Posted on October 26, 2016

Interview

# As is DoIndie tradition, for our first question, please introduce the person sitting next to you and describe his (non-musical) role in the band….

SangHyuk:  On this side we have my twin brother Lee SangMyun who is our guitarist. He looks pretty much the same as me, which (ugh) means he is pretty damn good-looking.

KyungRock (Captain Rock): Jesus Christ….

SangMyun: Here we have our vocalist and guitarist Park YoonSik. He’s just as good-looking as ever.

SangHyuk: A sexy beast!

SangMyun: He’s got lots of oil on his face so he just keeps getting younger and younger. He is so damn good-looking he should be sorry about it. But wait a second...are you going to be photographing and videoing this?

SangHyuk:  Uh oh...we shouldn’t have talked shit about how good-looking we are.

YoonSik:  Beside me is our bass player. Anyone who is into the Hongdae music scene should know this fella. He is famous as a bass player, but also as someone who likes to spend money; he is Hongdae’s Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. February 11th is Captain Rock’s birthday, and he always has a massive party, so come and hang out next year.

Captain Rock: I think I’m going to have to scale things down next time.

YoonSik:  He also has many talents.

(Collective Sigh)

YoonSik:  If you make it to one of our gigs and secure a place up front then there is every chance you will get to be showered in Captain Rock’s snot, so don’t miss out on that action.

Captain Rock: It is like Royal Jelly. There are always lots of beautiful people in the Captain Rock Zone. Don’t miss out on the snot shower.

SangMyun: Ugh...that is gross!

Captain Rock: To be honest, it’s not really snot, it’s more like some concoction consisting of about 70-80% pure water vapor, like sweat and other materials. Sometimes shellfish-like boogers come out of there as well. I mean, if you get hit with something, it is your lucky day. You may as well buy a lotto ticket! Beside me is Kim InSoo, Crying Nut’s mascot. He is a special character indeed. He is truly one of a kind. Not only is his fashion sense top notch, he is one good-looking cat. Honestly, I think the Crying Nut crew as a whole is just a bunch of good-looking people, really. YoonSik... I guess you forgot to mention how good-looking I am when you introduced me!

YoonSik:  Ah! Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Ha ha ha ha.

Captain Rock: Also, Kim InSoo is really good at playing his instruments. He plays the accordion, the Irish whistle and percussion instruments really well. He also knows a lot about music; not just rock music, but world music as well. You could think of him as a kind of vitamin for the band. He is also the vocalist and leader of the band L.O.D. as well. They have a very strong, rough sound to them; in terms of body weight, I would say they are probably the heaviest band in the Hongdae scene. And ….

SangMyun: Wow, I think you are blowing his horn a bit much.

Captain Rock: Okay, let’s finish there then.

InSoo: Lee SangHyuk is talented and good-looking. Apart from that, I don’t really know what to say.

SangHyuk: You still don’t know anything about me, eh?

InSoo: SangHyuk has a deep appreciation for music, and he tries really hard to make the kind of music he likes. I tend to manipulate him a little and push him into liking certain things. Ha ha! He makes a lot of hit songs. When I listen to his songs I often find myself thinking ‘how does he come up with such good music?’ … He is one of the few artists I think of like that.

SangHyuk: Wow...that is some heavy shit.

InSoo: (To SangHyuk) You would probably have said the same about yourself, dude.

SangHyuk: I chose the right place to sit!

SangMyun: It is all downhill from Captain Rock.

Captain Rock: Ugh, I am in the wrong place then!

InSoo: Hey! You were the one that said you didn’t know anything except the fact that I was a stud.

SangHyuk: I wish I hadn’t started that rubbish about being good-looking, it seems like the compliment is not going to come back round to me!

# We are pretty familiar with how the band came about, but what personally made each of you fall in love with punk rock music to the extent of wanting to be musicians, in a time when it was much harder than now to do so?

