Posted on January 30, 2015
It’s been almost a year since the much-anticipated debut of Streetguns, Korea’s best and arguably one and only true rockabilly band. We were in attendance on March 1st, 2014, at ClubFF, as long time fans of The RockTigers (who had recently split up after more than a decade of pioneering “kimchibilly” music to enthusiastic audiences around Korea). Joined by a new, young, good-looking male vocalist called Chulsoo (in place of the legendary Velvet Geena) four of The Rocktiger’s original members, Tiger (leader, on guitar and vocals), Roy (upright bass), Eddie (guitar) and Jeff (drums) returned with a vengeance and a more masculine sound. By the end of the year, Streetguns had become a regular and popular fixture on the Hongdae club scene, enticing crowds to twist and shout wherever they went. The band are about to unveil their first album (with a showcase set for February 13th in Prism Hall), DoIndie sat down with all five Streetguns in their practice studio in Mangwon-dong to find out what’s been going on since the interview we did with them last year on the eve of their debut.
Tiger : Hey. We are Streetguns, and we play rockabilly music. We were originally known as the RockTigers, but when we changed vocalists, we also changed our name and started playing as Streetguns.
Tiger : This is Chulsoo, the vocalist of Streetguns. He came through an audition as a 1000 to 1 shot to join the band! He is very good looking, one of the hottest vocalists in Hongdae. He has loads of female fans.
Chulsoo : Eddie is the band’s guitarist. Eddie makes the quality of the band better. He adds a lot of detail to the songs.
Eddie : Jeff is like a drum-playing MacGyver. I’ve got nothing special to say about him ;)
Jeff : That is all you have to say? I guess I sat in the wrong place. Roy is our band’s contrabass player. We play rockabilly music, so Roy is playing arguably the most symbolic and important instrument in the band. As you can see he is really good looking and popular too!
Roy : Tiger is the guitarist and backing vocalist of the band. He is the bandleader and he writes a lot of the songs. He is always playing a central role in the band.
Tiger : We have recently finished recording and are currently mastering the album. We plan to release it on Feb 13th. Because we all worked really hard on the recordings, we didn’t encounter any big problems during that process, and I think we are all fairly satisfied with the results. For me, including all the albums we made as the RockTigers as well, this is probably the most satisfying record we have produced. Also we have put in a lot of effort to make sure all the tracks on this album are authentic, well-made songs. Songs that people can get into easily. Before, we used to concentrate on making songs that fit with the rockabilly culture, but I think the songs on this album have more content that people can easily relate to.
Roy : Whichever way you look at it, it is a rockabilly album, but I think our ‘mind’ (aim) has changed a lot. I think we have become much more open to fans, easier to like.
Chulsoo : We tried to cut down the recording time on this album… that was pretty hard to do. I learned a lot from the other members in the band during the recording process, and it was a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to seeing how the album is received after it gets released.
Tiger : We haven’t decided what the title track will be yet. We’re gonna run a vote once the album is out. We do have a title for the album itself though. It’s gonna be called Ordinary Band.
Tiger : We started that campaign without any real expectations; however, as soon as we launched it, loads of people helped us out, and we exceeded our target. We were really happy and of course thankful to everyone who helped out. It is a bit of a burden for us now though because we have to produce an album good enough to meet the expectation generated from raising so much money. To repay all the people that supported us, we are doing our best to put together a good album, and we are making some t-shirts to send out as well.
Tiger : Yours hasn't changed at all.
Jeff :That’s because I am the symbol of the band.
Tiger : He didn’t change his hair because he is the band’s symbol! If you change your hairstyle regularly, it means you are also changing the way you think. Because of this interview, today is kind of a special day for me, so I’ve got a lot of wax in my hair. Also, back when we were the RockTigers, we had a lot of male fans, but these days we have more female fans! The shows are getting crowded.
Tiger : Because we are so good looking!
Chulsoo : At first it was all a bit much. Of course, the other members had been playing together for a while and were all used to each other’s company, but I was a new member and not familiar with the other members. In the early days I just did what I was told, but after a few months, it all became fun and still is now. The atmosphere in the band keeps getting better and better!
Jeff :Now, when we go out on tour we can talk about indecent things. Somehow, because Geena is a girl, a lot of topics felt off-limits. These days we talk about a lot of erotic / honest things that we couldn't talk about back then.
Tiger : When Chulsoo joined the band he was the only new member, so I worried about how Chulsoo would mold a new image for the band, post-Geena. Honestly, our first month of gigging (March) as Streetguns was a bit hard. It felt a bit strange to have the RockTigers image with Chulsoo in the band. However, as time went on Chulsoo has absorbed some of the band’s image and of course added something of his own as well. I feel like we are really a different band now. It has not yet been a year, but I think I can safely say we have achieved a lot already.
Tiger : When Chulsoo joined the band we tried to play songs in the same style as past RockTigers material, but his vocals didn’t really match the style. I guess we have changed by dropping the rougher-sounding Rocktiger songs and moving more towards more upbeat and rhythmic songs. So I think the lyrics have got a bit more honest. Before, we had a female vocalist so we made an effort to create lyrics that suited a female vocalist, but since I’m male, it was really hard to do that. Now though, we have male frontman so lyric writing has become much easier. I think that is one of the biggest things that has changed.
