The Epic Rock Adventure that is Pentaport: Day One

The Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival has been bringing some of the biggest international names in rock to Korean shores since 2006. And this in turn, of course, guarantees a brilliant lineup of local acts to help round out the bill each year.

Taking place at Incheon’s Songdo Pentaport Park, the festival grounds are about a 10-minute walk from the train station and this either meant a dash under the stinging heat of the sun or wait around in it to catch the free shuttle service on offer. Inside, aside from vendors selling hover boards and sugar drinks, a ring of stalls laid out a decent selection of food and cocktails. One thing they do need to work on is making sure there are a few options for vegetarians.

Like most outdoor music festivals in Korea, Pentaport is incredibly family friendly. It’s a safe and fun environment where you can pitch a tent with a decent view of the mainstage and lounge about having a few drinks between friends. And as one friend put it, the benefit of the Cass monopoly on beer is that you are unlikely to get too carried away drinking.

day1_galaxy express3_pentastage_
Photo courtesy of the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival

I arrived at the tail end of Galaxy Express’ set on the main Pentaport Stage, which is like arriving at your favorite restaurant when they are closing up. It sucks and it makes you damn hungry. In this case for some rock ‘n’ roll. Fortunately, seasoned local metalheads Crash were on hand to belt out their eclectic mix of heaviness in the Dream Stage tent against a backdrop of flaming skulls.

The highlight of the day was without a doubt Run River North who performed on the Pentaport Stage while the sun was still up. This six-piece folk-rock band has a sound that is reminiscent of Mumford and Sons with at times the melodic nature of The Head and the Heart. With a violin and keys and a spring in each step, these Korean American guys and gals know how to put on a show. “Run and Hide” and “29” from this year’s “Drinking from a Salt Pond” album were both standouts, but I wasn’t disappointed by any of the nine tracks they performed. The inescapable conclusion is that they were made for that blue sky summer’s day.

Between songs they joked in broken Korean about the few Korean expressions they knew.  One thing they had somehow picked up during their short stay in Korea was the obligatory selfie with fans at the end of their show. Let’s just say they knew how to ingratiate themselves.

day1_suede5_penta stage
Photo courtesy of the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival

Main stage headliners Suede came out noticeably looking their age and a little stiff in their stride. I was quite prepared for something of a lackluster performance until vocalist Brett Anderson managed to almost tear off his sleeve and expose his well-maintained chest within just the first couple of songs. Opening with “When You Are Young” from their most recent album, “Night Thoughts,” and moving through a number of their anthems including my personal favorite “Animal Nitrate” from their 1993 self-titled debut and even an acoustic rendition of “She’s in Fashion,” they played a total of 19 tracks while the crowd sang along in unison.

All in all, a brilliant first day.

Zandari Festa 2016 – Five Questions with Peonies

The fifth annual Zandari Festa is taking place in Hongdae from September 30 –
October 3. To spotlight some of the event’s performers, Korea Gig Guide and our friends at Do Indie are teaming up to ask a bunch of acts five simple questions.

Peonies 2

For this installment, we’re talking with Jodi Setiawan from Peonies. Peonies are an indie pop trio from Jakarta, Indonesia. Inspired by surf pop, post-punk, and twee-pop, they combine a jangly guitar sound with catchy synth and layered vocals to create wonderfully sunny sounds. Now let’s get to Setiawan’s answers below!

1) Why are you excited to be performing at Zandari Festa 2016?

This will be the very first festival we play abroad actually, so that’s why we’re so thrilled about Zandari Festa. We want to feel the fest’s atmosphere and also see the crowd! We’re very sure the crowd will be awesome.

2) What can people expect from a Peonies live show?

Joy. I hope the three of us can take people on a joyful ride.

3) For fest-goers not familiar with Peonies yet, what should they know about you?

We’re an Indonesian trio who will bring a tropical breeze to your four seasons country.

4) Aside from performing, what else would you like to do during Zandari Festa 2016?

Enjoy the music of course! We want to see, watch, and meet talented musicians from all over the world. And learn about anything we don’t have at home.