Captain Rock: When we were at school we were all into rock and pop music. We were especially fascinated by strong music like heavy metal, but to be honest all the music we liked was really hard to play. It was always our dream to make rock music, but we were limited by our musical abilities. Then, when alternative and punk music started to make it into Korea, we began to listen to bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins. Through that we also got into stuff by the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Of course there was Green Day as well. We figured we would be able to make similar music, and the rebellious spirit behind this kind of music suited us too. We did lots of covers by these bands and so our lyrics, music and spirit started to be more and more punk-oriented.

YoonSik: I would like to add that I think all those bands had a cool fashion sense as well.

InSoo: Twenty years ago punk music reigned supreme. All the good-looking guys were into punk too. If we hard to start again now, I would guess we would end up making something similar to what Big Bang is putting out.

SangHyuk: Actually our generation is the generation of heavy metal and alternative music, but sadly we had never had lessons for our instruments so we didn’t have the necessary skills to play heavy metal. We tried to cover lots of different bands and it turns out that for us, punk music was the easiest.

SangMyun: SangMyun: At first we were just doing covers of bands like Nirvana, Fugazi, Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, Dead Kennedys etc. until one day a mate who was a metal musician who liked to think of himself as our role model came up to us and gave us a load of shit, saying stuff like, “you call this shit you are playing a show??”

InSoo: Of course those WERE still gigs. What did he think we were doing!? Jigs?

SangMyun: That guy got me pissed off and I thought, “fuck this shit, music is not just about people who play perfectly!” So I started looking stuff up and found bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, etc, and that kind of thing suited us perfectly.

# At your debut you called the music you were making “Chosun Punk”. Would you still use that label? How do you feel about being labelled as “K-pop” when you play at overseas festivals or get interviewed by foreign press? For that matter, do you have any opinion about Crying Nut (or other bands) being labelled as “Korean rock” or “Korean indie”?

YoonSik: We get classed as K-Pop?

SangMyun: K-Pop? That has a nice ring to it.

Captain Rock: Okay...So, when we first emerged people had kind of stopped using the term ‘underground’ and so we would be referred to as indie musicians. Honestly, if you look at punk from England in the 1970’s and punk from our generation, it has a really different sound. Some people say that we are not really a punk band at all. If you look at that punk ‘frame’ from England in the 1970’s, we are definitely not punk. I don’t think it is too important if we are labeled a punk band or not really, but I thought perhaps we should differentiate ourselves from the other forms of punk by calling us as Chosun Punk. I don’t think it really matters what people call us though. Call us K-Pop, call us K-Rock -- whatever. I’m just glad that people are paying attention and listening to us.

SangMyun: When Green Day first came out they were not calling themselves ‘Neo Punk’, but at some point that label naturally kind of stuck. If the Koryo period of Korean history had been more popular than the Choson period, we would have called ourselves ‘Koryo Punk’.

SangHyuk: We are Ural-Altaic Punk.

InSoo: Since Japan has J-Punk, it probably wouldn’t be too strange to call us K-Punk, no?

It’s been a while since Crying Nut only played straight-up punk. Do you feel a burden being the most widely known Korean punk band?

Captain Rock: Well, I think the answer to this is similar to what I said before. When we first started out, people had a lot of fixed ideas about what punk should be. They thought it should be three chords, straight-up punk and, of course, that you should adhere to the punk fashion. You had to wear certain kinds of clothes and have your hair in a mohawk or spiked up. But if you do all that, it ends up costing you a fortune.  

SangMyun: Yeah, a good few hundred to get all those studs.

YoonSik: The prices vary widely between the fake stuff and the real imports from Japan and England. To be a real punk you really need to be a rich kid; basically you have to be in cahoots with a Chaebol.

SangHyuk: It is hard to do the whole punk attitude and fashion ‘correctly’. Also .. the members of our band all have slightly different musical tastes. Seeing as we incorporate a little of everyone's music style, it's impossible for us to make the kind of punk music people typically think of as ‘punk’.  

