Posted on September 22, 2014

Interview

>>>>> Doindie has signed CDs & tickets to giveaway to The Geeks 15 year anniversary show (@ Prism Hall, Oct 11th). Details on how to win can be found at the bottom of this article! <<<<<

Jen: Could you guys start by telling us what your band is all about, or if somebody is hearing you for the first time, how would you describe your band?

Junsung Kang : We are a hardcore punk band. We formed in 1999, our members have changed a bit since then but the main core of the band for the last 15 years has been 기석, 봉규, and I. The newer members of the band have been with us for 10 and 5 years.

Ki-Seok Seo : In the US and globally, we have released 3 albums (on Think Fast Records). We have also released those same albums on Townhall Records in Korea. We’ve been touring a lot domestically and internationally with local hardcore bands including in the US, Canada, Japan, South East Asia, China etc. It is our greatest asset that there are a lot of people who support and care about us all over the world due to our relentless efforts to tour as much as possible. Many people might not know this because we are far from commercially famous, but we’ve achieved various “the very first time” titles (first Korean hardcore band to tour the US, Japan, SXSW, South East Asia, etc) .

Jen: What bands did you like when you were younger?

Junsung Kang : The first bands I really liked were Nirvana & Pearl Jam. Of course, Stone Temple Pilots. The first punk bands I really got into were The Stooges, Sex Pistols & The Clash. The first bands who really shocked me were Black Flag and Minor Threat. Before them I listened to bands like Rancid and Greenday.

Ki-Seok Seo : Yeh, but just like the majority of punk rock kids back then I think we listened to Rancid and Greenday before all that as well.

Jen: So I get the vibe. You guys were influenced by Brit punk and hardcore, more Seattle grunge, New York hardcore, early 80’s hardcore and mainstream skate punk all at once.

Ki-Seok Seo : Yes, that’s right. Early hardcore and early American hardcore. When I was younger, alternative and grunge music was starting to emerge. Jun Sung was my classmate at the time and he introduced me to Nirvana's Nevermind. In my mind, that song was the trigger for us to start this band. I’m not sure if I still have that tape or not, but it’s the reason we formed this band.

Jen: OK how would you describe your band now?

Junsung Kang : The truth is we haven’t really changed all that much since day 1. We started out playing the youth crew style and we still are. I think the difference is when we started out there were no mp3s so we listened to music via tapes and CDs, so I guess we didn’t have the chance to listen to as much music as people can today (via the internet and mp3s). At that time we got a lot of our direct influence from Youth Of Today, No For An Answer, Gorilla Biscuits, Chain Of Strength but these days as get older and it has become accessible, now we get various influences from many different things all over the world. We are still youth crew, but if you listen to our music you will hear more than just the youth crew style.


Picture : Angela Ownes

Jesse: Alright. Moving on, The Geeks is one of the longest running hardcore punk bands in Korea, when did you guys get your start?

Ki-Seok Seo : I think it all started sometime in 1996 at Junsung’s house. Am I right?

Junsung Kang : We first became friends in 1994 and in 1995 we decided our future band would be called The Geeks. We had our first rehearsal in 1996 in my house. I remember we did hardcore versions of Rancid’s ‘Roots Radicals’ and Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’. Back then we made loads of our own songs as well, but at that time, it was all Nirvana style music. I guess it was in 1999 when we graduated high school that we really started the band for real. It was at that time we first met Bong-Kyu. We had an advert out on the internet searching for a new member. I was the guitarist and Kiseok was the vocalist. So we needed a bass player, we put up an ad asking for a bass player who was interested in Gorilla Biscuits, Dead Keneddys, Germs. Back then, there were not too many people in Korea who were into the hardcore so we hardly got any replies at all. The first person to reply was someone who was into Black Metal. That person didn’t know much about hardcore, but he said that he thought black metal was fast enough, so he could probably play in a fast hardcore band as well. So we decided to play together. But, 1 hour after making that decision, Bong-Kyu called me that that he was into hardcore. I still think about that moment even now. Back then in Korea we used to think of Rage Against The Machine and Korn as hardcore, I just figured he would be just another person who was into that kind of music. So we asked him what bands are you into and Bong-Kyu’s first response was Minor Threat and Youth Of Today! After hearing that, we were shocked and decided immediately sack off the other guy and to go with Bong-Kyu.

