Posted on March 29, 2016
Pictures : A-Lim Lee
Gahohn: This guy is the Raw By Peppers’ drummer, Lee Kwangmin. He’s a really good drummer. He’s one year younger than me, however he’s my senior in the military. Jinwoo and I were born in 1989 whereas Kwangmin was born in 1990, but he entered his military service 4 months ahead of me. Oh, and he is really, really tall too! Usually drummers are almost completely hidden behind the drums when they play, but his legs stick out all over the place.
Kwangmin: This is the Raw By Peppers bassist, he is called Jinwoo Lee, he is also known as ‘baldy’, because of his lack of hair. Or Fake Fake (because it sounds like baldy in Korean).
Gahohn: There is one more thing you are forgetting. He is the king of shits. He is always off somewhere taking a shit.
Kwangmin: Our bassist Jinwoo is a really big fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, so he copies all the RHCP bass riffs and, in his own words he is “the only person in Korea who uses Flea’s signature bass playing style”. This is talented bass player Mr. Jinwoo.
Jinwoo Lee: That is Gim Gahohn. He is 180cm and 62kg. Gahohn really likes Radiohead, he has his effects pedals set up just like Jonny Greenwood. We both graduated from the same university, but we were not really all that close until we went to our military service. We knew of each other, but it wasn’t until Kwangmin suggested we formed a band with Gahohn that we became close. His major isn’t in guitar, rather he studied song composition… he can play the guitar and he can write songs, but he is not ‘great’ at either, it’s hard to pinpoint something he is actually really good at…anyway, he finds a good balance between writing and playing… overall he’s a unique character. He has a wildly different sense of humor to everyone else, and I think he likes to tease other people, just to amuse himself most of the time… but he’s a good friend.
Kwangmin: We all graduated from Kyung Hee University, My major was postmodernism, I got to know Gahohn a little around that time. When I went to do my military service I was thinking about making a band, and it turns out that Gahohn was also having similar thoughts so I suggested making a band together. We were debating who we should ask to play bass when I suddenly thought of Jinwoo,which is how we all ended up playing together. Originally it was all just an idea in my head. It’s already been two years now since we formed and we’ve just been preparing for that whole time!
Gahohn: The band's name was different at first. There were originally four members of the band, but the guitar player was a proper weirdo. After a while we realised it wasn’t going to work, so we fired him. We have had a couple guitar players come and go, but I guess the synergy is better when it’s just the three of us… It was me who originally wanted another guitar player. It was hard to play guitar and sing at the same time, so I figured it would be good to have a decent guitarist play with us as well, so we tried to find someone. Turns out that it is way better with just the three of us! We also put some energy into looking for a label back then as well. I have been playing in bands since middle school and have always considered it my job so I figured that it would be hard to make a living out of it without a label backing you, so I started looking around for one. The boss of our current label is a senior student from my University. I was pondering what to do to make money when I met him and he asked if I was still playing in a band. I played him some of our songs and he signed us up. That’s how we got started out.
Gahohn: The boss of our label and I came up with it together. If you look up the word ‘Raw’ in the dictionary it means ‘to be in its natural state’. To us, we think of raw as meaning something that didn’t exist up until now. So we think of the ‘raw’ part of our name as representing something completely new. The ‘Peppers’ part of the name represents the fact that we are all guys in the band (in Korea, the word for pepper is also slang for penis).
Gahohn: The best thing is that we are all the same age and all good friends... we are really close so we are always hanging out together and we tell each other everything. We talk about everything together, not just music.
Kwangmin: We share a lot with each other about our private lives.
Gahohn: That’s the best thing about being in a band with friends. The bad things … well, it’s not so much a bad point, but we are all really different. Jinwoo likes Red Hot Chili Peppers, whereas I like Radiohead. What’s more is that Kwangmin likes pop and jazz music. At first, I thought that mix of tastes would turn out to be a really cool thing. Of course, I thought our differing preferences might cause us to clash from time to time, but I assumed it would be easy to resolve among ourselves. Turns out we fight a shitload. In the case of Jinwoo, there are suddenly times where he just won’t talk at all. He says “Wait a minute”, grabs his bass and then says nothing for ages. If you point out anything you don’t like about the drum parts to Kwangmin he purses his lips and gets all pouty! I think it is because we are all so confident about our own playing abilities.
Kwangmin: I always try to take everything in the right way. I have a lot of conviction, it’s only when stuff like that is pointed out to me in a certain way that I get like that.
Gahohn: He has a very aggressive attitude as well. Haha. He waves his hands around up in the air and purses his lips at you.
Jinwoo: As performers we all have a certain element of pride and so there are times when we lose our tempers, but we are all close with each other so it’s easy to diffuse the situation. We never hold it against one another or anything like that. We are all A blood type so we all try to live our lives without hurting others.
