Posted on May 07, 2015

Interview

# You have a new seven-song EP called Cotton Candy. So what's the concept of this album? Why is it called Cotton Candy?

Iain : Um, because somewhere along the way we got caught in this naming convention using hard Cs for the name.

Tim : C words we use for albums, Curfews, Corruptions, something lighter on the tongue.

Graham : It's a nice juxtaposition of how it sounds and the name of it. When I envisioned the artwork, I was thinking like uh the Some Girls 7" it's like a rabbit on a rainbow with like its guts spilling out, so it had that kind of feel with the music -- it's kinda hard.

# What is the music generally like on this album? Like what are some of the things you write about?

Tim : Lyrically I guess it's just an extension of the other Yuppie Killer songs. There are a smorgasbord of topics covered ranging from trivial things about time travelling and dying on boats all the way through to municipal politics.

# Municipal politics?

Tim : Yeah, we took the Rob Ford thing a step farther and wrote a song called "Common Pedestrian" about the average voter on the street looking no further than their own two feet for an answer to what's wrong or right with the country. There's more stuff about consumerism and corporate control and corporate influence in education is actually rampant in a number of songs.

# So sounds similar anyway. You guys have been referred to by also to different names like noise punk, crust, grindcore, bad metal, powerviolence, and so on. How would you actually describe the sound of Yuppie Killer. And I'm going to ask Yoong-gwang.

Yoong-gwang : Me? How can I say? I can't describe it. It's just Yuppie Killer.

# Just Yuppie Killer?

Yoong-gwang :Yeah.

Graham : It's from the heart.

Iain : Middle-class cisgender pathos.

# Next, I'm really curious about something I heard recently. Apparently Andrew WK is a fan of Yuppie Killer. So how did that come about?

Graham : Andrew WK -- and I have been telling everyone cuz this is great -- is following me on Twitter -- I don't really use Twitter, but I have one -- and he followed it. Sage Francis was doing shows in I think he did one in Busan and in Daegu, and he saw one of our "You Party Like Shit" stickers and took a picture of it and put it on Twitter I think, and I think our buddy Ken found it -- or someone found it -- I don't know how it got back around to us to be honest.

Iain : I think it was Ken.

Graham : But Sage Francis took a picture of it and sent it tagged Andrew WK in the thing, and then I was just like I found out about it -- I was at work and I told the kids to shut up for a second and I was like "Oh you found our thing" and then they both favourited my thing and I was like basically in the circle now. So it was just by chance thing.

# So do you want to go on the record: does Andrew WK party like shit?

Graham : I'm not trying to usurp the throne. He's the king of partying and I think everything we know about partying we in a sense learned from him, like an older brother or that kid with the dirt bike down the street.

Iain : There's only one way to find out. Call us, Andrew.

Tim : Yeah. You're being called out.

# So speaking of those "You Party Like Shit" stickers, you also have another series, I think it was "Your Father sucks in bed." How did these come to being and what was your idea for making them, rather than just plain Yuppie Killer stickers?

Graham : You see it and you feel uncomfortable. Because then you immediately you're thinking about your dad just laying pipe.

Tim : Shit at it.

Graham : Yeah and being just really fucking shit. Piss-poor fucker.

Tim : And your mom sucks.

Graham : And it's just a triple entendre. And your dad can't fucking suck a dick for shit.

Iain : So we are all the byproducts of unathletic sex. Another Yuppie Killer-coined term.

Graham : And we're all here because our dad was just too lazy or probably just too drunk to pull out.

Iain : My favourite thing about the "Party Like Shit" stickers though is that like there's always kind of a universal reaction to "Your Father Sucks in Bed" but "You Party Like Shit" there's always like three branches of reaction. One is like "You know, ha ha, this is kinda funny." Two is like "You don't know how I sparty bro." And three is just like offense; we've mortally offended someone a deep personal wounding.

Graham : How. Dare. You.

Iain : This aggression will not stand.

