 5 (formerly known as Earth) is a barren wasteland of multi-colored sugar skulls and delicious breakfast cereals. Where did it all go so wrong? The survivors knew that the answer was 2011, when Mr. Headbutt met and began making music. We come from the future to save all of humanity from destruction at the hands of history’s most horrible enemy….US!!!!”

Wait a second, did I read that right? Or did they just caps lock “us”?

Click to RSVP. For an online preview of “Netizens Must Die!” turn off your irony detector and click here.

Punk Rock Toy Drive

As Hongdae braces for the annual flood of Multiple Santas (my favourite Tick villain), the punk community escapes down to Mullae-dong for a yuletide charity show at Moon.

In classic punk style they kept the door price a low 5000 won for five bands–and you can get free admission if you bring a gift for the orphanage–toys, stationery/art supplies, and books will all be accepted. All donations and profits go to the Sangrok Orphanage.

This will be the debut show of Heimlich County Gun Club, the new band of Paul Bricky, who is also organising the show. You might remember him as the half-Korean guitarist of Suck Stuff, back when they were really good. Now you can get a chance to hear what kind of music he’s come up with in the five years since then.

Rounding out the bill are hardcore bands Mixed Blood and Assassination Squad, and garage punk bands Dead Buttons and the Veggers.

This will show will also mark the release of Broke in Korea 15, Korea’s longest-running underground zine. Pick it up for interviews with Veggers, Mixed Blood, the Essence, Animal Anthem, Yuppie Killers, No Excuse, and Noeazy, as well as information about avoiding cults in Korea, advice for putting on your own concert, a special offer for a free tattoo, and more.

Thee Oops come to Korea

How many chances do you get to see a hardcore punk band from Italy? Unless you’re actually from there, you might be in luck this weekend.

Sardinian band The Oops is currently in Asia for a China-Korea-Japan tour, and already they’ve hit Daejeon and Jeonju earlier this week. They’re touring to promote their newest release, a double-7″ EP (for some reason). But don’t worry, because it’s also available on CD.

This weekend, they’ll play two nights in Seoul and one in Busan. For fans of ’80s style hardcore punk, check out this Italian band at any of their next three gigs:

-Friday at Powwow
-Saturday at Club Spot
-Sunday at Vinyl Underground (Busan)

Joined by a who’s who of Korea’s underground music scene, you can expect a weekend of great shows all across the peninsula.

For an amusing interview with Thee Oops, head over to Chincha, where they talk about hairy women and creating a master race of Asian-Sardinians.