Gahohn: There was this one time when I lost my shit in a big way. I was really pissed off so I said to the others “Hey! Other people who work in big companies. They work all the fucking hours of the day. If we carry on like we are now, how the hell are we ever going to make a living from it? Are we not gonna give it our best shot?” As soon as I said it I went out for a smoke, came back and said sorry. After apologizing and hugging everyone we just said to each other, “Let’s give it our best shot” haha.
Gahohn: We are all similar, aren’t we? We all go back and forth between those roles a bit. Dare I say it, but if we are talking about who is the biggest joker in the band, then I think that might just be me.
Kwangmin: I guess Gahohn is the best at leading. He is the band’s leader.
Gahohn: You could probably say that Jinwoo is like the bigger brother. He doesn’t say a lot, but he is always working hard. One thing I’m sure about is that Kwangmin would be the most like a younger brother.
Jinwoo: Yeh, but it’s more like he is a younger friend than a younger brother.
Gahohn: That one was Kwangmin’s idea. It was an attempt to be a bit more experimental from behind the drums. He suggested trying a certain style and to me it sounded a bit like a person walking. We wanted to keep that feeling for the song, we played it a few times and it quickly developed into what it is now (haha). At first as humans, we were faced with a lot of hardships in life, but despite everything we managed to overcome them all. We will continue to overcome hardships in the future as well. That is what the song is about. In the Stone Age people would use rocks or bones as tools to survive, but now we are in a generation where we have developed into humans that can make rockets to take us into outer space. In our song we try to imply two things; first the history of humans who went from using bones as tools to going into space, and second, the strength of the human race. The message we convey in our songs is thus, ‘We humans have already come a long way and we will continue to move forward well into the future.
Gahohn: Firstly, we wanted to produce the best sound we could as a three piece band. It is usually a pretty standard procedure to go and record in the studio, but we decided to proceed a little bit differently.
Kwangmin: There is a guy we know whose workplace is in Yangju. Rather than record in a studio, we stuck all our gear in his place and recorded everything as one take tracks.
Gahohn: I suppose that is a kind of old school way of doing it, but we wanted to create more of a ‘band’ or ‘real’ feel to it, so we decided to record using this method. Usually, three member do a lot of overdubbing with the guitars and also in the solo parts they might add in some extra backing guitar parts as well, but we decided to do it without any of that stuff at all. When I play the guitar, my guitar is the only sound you hear. We wanted the album to sound just like it would if you were in front of us watching us play live. The EP has five tracks on it like that.
Kwangmin: I can’t choose… ‘Spaceship out of bones’ or ‘Astral Me, Baby’.
Gahohn: I like 3 the most.
Kwangmin: They are one take recordings. So you can’t really edit them in any way. Originally I liked ‘3’ the most but after listening to what came out on the recording, I have some small regrets on that track.
Jinwoo: Because we performed and recorded the tracks as one takes all the mics pick up all the sounds from each of the other instruments. So even if you want to edit, even just a little, you can’t do it. I guess there are little imperfections here and there on all the songs.
Gahohn: I like it …
Jinwoo: Right, if you're listening to the overall atmosphere of the songs it’s great, but if you focus only on your own individual instrumental parts, there are maybe some things that are lacking.
Gahohn: I played really well, you guys are the ones that made the fuck ups!
Gahohn: That would be 3.
Kwangmin: That track got changed a lot during the writing process.
Jinwoo: I was staying over at Kwangmin’s place and while I was there lying down I suddenly had an idea so I did a quick voice recording of it. Sometime later I tried to play it but it felt really different to how I had imagined. It felt like too much of a waste to just discard it so we talked a lot about what to do. The other two had recently watched Interstellar at the movie theater and were all about ‘zero gravity’ at that time. So we tried to play the front part of the song while imagining what it would be like to be space... and the song began to change bit by bit. We bought some more effect pedals as well… we tried to make the end part of the song sound a bit more like classical Korean music.
Gahohn: In song 3, I suggested to Jinwoo to play the bass line that appears in the middle of the song in a certain way. He tried it and liked it so it stayed. Similarly, Jinwoo suggested the guitar part that appears in the second half of the song, and I really liked it…the song kept changing a lot because we were always interfering with each others parts, because of that we all like the song and have a certain attachment to it. I think the song captures each of our individual personalities really well.
Gahohn: Spino Steve. He is an artist, a really young artist. 23 years old.
Kwangmin: An art director friend of ours found him for us, it was a good opportunity for us both to work together. As soon as we talked to him for the first time we knew his personality was right for us and we really loved his first drafts so we had high expectations for the final version.