Graham : There's a lot of bars where the stickers are at and they will not last. I think they're frequented by other people who know us and do not like it.

Tim : I think shit can be taken multiple ways, right. Like you can skate like shit and that's a good thing. Like "You're a good shit dude" and that's a good thing. It could be praise.

# You guys had another really weird plunge into the limelight when Vice Magazine or whatever that little publication of Vice picked up on your song "Rob Ford Rides Again." I'm really curious, like after that happened, that was such a weird thing, did that actually give you guys any kind of boost, like in your profile or the activities of the band?

Graham : No, not a single sale on the Internet. They found it because I posted an album stream on both the hardcore and the punk subreddits, and then someone on the punk subreddit reposted it on the Toronto subreddit, and then someone on the Toronto subreddit put it on Noisy. I did my homework with this and found out what happened.

Iain : It was really fucking quick too.

Graham : But with newer stuff I've posted it and people've like just randomly said like "Oh right, Yuppie Killer, I know that" -- like two people. Cuz like that one forum post and like one comment, and that one comment, you know? Money in your pocket. Take it to bed with you at night, you know?

Iain : Basically it made us feel bigger than we are for like a day.

Graham : It was not Vice Magazine; it was the Noisy blog, so it was buried within 15 minutes. We can't keep riding that wave until it crashes to shore, you know what I mean?

# Yeah, I mean Rob Ford was trending, so...

Tim : It was written well before the whole Rob Ford stuff.

# Was it?

Graham : His downfall was a fucking landslide, like down, that was months in the making. He has like stomach cancer or something now.

Iain : I remember we posted the album up on like 1 or 2 in the afternoon that day. Later that night I went to sleep my fucking cat woke me up at 5 o'clock so I went on bandcamp just to check. All of a sudden there's like 600 plays for f-rockin Rob Ford. Like what the fuck, so I googled our fuckin name as I'm wont to do, and just like the article just showed up there like two hours old or something. It didn't really do anything for us but it's kind of a neat story. The best part is I saw that you could see the Twitter traffic off the feed, so a couple people posted it to Rob Ford's like Twitter account. So he never really commented or whatever lackey that he gets to do it, but it's probably likely that someone did it, or at least that he was at least informed that there's an Asian hardcore song.

Graham : I like to think that he heard it. And I like to think that he crushed a fuckin' beer to it.

# What I found so bizarre about that coverage is how it starts off like "So an Asian band is writing about Rob Ford now" and then the article like goes to its completion and then in the last paragraph they're like "Wait a second, they seem to be all white guys."

Graham : And they're just like "I don't know what to think now." And it's just like "Disregard everything I said -- it's actually not interesting. Moving on, moving on. We'll make sure to never cover them again."

Iain : Yeah, we had our 15 minutes there.

# Well I would've thought so until the Andrew WK thing came along. Maybe a smaller scale thing.

Iain : Aren't there like five Andrew WKs? Like they kill one off and another shows up.

# Huh. So anyway, moving on, I noticed something interesting you mentioned was -- actually that I mentioned and you commented on was like as soon as they kind of discovered it in the process of creating the article, "Oh, they're all foreigners," that really seemed like it didn't do you any favours, but it has opened a few doors in Korea, and I kind of want to talk about this too, because being a mostly foreigner band, it's certainly opened certain doors, and slammed shut certain other doors.

Tim : Yeah, white privilege.

# Okay, yeah, I think to some degree, to domestic media like Groove, I think yes, they want to find an all-white group to promote to their readers.

Graham : It's safe.

# And Vice wants to find an authentic Korean group, so when they found out you weren't that...

Graham : They want us to be more dangerous.

Iain : They don't want to spend any fucking time looking.

# Because I'm going to be hard -- how do you find another Korean hardcore punk band?

Iain : Yeah, right? There's only like...two, right?

# So this bothers me that nobody would look hard enough to find any of these bands, so they've gotta find you guys which are the easy ones to find.

