We want to be known as a band from Korea, but before all, as a rock band.
It is 6pm in Tunbridge Wells and here I am sitting down with the four members of Gate Flowers in the backyard area of the Forum – last year NME’s best little venue of the UK. Galaxy Express is currently doing an enticing sound check and we have to occasionally lean close across the table to hear each other. Gate Flowers’ Seung Shik is seated right in front of me and I quickly find out that he is the English spokesperson of the group with his English proficiency as fluent as mine. On his right is Jae In (Bass), Jong Eun (Drums), and Keun Hong (Vocals) on the side. Not knowing what to expect, I browse through my list of questions jolted down the day before after much thoughts and fire off this interview with some easy pedestrian questions:
How was your flight?
Seung Shik: 12 hours. No jet lag. We’re adjusting perfectly fine.
Is it your first time in the UK?
Seung Shik: No, our drummer and I came before for a trip, but it’s our first time playing here.
What does this tour represent for you?
Seung Shik: Well it’s our very first time playing in the UK and also our very first international tour. We had opportunities before but we were just too busy with things happening in our own country, so we’re very excited.
You have a couple of English songs but overall you use very little English into your songs. Could you describe your lyrical themes to our readers?
Seung Shik: Our singer writes all the lyrics. He writes about himself, his personal views, ideas, his feelings, everything that is related to him: the society, the world, politics, relationships.
When someone listens to our music, he can hear all different parts doing their own thing, but after all they all come together.
Encouraged by the group’s kindness and attention, I thus ventured to take this interview out of its comfort zone to dig a bit deeper.
And how do the other members relate to it?
Seung Shik: We think the music is as important as the lyrics. He can write a poem but the music is our rhythm. We have a very strong rhythm section. Our drummer is excellent and so is our bassist. He’s very versatile; he can do rock, he can do folk; he can play any kind of stuff. He has his own style and me too. We don’t like anything that’s average, just normal. We want to come up with our own stuff.
How much control do you want to have over your sound? Do you spend a lot of time rehearsing and recording to get it right or do you just go with the flow and let your instincts speak?
Seung Shik: We want every member to have his own part. Sometimes we fight, within our song, musically and sometimes verbally. But after all, what we want to do is not to show what we have individually but what we have as a band. So, control? We fight until all our sounds mingle together. There is an unspoken rule of control. We never talk about it. When someone has a sound that we like, we just go with it and let the drums, the bass and the guitar mingle with it on their own time with their own sound.
By listening to your last album ‘Times’, it seems there is a lot of Mark Knopfler or even B.B. King in the way the guitar interacts with the other element of the songs. Are those guitarists personal inspirations for Seung Shik?
Seung Shik: Of course I love Mark Knopfler and it’s interesting that you mention it. Our EP, the one before Times, has more guitar presence within the music because, during that time, for our EP, most of the songs started from the guitar riff. But our Times album is well balanced, meaning the guitar took less control over the music.
But do you consciously try to give a distinct sound to the guitar as in there seems to be a dialogue between the guitar and the other instruments underneath the vocals?
Seung Shik: We try to have a distinct sound for each instrument, but also to find the right balance as a group. So for Times, I tried to balance the guitar more evenly with the other members. You should listen to the bass, and the drums, they’re really nice (laughs).
Keun Hong: When someone listens to our music he can hear all different parts doing their own thing, but after all they all come together.
After Top Band, the venues were packed (…) We were upset because we were always there.
After Top Band, the venues were packed (…) We were upset because we were always there.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the response from Gate Flowers. As we exchange conversation, I can feel the group’s eagerness, expectations and ambitions; as well as their passion, admiration of one another’s talent and the growing enjoyment of this unconventional interview. At this point, there was one question burning my lips that fuelled some warm discussions among the groups.
In coming to this UK tour do you feel like an ambassador for the Korean indie rock scene or are you just representing Gate Flowers?
Jong Eun: Both.
Do you feel you have a mission to make the Korean rock scene more well-known?
Jong Eun: We feel the responsibility.
Keun Hong: Of course we can be categorized as a rock band of Korea because we sing in Korean. But we don’t want to be compared as a Korean rock band. We just want to be known as “a band”, not in Korea, but just a band. We don’t want to be compared as a Korean rock band just because we sing in Korean.
Jong Eun: Our music is part of a very popular genre in the Western parts of the world, especially in the UK and in America. We want to be known as a band from Korea, but before all, as a rock band.
Seung Shik: Of course we feel the responsibility, we are very responsible because we are from Korea and there is great rock music in Korea so if they can have some kind of attention, I mean have a blow, it’s great, but first and most of all we want to be known as a rock band.
Keun Hong: Even our music isn’t mainstream rock from Korea. Our style is definitely different from Korean rock music; we think we’re different from Apollo 18, Galaxy Express or Goonam which are the other bands on the tour,
Jae In: Or even Guckkasten.
Keun Hong: We think we are mainstream; that we became mainstream because of the TV show ‘Top Band’. And before that we didn’t get much attention, even in the Korean rock scene.