Gahohn: There is a Monolith in the artwork. If you watch Space Odyssey there is a big black stone that appears in that movie. After touching that stone the monkeys begin to use bones as tools and then throw the bone into the air, as it is spinning it changes into a space ship. That’s the kind of Monolith in our artwork; it represents the origin of knowledge. That stone contains a vast fountain of knowledge, so when you touch it you gain some new knowledge. That stone is the centre piece of our album cover. I think that Monolith implies the meaning of ‘Raw’ in our band’s name really well. I think that all our artwork in the future might use that image of a Monolith too. This time round, it is the main feature of the artwork, the artist did a really good job of drawing it.
Gahohn: One of us will being in a riff or something, and we will just jam it out without really giving it much thought, then we decide if we liked it or not. If we are not too keen on it, we will give it one more try before chucking it out completely. We bring in really short source riffs, like around four second long riffs. We bring in bits like that and then just play them again and again in different ways. It is really good fun.
Gahohn: We meet every Mon / Wed / Fri around 4PM and watch a film together ...
Jinwoo: We believe it is really important to spend time together, so there are times where we will just go watch a movie, check out stuff on youtube or go to the internet cafe to play games like starcraft together… we try to never get stuck in a rut doing just one thing, we always do a variety of things together, then we practice from around 6pm.
Kwangmin: Until around 11pm. Before we would meet around 11AM and practice until like 10PM. We would do that five days a week.
Gahohn: Our practice space was in Yeonnam-dong at that time. At that time it was only us using that practice space, it was really cool. Haha. We would use the space all day long. We would met up after eating lunch and stay together until late... honestly speaking though, we would be together for like ten hours, but we were not practicing all that time. Mainly, we would all just be laying around holding the guitars saying stuff like … “Haven’t you got anything?” “Play something!”
Kwangmin: We needed a Monolith.
Gahohn: It was a documentary made about our recording process. A photographer friend of ours came with his camera and videoed it all, the title of the documentary is going to be ‘Spaceship Out Of Bones’. It is a documentary that shows how a band goes from having nothing to recording and making an album, it’s pretty short because the recording schedule was tight as well...so, there isn’t really much to it content wise!
Jinwoo: It was a bit boring at first, but like a music video lots of music has been added to it so it is a bit more interesting now.
Gahohn: I saw the edited version, it is really fun. I think we do loads of wierd stuff in the video. It was better than I thought it would be… apparently he is going to submit it to a short film festival, humm ...
Jinwoo: We have never really played that many shows, just recently we began to play more.
Gahohn: Honestly, we have never asked any clubs to play there. Even though we never asked to play we still seem to get invites… when the shows come around, we do them. Usually about two a month?
Kwangmin: We didn’t think there would be many places contacting us before we had even released our debut album. Now the album is out we have to play more, I think there is more meaning to playing shows now. Before people came to see us but we didn’t have any CDs or any information to share with them.... Because we haven't released the EP yet, if you go to our labels homepage you will see we don’t even have a profile on there yet. That’s why we are pretty passive when it comes to arranging club shows at the moment. We always planned not to play until the EP was released, but we got a few more offers than e expected to have. FF, Freebird, Evans Lounge ...
Kwangmin: When we went to play at the Seogwipo festival is was raining. It was our first ever festival, we could see the ocean from the stage so it was really great.
Gahohn: We were all session players playing for KimBanJang & Windy CIty at that festival as well. We played with them the day before our own show, but it was more fun playing with KimBanJang & Windy CIty (haha). There were loads of people there and one older woman came up to the stage and stuck some potato in my mouth. I just accepted it and ate it. I remember looking up at the sky for around a minute while eating the potato. haha
Kwangmin: I think she was a bit wasted, she was staring and waving at Gahohn until the end of the show. There were some security guards but she just ignored them and stood there waving. It was raining as well...perhaps it’s just the Jeju way.
Kwangmin: We ended up getting that show because we have a bit of a connection with the band via their drummer Sang Wook, honestly we really wanted to play with them. Sang Wook often comes to see us play and he had recommended us to the rest of his band a lot. He invited us to play with them at FF as well, it was then that they asked us to come and play down in Suwon as well.
Gahohn: It was great just to be playing with those guys. Life & Time did a long soundcheck and so time was tight for us, we just for 5 minutes to check all the amps were working. Seeing as we were just the support band for this show, we didn’t worry about it too much and just got on with playing. There were some things we were not really happy with sound wise, but we knew that would be the case from the start, it was good fun nonetheless. When we were done we we drank loads of beer and danced around in the back talking about how cool Life & Time are.
Gahohn: We got to see Life & Time play for free!
Kwangmin: There is one person we are particularly thankful too… they came to see us for the first time in Seogwipo and really liked our music. Since then that person has come to lots of our shows as well as making us our stickers too. Most of the live videos of us were made by them also.
