Posted on August 05, 2015
Sumi : This is our bass player Jae Young, at the moment he has the ‘quickly getting fat disease’. It is a rare and incurable problem. haha … hummm …. He doesn’t look like he is a sensitive person but in reality he is really sensitive. At the moment he is in charge of playing the role of Say Sue Me’s cute member. He makes everyone think he is cute anyway. He is a bit emotional. Ah, and he plays the bass really well.
Jae Young : This is Semin, he plays drums. He is a beer connoisseur. And a pervert…. and he likes to sit on the fence when decisions have to be made. He hates men, but on the other hand he loves girls. He always makes these perfect plans in life, but somehow always ends up all over the place because of some girl.
Byung Kyu : Semin is the biggest rock star among us. As soon as the show is done he heads straight off to hang out with the girls… he was born free I think. But because he is the youngest son, he is always afraid his family will find out about his antics.
Semin : Byung Kyu is the best guitar player in Korea. He writes good songs really quickly, if he was not in the band we would just mess around and not get any work done. We always say we are not going to do any more shows and whenever we do have a show we always say ‘Ah, I don’t wanna play. I just want to drink’, but Byung Kyu always tells us ‘yeh, but come on we have to play shows...’ He keeps the wheels of the band turning and the band moving forward.
Byung Kyu : Sueme … Let’s all say something about her.
Sumi : There is nothing special about me, right.
Semin : No, because there are too many things.
Byung Kyu : It seems like a waste if I talk about Sumi by myself. hummm … Sumi is Say Sue Me’s tyrant. She eats the most as well.
Jae Young : She is the captain.
Byung Kyu : Right, Sumi is the captain. What else can I say … I need to learn to think more.
Sumi : When we started out, we had a different bass player. That first bass player actually started Say Sue Me and made the name as well. His initials, Semins and mine are all SM. Out of the first four members of the band, three of us had those initials, so we decided to make a band name using those letters, but we could not think of anything good. Steve from Genius suggested the name Say Sue Me, and that is what we became.
Byung Kyu : Actually, I had no idea about SM or what the name meant. I first heard it in another interview. At that time I thought, ‘Ah, we came up with the band name in a childish way’ haha.
Byung Kyu : Semin and I were in other bands, but those bands were making slow progress, as were 3 Volt, so we decided to make a second band together. The three of us can’t sing at all and so decided to find someone to do vocals, and we ended up choosing our friend Sumi.
#Tell us about the style of music you make. What exactly is a ’surf guitar’ sound?
Byung Kyu : I’m not sure exactly how to describe a surf guitar sound. Honestly, we never set out to make ‘surf’ music, so whenever we get these kind of questions we don’t really know how to respond. Being in this band is the first time I have made music that would be considered ‘surf’ music.
Sumi : It has a California feeling. A Waikiki feeling. A sound with lots of reverb??
Byung Kyu : Musically I think our sound has a surf music vibe to it, but we never set out with the aim of making that kind of music. I think our sound comes from the 90s music scene… At first we were not sure how to market our sound, but it just happened naturally that everyone thought we sounded like a surf band.
Byung Kyu : I make most of the songs in the band … I’ve been thinking about making this EP ever since we recorded the first one. Because of that we have ended up releasing this EP less than a year after our first album. The first album had a 90s music vibe, and this EP is has been composed in a much more surf music-like style.
Sumi : There is nothing special, but I do keep a little diary. I look over it sometimes and see if anything links together and then I use that as a base for writing the lyrics. Mainly, I’m complaining about something.
Byung Kyu : ‘Complaint’ is probably the most important keyword for our songs.
Sumi : But they are not personal complaints.
Sumi : Perhaps we stimulate some nostalgia for them? We have some kind of California scent to our music? Maybe it is because right from the start when we started doing shows we performed in lots of foreigner-friendly bars.
Jae Young : Most of the good venues in Busan are the foreigner hangouts. I think gossip about us kind of grew from there. I think another reason is that people tend to keep on liking the same style of music they liked from when they were younger. Most of the people who come to see us were teenagers in the 90s. Also, the kind of music we play is popular in the American indie scene as well. I think our soft rock style of music is nostalgic for our foreign friends.
Sumi : I think this is the first time we have heard feedback like this about us. We sometimes get feedback when we go to Seoul, but by the time we get back down to Busan we have forgotten it all. When we play shows, we never have a setlist or anything, sometimes we worry that we are not taking it seriously enough. But, it is just our style, our way I guess.
Byung Kyu : We did do a show with a setlist once, it was a disaster.
Sumi : We don’t look like we are worrying about things, but we are, really. In our own way.
Sumi : Everyone knows. But it is not as bad as the Jeju accent, which no one understands.
Semin : Her accent is pretty strong.
Sumi : I live with my grandmother, so my accent is probably even stronger than most people from Busan. Even so, there was one time where someone said ‘Are you from Seoul?’. I just said hi at a staff dinner and they asked me if I was from Seoul.
Byung Kyu : We have no idea! We just got a message via facebook, I don’t know how they came to know about us. Through facebook? In both instances they contacted us first. We are thankful to them. We just did an email interview for the newspaper and gave permission to the radio show to use our music. We put the newspaper's interview out on our facebook page, it got a massive two or three likes! haha
Byung Kyu : The beach isn’t all that important to us. So, nothing special.