Graham : Yeah, it's like people in the west I guess who give a shit about the same thing, they're shitting themselves over every Japanese release but they're not even bothering to look and do any sort of effort to find out, which is a shame because I think there's a ton of sweet bands in Seoul, so that's on them, really.

# And one of the reasons I wanted to have Yoong-gwang here, of course, when I was first setting out to do this interview, I was talking about you guys with I forget who else, some other people in the punk scene, and one of them referred to you as "the first all-foreigner band that's genuinely part of the Korean punk scene."

Iain : That's very nice.

Tim : Who said that?

# I'm not gonna say who. But I will first of all say first it's debatable: all foreigner is definitely not right. Genuinely part of the Korean punk scene, I absolutely would say yes. And there have been a lot of other bands before you guys that were all foreigner that would play punk shows but they were mostly part of the Itaewon circuit. And you guys didn't do that, so I'm curious why.

Iain : I don't think they would've wanted us even if that was an option.

Tim : What's the Itaewon circuit?

Graham : I think whatever Itaewon thing there was, it devolved into just bar bands, and there's no more bands left except in Thunderhorse. But we, except for Yoong-gwang, the rest of us, we all live within walking distance of Hongdae, so I mean like that's where we were, that's the shows we went to, that's the people we met, so that's kinda where we wanted to do it. That's where it was anyway. Not that we had a say in the matter.

Tim : I don't think we ever forced it.

Graham : I never gave it a thought, really.

Tim : And believe it or not, contrary to a lot of people's opinions about us, we are very respectful people, and we never walked in with our nose in the air, we were -- probably still are -- a shit band.

Iain : Before Yuppie Killer I was in this kind of shoegaze band -- I'm friendly with like a lot of the I guess we'd call it "teacher rock" bands, "teacher rock" outfits in Hongdae or Itaewon mostly -- I guess Haebangchon's grand central for that. I'm friendly with a lot of those dudes; do I like a lot of their bands? Truthfully speaking, not particularly, but I'm sure it's more than mutual, but I have nothing personally against them. It's just that we started Yuppie Killer, we started it in Haebangchon at the local bar one night like the night that my other band finished, right, that Jason our first drummer was in as well. Like uh five days later um we decided to have our first practice -- we'd been talking about it for a while, Tim, Jason and I. So we went in and practiced and had no fucking idea what we were doing but we kind of shat out two songs and afterwards I went home, and I was like "Facebook hey, first punk hardcore practice, twaaa!" And Cliff from Mixed Blood messaged me like "Hey, I'm putting on a show next weekend. You guys wanna play it?" And I was like "Fuck, why not?" So that kinda kicked our ass into place, so like fuckin' ten days after we started the band we had our first show and it really just went from there, and speaking personally, that first show on the technical end was a bit of a disaster but it was a shitload of fun, and it was just so much more interesting to me than what I would call not the foreign scene but the teacher rock scene. It's just it was a little less arms folding and a little more just people up to no good.

# I like that expression "teacher rock." Several years ago I was watching one band and I just remarked to the guy next to me, "Man, I bet these guys' students love them!"

Iain : Exactly! Take your fucking tie off and play some goddamn rock. Or not, play some other cool shit, but like, it's like you're getting older but you don't have to just sound older. And there's a total lack of vitality in a lot of those bands. I don't know, I'm gonna stop talking shit.

Graham : It's kind of a silly term, like "teacher rock" right? Like you wanna take a jab at someone, but I don't agree fully with the LBA [Loser Back Home] title they give to it back home. But if you're at a point where you're coming over here and you're sticking around for a significant amount of time, you fucked up somewhere down the road. Probably should've done your math homework, probably shouldn't have smoked so much weed. But you're clean now, you're here. So there's a little bit of authenticity in that when the music they do make, if it's outside of trying to get laid which is great, I don't wanna knock -- fuck it, it's great -- but, I don't know, there's still I don't know, there's a lot of bullshit out there but when you're trying to make something... We don't worry about who are going to think about it. Like, with our newest album, I don't know if it's a lot of bands that are four "airquotes" four albums in, where it's the hardest shit they've done. Like, it's usually the other way around, but we've taken it and we've kind of just...how can we make it faster and heavier.

