Posted on October 02, 2014
After a trusted friend familiar with my musical tastes suggested adding them to the line-up for a birthday show, I assumed they would be a cool performance, but generally didn’t know what to expect the first time I saw Man. When they took the stage, I was immediately impressed by their songwriting style and melodic guitar riffs and vocals. I remember that day, just two short months after they had really started playing together, how they sounded like a band that had been at it for years longer, and how they had the crowd into each song despite the fact that most people in the audience were seeing them for the first time. Having come to know them much better since then, I still find myself impressed with their music, their performances and, not surprisingly, their rapidly growing fan base.
Each member of Man has a unique stage presence and style, and yet they come together not as four separate musicians, but as a collective that seamlessly builds each song from a riff or melody into a completely fleshed out piece of work. Anyone following Korean indie music at all is intimately familiar with both the variety and quality of the musicians working at it every day, and Man is a perfect example of both of these elements. Each of the members takes their music very seriously and endeavors to put on a show that reaches everyone in the audience, and they do all of this with their own unique mixture of melodic rock and energetic post-grunge music. After recently taking first place in the KT&G Band Discovery event at Sang Sang Madang in Hongdae, the band was kind enough to spend some time with me at one of our local coffee shops to talk life, music, the past and the future. It is my pleasure to introduce the ones we need only call, Man.
Perry Kim : Kyuhyun Han is our drummer. He likes to eat the kind of food babies love.
Kyuhyun Han : Dong Ick Shin is the bassist. He has a beard, even though everyone wants him to shave it.
Dong Ick Shin : Kyoung Wook Lee plays guitar and sings. He is always trying to lose weight, but he can’t stay on a diet for long because he loves to cook so much.
Kyoung Wook Lee : Pe-Ri Kim is the guitarist and he often sings. I wish he would stop drinking so fucking much.
Perry : Kyuhyun, Kyoung Wook and I grew up together in Suwon. Through middle and high school, we all played in the band together. But after graduation, we each met other people and were in our own bands. Somehow, all of our bands broke up or we left them after a few years. Thus it was perfect timing for us to team up as a band again. Kyoung Wook got us all together to start playing last November, and we really started working this past January.
Kyoung Wook : While I was in middle and high school, I was listening to a lot of American southern rock and hard rock. When I was 20, I started listening to British rock as well. I think I listened to Radiohead and Coldplay the most. Eventually, I decided I wanted to be in a songwriting band rather than one focused on jamming and instrumentals. Finally, we got together and became a band.
Dong Ick : I really enjoyed heavy metal music from when I was an elementary school student through high school. Bands like Motor Head. Then in university, I was in a kind of band club and it was there that I played bass for the first time. Then I realized I wanted to make music, so I started studying applied music. It was there that I first met Kyuhyun.
Kyuhyun : That’s right. Dong Ick here was my junior at university. I was a drummer at my church. In the beginning, I liked Japanese music, but starting in high school, I got into American rock music. Now, I listen to all kinds of American and British rock.
Perry : A long time ago, I really enjoyed the Beatles and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I still like them now, of course! I was constantly playing music. However, during my military service, I got really sick. I was in a coma for several days…and when I came out of it, the idea hit me that even after my death, I would always regret it if I was not creating music. From that experience, I have made an earnest effort towards making music.
Perry : Generally, Kyoung Wook writes the melody and then brings it to our practices where the rest of the members work to build the song around his melody. It may be easier to think of our songwriting as putting together a puzzle around his sketch.
a) Who wrote it?
Perry : Kyoung Wook wrote the lyrics and he and I wrote the music together. The arrangement was actually done by all the members.
b) What is it about?
Perry : I guess the lyricist Kyoung Wook should answer. Kyoung Wook, what is the song about?
Kyoung Wook : I don’t speak English well, so actually the lyrics may be a bit awkward. Either way, it is about a woman who is not answering phone calls to avoid a man, but he keeps persisting.
Perry : We tried to add meaning to that situation, where a man and woman have a crush on each other. This reminded me of an absence of communication. Even when you talk to someone else, it may not lead to any real discussion. Sometimes, people don’t respond or perhaps neglect what you are saying. We encounter this kind of situation a lot when we are dating.
c) What is it like playing it live when the audience gets so involved?
Kyoung Wook : I had not known the audience would sing along. We thought that the musical interlude might be too long to get people to move. We never thought that this song would be one of our most loved songs. Actually, with the energy of the audience, it gets us even more amped.
Dong Ick : Some of the fans are really noticeable from the stage. When they get involved and sing our songs, it makes us more enthusiastic on stage. It makes us feel even better.
Perry : I think all bands are influenced by how excited the audience is. If they do not enjoy our performance, we also become less energetic. But if they love our songs, then we start playing more passionately.
Dong Ick : When we are having fun, the audience is having fun as well, and when the audience is happy, we get happier as well. There’s a real interaction between us!
Perry : It does not pressure us at all. Instead, we are thankful for the interest in us. Plus often, the fans who enjoy our show did not originally come to see us, [j1] so we feel lucky to be in the same line-ups with big bands that keep people there for our set[j2] . In other words, it is true that we have lots of fans, but we do not have a lot of “my favorite band is Man” fans. We want to build up that kind of base. What we know, is that we are glad that the number of fans who watch us play has increased in a relatively short period of time, as you mentioned. But, it does not pressure us for performing or recording. Those areas are the ones in which we should do our best whether we have a solid fan base or not. And we try to enjoy performing on stage even with only one or two people in the audience.
