Korean glam rockers Victim Mentality are one of 15 Seoul-based acts traveling to the States this month to perform at the massive South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas. Before leaving for SXSW, the quartet are playing a special show on Friday night (March 6) at Club Ta in Hongdae to preview cuts from their soon-to-be released full-length debut, “Heavy Metal Is Back.”
Formed in 2009 as a duo, Victim Mentality’s first recording, 2013’s five-track “Magic Finger,” was crafted by guitarist Kyungho Sohn and vocalist Krocodile. Bassist Scorpion was brought on after the recording was finished. When Victim Mentality started gigging behind “Magic Finger” they did not have a drummer yet. So a drum machine was used at concerts until Tarantula was finally hired to handle drum duties.
Now more than year after the addition of Tarantula, Victim Mentality have finished their first album as a quartet, “Heavy Metal Is Back.”
“From the beginning, we wanted to be a foursome,” says Sohn. “Working with four people is much easier and better for us. I know there are some people that play as one-man bands, but I think it’s important for each member to be able to focus 100% on their instrument. And a one-man band style doesn’t necessarily fit with the image of a ‘80s heavy metal band!
“When making ‘Magic Finger,’ I recorded the guitar and bass parts, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the results. On ‘Magic Finger’ we needed a bassist to make the arrangements. On our new album, we have that! The same thing goes for the drum parts.”
Following a similar sonic path as “Magic Finger,” “Heavy Metal Is Back” sees Victim Mentality continuing to pay tribute to the past by banging out anthemic cuts heavily inspired by ‘80s glam and hair metal. Although the group are very serious about what they do, they don’t take themselves too seriously which is evident by their flamboyant costumes, and playful lyrics and stage antics.
According to Sohn, they like to have fun when working in the studio too.
“We laugh a lot when we record,” he says. “Watching Krocodile record his vocal parts was quite the spectacle. We also like to misbehave a bit when recording as well! We told a lot of dirty jokes while we were recording the song ‘Is It My Child?’”
Although “Heavy Metal Is Back” won’t be officially released until the end of the month, the group will be taking copies of the disc with them to SXSW. If the band’s suitcases are checked at all by customs workers, the albums will be easy to talk about. The bullwhip that Krocodile uses during live shows, however, may be a bit more challenging to explain.
“We’re planning to bring the bullwhip with us to the US but haven’t given any thought to what we’ll say if any airport staff ask about it. But if they don’t let us bring the bullwhip in the US it doesn’t really matter. I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to find another one in Texas!”
Victim Mentality perform on Friday at Club Ta. The show starts at 8 pm and tickets are 22,000 won. Mimi Sisters will open the show. And here are the band’s concerts during SXSW:
March 18 Austin, Texas (4:30 pm) @ Club Metropolis (Heavy Metal Pool Party)
March 18 Austin, Texas (9 pm) @ Karma Lounge
March 20 Austin, Texas (12 am) @ The Majestic (Korea Night II: Seoulsonic)