# Better recorded.

Graham : Yeah, better recorded, and better mixed. And I don't think a lot of bands are trying to get more pissed. But I think in a lot of ways, maybe we've mellowed, but that brings a lot of new stresses, and personally I, you know, we are more pissed. So maybe there's a lot of that lacking in quote unquote teacher rock.

# But I want to point out you can be an English teacher here and still make great music. You can be a non-English teacher and make teacher rock in my opinion too. I actually had an interesting conversation with one other [Korean indie music] blogger who won't go named, because I can't remember the name right now. But she actually asked me once, "Where do I draw the line on my Korean indie rock website, what bands should I cover, and which ones shouldn't I? Should I avoid these all-foreigner bands?"

Graham : You should cover the ones that fuckin interest you, how about that. There's no line.

Iain : Cover fucking good bands

# I essentially told her that, but I had to find a way to explain that to her.

Graham : I guess they have to worry about traffic or whatever.

Iain : When you draw the line like that, what happens when a band like that comes along and surprises you? You're kind of up shit creek.

# And let's not disparage English teachers here or anything. Let's make it clear it's about a certain attitude.

Tim : I mean, we're all English teachers, except for Yoong-gwang.

Graham : Let's get WTF with Marc Maron in this shit. Ask about our childhoods.

Tim : I really want to say something there. Being a foreigner, for a long time this band was an all-foreigner band. We've been through several lineup changes. We've had a revolving door on bass, and it just so happens that Yoong-gwang was the right guy for the job at the right time, and he's been wholeheartedly embraced. I don't want to pull the racial blinders on or anything. I don't care about the foreigner tag and teacher rock and all those labels. Absolutely none of that matters if you don't--

Graham : We believe in a global village man.

# I think it is on a level, but I can see why you might not care so much. But so, just to confirm, Yoong-gwang is not an affirmative action hire? Like you guys didn't go looking for a Korean.

Graham : We get major tax breaks for hiring him on.

Yoong-gwang : What is affirmative action?

Graham : It means we hired you because you're Korean.

Tim : It's not like he gives us tax breaks or anything. He's our friends.

# And I will be honest, there have been certain Korean -- well, Korea-based bands, like Chanter's Alley, at one point they realised, they went through so many lineup changes because of members leaving the country, they were like "Let's replace members leaving with Koreans."

Iain : That's just smart. We weren't that smart in our hiring. We've known Yoong-gwang since like a month into being a band almost.

Tim : It was never a priority. It just happened. He's in our social circle.

Graham : Yeah, social circle and he knows how to play bass and he wanted to.

Yoong-gwang : Iain told me Jay's leaving so I asked him "can I join Yuppie Killer?" So he said "Okay I'll think about it." And afte a few weeks he was silent so I just forgot about Yuppie Killer. One day, he came to me, "Hey, let's play in a band." "Oh, okay."

Iain : Well it's cuz fuckin' Jay pulled a blinder. We didn't know if he was gonna leave or not.

# So I recently interviewed MyManMike, JP, I think he's the drummer, right? Since it's like an American, a French guy, and a Korean guy, and they've played more shows abroad than in Korea, I asked them, "Are you guys a Korean band," and he said "Yes, absolutely." So I want you guys to answer that too. Is Yuppie Killer a Korean band?

Graham : Well MyManMike is the fucking United Nations of hardcore, so what are you gonna do?

Tim : We're a Seoul band, right? Can we all agree on that at least?

Iain : I always considered us a Seoul band. We've always said from the beginning, we're from Seoul. In fact I think the first Busan show, there's an audio recording, where Tim's like "We're Yuppie Killer we're from Seoul fuck you!"

Graham : You gonna hyphenate and do all these word things? We live in Seoul, the band started in Seoul, we played 99 percent of the shows in Seoul, so it's a fuckin' Seoul band.

Tim : Are we supposed to lie in bed awake at night wondering, is Yuppie Killer a Seoul band, Korean band?

Graham : Oh what are we gonna put on the T-shirt?

Tim : International residents hardcore?

Graham : IRHC?

Yoong-gwang : Yuppie Killer is a Korean band?

Iain : Or Seoul band? Or whatever band?

Yoong-gwang : I think country is not important.

Graham : Thank you, thank you!

Tim : Bassists without borders!

Photos : Ken Robinson

# Now Yoong-gwang you've been in the three bands we've named so far, SAGAL had Iain in it, and Jordan River is like it's got members from everywhere. Where are the members of Jordan River from? There's like the Korean guy, the guy from Indonesia or somewhere, and Garret. So do you like being in bands with non-Koreans? Does that trouble you with communication?

Yoong-gwang : Jordan River and SAGAL, I told you country's not important, language is not important too, so we just communicate by playing instruments. I joined Yuppie Killer last summer but I can't understand these guys all the time, but I am still playing now. Sometimes they chat in Kakao Talk, and I can't understand it during work time what they said, so I search on the Internet or Google. Sometimes I ask Yongjun (Banran) or other guys.

Graham : We will be mindful of our puns in the future.

# So this means all of your songs are going to be literal from now on. No metaphors, no puns.

Graham : Well I don't know, I don't know the words.

Iain : Yeah, truthfully speaking when we were recording when we did the backup vocals, Tim wrote out the backup vocal parts, and there's a couple parts where like it was the first time for me seeing the lyrics.

Graham : There's only one song we wrote together and it's about men. Being men.

Iain : Making fire like men.

Tim : Back when men were men.

Graham : It's a treatise on anarcho-primitism. It's about fire.

Iain : Yeah, fire is sweet.

Tim : Dudes and meat and fire. And final line, "Thunderchief cooking meat." So it's like a ripoff of AC/DC and barbecue.

Graham : We always thought "Dirty deeds done dirt cheap" was "Thunderchief."

Tim : Yeah, misheard lyrics.

Graham : So that's where it came from.

Iain : Dirty deeds! Thunderchief!

# So anyway, next question: I've been making fun of you guys a lot maybe, but I think one of the reasons you've gotten a lot of these weird breaks, if you want to call them that, and that they haven't gone very far, but you get attention from unusual sources, whereas a lot of Korean bands just plain don't. It might be partly because people are looking for a band like yours sometimes. But also I think it is partly because you guys are just plain proactive, if we're talking about the stickers or having four recordings in two and a half years, doing a good job with merch, your online presence, putting on shows, playing shows, not playing too many shows like some bands, it seems like a lot of Korean bands don't do so well on that, like are a bit behind when it comes to this. So I was wondering when you look around at some of the other really great bands around here, what are things that they should be doing to keep pace with you guys.

Graham : I don't know, in that sense that you're talking about, I think we're kinda lazy in that sense, because like you look at the Kitsches or the Veggers and they'll play two shows a night every week--that's working hard.

# It is but I don't think it's working to their advantage. They're playing more and getting less attention.

Graham : I was thinking about all the bands that do get interviewed on this site and others, and a lot of times it's kind of the same bands, and I was thinking man there's a lot of sweet bands too bad they don't get any press. There's a lot of bands that work super hard but then just nobody gives a shit, you know what I mean? For one reason or another.