Seung Shik: I’d just like to add that TV show is really important for us. We cannot deny it; because we were in the Korean rock scene before Top Band and we sold about 200 copies of our albums. Even after the KMA (Korean Music Awards where Gate Flowers won Best Rookie and Best Rock Song for Reserve Army in 2011) we sold about 50 more; so altogether about 250, maybe 300. I know it’s pretty embarrassing but we weren’t embarrassed because it’s the listeners; they didn’t know about us but we were always there. And now they treat us like idol groups. I mean after Top Band, the venues were packed. Without any promotion we would fill 100 or 200 people capacity venues easily; and we almost sold out about a thousand shows after that, all of them in just day or not even. And we were upset, because we were always there. In Korean rock, we were minors.
And now you are big?
Seung Shik: We got bigger; but we still want to get bigger, meaning we want to promote our music to more people who might like our stuff.
Our international audience is really important to us.
So you are not restricted to Korea?
Seung Shik: No, and that’s really important. Our international audience is really important to us. Very very important, that’s what we try to work on. This is our very first night in the UK and we are opening the show. It’s very important; I hope this is going to be the beginning of all. But we’re not on a mission as the very first Korean rock band or representing Korea. We have the responsibility because we are from Korea and there are other great musicians in our country and of course we want them to have this kind of chance.
Do you have any plan to conquer bigger audiences inside and outside Korea?
Seung Shik: We are working on it. But nothing is really sure yet, and you know, gigs like this are important, and maybe next year we’ll do ‘South By Southwest (SXSW)’. We try to do international festivals.
Keun Hong: Also we are going to write in English.
What makes you different as a group? What is your asset?
Jae In: We are spontaneous and dynamic; there is this “spur of the moment” thing within our sound.
So do you rely on your live shows a lot?
Seung Shik: Live shows are very important. We jam. There is this moment, this very particular moment that everybody likes, and we want to capture that moment into recording, and into live as well. We are very flexible, it’s not like we are only equipped into doing one thing with the only aim of conquering the stage; we’re not doing this. We want to enjoy the moment, the four of us, as a group.
Unwillingly, we have to put an end to our interview as we exceed the allowed time of no more than 12 minutes. I am seduced by each member’s quality on the recordings; this interview makes me discover four passionate and affable artists. They will open the show tonight, the very first of this Korea Rocks Tour, and though I find it rather too short, I am totally blown away by their live abilities.
This is not any typical interview and encounter with a Korean artist with restrictions but I am granted full freedom of my questions which I take advantage of to reveal more about the band to all our readers. I would like to sincerely thank Gate Flowers for their honest and precious answers.
I say, what can we learn from this interview? Not only Gate Flowers is driven by passion, but they are taking their nascent international fan base with the utmost concern. They have made the efforts to come half way across the world to join this tour and appear adamant to create international connections with fans and press alike. Having such a proficient English spokesperson such as Seung Shik is an asset for their international expansion; but it would be nothing without their undeniable talent as group. As he himself said, “I hope this [tour] is going to be the beginning of all”, and it could very well be!
On behalf of hellokpop, I would like to wish them the greatest of success outside their frontiers as a rock group. They have now opened up to the world; I hope it will not take as much as an international TV show to bring them the attention they truly deserve.
You can read the following related stories from the Korea Rocks Tour at Tunbridge Wells:
Coverage provided by Marty M.
PR/Technical Assistance provided by Nicole@hellokpop.com
Video: 게이트 플라워즈
Galaxy Express, Apollo 18, Goonamguayeoridingstella (Goonam), Gate Flowers: four groups at the forefront of the blooming Korean rock scene. They visit the UK, home of rock music which gave birth to so many icons – from the Beatles to David Bowie, Led Zeppelin to Dire Straits, Oasis to the Libertines, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Smiths and so many more. One can wonder what Korea’s got to offer to a genre past its prime, though still very much alive and kicking. The Korea Rocks Tour, sponsored by Hyundai Music Card, gave it a firm answer this Wednesday night in the So-British city of Tunbridge Wells: ebullient, skillful, inventive, raw, loud, energetic, saturnine, jaw-dropping. The Korea Rocks tour brings rock music back to its roots; “the only thing that matters is music“, I found each and every group vitally claiming at some point in their respective interviews.
The line-up is very strong and also very eclectic. Each group plays a different kind of rock with undeniable common points: enthusiasm and quality. Gate Flowers stuns by the richness of their sound and the depth of their skills that sends you back in the days where virtuosos were revered; Goonam combines dance traditions with psychedelic rhythms and electric fun that puts a dreamlike smile on your face; Apollo 18 stands as loud stumping rock that leaves your ears ringing and your head shaking with amazement; Galaxy Express hits the stage with stunning looks, rock star charisma and explosive talent that leaves you to believe you might have just witnessed history in the making.