Tiger : The biggest difficulty probably was changing the name. It’s hard to make a band name.
Roy : When we were trying to decide on a new name, we were using a Kakaotalk group and every time we thought of a possible name we would put it in there. There were probably thousands of names suggested. There were various ideas floated around. We would open the English dictionary and come up with loads of different names. Also, it was hard to leave behind the RockTigers image. Finding a name was hard, but discarding our old name was just as difficult. RockTigers had built up a name for themselves over the years, but we had to forget all that and start again, from scratch. Loads of our friends told us not to change the name, but now, we think the change was a good idea.
Tiger : Like I said before, we suddenly have more female than male fans. We can really feel that difference when we play shows because as the RockTigers, all the people shouting up front would be guys, but now they are all girls.
Tiger : Our foreign fans have gone from being mainly male to mainly female. I think that overall, the number of foreign fans we have has gone down a bit, but we still have some! I reckon before, our fans were 90% foreign, but now it is about half and half, I’d say.
Tiger : All of them are so different.
Eddie : I really like <넌 너무 쿨해 [You Are So Cool]]>
Chulsoo : For me, <Ordinary Band>. Like the other songs, rather than being really happy and rhythmical, this song is more delicate. If you cover your eyes and listen to the lyrics, you can really feel the situation.
Jeff :The intro! Before we play the intro I’m really not feeling into it, but once we have played that I’m ready to go! My favorite song is probably <Everybody needs rock n roll> !
Tiger : People say they feel alive after that song.
Roy : Live, I really like <Rock is Black>. On the album I think my favorite track is <Ordinary Band>.
Tiger : I don’t think all of our songs are actually good, but like the old saying, "Every child is dear to his parents,” all of my songs are equally precious to me.
Tiger : We can’t really say! We have to maintain a relationship with all the owners!
Tiger : I guess it is about the same now as it was a long time ago. We have been trying our best to spread the word about rockabilly, but it’s really not easy. Anyways, people seem to really like our music, so hopefully through us they will learn more and more about rockabilly music. So we don’t obsess about rockabilly so much; we just trying to get as many people as possible to like our music.
Roy : We don’t try to make our music rockabilly by definition, we just play what we feel comfortable playing, and rockabilly music comes out. That’s how we think about it now.
Tiger : I don’t think it is so important to worry about the status of rockabilly in Korea. At the moment there is not really a scene at all.
Tiger : Anything fun about the band? These guys are no good at holding off for a pee...
Roy : Haha. I’m gonna have to explain that now. When the weather gets cold like this it makes you need to pee more. Haha. 철수 and I are similar in that way.
Tiger : So check with each other, will you?! Ask each other ‘Do you need to pee?’ before we set off.
Roy : They needed the toilet so we had to stop on the highway for them to pee, they even said hi to the passing women in their cars. Holding off the need to pee is the most difficult thing.
Tiger : Insoo really likes me. We love each other. We are the same age and good friends. He was a RockTigers fan right from the beginning. When the other members of Crying Nut went to do their military service, he became the keyboardist for RockTigers. These days he is back playing with Crying Nut, but he has left some of his love with us. If he can make the show, he is always there to play with us.
Tiger : No, that is because we are all fashion maniacs. Haha. Before, we got everything from abroad, these days everything comes from Rockshop.
Tiger : It’s too cold, so we don’t do any trade! I wanted to open a place like Rockshop way back when I was into the punk rock music and fashion. I really liked this kind of stuff, so I’d research what brands there were around the world, and it was great to be able to make a business out of it. I hoped to make a bit of extra cash by opening the shop. We opened in September, but it’s been too cold really. There aren’t many good punk rock clothes for winter time. But people seem to like Rockshop a lot, so I guess at the moment it’s less like a business and more like a fun place for people to come and hang out.
Tiger : At the showcase, we will be playing all of the new songs from the album. The Hoppers from Busan will come up and play as a guest at the show. 'Chan-Whee So' will also play with us.
Tiger : Chan-Whee was a presenter on a TV show we appeared in back in 2010, and we became close with her then. She even made a project album with Roy. She really likes collaborating with different people.
Roy : When we were the RockTigers we were not really a ‘hot’ band, so she wasn’t so keen, but now we got better looking!
Tiger : Every Streetguns fan has seen the songs live, but no one has yet heard the recorded versions, so I hope this album will make a good present for everyone. We are gonna keep working hard. If you listen to the album or come to the shows and like what you hear, I hope you keep supporting us.
Roy : We really focused on our sound while we were making this album . We really tried hard to make a good quality album. So, it should be good...right?
Tiger : We love all our fans!
Roy : Liar!
Interview : Rock N Rose / Eunji Kim / Sooyoung Yoon
English Translation : Patrick Connor
Korean Translation : Jo Jaeyoon
Edited by : Heather Castille
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Date : Feb 13th (Fri) 20:00
Venue : Prism Hall
Adv : 20,000won
Door : 25,000won
Adv Tickets : Eng Booking - Click Here
Facebook Event Page : https://www.facebook.com/events/626524434119893/
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