SangMyun: Right, because we all have different styles it would be too restricting for us to pick just one genre of music to play. After thinking about what music really is I have come to the conclusion that us doing whatever the hell we want is in fact punk, so that’s what we do -- whatever we want.

SangHyuk: Yeah, I don’t find it a burden being the most widely-known punk band in Korea! In fact, I would say we like it that people call us a punk band. But honestly … there is a whole separate punk scene here in Korea. Everyone related to that scene is super cool. These days, we are too old to give a shit about who is playing true punk anyway.  

InSoo: Actually, there is one thing that I feel a little uncomfortable about. Punk bands in Mexico had the US bands to mimic, French bands had the English ….but since we were the first here in Korea I find it amusing that people mimic us. We laid down the law: Every punk band must have an accordion player, all members in the band should be short and stubby, and there should be at least one pig in the band.

YoonSik: Hey! We just said how handsome we all are!

InSoo: Sorry, slip of the tongue! But I am just doing what all great philosophers do by negating my previous assertions.

YoonSik: You can get all your punk items from http://www.punkshop.co.kr/

# Of course, “말달리자 (Speed Up Losers)” shot you to countrywide fame in 1998, when you were still really young and had only been playing for a couple of years in a very new and unknown underground scene, so it must have been pretty surprising to you. At what point did it really hit you that you were “famous”? Was there one particular gig or event that first made you feel like rockstars?

YoonSik: Back when we were like, 20 or 21, we used to just set up shows in Hongdae by blocking off a small street, setting up a stage and playing a gig. People would come up to watch and say stuff like, ‘wow, there is weird music like this around, eh?”. I remember this one girl, when we were still unknown; she came up to one of the guys and asked for his autograph, but at that point we hadn’t even worked out what our signatures should look like. I guess it was about then that I thought we might be becoming famous.

Captain Rock: There was this one time around 2002, when I thought, “I just have to get more famous”. I had gone down to the local gym to exercise, and as usual I had not taken my wallet with me. I only had a little bit of change in my pocket and had gone to purchase some ciggies, but the old lady behind the counter asked me to show her my ID. I didn’t have it on me, so I said, “Listen, to tell you the truth, I am in Crying Nut”. She whispered back gently, “I don’t know any Crying Nuts”.  So I couldn’t get any cigarettes, and it made my resolve to become more famous much stronger.

SangMyun: In the beginning when nobody really knew who we were I was sitting down somewhere and this high school girl came up to me and asked me for my autograph. I gotta admit, it felt pretty darn good, so I gave her my signature. Inside I was thinking, “wow, we play punk music but people know about us. Cool!” However, once I’d signed it, she looked all confused and was like, “This ain't right”.  So I asked her what she was on about and she asked me, “aren’t you Seong Dae Hyeon”? (Artist from another band at the time)

InSoo: For 10 years or so people thought I was Jung Won-Kwan.

# It’s already been three years since your last full album.  I know your fans can catch you at gigs a lot, but since it’s been awhile since your last album, some people are worried you guys might be burned out.  When can we expect a new album from Crying Nut?

SangMyun: I’m already burned out.

Captain Rock: Yeah, we are already burned out. Ha! But no, we are collaborating, talking and meeting on a daily basis at the moment, but one thing is for sure … sadly we can no longer make as many songs as we used to. But we don’t force the issue; it is still an organic process. I think we are all aware that we need to make a new album soon though. I think we are going to release a single this autumn and we will keep making songs and hopefully release a full length album around the middle of next year.

SangHyuk: It’s been so long since we last released an album that we don’t get invited to festivals or special events so often any more.  

YoonSik: Yeah...we gotta let people know that we are still alive.

# As musicians, what is one thing you get used to, and one thing you can’t get used to?

YoonSik: Things we cannot get used to ... I really can’t get used to that Hongdae clubby dance culture.

SangMyun: Well, I try and avoid the main Hongdae streets if I can, unless we have a gig there or something. Not like the old days where we would get really pissed and wake up in the morning on the street and play with the pigeons. Everybody is conscious of their health now, so no more of that bollocks.