5) If you can go drinking with another Zandari Festa act, who do you want it to be?

There are so many artists we’re just discovering now because of Zandari Festa. I think we would like to drink with Diealright. Oh and with Swiimers too because we think they could teach us how to swim.

Back From Their US Tour, …Whatever That Means Are Releasing Their New 7″ Tonight in Seoul

It’s been a busy summer for Seoul punks …Whatever That Means. July started with World Domination Inc. – the label managed by …Whatever That Means’ Jeff Moses (guitar/vocals) and Trash Yang Moses (bass/vocals) – releasing a punk comp titled “Them and Us 2: Korea’s Punks at Thunderhorse Studios.” A week later, the imprint issued Full Garage’s “Vinyl Suit” 7”. And the month ended with …Whatever That Means putting out a split 7” with American punk act Burn Burn Burn called “Blowing Minds & Melting Faces” and touring in the States in support of the album.

...Whatever That Means 2016

Now that they’re back in Korea, …Whatever That Means are hosting a joint 7” release gig tonight (Saturday, August 13) at Club Sharp in Seoul as part of World Domination Inc.’s Second Saturdays concert series for them and Full Garage. We caught up with Jeff and Trash a few days back to talk about everything that has been going on with …Whatever That Means of late.

You played nine shows in ten days all over the American West Coast, how was the traveling?

Jeff: Everyone else got to sleep a lot, and I did all the driving! There were several days where it was just like, wake up, drive for eight hours, get to the venue, and we were on stage 30 minutes later. So it was stressful at times. But I mean, that’s touring. I wanted it, and I knew it was going to be like that.

It had been almost five years since your last US tour. What were your expectations going back?

Jeff: It’s always exciting going back somewhere for the second time. When you pull into a town, and it’s like, “I remember when we ate there, and it was really good, we know the promoter…” So this time was cool because for most of the shows, either they were promoters we worked with last time and really liked, or they were people that Burn Burn Burn hooked us up with and vouched for. So it was a lot less stressful in that way going into it. It was just exciting to go back, and for every show there were some people who’d seen and remembered us from the time before. And just kind of growing that, I don’t know, saying “fan base” sounds douchey, but yeah, building those relationships.

What was the best club or city of the tour?

Trash: The Kraken in Seattle.

Jeff: Kraken was one of the best shows. The Redwood in LA was fun too. It was our last show, and it was a Monday night. So we had no idea what to expect. But there was a really good crowd there. It was the most fun I had on tour. I think just because it was finally all over, and I didn’t have to wake up the next day and drive. Our gig in Corvallis was great as well. It’s where Oregon State University is. We performed in this small coffee shop, and there were like 40 people in there. And the whole front wall is glass, so there were people lined up on the sidewalk watching too. The two promoters for that show were the same people we went through on our last US tour. We stayed at their house, they cooked us food – it was awesome.

Trash: We’re going to definitely go back to all three of those places if we decide to play in the States again.

Jeff: For Corvallis,we played on a Tuesday both times we were there. And the shows were both fantastic even though it’s a Tuesday, which is crazy. We went to bigger places like Portland on the weekend and it was like, “Eh, it’s ok.” I think next time we’re going to hit up some of the bigger cities during the week and hit the smaller towns on the weekend just to see if we can blow it up even more that way.

World Domination, Inc. has been very busy lately. What has been the most challenging aspect so far?

Jeff: Working with Trash! I love my wife, but she is one of the most undisciplined people I know. She’s not lazy, she just doesn’t get anything done.

Trash: Working with Jeff is challenging too! He is really pushy.

Jeff: It’s the only way to get things done! We’ll have a goal, and I do as much as I can because I have lot more time than she does, but then we get to a point where nothing can move forward until she does something. And I will remind her over, and over, and over, and then she gets mad at me and says “Stop pushing me, I’ll get to it.” We argue and then it’s two weeks later and it’s still not done. There are projects that we’ve been talking about for years that have never happened because we get to that point and then it just fizzles. But she worked really hard on all the graphic design work that needed to be done before the tour. She did the artwork for our 7” and the new 7” that we put out for Full Garage. And she did all our merch and Full Garage’s merch too. And everything for the “Them & Us 2” compilation we put out in early July. She only had like three weeks to get it all done while she was working fulltime, tutoring at night, and doing a tattoo apprenticeship.