Sumi : We sometimes hit the beach to hang out after a show nearby.
Jae Young : People from Seoul don’t boast about having a river next to their house, right? haha
Byung Kyu : But Sumi loves to boast about it, she must have said it like 200 times in interviews.
Sumi : The members of our band don’t like to play on the beach so much.
Jae Young : It is annoying to have to take off your socks.
Semin : If you go to the beach the sand gets everywhere … If I go to the beach, it is to get drunk.
Jae Young : Ages ago, after a show I woke up the next morning and my bed was covered in sand.
Byung Kyu : Apart from me, the others all love beer! These days, I drink too.
Semin : Byung Kyu never used to drink at all, he got into drinking because of Say Sue Me...
Sumi : We opened his eyes to something good.
Jae Young : Semin likes to drink beer the most.
Sumi : Jae Young likes soju and beer. He never used to be like this, but these days he is one of those people who is always talking about what is good or bad to eat and drink.
Byung Kyu : Jae Young used to judge people, not food and drink.
Semin : He loved to judge and criticize people when they were playing shows.
Jae Young : I guess I am a bit of a bully... hehe
Jae Young : I don’t think we have ever played a show sober.
Sumi : A drunk show in Seoul ...
Semin : Ages ago, at DGBD...
Byung Kyu : Semin fell over and threw his sticks all over the place ..
Sumi : Everyone was like ‘what the hell is going on?’. But, it is hard to do shows in Seoul that drunk, because it’s hard to get home again.
Byung Kyu : Before we came here today, we ate lunch and drank soju.
Byung Kyu : It’s really embarrassing. I’m usually really shy so I’m not used to doing that kind of thing, but these days I tend to dance a little on stage. I don’t really like danceable music. It’s not just danceable music, I don’t like funky music either. Disco, too.
Byung Kyu : I don’t know really...
Sumi : I think Byung Kyu has a limit to the amount of things he says he ‘likes’
Jae Young : I never thought I would be able to come up with an answer to that, even with a year to think about it. I have known him for a long time so it is something I have been pondering for ages. It is not a question that can be answered easily.
Byung Kyu : Right, we have known him for 13-14 years now.
Byung Kyu : The only difference is that in Busan we can drink more comfortably.
Jae Young : I just feel happier and more at ease when I am in Busan. Even if your home is in Seoul, it’s always more comfortable to be drinking near to your house.
Sumi : It is just a different atmosphere I guess. I think people concentrate more in Seoul.
Byung Kyu : Our nicknames came from playing in Seoul.
Jae Young : Seoul gigs are for showcasing our music. Busan gigs are for having fun!
Jae Young : HQ Gwangan! We had our CD release party there. You can see the ocean really well from there. You can see Gwangan Bridge really well too. It isn’t actually a live venue but we really like it there so we wanted to play there. The owner was into the idea so we set up our CD release party there.
Sumi : The owner of the bar really likes us. The hamburgers there are great as well. I recommend the place selling odaeng (fish cake) right outside the Beomeosa Temple. It is one of the five most famous places in Korea. If you go for a walk around there in the evening, there is an odaeng food truck. It is the best odaeng around. Probably because of the fresh air on the mountain.
Byung Kyu : It is delicious because you are wasted. If you went sober … would it still be so good?
Semin : There is a bar called Galmegi Brewing. They brew their own beer and sell it. It is really delicious. They sell hamburgers as well, I’ve not tried one yet, but I’m betting they will be delicious. These days they have opened a second bar. But I recommend the first one. Try their beer.
Byung Kyu : In & Bean, a small coffee shop in Bosudong’s Bookstore Alley. They have concerts and lots of cultural activities. They have photo exhibitions too and it is a really pretty place. It is not a great environment to play a concert but the place itself is really pretty so loads of people come to watch. The coffee is really good, too.
Sumi : There are bands in Seoul that are really close like we are with those bands, so I don’t think that’s anything special. But there is something that makes Busan stand out a little. People from here have a certain ‘ego’ or pride about them. ‘We are not gonna go to Seoul’ is a common attitude for people down here. Because of that, I think we have a special bond.
Sumi : Park Geun-hye? Ah, I want to think of a better answer!
Jae Young : I’d just like to be able to lie down for a day.
Sumi : Me too, I can’t think of anyone.
Byung Kyu : Yoon Doo-joon?
Sumi : You should be Seo Hyun-jin! Not Yoon Doo-joon. Ah, there is no one. We are just satisfied with our current lives.
Sumi : A common like we all have in the band is Pavement and Yo La Tengo!
Byung Kyu : Seam. I listened to Seam a lot when I was younger, so I used to be disappointed in Semin.
Jae Young : Because their drummer plays really well.
Byung Kyu : I’m not a drummer, so I couldn’t understand why Semin couldn’t play like that …
Jae Young : We have a show in just a minute …
Semin : Ah Seoul humor! Aren’t we making a carol album soon? Our band’s goal is to keep on churning out music. We are gonna keep putting it out like a shit maker makes shit.
Sumi : Let’s keep dropping those albums like shit. On the way home, right after finishing recording we were speaking about making a carol album. We’d better get on that now I guess.
Interview : Il Hwa Choi, Eunji Kim, Doyeon Lim
English Translation : Patrick Connor
Edited by : Jamie