Kyoung Wook : Hmm… I guess I don’t know about the reaction yet. Actually, I made the demo as kind of a business card for the band. It seems like a good introduction to us, and it seems like a lot of people have bought our demo.
Perry : It seems like people who enjoy our shows buy it, so I guess it’s not a bad reaction.
Perry : For the benefit of performing, we are rehearsing every day. Also, we are preparing a digital single. It may be available in early October or soon after that. Well, it’s difficult to say because we don’t have an exact plan yet.
Man : We were surprised! We didn’t think we would win. We thought, if we did well enough, that we would have been ecstatic if we could have come in third. [j3] Winning was not something we had imagined! It was so exciting!
Perry : I was surprised when we made it to the top 6, but the moment we won, I was shocked. I think “Band Discovery” was a series of surprises.
Dong Ick : I could not believe we really won it for a while, so I kept playing the awards ceremony video on YouTube for two or three days. Agh, we really won!
Perry : We probably each have our own opinion here. For me, when Man leaves the stage, I hope you feel like a typhoon has blown through. I envision everyone enjoying our show in their own ways, through dancing, jumping or moshing. Someday, I hope Man can be that kind of band.
Dong Ick : I like that, but I hope we can impress people with lyrical melodies as well.
Kyoung Wook : I really like Coldplay. When Coldplay sings entertaining songs, the whole audience starts dancing. And when they play melodic songs, people are truly engaged. I can feel that people are enjoying every moment of the music even when they are calm. I hope for us to be that kind of band: making people crazy by playing energetic songs, and making people really engaged when we play melodic ones.
Kyuhyun : I would like to make a lot of songs that are nice to just sit back and enjoy listening to in addition to the ones that get everyone dancing.
Perry : Listening to you all, I think you guys are right. Haha!
Perry : I think the best thing about the Hongdae indie music scene is the access to such a variety of music. Even our style is rare in Korea’s mainstream music scene. This variety of music is Hongdae’s biggest advantage.
Kyoung Wook : People think we have only one kind of music in Korea: K-Pop. Actually, the kind of music people around the world love the most is band music. It is sad that such amazing bands can’t get in the spotlight here, even though we have so many talented ones in Korea.
Perry : It’s really difficult for musicians here to earn a living through music alone. This might be because of the problems the Korean indie music scene has, but I think we should develop Korean music policies or just the way people see the scene. This is something all of the bands here can agree upon.
Dong Ick : Musicians, of course, do not earn enough only through music, because not as many people love rock music. It is impossible to make a living from band income alone. Because there is little money, the album quality is low. Because the album quality is low, people find no need to seek out these albums to buy. It is a vicious cycle.
Perry : There has been great development in technique compared to the investment, and thus we can expect an increase in quality. Nevertheless, the market does not seem to have expanded.
Kyoung Wook : In the K-Pop market, they may invest tens of millions of won on one song, whereas in the indie market, it is extremely difficult to invest that kind of money on a whole album.
Perry, Kyoung Wook : The Korean music market is definitely problematic.
Dong Ick : I think you asked a very difficult question.
Perry : Yeh, that’s right. A really difficult one for a rookie!
Perry : Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio!
Dong Ick : Reflex, Life and Time, Thorn Apple.
Kyuhyun : Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio and DTSQ! I really like DTSQ!
Perry : I didn’t expect you to like DTSQ! Good to know!
Kyoung Wook : Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio, as always, and the Blocs!
Dong Ick : Oh, I like A’Z Bus too!
Perry : Really, the popular bands in Hongdae are all awesome. How can you choose just one? This band is awesome because of this, that band is awesome because of that.
Dong Ick : Yeh, more bands keep coming to mind. I like Julia Dream too. It’s impossible to choose just one.
Perry : Who Who is great. And Rock ‘N’ Radio is great. Actually, they are both close bands to us. They’re all great. Lately we’ve been playing a lot with Beatniks and I like them too.
Dong Ick : Spacepapa!
Perry : Oh yeh, Spacepapa is awesome! It’s difficult to choose just one band. I think it’s similar for all the bands that go to shows. Because I’m not just a musician, I’m also a fan.
Interview By : Brian Gilbert
Translated By : Sohn Jeong Eun (Jasmine)
Date : Oct 3rd (Fri) & Oct 4th (Sat) - 19:30
Venue : Freebird2 (Big Bird)
1 Day Ticket : 15,000won (10,000 won after 10PM)
2 Day Ticket : 25,000won (Adv : http://goo.gl/A0O19f)
Line Up :
Friday (Oct 3rd) : 비트닉스 (Beatnicks) / 티어파크 (Tierpark) / 청년들 (The Lads) / 노리스펙트포뷰티 (No Respect For Beauty) / 구텐버즈 (Guten Birds) / 맨 (Man)
Saturday (Oct 4th) : 뉴블루데쓰 (New Blue Death) / 마그나폴 (Magna Fall) / 24아워즈 (24 Hours) / 안녕바다 (Annyeong Bada) / 푸르내 (Blue Stream) / 위댄스 (We Dance)
For more information on the band, check them out on the following websites :