Jen: So, that moment was very important to the development of The Geeks, thank goodness Bong-Kyu contacted you right after that heavy metal guy.

Ki-Seok Seo : I remember calling Junsung up, right after he had spoken to Bong-Kyu for the first time, in complete shock and amusement.  Later, we were both together in the same room and Junsung called Bong-Kyu again. I was just listening in on the conversation, I think I was more shocked than anyone.

Jen: OK, well that's really interesting. Since Bong-Kyu was more into hardcore and at that time, you guys were playing a more grungy style of music…

Ki-Seok Seo : Ah, No. We were crazy about both grunge and hardcore at that time! I guess we were mainly crazy about hardcore but it was always hard to find other people who were as crazy about hardcore as we were. When Bong-Kyu appeared and told us he was a crazy hardcore punk geeks  as well, I was surprised we had managed to find someone similar to us!

Jen: OK, so since you guys all liked various types of music at that time, anything from grunge, hardcore and punk to more mainstream stuff, so how then did youth crew / straight edge music play into The Geeks? So many people, especially from the United States, they see you as a youth crew band, even to this day 15 years later, they still follow you in that respect. You've got quite a big following.

Junsung Kang : Kiseok and I have been listening to that kind of music together for near on 20 years now, so, of course it has a big affect on us and our music. In middle school I liked Nirvana and Offspring. I first heard Black Flag in 1996, it shocked me. After that I came across Minor Threat and I was hooked! I really wanted to play punk music but it was way too hard for me. haha. Around that time I was into The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Stooges. Their music is really hard to play, so I decided it was not the style for us! The first time I head Black Flag I knew that we too should be playing this style of music. However, it turned out that Greg Ginn(guitarists)’s parts were hard to play as well. Around that time, Kiseok purchased a Youth Of Today CD, which turned out to be a little bit easier for us to play!

Ki-Seok Seo : To us, this music had a unique positive energy and power. It was unlike anything we had heard before. It was like a direct hit into my head.

Junsung Kang : The kind of music we listened to before that had a ‘rock star’ image associated with it, sadly at that time we were not at all fashionable. Youth of Today had similar hair styles and clothes to us. In fact, we didn’t become straight edge after listening to Youth Of Today, we were already straight edge but we really connected with their message, we had a sense of kinship with that band.

Jen: So many people consider your band to be a pioneer band. Even though you are a unique band with your own kind of style, so it's very interesting to hear about all of your influences.

Jesse: I’ve always liked The Geeks, so im kind of curious about this. I grew up in Los Angeles in the 90s. Finding out about punk rock was easy for me. Every high school and middle school has punk rockers, MTV in America had Punk videos at that time. I imagine in Korea it was not so easy.

Ki-Seok Seo : Yeh, you're right. It was really hard to find out about bands here. Actually, we had to ‘study’ hardcore punk. We were maniacs. True hardcore punk Geeks. Crazy boys. Rather than buying food and study books with our money, we spent it all on CDs.

Junsung Kang : At that time I had a list of CDs that I had bought. I reckon I used to buy about 1 CD a week while I was in high school. I used to listen to a lot of music back then, I really liked it. I didn’t buy clothes when I was at high school, I would use all my money to spend on buying CDs.

Ki-Seok Seo : What about Imported CDs! That was a whole new level for me! Around that time there was just one shop in Myeong Dong that sold imported punk CDs, It was like we used to live in that shop. We would go there every day, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends and get recommendations from the shop owner. When I was young, there were not so many computers, or places that sold CDs, so each time I purchased something, I would call Junsung  to boast about it and say “I just bought a new CD! It’s awesome!” We would play music into the phone to each other and spent all night talking about music.

Jen: Do you still play cover songs these days and, would you take requests at a live show? In Canada we always yell out something during encore. We howl, we howl and then the band will play it.

Ki-Seok Seo : These days we have so many of our own songs that we don’t have time for covers! Requests, we would have to practice to be able to pull that one off. If they were requesting our songs, of course … we can do that. But if they are requesting cover songs … there is a limit to what we could do.

Jen: Well, you have your new album coming out now, it's gonna be your 2nd full length release. What is this album going to give listeners? Is it certainly different from you old album.

Junsung Kang : Essentially at its core, It is still hardcore punk and youth crew music. It is our first release in about 7 years. Over the history of the band Kiseok and Bong-Kyu have made us center on youth-crew music, but, honestly, in that time I have been listening to loads of other kinds of music as well, from reggae to heavy metal and even pop music, DB crust and noise punk.

Jen: Would you say that this music you have been listening to recently has had any kind of influence on your new album or not?

Ki-Seok Seo : Yes, is the answer. I think we were influenced by that and it allowed us to try new things? Hence, I would like to call this album progress. As I said earlier, we tried to make progress while keeping to our roots at the same time.. It was tough and we threw away so many songs. “Oh this is not what the geeks in 2014 would play,..” As a result, the new album has heavier, dramatic song structures, but it does not digress too much from our hardcore punk roots. If you listen to our new record, you can hear that Junsung has been influenced by a wide varity of bands since our last recording. This has been great for us and resulted in more ‘colors’ in the songs. 

Jen: Tell me about the new album. How do you guys compose the songs. Is it a team effort. How to do you choose which songs make the cut, and which ones get discarded?

Junsung Kang : Well, before, we just wrote a lot songs without putting too much thoughts. As opposed to that, when writing this album, we actually made a whole load of songs for it, however, we ended up chucking most of them out in the end. The songs we ended up keeping were the ones we felt were most exciting and that made us imagine us in full motion and captured our live sound and energy the best. Ki-seok and I make all the songs together. Individually but collectively. Usually, either Ki-seok or I come in with a riff and we would all jam it out together and develop it into a full song in a way that fits what we stand for. Why you notice certain outstanding individual parts is because we build constructs and record them as they are and then try our different things at the studio.

Ki-Seok Seo : Most importantly, we wanted to create an album that we are all satisfied with, and I really wanted to do something that was a bit different. It keeps coming back to progression. Something a bit more than just a basic hardcore punk album. So it took a really long time to put it all together. 

Jesse: The geeks have been pretty active over the last 7-8 years since the last album touring. It's been a while since the last album came out. Why delay? Is it quality over quantity?

Junsung Kang : I really like the expression you used! Quality over quantity! The whole recording process took almost 2 years in all. We were really looking to make high quality recordings of the songs. We ended up doing each song again and again and constantly adding new parts when great new ideas struck us… Perhaps that’s what enabled us to pursue new things. I’m pretty pleased with the outcome :) The album was recorded at Tomato studio (here in Seoul) run  by Jong San Kim. It was produced by us.

Jen: Did you have any major problems to overcome when you were recording?

Ki-Seok Seo : Well... The biggest problem we faced was that when we all graduated (back in 2007) we all went straight off to work in companies. Most of our time was spent working, and the time we did have free …. we spent touring. So, we were always short of time to get in the studio and record new material.

Jesse: You guys have already been on three tours of North America and several others in Asia to places like Japan and Malaysia. Obviously you have a lot of distributions and fans overseas. Any plans for another foreign tour with the new album coming out?

Ki-Seok Seo : We have toured in Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore. We have toured America three times now. We would like to go back to Indonesia but we are going to do a Korean tour before we go anywhere. We are talking about doing another tour to America and then hopefully Europe. We have never been over to Europe.Our tours have been composed of local shows with local bands, local promoters and local kids, not just festivals. I dare to say this is a true way of touring a countries and really connecting with local kids by exchanging ideas. That said, it represents great opportunities and provides high level of flexibility… but it can be limited as well for the same reasons

Jen: Who would you most like to tour with?

Junsung Kang : Bane one more time? And I would love to tour with Jimi Hendrix. Guess I will have to wake him from the dead.

Jesse: When is your record coming out? When is your release show?

Ki-Seok Seo : We will release our new LP on Think Fast Records (worldwide) and also on Townhall Records in Korea. We will kick off with a Korean tour to support the album that will take in Daegu, Gwangju, Seoul and Busan. We will be sharing the stage with loads of cool bands, like All I Have, Betty Ass and Dead Gakhas. On Oct 11th, we will play our 15th anniversary show at Prism Hall in Seoul. We are really looking forward to it!   

Jen: Is there anything you would like to add? Anything you want to tell your fans? How can people find out more about you / get hold of your music?

Junsung Kang : Right now, we are not at all famous, but we have been going for a long time now. So there are some people that know about us I guess. When we play a show these days, it is just the people who know us that come to watch. It is not often someone comes to see us for the first time anymore. I’d love it if some people did come and check us out for the first time, it would motivate us to carry on! Actually, I guess it doesn't matter if new people come or not. I can’t make people come if they don’t want to. Our new album is out, we will be playing new songs … hopefully lots of people (new fans or old) can make it out to hang with us and enjoy the show. These days you don’t need to buy an album, you can just listen to it all on youtube. If you want a quick listen, give me a shout. I will even send you the songs. If you like them, come and see a show. That’s all we ask.

Ki-Seok Seo : Yeh, I reckon its best to see us live at a show. Not just us, all underground indie bands need your support. Forget the big corporate festivals, go and check out your local live shows and support the scene. That will help the scene grow and improve.

Looking back, we’ve achieved so many great things. We’ve been touring all over the world, connecting to local kids. They have been buying our records and even covering our songs. We played Pentaport and SXSW (although we were introduced as K-pop haha). Through all of this, we were often told that we are an inspiration to others.. It’s a real honor. It’s been a road less travelled indeed as a hardcore band. There have been tough times, but it’s been a great journey. We will continue to move forward, full speed ahead!

We will play our 15th anniversary show on Oct 11th at Prism Hall. Hope a lot of people can come and celebrate that with us. Thank you Jesse, Jen, Do Indie and Alex (POWWOW) for this great chance.

_____________________________________________________________
Interview : Jen Kreisz & Jesse Borison
Translation : Patrick Connor / Doyeon Lim
Edited by : Yoonji Lee
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To win signed CDs or tickets to The Geeks 15 year anniversary show (@ Prism Hall, Oct 11th), please follow the 3 simple steps below:

[1] Like our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/doindie.kr).
[2] Share the Geeks interview post from our facebook page to your personal facebook wall (make sure post settings are set to 'public' so we can check it has been shared).
[3] Click 'going' on the official facebook event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/667006176721768).

* We will notify winners on our facebook page on Oct 10th

____________________________________________________
To celebrate 15 years together The Geeks are holding a party at Prism Hall (Hongdae). Check out the information below :

http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/events/the-geeks-15th-anniversary-show

Date : Sat, Oct 11th (17:30)
Venue : Prism Hall
Adv : 15,000won
Door : 20,000won
Guests : Animal Anthem (앤이멀앤섬) / Burn My Bridges (번마이브릿지스) / Startline (스타트라인) / All I Have (올아이해브) / Burning Hepburn (버닝햅번) / Asian Chairshot (아시안체어샷) / Rux (럭스)

Adv Ticket Reservation <-- Click

Facebook Event Page : https://www.facebook.com/events/667006176721768/

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For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :

[The Geeks]

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/thexgeeks
Twitter : https://twitter.com/thegeekshc
DoIndie : http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/bands/the-geeks
Email : youthxcrew@gmail.com

[Think Fast Records]

Website : http://www.thinkfastrecords.com/
Facebook : http://https://www.facebook.com/thinkfastrecords

[Townhall Records]

Website : http://www.townhallrecords.net
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/townhallrecords
Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/TownhallHQ

 

Bands

The Geeks

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