Captain Rock: Yeah...before all the booking restaurants (places you can go to hook up with people) and clubs it was more of a jungle, a place where people could hang out, drink, fight and just shoot the shit. Back then, there were loads of people wandering around with guitars. That is how it used to be. Of course, it is not the booking clubs and restaurants’ fault that it’s all changed now; after all, we live in a capitalist society. All of a sudden the whole area filled up with these tacky places, and now there are guys in the street handing out flyers and stuff to get girls into these clubs. I think it has really spoiled the area, it is sad. It never used to be like that.

SangMyun: I’ve been drinking in a couple of those joints.

Captain Rock: Yeah, me too. Ha ha!

SangHyuk: This is something we are used to about Hongdae then!

InSoo: It’s always a good time hanging out and drinking with musicians, I am used to that, alright. However, I can never get used to having to pay the fucking bill afterwards! Not once have I left and thought, “Wow, that was a cheap night!”

Captain Rock: Yeah, you have to spend a lot of money! Then you use that need for money as inspiration to make more songs; it gets the creative juices flowing!

SangMyun: Yeah -- you gotta be a broke bum to make a good song or two.

# Insoo finds an outlet for his other passions in his part-time (?) band L.O.D., and Captain has made some songs for the Jebidabang compilations. Have any of the other members ever been involved in side or solo projects?

Captain Rock: Well, first off, Insoo is a real hard worker. He has his L.O.D. side project to work on, but we all seem to keep ourselves busy with different things. SangHyuk has a little cafe called Lemones, SangMyun has a lot of interest in the producing side of things too. YoonSik takes part in some acoustic solo shows. I respect them all a lot for doing that kind of thing. I think we can all learn from these side projects. We are all busy and hardworking, and I think the outcomes from those other projects stimulate our work in Crying Nut.

SangMyun: I think we all have different opinions on this. For me at least, I feel a bit lonely if I take part in some other projects alone… Also, I think I would feel a bit sorry to the other members if I were to get too involved in my own thing. For that reason I like to stay true to Crying Nut and just focus on something I can do on my own and for Crying Nut, which is learning about recording. Recording is something I can apply to the band.

SangHyuk: I can make all the songs I want with Crying Nut, so I don’t really have any desire to do anything else at the moment.

InSoo: I think if you limit yourself to just one thing then you limited in your growth. Doing different things and branching out lets you grow as a person and expands your musical horizons. You can’t cheat on your wife obviously, but I think it’s okay to cheat on your band from time to time. Musically.

# So has L.O.D. influenced the work that you do with Crying Nut?

InSoo: No, not at all. It just makes my body weaker.

# You guys are stalwarts in the Hongdae music scene. Do you see yourselves as role models for younger Indie bands? Do you feel any kind of responsibility for helping the next generation of underground musicians?

Captain Rock: All that drinking gets expensive. People are always telling us how great we are and how we are the forefathers of indie music in Korea, but the end result is that our pockets get emptied from paying for all the drinks. But, I don’t mind that because...

SangMyun: Careful what you say next!

Captain Rock: Right, that was close. Ha ha! Anyways, I want to show them that I am so happy doing what I wanted to do and that if nothing else I can afford to buy them drinks. I didn’t realize about problems like gentrification in Hongdae when I was young, but these days I would rather try to do something than just ignore it. I know that I won’t be able to make much difference, but I would like to organise some Crying Nut shows with other bands as well to raise awareness. I feel a responsibility to help make a better scene.

SangHyuk: Yeah, this often comes up when we go out drinking with bands after shows. When they tell us that we were their inspiration for starting out in music I feel lucky to be able to still play music with them. That is enough for me.

InSoo: I actually feel like they are our equals as opposed to us being their role models. So, seeing as we are partners, we should all split the bill evenly when it comes to drinking, ha ha! These days the kids these days are so polite, lots of the fuckers get out their wallets out first and offer to pay. Heh heh...

YoonSik: Are they not just bribing you? Or just scared of you?

