Posted on April 02, 2015
Day1: There is no real meaning behind the name; we threw around a few ideas and Monoban just kind of emerged as our name. Loads of great records have been made with the mono sound. We just wanted to try and make an association with that, I guess.
Day1: Actually, the first time we all got together was right here in the room we are in now. We all met at a party here. From 2000 - 2011 I had been playing in a rock band. I played guitar but the band broke up, leaving just me playing solo. These two had a drum and cello project on the go. At some point, they were recording and asked for my help; I went along, and as it turns out, something about it just felt right, musically.
Jihwan: I don't think so... Music is just music, I guess… I’m really into heavy metal. George is all about classical music. He was a member of an orchestra in San Francisco. Day1 was in a rock band. We met by chance and started playing together. I was worried about the drums being too loud, but Day1 suggested, “How about you play a Cajon?” So I did! Turns out it’s really fun.
Day1: Hmmmm.... Jifan’s best point is that he’s super strong. When we go busking he pretty much takes care of moving all the gear by himself! Fingers are really important for George and I, so we tend to use them sparingly. His worst point: he gets upset easily! Also, he’s always telling weird jokes! He tends to enjoy obscene, smutty talk.
Jihwan: George always works really hard. I don’t really believe that anyone has natural musical talent or skill. To get good, you have to practice a lot! George is always working hard and coming up with new ideas. Everything he does, he wants to do perfectly. He wants his friends to do things perfectly as well. Now that’s starting to rub off on me and I’m becoming more like him. That is by far his best point. The worst thing about George is that he is so damn good-looking, all the girls head straight for him! Any fans we have go right to George. It makes me jealous.
George: I think Day1 has a real, natural, musical talent. He writes naturally, without thinking. But then, because of that, he doesn't like to analyze things too much. We have a really different approach. I don’t have as much of a natural ear or talent as he does; I like to put things down on paper and kinda figure it out. Day1 always prefers not to bother with that stuff and to just do it his way!
Day1: We went down to play at an art gallery (Biennale) in Daegu once. We were playing right in front of all the art works. On our way back I just got this feeling that it would be good to be in a band together. We were drinking beer on the KTX and I just said “Hey, let’s do this!” ... and that was it, how we started out!
Jihwan: There was one thing that was a nightmare. Usually, you practice a while, then go and record, right? But all of a sudden Day1 would say “hey, why don’t you try it like this?” I was not used to recording like that without having practiced a lot first.
Day1: Yeah, we changed loads of stuff in the songs while recording.
Jihwan: Whenever Day1 suggested something, it seemed to work. That was really cool. It’s really hard to follow his style, but I actually quite like it...it’s pretty weird. It’s difficult, but it’s good.
Day1: Yep. We never worry about what genre we’re playing. We want to give all kinds of music a try using our acoustic instruments--even electronic, dance and so on. We don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves into one genre; our music category is only limited by what we can do with our instruments. We don’t concentrate on any one genre, we just go in whatever direction we think suits us at the time.
Day1: Yeah, we fight all the time! “Do it like this”, “do it like that”.... So the songs are always changing. After a bit of give and take on all our parts, it seems like our styles are beginning to match up more and more.
George: We recorded that EP in, like, four days, whereas the full album was probably more like 20 or 25 days. The tracks are bigger, everything is bigger. I think the first EP was almost like a classical album. We wanted everything to sound exactly like it would at a live show, with no effects or anything like that. But now, whatever sounds good, we put in. We have no rules this time around, so the sound is going to be bigger, with a wider variety.
Day1: For me, the song I like the most on the EP <Ghost Ship> is a song called <당연히 안 괜찮지 [Of Course It's Not Ok]>. That song is a masterpiece! On this new album, it’s probably the song <행진가 [March]>. I wrote it right after the Sewol ferry disaster. We played a show about two weeks after the accident, when everyone was still feeling really cut up. I’m usually late to arrive at shows, but on this occasion I was there two hours early. I was drinking some booze when I saw on the news a group of high school students at a protest march, wearing masks and holding signs that said “Stay where you are” (the order given to the students by the ferry captain as the boat went down). I had just come to this place to play a stupid show, but seeing those kids on the march inspired me to write a song to show them my support, not just for the students but for everyone who refuses to ‘stay where they are and do what they are told’.
George: I think I’m proudest of 행진가 [March] too, in terms of recording and just the music itself. Because, frankly, I can’t even understand all the lyrics anyway, so it’s purely for the music itself. I’m just happiest with that recording, the way it turned out. I think it’s a really great track.
Day1: Honestly, writing lyrics is like doing homework for me. I wrote the lyrics for my last band as well, but it’s really difficult for me every time. I don’t really get flashes of inspiration; I think about things as I walk around. I think about how I’m feeling, or certain words. Or in that fleeting moment when someone passes by me I might hear a word or phrase I like, so I write it down on my hand or memorize it. Once I have a lot of words I start to try to link them together. I put these words and phrases together and pull them apart, that’s kind of my style I guess. <행진가 [March]> was different; in the case of this song I just sat down in a chair and wrote it. But usually songwriting is like word Tetris for me.
