Category Archives: News

57 reasons to rock (all across Europe)

18361575_10159128299580112_131490710_n

Korean rock duo 57 are heading off for an extensive tour of the UK and Europe this May and June. Originally hailing from Jeonju, they have gone from strength to strength since relocating to Seoul. In 2015, they won the KT&G Band Discovery contest and reached the finals of the EBS Hello Rookie contest, and then in 2016 they were invited to the UK to perform at the Liverpool Sound City Festival (using the opportunity to perform around the UK for three weeks).

Now 57 is about to embark on an even bigger tour of Europe, spending seven weeks traveling the UK, France, Germany and Poland. The Korea Gig Guide was lucky enough to talk with the group before they flew out.

KGG: How are you guys feeling with regards to the upcoming tour of the UK?
We are crazy excited about the tour. It’s really long and we have so many shows. I hope that people are ready for us to come.

How are you approaching things differently this time compared to last year?
Last year’s tour was centered around an appearance at Liverpool Sound City. We emailed so many promoters and venues. Sadly, we hardly got any replies, just 5 or 6, I think. I think that one problem was that we started a little late last year. We did not realize how intense the competition was going to be. It is festival season over in Europe and so there are so many bands on tour. This year we have been working with Patrick from DoIndie to prepare the tour. We started much, much earlier this time around. I think we prepared the press pack and started reaching out to people in early November 2016. That early start really paid off and he has managed to get us 23 shows in the UK, France, Germany and Poland. Patrick’s family have even been helping out as well. His dad helped us buy a car to use for the tour and they are providing a place to stay as well as lending us their tents, sleeping bags, etc. We really appreciate all the help they are giving.

Having previously played in the UK, how does it feel to venture to other countries?
It always feels great to visit a new place. Every city seems to have it’s own unique atmosphere to enjoy. Also, each time we play a show in a new place, we don’t know if we’ll ever have the chance to go back there so we play it as it if it will be our last time to visit that place. We give it 120 percent and leave everything on the stage.

What was the biggest surprise about the shows last time?
It was a great surprise to me just to be able to be over in the UK performing. Of course, it was always a dream to do something like that, but it still felt like a dream even when it became reality. The whole thing was a bit of a challenge, as it was our first time playing outside of Korea. We learned a lot.

With 23 shows planned, how do you recharge the batteries in between shows, and what will you plan to do when not rocking out?
I have no idea! We will have to be like robots and just keep going. Actually, I am a little worried about that, but we will get through it. The adrenaline of the shows will keep us going I think. Also, Snow’s brother is coming with us to help with the driving and stuff. That means we should be able to recharge a little on the road. We have some days off from time to time as well so we will get a little sightseeing in and and relaxation time as well. I think as long as we eat well and sleep well we will be fine. We will take some energy from the audiences as well and use that to help get us though.

Could you tell us a bit about your debut album and what you’re working on now?
Our debut album consisted of seven songs that were made in the early days. The album’s title is “57” and contains a spectrum of sounds ranging from acoustic to powerful. We self-recorded that first album.

The new album which we plan to release in the summer this year is still to be recorded. We have put down some demo tracks, which are sounding great. But as soon as we come back from Europe we will be hitting the studio. This time round we won’t be self-recording it. It will all be done in a studio with the help of engineers, etc. I think it will be a much fuller sound. It’s going to be great anyway.

What’s the biggest challenge for yourself and other Korean independent bands when it comes to traveling and performing overseas?
I don’t know. It is a hard question to answer. From a booking perspective, I do not think it is any harder for Korean bands than it would be for unknown bands from any other country. Booking shows as an unknown band from anywhere is a real slog. It’s not just like you make the press pack, put it out there and people book you. You need to send thousands of emails and always chase everyone. It is really hard work.

On tour … I guess every band is different. Also, we have never put together a tour like this before, so I am not even sure what challenges we will face. I think the biggest challenge is to face up to your fears, overcome them and get on with achieving what you want to achieve. Even if you do not get the results you wanted from the tour, I think that the band grows and develops naturally from the experience of the tour itself. As the band grows, their music grows as well. I think that by meeting the challenges that arise and overcoming all the hurdles then it will have a positive effect on the band and the music we create.

Any final message for those who might come out and see you perform in the UK?
Please check us out on one (or more) of our shows on the Making Fire 2017 Europe Tour. We will be there, giving it everything we have at each show! We love meeting new people so come and say hi and share a drink with us. See you there!

* * *

For more information, you can check out the links below and for those keep to see them in Europe, the dates are included too.

Facebook
Soundcloud
Bandcamp
Twitter

New Singles:
1) Making Fire:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/making-fire-single/id1230169333
https://play.spotify.com/album/2Zrm06kGJ6PFFnhOsW2d3F

2) Pray For The Dead
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pray-for-the-dead-single/id1230517488
https://play.spotify.com/album/5jSWf9PwZ3SR5DFnIVgZqh

Videos:
https://youtu.be/RoAyJuES_E0
https://youtu.be/vlsfpoD1F_Y
https://youtu.be/rp-CGJpiSTU

2017 Making Fire Tour Dates
May 11: Undegun (Focus Wales), Wrexham (UK)
May 12: ROC2 Studios (Focus Wales), Wrexham (UK)
May 13: The Pot, Rhyl (UK)
May 15: Prince Albert, Brighton (UK)
May 17: Dublin Castle, London (UK)
May 18: 81 Renshaw, Liverpool (UK)
May 19: Stramash, Edinburgh (UK)
May 21: Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough (UK)
May 26: Asylum, Chelmsford (UK)
May 29: West Street Club, Sheffield (UK)
June 2: Bei Ruth, Berlin (Germany)
June 7: Chlodna 25, Warsaw (Poland)
June 9: Seazone Music Conference, Sopot (Poland)
June 10: CKN Centrala, Gorzów (Poland)
June 11: Watch Docs Festival, Słupsk (Poland)
June 16: L’Alimentation Générale, Paris (France)
June 17: Lapin Blanc, Réding (France)
June 19: Fuel Cafe, Manchester (UK)
June 21: White Bear, Barnsley (UK)
June 22: The Exchange, Stoke (UK)
June 23: The Saddle, Chester Live Festival, Chester (UK)
June 24: The North, Rhyl (UK)
June 25: Club 147, Llandudno (UK)

18379436_10159128299710112_1840858725_o

Music history keeps moving on

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Cross-posted to my personal website).

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

party51_subtitles

“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.”

The Killers Contest Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered our contest for tickets to see The Killers perform at Olympic Hall on October 5. We dropped all the names into a hat, and pulled two of them out. Both Md Zaidani Hj Zaini and Jeremy Malaihollo have won a pair of tickets to the show courtesy of 9 Ent.

For those interested in getting tickets for Saturday night’s gig, the show starts at 7 pm and tickets cost from 77,000 won – 121,000 won. Advanced tickets can be purchased in English here and in Korea here.