# You must have seen your fair share of stuff over the time you have been in the industry.  Are there any tidbits of advice you want to offer to young bands trying to make it big?

SangHyuk: I would say they should decide if the want to be an actual star of rock, or just some kind of famous celebrity.

SangMyun: We were never really planning to become stars, it just kind of happened when our song ‘Speed Up, Losers’ exploded in popularity. Other bands saw our success and started saying strange things like, “we first need to get famous and then we can make the music we want to make”. So, loads of bands ended up going and joining big companies like SM Entertainment.

YoonSik: Yeah, don’t pretend to be something you are not just for the sake of image. Just be true to yourselves and your music and you will be fine.

# What is your honest opinion of talent contests like ‘Hello Rookie’ and ‘K Rookie’?

Captain Rock: Honestly, I am a judge on some of those programs, but objectively speaking I think they are great. The reason being, I think it is good for people to have challenges in life. As a judge on the programs I feel that seeing as there are so many genres of bands appearing on the programs that the final placings they are given are not really all that important (after all, it is hard to compare a punk band with a ballad singer). The important thing is that the bands bring something a bit unique to the table, something that makes them stand out from the rest. I think it is good if bands apply for lots of these programs. If they do well they can get grants and other kinds of support to help them further their careers. But .. don’t be fake. Show your true selves. That is important to remember. Another good thing about appearing on these programs is that the lighting and sound quality is top notch so it is a good experience for bands.

InSoo: Because of the slump in the market I think these contests are a great way to promote young musicians. Honestly, I think that without them it would be really hard for bands to earn even a penny from their music. It is always good for bands to have opportunities available to them. There are some bad effects and of course, lots of critics of these programs … but I think it is better to look at the good points.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked as a band?

SangHyuk: Do you like peanuts?

YoonSik: Yeah...I got asked a really weird one. It was just after the drummer of Sanwoolim had passed away, at his funeral. Someone asked me this: “If a member of Crying Nut passed away, would you continue with the band?”.

SangMyun: What a weird fucking question...

InSoo: Well...this is not exactly a question, but one time when I was doing a radio show, I walked into the studio and the guy was like, “Hey, you look like InSoo from Crying Nut!”. That mother fucker was the show’s producer as well! Maybe he was just taking this piss, I am not sure.

# What is the biggest misconception people have about you?

SangMyun: At the beginning when we were playing more punk stuff, people thought we were bad guys and trouble makers. They thought we were kind of scary, which is definitely not the case.

YoonSik: Especially when there were TV cameras around. People would tell us not to spit at the camera or not to swear and stuff.

SangHyuk: Yeah, often we would be given scripted replies on certain shows so that we would answer questions the way they wanted them answered. They would keep on recording until we spat out the answers they wanted. One time before I got married a film crew came to my house to make a program about the ‘bad boy’ twins. They wanted to produce this Ozzy Osbourne type of dysfunctional family situation where there was graffiti in the walls and my parents would swear at everyone and carry on, ridiculous. Instead, what they got was my dad being all mild-mannered talking about how ambitious we all were.

(all laugh)

YoonSik: Yeah, your house is clean as a whistle too.

SangHyuk: Yeah, that’s why that show never aired!

# Is there anything that has not changed since you started out all those years ago?

Captain Rock: The girls still look as pretty as they did back then. That is why I play music.

InSoo: Every time I practice I go back to the start in my mind. I’m like “Fuck, we’ve been doing this for twenty years and we still suck!”

SangHyuk: Yeah, I’m still practicing the 8 beat. The most enjoyable thing for me has always been the after parties, it still is. I always want to get the shows finished fast. I play the drums fast so we can get finished and start drinking.

You’ve performed all over the world in the last ten years; is there any overseas gig or other experience that stands out the most in your memory? Best/worst?

SangMyun: The best was at Trastock Festival in Sweden.