George: I’ve been playing poker for a living for 10 years now. I started right after grad school. That’s how I make my money. I have literally never had a job, except for part- time summer jobs. But right out of college, there was a kind of internet poker boom. It was really lucrative back then, and I was at the right place at the right time. I quit cello for 3 years to concentrate on playing poker. Now the situation’s reversed, and I’m trying to spend more and more time on music and less on poker, but it still pays the bills.
George: I think I was just a crazy gambling nut, even when I was young. But after playing more than 20,000 hours of poker, it’s not really fun anymore. It’s just a job now.
George: Yes, that’s right. Because internet gambling was shut down in U.S in 2011, that was one of the reasons I ended up coming here to Korea.
Day1: I’ve got children, so I don’t really have ‘free time’. Raising a baby is like fighting a war.
Jihwan: I do design work, but there’s a recession at the moment. Anyhow, I don’t think there is much of a future in Korea for design, so now I’m trying something new. In any case, I studied drawing in the past, so these days I’m drawing portraits. I download pictures of people from the internet and draw them, but when doing it that way it’s hard to feel empathy with them. To draw a person properly, I think it’s important to know them. So, after some thought, I decided to take a picture of George and now I’m drawing him. After I sketch the picture on canvas I scan it into the computer and add color using Photoshop.
George: When I was playing poker I had a lot of free time. I love cooking, so I went to cooking school and I worked at a restaurant for a bit. I like to cook a lot.
Day1: Gorgeous George’s burgers.
Jihwan: There’s a gallery called ‘Gong Gallery’ above my workshop. I’ve gotten to know the owner of the place quite well, and he gave me the idea. He told me that although it’s just one space up there I can use it for anything I like. He’s a really creative person. Seeing as George makes burgers so well, one day we just said “Right, let’s make burgers and use that money to make an album!”
Day1: We sold each burger for 8,000 won, so, in order for us to make a decent profit we should have been using ingredients that cost about 2,000 per burger, right? But we ended up paying about 4,000 won per burger! I wanted to buy bread rolls that cost 100 won each, but George said we had to buy rolls that cost 1,000 won each! He insisted on handmade rolls!
Jihwan: Hmmm, let’s see.... When we practice, I don’t really tend to say much at all. On the whole, I just do as I’m told! The other two have loads of opinions and they are both really stubborn. If I were like that too it would feel as if the band was constantly fighting an uphill battle.
Day1: The way I see it, when we’re playing music Jifan is not all that stubborn, but he is stubborn in loads of other ways. For example, he only listens to heavy metal. We went down to Busan for a show once. It took about 6 hours to get there, and about 8 hours to get back. For all those 14 hours we had to listen to heavy metal! It was a nightmare. The whole playlist, every last song was heavy metal.
Jihwan: Right, we went down there together with Adam Sullivan. He said later that the whole experience was great, but listening to my heavy metal made him go mad!
Day1: In the end George had to say “stop listening to fucking heavy metal! It’s 2014!” Jifan even listens to heavy metal when we take a break from practice. He is really stubborn.
Day1: There is a bit of a concept. When we first formed I wanted us to be ‘portable’. I wanted us to be able to take our instruments anywhere and just play. I wanted us to be a bit nomadic in a way.
Jihwan: But we are not really portable at all! I reckon our gear must weigh in at more than 40 kilos in all. My favorite things to take with us are my cajon, cymbal and hi-hat. I really like it when I just take that stuff, but these days there are loads of other bits and pieces I have to pack as well.
George: It was just for fun. I just liked the song. It’s hard to sing while playing the cello so it took a while to learn that in itself. I figured I should learn a song, I already liked that song and I thought it might as well be a Korean song. It’s kind of easy to play, with simple chords, so it was a good song for me to work on. But it took forever.
Day1: The best thing! That happened recently. We’ve been invited to go on holiday! To play at Liverpool Sound City in England! There were loads of cool things before that too, but I reckon that’s the best thing to have happened to us. The worst thing? Let’s see ...
Jihwan: The worst thing is spending lots of time with me, right?
Day1: No way, that’s a good thing!
Jihwan: Really? You’re stranger than I thought!
Day1: Yeah, we’re going to make an effort to keep doing that too.
Jihwan: Day1 has two children so it’s hard for him to find time. I really love playing on the streets. The people watching us come and listen without any preconceived expectations. They give us a true reaction. You can really feel that when you’re out busking.
Day1: The DoDos.
Jihwan: Well... I’m into heavier music, so … Mars Volta. But their music is so different from ours.
George: Well one of my favorite bands in Korea is Kuang Program. We haven't managed to play a show with them yet.
Jihwan: Argentina! The girls there are really hot. An ex-girlfriend from a long time ago was a Canadian citizen with Argentinian heritage. She was so pretty.
Day1: I’d go to a nice warm beach. Boracay probably.
George: I’d go back to my house in Hapjeong. Save some money on the bus ticket!
Day1: If our album and shows turn out well, and loads of people like us, that would be perfect. We’re going to work hard in 2015 to achieve this.
Interview : J-Myon Kim, Doyeon Lim, Eunji Kim
English Translation : Patrick Connor
Korean Translation : Doyeon Lim
Edited by : Rock N Rose
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Date : April 10th (Fri) 20:00
Venue : Strangefruit
Door : 10,000won
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