What are your plans for World Domination, Inc. in the second half of 2016?

Jeff: We got the Seoul 7” release show this weekend. And for October’s Second Saturdays we’re organizing an acoustic show on our rooftop. So far it’s …Whatever That Means, Skasucks and Angie from Wasted Johnny’s. We’re going to try and get one or two more bands. At our apartment in Sinchon, we can be as loud as we want whenever we want. After that, we’ll have Still Alive 8 which is our yearly Halloween show.

Trash: And we’re working on the subtitles for the Fat Wreck Chords documentary.

Jeff: One of the guys who did the Descendents documentary is also working with the Fat Wreck Chords documentary so we’re doing the translation for those subtitles. So we’ll have a Second Saturdays show where we screen the Fat Wreck Chords documentary and all the bands will play cover songs from Fat Wreck Chords bands. And we’ve got new songs we’re working on. Hopefully this winter we’ll be back in the studio recording something else.

7 inch cover

It’s been a couple of years since your last record. How was it doing a split 7” with Burn Burn Burn?

Jeff: It was cool. I mean the whole thing just took a long time to get everything done. Every time we’ve recorded it’s been a completely different process. With our “Sixty-Eight Twenty-Two” album, we recorded the whole thing at home. And this time we decided to step it up a little bit. We still did all the recording ourselves, but we kind of bounced around to different places. It’s definitely the highest quality recording that we’ve had up till now.

Trash: I hope we can keep making our albums sound better and better.

...Whatever That Means live 10 by Jon Dunbar

Trash is more prominent in vocals on the new EP, which adds a great balance to Jeff’s vocals. What brought about the change?

Jeff: I write all the songs and when working on them I hear them in my head with my voice. On the last album, I really enjoyed the songs that we took turns on. So I tried to do a little more of that. It’s kind of more about having her voice in my head sometimes when I write. It’s been a process learning how to write songs for someone else. But it was definitely a conscious decision to have Trash’s vocals be more prominent on our new songs. Plus over the last few years I have had a lot of problems with my voice. I was blowing out my voice a lot. We were really worried we wouldn’t be able to tour anymore. Like can my voice handle singing ten days in a row? So I wanted to write songs for her to sing, so that I wouldn’t have to sing everything every night.

After yet another Seoul live club closing, Second Saturdays has found a new home at Club Sharp. How is the new club?

Jeff: I love it. It’s nice just having a shitty basement covered in graffiti with a stage that’s not tall enough to stage dive off of.

Trash: It’s cool because the owner is not about making money. The owner wants to actually support the scene.

Jeff: Back when Second Saturdays were at Spot, it was so easy to get people to come in because there are always lots of random people hanging out at the park. At Ruailrock, you would still get some random people, or people would be wandering around and they’d find it. At Club Sharp, you know people have decided to come, which makes it a little bit more difficult. But luckily a decent amount of people have been deciding to go there. At Ruailrock, if you had 20 – 25 people, it felt like the room was full enough to have energy. Here you need about 40 for it not to be people spreading out, standing around. If you’ve got 40 people, then you can have a good amount of energy. We only did a couple Second Saturdays here before we left on tour. We didn’t do that many. So, we’re just getting started again.

Saturday’s show has several other great Hongdae bands joining you for the release party for your new 7″. Who are you most excited to have on the bill?

Jeff: Every band is so different and so good. Dead Chunks are playing first and it might be their last show, and I hope everyone shows up at the beginning and stays till the end. Unfortunately, when we set things up we didn’t realize that the concert fell on the same weekend as Pentaport. We were like, “We’ll do our release at the Second Saturdays after we get back,” and then the week before we left, we were like “Fuck, it’s Pentaport that weekend and Weezer and At the Drive-In are coming. Damn it.” But this is Weezer’s third time in Korea. So don’t pay 130,000 won or more to go see Weezer again, pay 15,000 won see lots of awesome groups and get two records.

Trash: Yes, if you want to see a cool show with friends then come to Club Sharp this Saturday!

…Whatever That Means will be playing an album release party for their new “Blowing Minds & Melting Faces” 7” on Saturday at Club Sharp in Mangwon. The concert will also include performances from Full Garage, The Geeks, 57, and Dead Chunks. Doors open at 8:30 pm and cover is 15,000 won. Everyone who attends will be given a free copy of …Whatever That Means’ new 7” and Full Garage’s “Vinyl Suit” 7”. For more information, check out the gig’s Facebook event page here.

Second Saturdays Poster

Pentaport Still Going Strong 11 Years In

As we all power through one of the hottest summers Korea has ever seen, the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival is set to rock as hard as ever this weekend. Boasting one of its strongest lineups in years, the fest’s 11th edition will include sets from headliners Suede, Weezer, and Panic! at the Disco along with not-to-be-missed performances from the likes of Irish electro/indie group Two Door Cinema Club, Japanese electro-infused metalcore act Crossfaith, and seminal American post-hardcore band At the Drive In. As well, the bill is stacked with talented locals including 10cm, Nell, Galaxy Express, Rux, Idiotape, The Koxx, Crash, and Inlayer and so many others. Seriously, there’s no shortage of great music to be found in Incheon this weekend!

We spoke to a few of the Korean performers about the event to remind us all why Pentaport, from the major global names to the local legends and up-and-comers, is remains one of Korea’s not-to-be-missed festivals! Check out what they had to say below.

Love X Stereo vocalist and synthesizer player Annie Ko (Sunday night at 12:50 am on the Cass Blue Stage)

Can you introduce your band and the kind of music you play?

We’re Love X Stereo and we’re an electro duo.

What are you looking forward to the most about playing at this year’s Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival?

We’re looking forward to the night time. Our show is taking place after midnight, so it’s going to be magical with all the stars and the crowd. Also, we’re going to perform a song we’ve never played live before and we have a special guest joining us as well so we’re very excited.

What other acts should people make sure they see at the fest?

Weezer, At the Drive In, and Two Door Cinema Club.

Boys in the Kitchen guitarist Sungmin Kang (Friday afternoon at 12:50 pm on the Dream Stage)

Can you introduce your band and the kind of music you play?

Our band has four members and our music style is garage rock. We usually play gigs in Hongdae and sometimes in Itaewon. We had the opportunity to perform at many competitions over the last year and won some of them, which has been really exciting.

What are you looking forward to the most about playing at this year’s Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival?

Last year, we won second place in the Pentaport rookie competition so we got to play at the festival. But this year we were invited as normal artists. We’re playing a bigger stage this time around so we’re really looking forward to that. Playing this festival is also really cool because we get to meet many people from all over the world.

What other acts should people make sure they see at the fest?

Two Door Cinema Club! When we first started our band, we all really liked them. So all of s will be watching them play on Sunday. Come join us!

NST & The Soul Sauce flugelhorn played Jeongseok Oh (Friday night at 2 am on the Zippo One Love Stage)

Can you introduce your band and the kind of music you play?

We’re the eight-member reggae band NST & The Soul Sauce. Our band features drums, bass, percussion and melodica, keyboards, guitar, violin, flugelhorn, saxophone, and singing too. We make groove music, and are going to make people dance when we come they come to see us play. The focus of our band’s message is “consciousness.” That’s very important in reggae music.

What are you looking forward to the most about playing at this year’s Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival?

I’m looking forward to seeing people shouting, dancing, and not throwing garbage on the ground.

What other acts should people make sure they see at the fest?

There are lots of good bands for people to experience. But because we’re a reggae band I’d love to see more reggae music at the festival in the future. I hope to see great reggae musicians like Burning Spear, Aston “Family Man” Barrett, and Earl “Chinna” Smith come one day.

The Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival takes place from Friday August 12 – Sunday August 14 at Songdo Pentaport Park in Incheon. A one-day pass is 130,000 won, a two-day pass is 180,000 won, and a three-day pass is 220,000 won. For more information, check out the festival’s website here.

Pentaport Poster

Still Two Weeks Left to Apply For Zandari Festa ’16

The fifth edition of Zandari Festa is set to take place in Seoul from September 30 to October 3. And for any homegrown talent and overseas acts interested in applying to play at Korea’s largest music showcase festival – guess what … you still have a few weeks left to apply!


This fall’s fest will feature 150 acts gigging in 10 Hongdae clubs. Artist applications are being accepted from musicians from all around the world until July 31. It’s free to apply and past artists have included K-pop acts, thrash metal bands, and literally every musical style in between. The English Zandari Festa ’16 application form can be found here.

The lineup for Zandari Festa ’15 boasted bands from 15 different countries including Lightcraft from Jakarta, Indonesia who had an amazing time at the affair.

Lightcraft @ Zandari Festa ' 15
Lightcraft @ Zandari Festa ‘ 15

“We’d never played a show in South Korea before, so to pop our cherry at Zandari Festa 2015 was just perfect,” says Lightcraft vocalist and guitarist Imam Wisaya Surataruna. “We met some of the loveliest people one could ever imagine meeting in one’s life and played to an audience that were just so supportive.”

Having toured in places like India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Canada in the past, the group knew they wanted to make the most out of their short visit to Korea for Zandari Festa. In addition to playing their official festival showcase, they also attended some of the event’s daytime conferences and made their way to the official after party that closes out the festival each year. Meeting as many people as they could, their networking efforts paid off and helped paved the way for Lightcraft to earn an invite to the Liverpool Sound City festival this past spring.

“The gigs that we played were unforgettable as well – to have South Koreans approaching us for selfies after our set was pretty cool,” says Surataruna. “The conference was great too, as we managed to meet very important folks in the industry, with one of them being the man behind Liverpool Sound City. It eventually led to us being given the opportunity to play that festival, which was a milestone in our journey. And the after party was amazing too. Free drinks, and a who’s who of the South Korean and international music scene, and you’ve got yourself a party to remember for the rest of your life!”

Lightcraft have nothing but praise for Zandari Festa and Surataruna says the band definitely would recommend for other international groups to hop on a plane and travel to Korea to participate in the festival.

“We’ve already spread the word to our fellow bands in Indonesia and Southeast Asia about performing at Zandari Festa. Let’s hope they’ve heeded our words. It’s a wonderful festival that will only bring about a whole world of good for any act. In fact, we would love nothing more than to play Zandari Festa again if possible!”

Seoul’s Used Cassettes are Zandari Festa veterans. The rock ‘n’ roll quartet participated in 2012’s inaugural bash, and have returned each year since.

“Used Cassettes came up in the Seoul DIY scene so ever since we heard about the festival we wanted to be involved,” says guitarist and vocalist Danny Arens. “We all really dig the international vision of the Zandari organizers. That first year we helped put together a Loose Union showcase at Zandari which is a great memory. The festival has come a long way since then. It’s nice to have such an influx of international bands coming into our stomping grounds in Hongdae.”

Used Cassettes @ Zandari Festa '14
Used Cassettes @ Zandari Festa ’14

The group released their sophomore full-length album, “Rock n Rills,” globally in May and the offering has netted the guys some pretty damn impressive press from the likes of first-rate music publications like Spin, Under the Radar, and Impose.

Fully aware of the benefits that can come from exposing more listeners around the world to your music, like Lightcraft, Used Cassettes also encourage overseas groups to take part in Zandari Festa and experience Korea’s indie scene.

“I do think it can be beneficial,” says Arens. “Ask any band who has toured in Korea and they’ll tell you that Korean audiences are amongst the best in the world. Koreans are awesome. Come out.”

Zandari Festa ’16 is accepting applications to perform until July 31. The English application form can be found here.

And here’s a highlight video from last year’s fest.