SangHyuk: That festival is over in Northern Europe. I think it was the first time an Asian band had appeared at that festival. You gotta remember that everyone over there is snow white and sandy haired, and then we showed up. I think everyone, including us, thought that we looked like a bunch of monkeys. While we were doing our rehearsals this skinhead kid rocks up and starts telling us to fuck off. We brushed it off and had a great show anyway. Later on he came up to the stage and was crowd surfing and everything. He even asked for our autographs in the end. LOL

InSoo: He came up and was trying to buy our CD after the show but some old fella kept belting him round the head, calling him a little Nazi shithead and telling him to fuck off. We ended up having to protect him. Ha ha!

# Gyung Rok Day (Captain Rock’s birthday) is considered one of the holy trinity of special days in Hongdae, along with Halloween and Christmas. What’s the expiry date on this?  Think you will still be going at 60?

Captain Rock: Gosh, I’m just stumbling along at the moment, I don’t know. This year might be the last. I know it’s under my name, but honestly, even if it was not for my birthday it would still be a great night. Loads of musicians come along to hang out, there’s no political motivation or feeling of obligation or anything like that. They just come to have a fucking great time. So if all that can continue to grow, then great. Or perhaps we will change it into something a little different.

SangHyuk, congratulations on the opening of your cafe, Lemones (레몽즈)! Could you please tell us more about it and what led you to open it?

SangHyuk: Well, I’m not really the boss. That would be...my wife. I’m just a part-time employee! Back in the day, if you worked in the music industry people had the impression that we were just fucking around or something. I was always into models and stuff, so I was considered a bit of a nerd, but my wife is also really into dolls. So we talked about it a bit and decided that it would be nice to have a space where people who were into that kind of thing could come and hang out. I think that it is important to follow your passions in life. Crying Nut think like that too. It is not exactly related, but that’s how I think.

YoonSik: He got the name Lemones off the band the Ramones!

I’ve always wanted to know if people ever used to get (or still get) confused between the twins. Do you have any funny stories about deliberately mixing up your identities in the past?

SangHyuk: People don’t usually realise we are twins unless we tell them. Then they are like “Ah yeah...I can see it now”.

YoonSik: Yeah, it’s easy to tell them apart because they have slightly different hairstyles, and different piercings and what not. But when they were in the army, they wore the same clothes and had the same hairstyles, so nobody could tell them apart!

SangMyun: Yeah, once when I was in the army I was washing my face and looking in the mirror. I moved one way, but the reflection did something different. I almost shit my pants. For a second I thought my soul had escaped, but it was just SangHyuk!

SangHyuk: No way, I wasn’t there at that time.

SangMyun: Uhh...

# SangHyuk, as the only father in the band at the moment, how do you balance your career and your family life? What does your daughter think about your music?
(note: since the interview YoonSik has also become a father)

SangHyuk: Yeah, She likes it. Actually, she never said that herself but I think she likes it anyway. At least, I hope she does! Please!!

With so many achievements already under your belt, what would you like to achieve in the next 20 years?

SangHyuk: World domination.

Captain Rock: Just survive.

SangMyun: I want to ride my bike a lot and go drinking a lot too.

InSoo: I don’t want a ‘young’ fresh mind. I think getting old is alright. It’s a bit harder being older and of course I would like to be able to go out and have a good time more often, but overall my current state of life is really good. Honestly, I’d like to get older still.

# What’s next for Crying Nut?

SangMyun: We are going to release a few more singles.

InSoo: Life is too tough to try and plan it out!

SangHyuk: Yeah… you work too hard at your part time job.

Captain Rock: Even if we make plans, we are not skilled enough to stick to them. But we enjoy that fact.


We recorded a little of the interview to give you an idea of what the vibe was like. Check it out (sorry, no English subtitles)

_____________________________________________________________

Interview : Doyeon Lim, Jin Kim, Song Hee M. Roh 
English Translation : Matthew Nelson
Edited by : Rock N Rose
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For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/CryingNut
Official Site : https://about.me/cryingnut
Twitter : https://twitter.com/thecaptainrock
DoIndie : http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/bands/crying-nut

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Crying Nut

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