Tim : I don't know what "work hard" really means, like we practice, we we've been practicing once a week for two and a half years, we're very religious about it, our practice sessions are not the most involved, laborious practice sessions you've ever seen. But the other stuff you mentioned, I don't know about you guys, I guess we're all on the same page, we all think it's very important to record and have physical copies of our music. we like putting on concerts. We like having Victor [Ha, lead vocalist of Things We Say and Button King manager] make us pins. We like getting dudes to make shirts. It's fun, it's fun. In no other passage of my life am I able to commission art. Right? And it's not work, but we just try to exercise all the facets of being in a band. And plus we get to do things on our own terms: when we put on our own concerts, we do our own things. We do free smokes, we do free pizzas, we do free alcohol, we do cheap shows for students. There are things that we think are important. We get to choose bands, bands that we would want to hear. We get to throw pretty elaborate birthday parties for ourselves because we're all vain individuals. So these kind of things are the perks of being in a band and I think the fun. It's not work for me at all.

Graham : No I hate work.

Iain : It's the the perfect confluence of art, music, party, friends. Like there's literally no downside. I guess maybe the difference is some bands I guess don't put on their own shows or when they do they tend to rely on some venues where like bands don't get paid, they don't get along with the personality that runs the fuckin' thing or it's like too expensive. And it's just perfunctory. It's perfunctory shows, it's perfunctory--

Tim : I think what this all boils down to, this band has always been very grassroots, do-it-yourself. We all believe in doing legwork. You can still find flyers of Yuppie Killer pasted up around Hongdae that some wonderful person has done, in an age where flyering is dead. People still do that.

# I want to point out I didn't call you hardworking--I called you proactive. I think there are harder working bands and more talented bands who are ignored in favor of you.

Tim : This has always supposed to have been a fun project. Always. Go find a band, find a thing with your friends, doing things you like.

Iain : Maybe it's just dumb luck on our part but I also like to think it just boils down to "We wanna have fun." To paraph--to completely misquote Gandhi and shit all over his legacy, "Be the fun you wanna be in the world."

# Well that's something I can see in everything you guys do, from merch to putting on shows to your own band. It does seem like there's a certain amount of fun which brings creativity to every level.

Tim : ...One thing that we've seen is that there's been a lot of people from different bands, different countries, who have simply wanted to join in on a part-time basis with Yuppie Killer. There's been a number of people who've played one show with us, who were never in the band, who just wanted to come to practice, hang out, do shows.

Iain : Yongjun our buddy for example, probably legitimised the fuck out of us way more than we ever did. I remember Yongjun saying when he came back from Texas, he was like "Yo duder, we need to have more fuckin' party shows." And some guys were like "Nnnnnnah dude, we have to have like a very formulaic political show. Goddammit, fold your arms, wear black, throw down if you must, but we're an anarcho primitivist collective, exposing yadda yadda." And I was like "Why not though."

Tim : I really wish Les Sales recorded for that Loose Union album, recorded the live version of "Surf Cop." Yeah, Les Sales used to cover Yuppie Killer.

Graham : Yeah they played it a few times!

Iain : Yeah, once upon a time. And it was way fuckin' better than ours.

Graham : Oh god yeah yeah.

Tim : And we used to do "Fight for your right to party" with Les Sales too.

# Final words?

Tim : Kill it.

Graham : Hi mom.

Yoong-gwang : A few months ago my father was talking on the phone to his friend, "Uh yeah yeah yeah, where's some memo paper? Here!" He took a Yuppie Killer sticker, "Your Father Sucks in Bed." "Yeah, okay, okay, I'll call you back, okay." Sorry Dad.

# Did your dad know what that meant?

Yoong-gwang : He can't speak English so he just wrote a memo on the sticker.

# Don't tell him.

Iain : Can we just barf our last words "Sorry Dad"?

# Sorry Dad, alright. Let's all say that together. 1...2...3...

Everyone : Sorry Dad!

_____________________________________________________________
Interview : Jon Dunbar (http://daehanmindecline.com)
Korean Translation : 이윤지 (Yoonji Lee)
_____________________________________________________________

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

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/YuppieKillers
Soundcloud : https://soundcloud.com/yuppiekillerhc
Bandcamp : https://yuppiekiller.bandcamp.com
DoIndie : http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/bands/yuppie-killer

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