Posted on May 18, 2014
Ahead of the release of their new EP [Space Kitchen], the Magna Fall boys were kind enough to have a quick chat with us. This is what they had to say :
1) Magna Fall originally formed as a cover band known as The Bastards Of Bupyeong. Do you think playing cover songs during that time helped to define the sound of your band in any way?
David : It helped in getting familiar with each other’s style of playing, and even defining each of our own styles. But the real stuff came after Bastards of Bupyeong.
Kevin : I think that playing covers at any period can help a band expand on a sound or perfect it or get into a different genre altogether. It’s hard to start into a new style and just “play a song like that” when you have no reference of playing it beforehand. We went through quite a few styles or even genres while experimenting with cover songs in BoB.
2) What were the best and worst parts of being a cover band?
David : The good: Going out of Seoul and playing long sweaty sets and partying all night afterwards! ..but we still do that now. The bad: It gets old playing covers over and over whereas I still enjoy playing our oldest original songs.
Kevin : Best part: everyone knew the songs and immediately reacted by singing along or rocking out; they don’t usually do that with an original they don’t know well, even if it’s a good song. Worst part: playing stupid songs that someone else wrote.
3) Did you have a favorite song or artist to cover? Why? Do you still perform the occasional cover track these days?
David : The most fun stuff to cover was ACDC. We would usually end our sets with ‘Let there be rock’. We still occasionally play a few of those when we do a Woodstock set! It’s been a while though...
Kevin : One of my favorite covers that we did was “My Sharona” because it’s so quirky and weird. You can’t really screw it up. If it’s played well it will usually come off as funny or ironic. Playing a more earnest song is difficult because if you don’t do it VERY well it can seem sappy and ridiculous.
4) What made you decide to move away from covers to focus on originals? In what way do you think the band has evolved since then?
Kevin : Writing and playing your own material is way more artistically rewarding. I could never be in a long-term cover band unless I also were playing originals with another group. We have evolved tons because you quickly realize when you are writing songs that sound the same. Often, one of us will come up with a riff or part of a song and another person will say, “Hey--that sounds too much like this other song.” It kind of keeps you fresh. But I think bands usually settle into a particular sound and start writing lots of songs that sound exactly the same. I hope we don’t end up doing that beyond the length of an album.
David : I’d say from the beginning it was always the goal to start writing our own songs. I think we started writing the first original within 6 months of first meeting. Since then the song writing has greatly progressed. You can notice the difference in the first ep and this new ‘Space Kitchen’ EP. And our next release will be different again as we have two new members since writing the previous.
5) What does 'Magna Fall' mean exactly? Is there a story behind the name?
David : I think we were in Busan when we were looking through our phones searching for cool words.. haha. We had been thinking of something that sounds spacey. ‘MAGNA’ pretty much fits that idea since space is pretty big... Then there’s the ‘FALL’ part… better think more..
Kevin : (Fagna Mall, hehe) Gotta have an “adjective-noun” band name. Barring that, a “The _____” or now just a noun without any article, like “Baths” or “Talking Heads”
David : If you are ever in the Club FF band room you prob noticed on the wall “MAGNA BALLS” (or something like that) That was Joongmo’s attempt (a year or so before he was in our band) to have an influence over our name choice!
6) In 2012 Magna Fall progressed to the latter stages of the KBS 2 television show “Top Band”, gaining a lot of exposure on the way. In your opinion what were both the positive and the negatives aspects of appearing on this show?
David : There’s not so many negative things i can think of. The show gave us the opportunity to meet nearly half of the hongdae bands and give us nationwide exposure on TV. After the show was finished we felt more part of the scene here, getting invites to play at shows and bands accepting our invites to play at our shows.
Kevin : Yeah, what David said. The positives are that we have a sort-of built in name recognition. At the same time, we have changed a lot since then, and the TV performances didn’t and still don’t really represent our sound or style. If we do more TV spots I’d like to keep it honest and true to what we are doing, not cheese it up. But we kind of had to for that show.
Joongmo : The positive part I think is the TV ‘exposure’. Many people could learn about Magna Fall! The negative thing is that some people expect Magna Fall to be a cover band covering korean music(because of 거울도 안보는 여자). Plus, the competition was covering some old korean songs. Which is pretty silly - i thought… So people couldn’t learn what Magna Fall’s authentic style is. I hope people think of us as ‘Magna Fall’ - not just the Foreign band that played some old Korean song.
7) You have been through a few lineup changes recently, how has this affected the band?