It doesn’t matter who they are and where they come from. These are down to earth musicians, living the dream, being exactly where they want to be, playing the music they want to play. Sitting down for over two hours of interviews with each group, I could measure the bands’ common passion about their own music and the other acts on the tour, their heart-warming affability, and their eagerness to kick off this tour in such fashion. It didn’t matter that there were more staff than local spectators within the audience tonight. Each group played hard and endearingly, and special mention is due to a transcended Goonam who were seen jumping off the stage to perform a full song within the audience on a couple of occasions.
The Korea Rocks Tour will hit the UK scenes on six more occasions:
April 26: Wrexham, Wales at The Bank (Focus Wales)
April 27: Wrexham, Wales at Yales Café Bar (Focus Wales)
April 28: London, England at Barfly
May 1: Manchester, England at Night & Day Café
May 3: Liverpool, England at Studio 2 (Liverpool Sound City)
May 4: Liverpool, England at Kazimier Gardens (Liverpool Sound City)
Remember, the shows are for free except for the festivals joined in Liverpool and Wrexham. hellokpop had the pleasure of conducting a personal, in-depth interview with each group that will be published throughout the tour, so stay tuned to hellokpop for more Korean rock and attend the free shows if you’re nearby. Korea rocks – it’s not just a gimmick, it’s true!
Meanwhile here’s a little present for our followers and fellow rock fans, an exclusive cover of the Rolling Stones‘ Paint It Black by Gate Flowers. Enjoy!
Check out our gallery bellow for more shots from the show!
hellokpop would like to thank Gate Flowers, Galaxy Express, Goonam, Apollo 18, Shawn Despres (tour manager) and Hyundai Music Card for inviting us to the Korea Rocks Tour and we wish them the best of luck in making this promotional tour a success!
You can read the following related stories from the Korea Rocks Tour at Tunbridge Wells:
- Interview with Galaxy Express
- Interview with Goonam
- Interview with Apollo 18
- Interview with Gate Flowers
Source: Coverage provided by Marty M.
PR/Technical Assistance provided by email@example.com
As Gaon unveils its latest weekly charts, we find PSY‘s Gentleman first again with the surreal 65,630,781 DA! This is twice as much as any other song managed to sell in one week this year. After 11 days of release, Gentleman DA amount equals to 108,332,130, already making it the 8th highest selling song of the year, well positioned to take the lead which is currently held by Baechigi‘s Tears.
On the rest of the weekly charts, Cho Young Pil confirms its little sensation created with Bounce by registering 36,806,082 DA, on the 3 highest for a single week this year. Lyn also breaks the prestigious 30 million mark with 오늘 밤 (Feat. Baechigi) while K.Will and Davichi round up the top 5 with their respective hit songs Love Blossom and Be Warmed.
As for this year lasting sensation, Davichi’s Turtle continues to charts on its 2th week like on its 1st with another impressive 14,594,194 DA.
As reported without actual numbers, PSY‘s Gentleman registered one of the best possible debut on charts. Now that the Weekly Gaon charts have been released, we can accurately measure the extent of his prowess on the charts. Four days were enough for Gentleman to top the weekly charts with the impressive 42,701,349 DA.
This is the highest number of sales in a single week this year, and the very first to edge over the 40 million mark. Prior that achievement, only two songs had crossed the 30 million mark, Leessang‘s Tears and Sistar19′s Gone Not Around Any Longer, which are joined by K.Will‘s Love Blossom, who also hit over the 30 million mark this week, ranking only second to PSY.
This week shows the highest number of sales on weekly charts so far this year. As a point of comparison, Lee Hi‘s Rose who topped the weekly charts 3 weeks ago with 16,360,433 would have ranked 13th this week with the same numbers, in between Davichi‘s Turtle and Sunny Hill‘s Love Actually.
Congratulations to PSY for this explosive debut on charts!
Source: Gaon Melon
As reported a few weeks ago, Davichi‘s Turtle sales kept rising week after week.
The song was released on March 4 and was a pre-release from their second full-length album, Mystic Ballad. Turtle went on to top both the weekly charts for the 1st week of March and the Monthly Gaon charts of March. But it doesn’t seem to be enough from one of Korea’s musical phenomenon. After a rise in sales on its 5th week, with 16,629,743 DA, Turtle registers its 3rd best sales week on its 6th – though their ranking dropped to 12th due to a high sales week.
Alike label-mates T-ara, Davichi has accustomed fans to creating surprises and unmatchable longevity. But for a song that top both the weekly and the monthly charts this is really a first to saw yet another increase in sales week after week. Turtle has now crossed the 100 million DA mark and their sales amount to exactly 103,378,039 Digital Aggregate after 6 weeks. Turtle is more than ever a strong contender, maybe not for song of the year but for a hot seat within the yearly top 10.
As of Davichi’s other releases, Be Warmed confirms its status by totaling 51.612.469 in just 2 weeks, with one of the highest grossing second week for any song that topped the weekly charts.
Once again congratulations Davichi for this unprecedented achievement!