Gahohn: I am usually to be found in the office six days a week. I am usually working alone and a bit bored. I figured we should be promoting the show so I tried to write something for it by hand. I tried a few times … but just uploading a handwritten note didn’t look all that good, so I just wondered around along taking pictures in different places and uploading them.
Kwangmin: For me, Minje. They released an album recently. We got to know them when we played a show together and have since become close. Their music is really good too. Personally they made a deep impression on me and their live shows are really fun as well.
Jinwoo: The most fun ... ? I am not one of those people who goes crazy when they are watching a concert… but, the most excited I have been at a show was probably watching Life & Time. As far as other bands whose music I really like, 57 (Oh Chill)! They are super cool.
Gahohn: I really enjoyed watching AKUA … DTSQ and Land Of Peace as well. We are playing with Silica Gel on the 28th, but I have not seen them live yet. Their music video for the song <Two Moons> is really good fun, I’m looking forward to seeing them tear the roof off the venue live.
Jinwoo: I liked a band called The Braces. I also like the Black Skirts a lot too. It feels a little like The Braces are paying homage to them. The name makes them sound like a hardcore band, so when I first heard them I was expecting really heavy music, but the music was way better than I thought it would be.
Kwangmin: We talked about this a while ago … we imagined setting up a show where all the bands had names related to food seasonings. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hoochus(hoochu means pepper in Korean) and us! haha
Gahohn: There are loads of bands we want to play with. We are really big fans of Galaxy Express. Sang Myun from Crying Nut invited us to play a show with them a while back, but he was super pissed when he said it! Kim Chang Wan has just released a new song which I really like. I was shocked at just how much I like it. Even if we never get to play a show with Kim Chang Wan, I would love to be able to sit down and just have a chat with him.
Jinwoo: We played with AKUA and DTSQ recently, it was the first time I had seen either of them play live. It was a great atmosphere. AKUA had a bit of a 70s / 80s feel to them … We too have a similar kind of English vibe to our music. DTSQ had an exciting vibe live.
Jinwoo: To play somewhere like Woodstock! That would be an impossible dream, wouldn’t it? I would love to play at Jisan this year.
Gahohn: Even if it was just a busking stage, I would want to play there.
Kwangmin: For me, Summer Sonic!
Gahohn: These days we keep begging our label’s boss. We keep asking him to just buy us a ticket, to anywhere. Then we will do the rest and go and play some cool shows.
Gahohn: We plan to play loads of shows once we have released the EP. Even if it is not a showcase concert, we plan to play lots of shows.
Gahohn: One of our aims this year is to appear on the Hello Rookie program (I kind of talent show for bands in Korea). That seems to be a well trodden path for bands to break through these days. I think that is the best way for us right now. We applied for K-Rookies last year (a similar program) but we didn’t make it through.
Kwangmin: Another aim would be to win a prize at the Korean Music Awards!
Gahohn: We watched the Korean Music Awards on the TV with all the staff from the office, Samuel Seo from our label won an award for his album, it was the first album an artist from our label had ever made. We all went out for a big dinner / drinks together. It inspired us and gave us the confidence to think that we too could perhaps win an award as well.
Kwangmin: That is our aim! I would love it if we managed to pull it off.
Jinwoo: We have made all our plans for the coming year.
Gahohn: I think it is important to make a long term plan, that can really help you achieve lots. We hope to make a full length album, either at the end of this year or by the start of next year. Our most important aim of course is to keep making lots of music, we are already preparing lots of songs. We have two that that we are really pleased with, sometime around June I hope to release them as singles. I think both songs are really good, one of them is likely to make us some money, but the other one won’t make us a penny. I think people who hear it will be thinking “What the hell are these little fuckers thinking?. Anyways making lots more songs is our primary aim.
Jinwoo: We don’t worry too much about promotion and stuff, we leave that to our label. We trust them. We just concentrate on making music.
Gahohn: We want to become a band that everyone knows. There are lots of people in Hongdae these days that get upset when their favorite band (the band that ‘only they knew about’) becomes well known by a lot of people. We don’t want to be the band that only a few people know of, we want to be known by everyone.
Jinwoo: You have an SNS problem …
Gahohn: I haven't been on twitter for long. I wanted to say thanks to the people that came to see us at a show, so I opened a twitter account. I have been addicted to it ever since. I have been surprised myself by how much of an addict I have become. It started out as just a little, then spiraled out of control.
Jinwoo: We are not all like that when it comes to SNS. Luckily.
Interview : A-Lim Lee, Jin Kim, Eunji Kim
English Translation : Patrick Connor & Doyeon Lim
Edited by : Alex Ameter
For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :