Posted on November 07, 2014
JaeHyuk Choi (drums) : This fella here is called Yongwon, he plays guitar and sings lead vocals. He is pretty much like the band / label father figure. Jinyoung on the otherhand, well, he is more like the band high school kid.
JinYoung Han (bass) : It’s like I’ve just gone through puberty. I just like to mess around. Carrying on with the family theme, JaeHyuk is like our mother. He takes care of all the household affairs. He always works hard at whatever he is doing. Whatever the situation he is always positive. Yongwon has a lot of drive and energy. He likes to spend time and is a bit of a perfectionist. Thanks to his drive and determination Yellow Monsters has managed to survive for 4 years, we have our own label and our own venue!
YongWon Lee (guitar & vocals) : JinYoung and JaeHyuk are like family members to me. When you spend so much time together it is like you are living together. You can end up disappointing each other and even disliking each other, but there are so many good feelings and emotions that can come from it as well. We have learned to understand each other so well. If someone is having a hard time or is feeling jaded, if they are feeling good then we all get it. We are all there for each other. They are more than friends, they are like members of my family. Just like a real family, we have a big brother, a younger brother and baby. haha I am really short tempered and short sighted, so I make many mistakes. In the case of Old Records and Prism Hall, I really gave no thought to how it would all work out, I just went ahead and did it. Thankfully the rest of the guys sort out and fix everything for me!
YongWon : Yeh, I reckon so. At first, because of the speed I like to work JaeHyuk and JinYoung were really surprised about my methods for making music. Because of them I have gained a much more sophisticated understanding of many things like sound, mixing etc. In my opinion when playing in a band, having a good grasp on the songs is the most important thing (of course, performing the songs is important as well). When I play with Yellow Monsters I really feel like we understand the songs, it is really satisfying for me.
YongWon : Well, we have almost got our new mini album finished off. We will be releasing it late November. It is called ‘The Van’. It means the guy in the front, the instigator. The lyrics on the new tracks are much stronger than in our previous work. It has some edgy lyrics, its a more dangerous album, so we chose that title.
YongWon : Well, we wanted this to be more of an album that carries a message, not just a simple music album. These days, everything is a bit socially restless. We feel that as well. For example, honestly speaking Korea is a bit messed up these days. We talk about that a lot in the new songs. We are a bit worried we might get arrested (haha),
JinYoung : But Yongwon likes these kind of straight up lyrics. He doesn’t like to beat around the bush.
YongWon : At any rate, because we are a rock band we think it is right that we talk about everything honestly. There is a lot of censorship at the moment, even on SNS sites etc. but whatever, if they come and lock us up, so be it! Are they really gonna come and lock us up? Rather than deliberating over publishing the songs and the album we just went ahead and just put it out. We didn’t worry about that stuff at all. If we worried too much about all that things like that, we would not be being true to ourselves and our beliefs. It would not really be us. We like being straight up and honest.
YongWon : Nah, it doesn’t make any difference. Even if we were to pass the censorship issues, they wouldn’t play loud music like ours on the radio anyway.
YongWon : Mixing took a little longer than expected because of the studio’s schedule. We originally planned to drop the album on the 13th, but we needed a week longer to get it all done, so out of necessity we had to postpone the release. We are sorry about that, and by way of apology we are gonna give the first 100 people who come to the show a pre release unmixed version of the album.
YongWon : I write most of the lyrics. We have had some songs whose lyrics come first, and others where the music comes first. It is our preference to just make songs & lyrics as they come out. Once the song is there, we don’t like to change it too much, we definitely don’t like to mess with the music in order to appeal to the masses.
YongWon : Actually, I don’t think there are any bands around who work like us. We don’t think about marketing at all. Some people think releasing an album each year is a lot, but for us … it is just what we do. We like making music. Perhaps when we hit 40 years old, we might slow down a bit! haha. You never know when problems might occur, so we will keep doing our best and working hard until we can’t do it anymore.