David : Neil and Taeil left at about the same time. We had a lot of notice beforehand, so Kevin and Myself made sure we would have members to keep things rolling. I was talking to Joongmo in early June last year at a show after party and asked him to do session for a few shows. I think that was session bass actually. Well in the end anyway I asked him to play guitar with us. He played his first show with us in late June. Next we needed a bassist… so we auditioned a bunch of bassists. The last audition was Younsoo. We knew after that audition that we would ask him to play bass. His style of playing fit the rest of ours. Himself and Joongmo had played in bands together previously so they were familiar. Some nice stuff is coming together in the studio that we’re excited about.
Kevin : Younsoo and Joongmo have very different styles and influences than Neil and Taeil did. We are writing stuff now that we probably never would have written with those guys. Plus they can keep up with anything that gets thrown out there, and they have really good contributions every time we write something new. Also, they are open to different styles. I like the stuff we are currently working on--it’s very different from anything we’ve done before, even that of “Space Kitchen”.
Joongmo : As a new member, Ii cannot tell objectively. But since i was one of the fans and friend, i’d say Magna Fall gained more energy and stage presence which will make people go crazier. From a musical point of view, Dave, Kevin, Yeonsu, and I - we’ve got very common ideas and taste in music. We all like… Led Zeppelin, Rush. Soundgarden. Original rock bands! So, i think this will bring us to be a ‘tight sounding band’ - something very important for rock bands.
8) What are the pros and cons about being a band in Korea? Do you think you will ever ‘make it’ here? What does ‘making it’ mean to you?
David : A few years ago the three of us (Neil, Kevin, Myself) probably only dreamed of playing any major festivals in Korea. Last year we played at Pentaport. This year we will be playing at Greenplugged in spring and more coming up in summer. Not that this means I think we have ‘made it’ but we are always excited to have the opportunity to play in front of that many people. We’re pretty happy doing what we are doing anyway, and we’re going to keep doing it and more.
Kevin : I think making it is having a lot of people--Koreans or Westerners--show up at your concerts without begging them to come because they’ve heard of you, like your music, and really want to be there. This is a lot harder than it sounds.
David : Yeah, as Kevin said - it’s difficult to get the people out to the shows. That’s also due to the concentration of the Indie scene in Hongdae too. So many shows go on each weekend at the same time with so many bands.
Joongmo : I guess korea is not so different compared to other countries. I would say korea is a pretty good place to play music. Many korean bands and musicians might think U.S or Japan is better, but it’s just bigger than korea. It doesn’t make things better (of course U.S ,Japan has a bigger music scene). The negative aspect of being a band musician in Korea is that people listen to what the TV stations show the most. Like all over the world, what you can see from TV is not so much about music. Korean TV for example, it’s mostly entertainment and showing cute girls. I like it and many people like it. But now… its too much. We need to change this!! Maybe Magna Fall can change this~?
9) Tell us a bit about your new EP [Space Kitchen]. Has your sound changed compared to previous releases? Do you think the local scene or indeed living in Korea has influenced your sound in anyway?
Kevin : This is the most consistent sound we’ve had on any of the three projects we’ve done. There is a lot of continuity even though the songs are all different. The style has remained driving, but we have a lot of little progressive and non-mainstream elements in the music, like weird time signatures, abstract lyrical themes, and departures from previous sections of the song. Each song has parts that are quite distinct. I’d like to keep that up, but work on tightening the songs and making them a little more accessible, while still making music that is different than what other bands are doing. We need to find a sound that is working for other bands and change it to make it our own. Also, I really love cool transitions and I’d like to focus on those--they are sort of the glue that holds a cool prog-rock song together, IMO. (see: Rush, Yes, and TOOL). We aren’t exactly prog-rock though, not completely. So we put most of our focus on the verse and chorus structures and into making sure that the parts can accommodate a vocal melody.
Joongmo : Yeonsu and I didn’t record the previous albums and we didn’t write the whole of this new album. But as a fan, and as a musician who recorded the ‘Space Kitchen’ album- Magna Fall is stick to the own style which you can hear from first EP Japan. when you listen to the ‘no mirror’ single, that sounds more like popular music(in a good way) so, i guess Space Kitchen is the newer version with a more organized sound and musical skills. You might notice some very interesting ryhthms time signatures. That is really works well and fits well in our music.
David : We are especially happy with the sound and songs on this album. We wanted to make it as real as possible. The groundwork of the album was recorded live, with additional bass, guitars, and vocals done later on. You can feel that energy while listening to the tracks. I also have to give credit to the engineer that worked with us mixing this album (John Hyungseok Oh at Mplus Studios). He really helped us capture the sound we were looking for.