Patients Return to the UK With New Songs and a New Drummer

With catchy hooks, aggressive riffs, and a punk energy that lights up the stage, a Patients show is never to be missed. They’re taking their exciting blend of drums, bass, and keys underneath punchy lyrics to the UK for the third year in a row for a tour that starts today. Just before setting off from the peninsula, bassist/vocalist Sumin Jo and keyboardist Hyuckjang Kwon sat down with Korea Gig Guide to talk music: where it comes from, where it’s going, and why it’s always fun but never easy.

(2016) Patients 3

How did you get guys together?

Sumin: Four years ago, I was playing with Patients, and Hyuckjang was playing with another band. We used the same practice studio back then. I thought his style would be good for Patients as at that time we had no keyboard, just guitar.  So I asked him to join. And we got a new drummer earlier this year. His name is Soowon Choi. Hyuckjang knew him and recommended him to me. From the first moment we played together, it sounded great! We’ve been playing together for five months now.

Hyuckjang: He adapts very quickly. He is a great drummer.

Your sound has developed a lot over the years. What brought about these changes? Can you describe your current sound to new fans?

Sumin: When we first started, the band members liked 1970s classic punk rock and 1990s punk rock, so we modeled our sound after those styles. Over time, we studied more as musicians. When we released our first album, we were satisfied with our development. But we also wanted to develop a more unique sound that we could call our own. Around then, Hyuckjang joined Patients. We went to the essence of punk rock music and did what we wanted. Hyuckjang, Soowon, and I all have different tastes and we draw from all of those when making music. That is Patients’ sound today.

Hyuckjang: When I joined Patients, we were working on our second album, “18.” I wondered how we could make a rocking sound without guitars and we talked a lot about it. We wondered whether to use the keyboard to make heavy sounds or to create unique sounds. We tried lots of different things and were happy with the results on the album. Recently, Soowon has joined and brought his own sound and we have been trying to integrate electronic punk music with that. Before it was more of an analog sound, and then we had more of a digital sound. Now our sound is really close to the electronic keyboard sound we were imitating and paying respect to. You can look forward to seeing how our sound has developed on some new singles we’ll be releasing soon. We have two new songs right now called “Space Call Girl” and “Game Boy Game Girl.” We’ll be playing these songs during our upcoming UK concerts and will be recording them after our tour.

How do you expect Patients’ sound and style to grow in the future?

Sumin: The only thing that will not change is that we’re going to do whatever we want to do. That will never change in terms of attitude. I don’t know how our sound will change. I don’t think that far ahead. Ultimately, Patients is Patients. We don’t think about genres or styles because … well, that’s not our style!

Your music is marked by a lot of raw punk energy. After over 10 years of playing on stages in different parts of Asia and the UK, what inspires you to keep up that fiery energy?

Sumin: In my head, I’m still young and immature.  And I think I’m still like a teenager with my love of music. So I feel like that kind of energy comes out naturally. I don’t count the years, I just live as usual. I do what I like as soon as I find something, you know?

You’ll be touring in the UK for the third time from May 25 – June 5. What are your expectations for this tour?

Sumin: It is first time going overseas with our new drummer so I’m sure we will have fun.

Hyuckjang: I’m looking forward to going to Angels, a strip club in Liverpool!  Also, we’re excited about playing for audiences in the UK – they’re really great and welcoming.  And we’re excited about drinking lots of great British beer too. But we’re not looking forward to the food.

What are the biggest challenges you expect to face?

Hyuckjang: Traveling between cities with all of our gear is a bit challenging. I use an 88-key keyboard. It was like dragging a coffin around when we went to Liverpool last year. I looked like an undertaker, not like someone carrying music equipment. Actually, as we were traveling between London and Liverpool people were asking why I brought a snowboard with me!

What should new fans expect from a Patients show?

Sumin: They can expect to see something they’ve never seen before. If they come with an open mind and heart, I’m sure they’ll have a great time.

Some crowd favorites are “Sipalsegi,” and “Idiot vs. Psycho.” Can you tell us a little about their inspiration, etc?