JaeHyuk : In order to breakthrough and play music here in Korea, all we can really do is play gigs. And as you know, to play the big gigs, you have to release lots of material.
YongWon : Actually, I think with every album, it is impossible to be 100% satisfied. But, with this new album, well, we are not 100% satisfied … but we are pretty pleased with it. Let’s say 99%!
YongWon : I think we have given the mixing engineer some really good ingredients to work with on this album. I am excited to hear it all post mixing.
YongWon : I think the message with in the lyrics are the most important thing on this album. Rather than concerning myself with if the songs were good or bad, I was more worried about the content of the song, what message was being conveyed. I wanted to dare to say the things that others couldn’t say.
JinYoung : The whole thing with Prism hall happened really suddenly. We had thought for a while that it would be cool to take over a venue. Yongwon had been looking around for a while, but it had all kind of died out. But we played a show there one day, and the previous owner told us he was looking for someone to take it over. So, we had a meeting with the rest of the band members, we worked out that over the last year we worked out we had spent around 2,000-3,000먼원 on renting venues, and if we owned our own we would be able to save all that money. So we decided to take over the venue. So far, we are really pleased we did it. It’s not always plain sailing, there is lots of hard work to be done but its great for all our labels members. Of course we play gigs there, but we can all use it as a practice space as well. As an added bonus, we get to see loads of gigs as well.
YongWon : My favorite track is probably Riot.
JinYoung : My favorite is a new track, it is called 폭도가 [The Mob]
JaeHyuk : Red Flag is my favorite track. When we finished it I was like, ‘wow. thats one fucking good track’ haha.
YongWon : I like 빨갱이 [Red Commie]. Its over 10 minutes long! Actually, thinking about it, we are not gonna be able to play this new album live very well. There are a few 10 minute epics and a bunch of songs that are gonna be really hard to play live.
YongWon : No, they haven't been to see us yet. As with all sons, my sons are easily influenced by what their father does. I don’t think I want them to become musicians just because of me. A musicians life is pretty tough. I know musicians are doing it because they love it, but out of all the bands that exist, it is probably only like 1% of bands that make enough money to survive. I see so many bands that work so hard, but hardly any of them make it. There is no chance for bands like ours to get mainstream media coverage. You have to be playing nice quiet music in Korea to get media coverage. We promote ourselves just by playing live shows, its really hard to promote ourselves. I am not completely, against them becoming musicians, I don’t want to tell them that they can not or should not do it. However, I don’t really want them to become musicians because of my influence. Actually, even my wife has not seen us play yet! Thinking about it, I guess I should probably invite them all really.
YongWon : The punk scene in Japan is so much bigger than the scene here in Korea. Including us, there are probably only about 20 punk bands here in Korea, right? It is a really small scene. Not only are there not many bands, they are all here in hongdae. In my opinion the punk scene in Korea doesn’t have a very bright future. It is really hard for loud bands like ours to forge a living for themselves. On top of that, it is getting harder and harder to attract people to the shows. On the other hand, the modern rock scene and the acoustic scene is growing all the time. Even for great bands like Galaxy Express, Crying Nut etc, it is hard to get a big audience to their shows these days. I think the scene is small and there are no big ‘star’ names around at the moment.
JaeHyuk : Well, there are just more fans in Japan I think. Also, since way back when they have been big bands who have shaped the music scene. As a result, there are loads of kids who look up to those bands and want to emulate them. Furthermore, it is not just Tokyo, there are loads more venues across the country so they have a better infrastructure for bands. The quality of the sound system and lighting systems, even in the smaller venues the quality is much higher than it is here. The whole setup out there is better. Because many people go to school to study lighting, sound, music business etc they have establish an actual ‘scene’ in which musicians can thrive.
YongWon : I think the fans in Japan are not as warm and receptive as the fans here in Korea. In Japan the fans really support their favorite bands a lot, they go all out for them. But for bands they don’t know they are like ice. Last time we were out there, we played a show in Kobe there was no reaction at all for us. Nothing. It was the first time we have ever experienced anything like that. We were really going hard, rocking out on stage but there was just no response at all. We couldn’t just quit, so we kept our heads down and just got on with the show.