Influences in Korea - We are always chatting about the latest performances we have seen. Last week we played a show with the band 'Phonebooth'. We were chatting about their energetic performance and song structures. We are definitely influenced in some way or another by most bands we come across in and around Hongdae.
10) Looking at your lyrics from the new album, it seems like you write about a pretty wide range of topics (from drugs and desire to science fiction and heartbreak). Where do you find the inspiration for your lyrics? Is there a particular song or lyric from the new EP that holds a special meaning to you?
Kevin : I like lyrics that are generally darker and more obscure and abstract. I really love Chris Cornell’s lyrics for example--you can’t pin down what every single line means because it’s very metaphorical. However, I do like simpler lyrics that describe a feeling or a situation. I will be trying out some more of that in the future, blending the mundane experience with the sublime expression of that experience. I do want people to have SOME clue what I’m writing about and be able to relate to it in a way.
Joongmo : Kevin wrote the lyrics and he is huge book worm!! So you might expect certain stories or philosophical stuff. He did write something about those, but i want to tell people that when you read our lyrics think in your own way, use your imagination! There is no certain answer.
11) Seeing as you live, work and play in a different country to your birth, would you ever / have you ever avoided certain topics because you worry about being culturally insensitive?
Kevin : We can’t be overtly sexual or write explicit lyrics about drugs. Also, even though I fucking love to swear and shit, I don’t see any added artistic value to using vulgar language in lyrics unless it is to really make a point, or if it is used sparingly. It can sound juvenile if used wrong, and I’d like our lyrics to have a level of intelligence and...maybe even...sophistication.
12) I believe David is responsible for Magna Fall’s latest music video ‘Muskapple’, it is pretty trippy. It looks like it was a lot of fun to film. What the hell is going on? What was the inspiration & story behind the video?
Kevin : I have no fucking idea what is going on.
David : The video is my representation (along with a few ideas from the guys) of the song itself - a bit crazy, spontaneous and psychedelic. It started out with one idea to make a simple, slightly humorous video of us driving in a car, playing and singing. So I got the guys over to my house and set up a green screen in a room. I took all the shots we thought we needed, and a whole lot more. That evolved into something a little more crazier and I ended up editing this thing for a pretty long time. It’s like the way I paint.. never able to finish something.. never satisfied. So I’d keep changing things and the result is usually filled with many layers of different things happening. It’s pretty automatic, if an idea comes into my head such as a plane crashing into Joongmo’s guitar for the solo - I made it happen (or as the song says ‘It must happen!’). It’s kind of like with real automatic writing/painting, you lose your self-control. The video (or my mind I suppose) is trying to get at that automatic behaviour in a space of unconsciousness.
13) Your EP release party will be on April 4th at Rolling Hall. Do you have anything special planned? What can fans expect from the show?
Joongmo : We will bring some new stuff that we’re working on. We want to show that we never settle for the same thing over and over.
David : We’re going to put on a good old fashioned hard rock concert. No bullshit. Just good music and good people rocking out to it. We have some great bands to help us out with it - Tacopy, AFA and Wasted Johnnies. Come help us party!
14) What are your plans for this summer and beyond?
Kevin : Play a lot of shows, write a lot of new stuff, do some festivals, hopefully make a couple TV concert appearances, get our new weird music out there, and have fun doing it. I would like to travel to another country to play again sometime soon as well.
Joongmo : Many fests! And especially a new album, a full length album that we’re working on. And we want to be on TV, so many people can listen to our music. It will pretty much be a shock for them, because Korean people are not so familiar with this kind of music. So i’m pretty sure we can refresh people’s ears from stupid popular music!!
David : Just as the lads said. Play lots of shows and get our music out there as much as we can. And record again when we have the right material ready. I’d also like to add that our bassist Yeonsu, the cool fu**#er that he is - declined to comment in this interview.
To celebrate the release of their new EP (Space Kitchen), Magna Fall are holding a release party at Rolling Hall (Hongdae).
Date : Apr 4th (Fri) 8pm
Venue : Rolling Hall
Reservation : Interpark (← click)
Buy Space Kitchen :
Melon : http://bit.ly/MPiNez
Olleh : http://bit.ly/1nfFYwe
Naver Music : http://bit.ly/1gThEMp
Hyundai Card Music : http://bit.ly/1f9TBpY
Bugs : http://bit.ly/1g20Epk
M.net : http://bit.ly/1cDCrkA
Daum Music : http://bit.ly/1fIB7D7