Sumin: For “Sipalsegi,” I thought about how “chung” (affection) and “han” (resentment) are big big characteristics in Korea and wrote about them in the lyrics. As for “Idiot vs Psycho,” when I was young, I always fought with our former guitarist. I fought with him seven days a week, all night long. Back then, I wondered “Is he a psycho? An idiot?” and I started writing the song while thinking about that. It’s about the battle between people that don’t understand each other.

What is your songwriting process?

Sumin: Often one member comes to practice with an idea and then we work together to complete it. Hyuckjang mainly makes the arrangements for the music and melodies. The words and emotions tend to come from me and Soowon creates a lot of the rhythms.

What is your favorite song to play live?

Sumin: “Space Call Girl” because it’s one of our new songs. But I like all of our songs.

Who are your favorite bands in Hongdae at the moment?

Hyuckjang: National Pigeon Unity, Trampauline, and 57.

Sumin: I like all of those acts too, but I’ll choose some different ones. I’m going to say Heynam Sin and Patients, DTSQ, and AKUA.

And who are your favorite UK bands?

Sumin: Sex Pistols, Inspiral Carpets, and New Order. I like the Manchester sound and classic punk rock.

Hyuckjang: Pink Floyd, The Cure, and Iron Maiden.

And non-UK bands?

Hyuckjang: The Australian band The Griswolds, Pollock from Spain, and Metallica.

Sumin: There are too many too list!

You recently added Club Steel Face to Steel Face Records and your Steel Face Rooftop 3639 space. How is the club doing?

Sumin: Hongdae has big, wonderful concert halls like Sangsang Madang and Rolling Hall. There are also small clubs like Badabie too. I was thinking that it would be great if we had a tiny and stylish performance space that had a great sound system like the ones in concert halls.  That’s the kind of place we thought we’d love to play in. And that’s why we decided to make Club Steel Face. The club is doing well. I like that we have a place where all our friends can perform in a really nice space. Club Steel Face was recently written about in the US magazine Paste, which was really cool to see. Come check it out!

Here are Patients UK tour dates:
May 25 Chester @ The Live Rooms
May 26 Manchester @ Night & Day Cafe
May 27 Whitchurch @ Percy’s Cafe Bar
May 29 Liverpool @ Liverpool Sound City (Cargo Stage)
May 31 London @ Windmill Brixton
June 5 Worthing @ Bar 42

Patients 2016 UK Tour




Victim Mentality Release New Single Before SXSW Return

Hard-hitting glam rockers Victim Mentality are heading back to South by Southwest (SXSW) this year bringing with them their screaming vocals and lightning quick guitar riffs. Frontman Krocodile sat down to talk with Korea Gig Guide about their Heavy Metal Is Back full-length album, touring, their new single and more. Despite songs to the contrary, we were interested to learn that Krocodile doesn’t like singing or writing songs about sex, though the self-proclaimed heavy metal god is in search of groupies and new love. Get a taste of the man who “doesn’t like Korean music or people,” but rather “loves Judas Priest, for America is the best!” in our Q&A below.

You have become well-known both here and abroad for your style and classic heavy metal sound. As there have been some changes in the lineup and style recently, can you start by introducing Victim Mentality to our readers?

We are Victim Mentality, a Korean glam and heavy metal band. We are a very famous and huge band in Korea! Everyone knows me. If you guys don’t know me, there is a problem. You must be a criminal! If you guys don’t know about Victim Mentality, search for us on Google and YouTube, and then you can pretend you already know us.

How did you all get into music and heavy metal?

Before my memory existed, I listened to and played heavy metal music. My mother told me that when I was only two years old I was already playing heavy metal guitar. Heavy metal was my destiny. I didn’t choose metal, metal chose me.

You have a unique heavy metal style with quite playful lyrics. What is your songwriting process?

Before Mr. Sohn left the band, he wrote the songs and I wrote the lyrics. Now I write everything. First, I make a riff and then I write the melody and add the lyrics to the melody. It’s simple.

As you have many English speaking fans as well, can you talk a bit about the lyrics to the title track from Heavy Metal Is Back to help them get a sense of what Korean fans already know?

We disrespect other styles of music and musicians. They are very famous in Korea, and we disrespect them. Actually, we envy them. But heavy metal chose us, so we can’t find another way. So, we just play heavy metal. The song “Heavy Metal Is Back” is very complicated to explain. People ask heavy metal musicians why we have long hair. They wonder, “Short-haired people can’t play heavy metal?” We don’t know the answer. But I must have long hair, because I am heavy metal. Maybe I can play heavy metal with short hair, but… It’s a complex emotion. We disrespect other musicians who play other styles of music, but actually I envy them. They are very famous and have lots of money. But I can’t change my music, so I play heavy metal and we say heavy metal is back. The story of the song is, although we are not that bright and not that famous, heavy metal is back.

Your first full-length album, Heavy Metal Is Back, is filled with driving drums, fast-paced heavy metal riffs and screaming vocals. And of course, a few ballads mixed in. Which track was the most difficult to record? Which are the most fun to play?

“Love of Sixtynine” was very difficult. I don’t know why, but the singing was very difficult. That is not my style, so it was difficult only for me. I don’t know about the other parts. I just sing on that record, so “Love of Sixtynine” was very challenging. “Is It My Child?” is a fun song. That and “Pubic Lice” are the most fun songs. “Love of Sixtynine” is fun too. Our new song, “I Hate Hiphop,” is my favorite song to sing live these days.

What do you like to write about?

The songs about sex are very fun, but I don’t think that can be the major subject. There are so many subjects besides sex that we can talk about with people. Sex is not a topic for sympathizing with many people. Perhaps sex, women, love, and similar things can stimulate people, but that’s all.

You released a brand new single last week. Please tell us about it.

It’s called “I Hate Hiphop.” Actually, I don’t hate hip hop. Hip hop is a favorite genre in Korea. But if we attack them, we can make noise. That noise can make money. So I made the song. The song and music video are very serious. If you watch the video, you can feel how I deeply hate hip hop. But the truth is, I don’t hate hip hop. All kinds of music are equal and respectable.

You’ve played major showcases both in Korea and abroad. What have been your best performances?

The best performance was at SXSW in America. We really loved Chosun Galbi, a Korean restaurant in Austin, Texas. It is 10 times better than food in Korea. Because of the American cows, the meat is much better. So, it tastes 10 times better than in Korea.

What are your expectations and goals for this year?

Love. I want to find new love. Actually, I broke up with my girlfriend last month, so I need new love and I expect to have a new romance in Austin when we play at SXSW again this month.

What can US fans who haven’t seen you yet expect from Victim Mentality?

I have the holy spirit of the metal gods. So they can expect money and to have good luck in money, health, etc. It’s difficult to explain in English. Sharing info about us and seeing us play can improve your luck. Most of you can earn lots of money if you see our concert!

Any final comments for fans who will see you at SXSW?

Thank you for reading my interview. Come to our show. Share our articles. Share our schedule. It can help you become healthy and rich. It will help my wealth, too. Let’s help each other! Thank you.

Victm Mentality SXSW Poster

Victim Mentality will play two shows at SXSW in Austin, Texas this week.  Here’s their gig schedule at the festival.

March 16 Austin @ The Belmont (Korea Night I: K-Pop Night Out Showcase)
March 19 Austin @ Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room (V-Rox Showcase)

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).

Love X Stereo is asking for a little help

Annie and Toby, the very nice people behind the excellent group Love X Stereo, are looking for a little help funding their latest EP, We Love, We Leave, Part 2. So they’ve set up a PledgeMusic page asking for pre-orders, which will go to creating the new music.

There are three levels of support offered, so it’s an easy way to buy some good music and help a band out. And they’ve set up a couple of previews, so you can check out if it’s your sort of music — but if you like catchy electropop, it probably is.

Love X Stereo is going to be playing at SXSW again this year, and will play in San Francisco as well, so if you’re in the neighborhood, you should check them out.