YongWon : : Our way is the best way. We play what we want to play. It is much cooler to do it like that. I hope that when the people who have listened to our Red Flag album listen to the new album (The Van) they will think ‘ah, it’s good old yellow monsters music’. We didn’t want to disappoint our fans, so we worked really hard to make this album a ‘Yellow Monsters’ album. Our third album was really well received by our fans, this time we wanted to make a much more honest / straight up album. In the future, I think we would all like to make an acoustic album as well. Recently 신해철 sadly passed away, actually there is a lot of bad news in the music scene these days, so we are determined to get as much in as we can, while we can. We want to make loads more albums and play loads more shows.
YongWon : We just really liked those two songs, 차가운비 [Cold Rain] & 끝인사 [Last Goodbye]. So we stuck them on the album. When I was a member of Gumx, we only played Punk. There was a limit to what we could do. Even if there was a good melody, we always sacrificed to make sure we stayed within the punk genre. I hated that. There were so many good songs we discarded. I think, if the song comes out sounding good and it is not punk, then so be it. In the case of these three songs, 비야 [Beeya], 벤자민 [Benjamin] and 차가운비 [Cold Rain]. They are not punk, but we liked them, so we kept them as they were and included them on the album. Of course, we were thinking about pleasing our female fans a little ;)
JaeHyuk : As well as it just being a good way to convey some meaningful messages we also just like to play several styles of music. We like emotional tracks too. Also, be it on the album, or live i think it is good to show some wit / humor as well. We like a wide variety of styles really. We like perverted things too!
JinYoung : It feels wonderful! Afterall, we are currently Yellow Monsters. We don’t play in any other bands. My Aunt Mary disbanded 4 years ago now, it is in the past. It should stay in the past. I like that that part of our lives has slowly faded out. Right now is the most important thing. I hate to look back on one's former glories. I really hate that. haha
YongWon : Ah, I wish My Aunt Mary would reform. I really liked their songs, but Delispice, they are not that cool anymore (haha), not now JaeHyuk doesn’t play drums for them anymore! The band was more complete when he played for them. Actually, recently, they asked him to come back and play with them again!
JinYoung : Yongwon got really worked up about that. He was really worried that JaeHyuk would go back and play with Delispice again. He kept saying ‘What shall we do if says he is off to join Delispice again?’. We were both worried really, but thankfully he chose to stay with Yellow Monsters.
YongWon : Yeh, at that time we were really worried. It was about when we were recording the second album, if i remember right. Of course, even if he had of left, we would have carried on but it wouldn’t have been the same, I don’t think we would have got to where we are today without him. When we started out as a band we always promised we wouldn’t talk too much about our past bands. I’m really pleased he decided to stay with us. Since forming Yellow Monsters we have all played the odd show with our past bands, but our main focus is Yellow Monsters.
YongWon : When the mini album comes out, we will probably set up a tour of Korea, the best part of being in a band. Right now we only have Seoul shows lined up, but I think we will do a tour in December.
JaeHyuk : We are talking about releasing the album in Japan as well. If that works out, we hopefully we will get to do a tour out there as well.
YongWon : We hope you enjoy the new album, make sure to read the album booklet as well. Come and check out some of our shows. We hope you fall in love with not just us, but other loud bands like us as well.
Interview : J-Myon Kim, Sooyoung Yoon, Il Hwa Choi, Rosemary Duncan
English Translation : Patrick Connor / Doyeon Lim
Edited by : Alex Ameter
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To celebrate the release of their new album, Yellow Monsters has a showcase concert at Prism Hall. Check out the information below :
Date : Nov 15th (Sat) 19:00
Venue : Prism Hall
Adv : 30,000won
Door : 33,000won
Adv Tickets : Interpark
For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :