Posted on October 15, 2016

Interview

# As per usual with DOINDIE interviews, let’s start by introducing the person sitting next to you to our readers.

Jae-ho: This is Song Jae-don. He is the bass player in the band. Before joining the March Kings around two years ago he was playing in a solo folk project called ‘Donovan and the 3rd Planet’. He is a well rounded and solid person, and the oldest in the band.

Jae-don: This is our drummer Jung Sung-hoon. He is one of the original members of the March Kings. His duties in the band, as well as playing the drums, include doing our SNS, making jokes and … he has loads of work.

Sung-hoon: This is Ha E-su, he was the last member to join the band. He is the lead guitar player and he is one of the top three highly regarded guitarists in Daegu. Really!! Fact! When he needs to he can be very serious, and he is really, really serious during those times! Other times he is really fun to be around. He always has a lot of brilliant ideas as well … He was the last member to join the band so we thought it would be hard for him but he has ended up giving us loads of help musically.

E-su: This is Kim Jae-ho. He is the band leader and musically, there is a lot we can learn from him… Ah! As a person, he is very well balanced. However you look at it, he is the youngest in the band  but he leads the band really well. I want to give him a good score … let’s say 85 points!

# How did you all meet?

Jae-ho: We played as a three piece band for ages, but when our bassist sadly passed away we were left with just the two of us. Jae-don was a musician that I had played with already in Daegu. He had always given us lots of advice as a band before, so we asked him to play bass for us. Actually, he was not originally a bass player! Thanks to his help we managed to complete our first album and then, while we were getting ready for our second album we decided that seeing as we had already recruited one new member, it felt like we were starting a new band in a way, so we decided we might as well get another new member as well. Ha E-su was also someone we had known for ages in the Daegu music scene. We were all friends anyway, so it made sense to play together.

E-su: Originally it was only supposed to be a temporary member of the band, two shows or something, but then I was offered a permanent position in the band … complete with benefits like a pension and a company car!

# How about the original members, how did you meet?

Jae-ho: I was a high school classmates with our deceased friend and Sung-hoon was his senior at university. All three of us went to the same university together.

Sung-hoon: Our friend, who as I mentioned has sadly passed away, contacted me and told me he wanted to start a band. He said that he needed a drummer, honestly … I had no idea how to play the drums at that time, but … I really wanted to do it. I figured that I would be able to do it because I was pretty good at a rhythm game I had been playing, so I lied and told him I could do it and that is how it started.

# What were your first impressions of each other?

Jae-don: It really was ages ago. We have to go back to the 1990s.

Sung-hoon: I first saw Jae-don when he was paying in a three piece punk band. He came to play in the venue where I was working.

Jae-ho: Everyone’s first impression of Jae-don is that he is sweating like a pig and playing hard!

Sung-hoon: He was always playing short and fast songs, usually between songs bands will stop and make some kind of comment, right. But he never stopped. He would just keep playing and sweating. I had a feeling of admiration when I first saw him play with all that energy.

Jae-don: My first impression of the March Kings was that they were really good. They played a fresh style of music. I was playing punk music at that time, but these guys were into music with a British feel, in fact they sounded a lot like a band called Ride. I thought I was the only one into that kind of music but they were already playing it, and playing it well. Even back then, I always hoped that one day we would be able to do something together, even if it was only once.

Jae-ho: E-su used to play in a legendary Daegu band called TAK-RYU-HAN.

Sung-hoon: When Jae-ho and I were starting out with our first ever band as kids, E-su was the guitarist in Daegu’s most popular band. We were kind of starstruck by him back then. He was intimidating to us. We wanted to have a few drinks with him though!

# This year will be March Kings 13th year as a band. What do you think has been the driving force that has kept you together all this time?

Jae-ho: It’s because we don’t have many friends. There’s no one else that would want to play in a band with any of us. Haha. Even if I was thinking about playing with other people, there’d be no one else I could find to play with …

Sung-hoon: We’ve never thought about doing anything else together other than music. We don’t have any set plans about what we want to achieve with our music, not that we don’t think about it at all...but apart from making music, we don’t really have much that we are really into. Many bands aim is to become popular in Hongdae or something, but our attitude is to just see what will happen.

Jae-don: It’s because we all love music, isn’t it. Of course, we’ve not practiced every week straight for the last 13 years. Recently though, for the last few years or so we have been playing regularly. Since the I joined, we’ve hardly missed a practice.

Jae-ho: Of course, there’ve been times where we all needed to take a break, but … each time that’s happened, I think there was something that motivated us to start up again. We’re not a band that’s chasing stardom or anything like that, but we just have a kind of desire to keep the band going and moving forward. Over the last 13 years we’ve made some cool tunes, had some great reactions at shows, released a few albums … I think it’s those small things that kept the desire burning.

Sung-hoon: Being in the band is not tiring, not being in the band at all makes me feel fed up. If there’s some kind of problem in life and I can’t go and practice, then I find that I tend to get a little depressed, but playing with the band makes me feel happier, I think that is why I have kept playing for so long.

# Your second album [Spring Will Come] is your first release in two years. It must feel special to you to have finally released it. How doe’s it feel?

Sung-hoon: I don’t think there is any special feeling about it. In my mind, now we have released the second album, the third should follow next… however, it did feel a bit special when I actually got my hands on a hard copy of the CD. There had been a lot of problems making the first CD, so it looked like we would never make a second CD. But once it was in my hand, so I felt proud of us for getting through it all.

Jae-ho: Actually, during the last two months of making the second album we put on a bit of a spurt. Before then, we had been preparing really slowly for around a year, but the last two months we really concentrated hard and got it done. So it felt really good when we finally got it out.

Jae-don: We were all really lazy in the two months running up to recording, but we got a kick up the ass from someone to encourage us to hurry up … but we had a lot of doubts about the quality of the stuff we had to work with. So we worked hard on tweaking what we had and suddenly ended up with some complete songs.... The recording studio was way better than we expected, so I think the quality of the album is really high.

Jae-ho: I think the album has shown us how good we can be. It has given us a bit of conviction.

# Your first release was Vivid Night, after that you didn’t release any EPs or anything like that, you just went straight in for a second full length. Most bands in the scene these days seem to release EPs between album releases. Is there any reason you didn’t do that?

Jae-ho: Because we are old fashioned.

Sung-hoon: We never even considered making an EP. Honestly, I have a kind of mental conflict about playing the songs from the first album these days. It makes me think of the bad stuff that happened and so makes me feel a bit heavy hearted. I think we give that vibe off to the people listening as well. Sometimes I think that we should cut that album out of our set and make a new, fresh start with the songs from the new album.

# The artwork for this album catches people’s attention immediately. On the one hand, it is an abstract piece but then, on the other hand you can clearly see the image of a tree beside a lake. What is the picture all about?

Jae-ho: Right from the start I had an image in mind for the album artwork. I always wanted the cover art to be an oil painting of some sort with a strong sense of colour…  I have an artist friend in Toronto and so I made a very rough sketch of what I had in mind and sent it to him. He made an image based on my sketch and that is what we are now using for the artwork.

Sung-hoon: There was no dispute between us over the artwork. As soon as we saw it we knew it was what we wanted.

Jae-don: Just looking at the artwork itself, you know it should be on a Pitchfork best of list.

Jae-ho: Don’t say that kind of crap!

E-su: I think the music on the album and the cover art’s texture work really well together. I really like it.

Jae-don: Exactly! It would not look out of place on Pitchfork!

# Does the word ‘spring’ hold any special meaning to the March Kings?

Jae-ho: It’s the season that comes after winter. Our band name is the ‘March’ Kings. We met when we were at university, when we started at university. It is the season in Korea where you get to meet new people, the season when things change. When winter finishes and the season starts to change, it is a time to feel excited about the months to come and perhaps a little anxious as well.  

Sung-hoon: It is a dangerous season.

Jae-ho: We had so many problems while we were trying to make the first album that by the end it felt as if we had been through a really long winter. So while we were making the second album we were helping that things would get better once it was done, and it would in a way be a kind of spring for us as a band.

E-su: In the past March Kings have had lots of problems… but during the two months of recording the band had a kind of spring in their step. Also, it really was spring time then as well. During recording it did feel like our hard times had passed and that spring was ushering in some good times for the band.

Sung-hoon: I always thought that the first album had a bit of a gloomy night time, rainy window, neon sign kind of vibe to it. It was kind of sentimental dark world feel. We all drank a lot then. These days we all got a bit older and in that time ...

Jae-ho: We stopped drinking so much didn’t we!

Sung-hoon: So now I think it all feels like we are playing a more sunny, kind of daytime music. An kind of energetic and healthier music. It feels a bit more spring like. We drink so much less than we used to, that is for sure.

# Do you guys like to drink a lot?

Jae-don: I don’t drink all that much really.

Sung-hoon: I like to drink a little, but compared to before ...

E-su: Jae-ho and Sung-hoon drink so much that they don’t even know they are drinking anymore. The next day they can never remember a thing.

Jae-ho: We used to drink so much we couldn’t remember anything we had been talking about. Haha. That’s how we used to be.

# Can you tell us a little about the process for making the songs on this album?

Jae-ho: ‘Love Flows’ was an improvised song. Three of us have been playing together for ages now, so when we get together it is pretty easy to create the kind of sound we want for a song. These days it is hard to tell if we are just jamming or if we are continually trying to create a song. However, when we started making the second album we were working with lots of new people so it felt like we should be more prepared this time around. We didn’t change the writing process itself to much from before but, I tried to be have a stronger leadership style this time. That is not to say I did all the writing myself, as always the final project had inputs from all the members in the band.

Sung-hoon: The main framework of the songs is put together by Jae-ho, then Jae-don and E-su add to that framework to help complete the song. That is the kind of process we used throughout this album. In the past, we would just jam and jam picking out the good bits as we went along. But this time we didn’t do it like that, we talked about it a lot more among ourselves and planned the songs out in more detail.

# The first album had a lot of traditional guitar pop feeling to it, but this album seems a bit of a tighter, psychedelic lo-fi feel to it. Is that change as a result of having a new guitarist in the band or was it a conscious decision on the new record.

Jae-ho: A bit of both I think. Since we got a new guitarist we have been able to make our songs a little more diverse. When you do not have a lead guitarist there is a limit to what you can do with the rhythms and energy of the songs. The first song on the album, ‘Dizziness’ would be impossible to do with only three members in the band. It was the first song we made as a four piece. We had a bit of an aim for the recording as well. We did some practice recordings at our practice space and it sounded a little psychedelic. So we decided it would be best not to record each instrument individually but to try and keep that same feel we had generated in the practice room. So we recorded in a way to preserve that live feel to the songs.

# We read in another interview that one of you was massively influenced by the Madchester sound. Can you please let us know what influenced each of you?

Sung-hoon: Personally as a drummer I really like the Madchester sound. There is always a shaker or tambourine and the beats are really danceable and upbeat. I think over the years I have put in a lot of effort to make similar music. I still like that music, but I don’t listen to it so much these days. I really like danceable music but the music we are making at the moment doesn’t really have that kind of vibe to it. We have changed our direction as a band to a kind of music that better reflects more dramatic emotions. These days I am listening to a lot of Tchaikovsky’s music. Haha. It moves me in a different kind of way.  

Jae-don: I don’t really like British music, so I take most of my influences from American music.

E-su: Me too.

Jae-don: From when was young I liked music with strong bass lines, like Weezer’s music. A lot of The March King’s songs from before had a core guitar sound at the forefront and the bass was more in the background. I was a bit worried about that, I thought it might be difficult for me because it wasn’t really the kind of music I liked. On this new album I wanted to make sure the bass parts were done properly, also since we have an extra guitarist now the overall sound feels much fuller now.

# How do you go about writing your lyrics? Some of the songs on your first album [Vivid Night] had a bit of a kitsch feeling but, the main feeling on this new album seems to be a feeling of emptiness. Is that because of stuff that has happened in the past or is the change more down to you all getting older and wiser.

Jae-ho: A bit of both I would say. Firstly, the lyrics on our debut album were not written in any specific time period, I think those songs were probably written over a ten year period and stuck together on one album. However, the writing for the second album was concentrated into a 1-2 year period, so I think it has a specific feeling that relates to things that were happening in that time period. Also, I think I had a clearer concept for the lyrics to be based on this time around as well. I think the lyrics on this album reflect the emotions I had at that time really well. I was really shocked by the passing of our friend and band member… It made me think about the deep questions in life, stuff like ‘why am I here?’ and ‘What is music?’... I also began to think about the fact that I was getting older … In the past I only focused on the fun things that I enjoyed, but these days I realised that living is not only about the fun things.  

Sung-hoon: Because Jae-ho writes almost all the lyrics for the songs, when I get the lyrics and read them I get a kind of understanding about what he is thinking. We have been in a band together for a long time now and we have been through some hard times together as well. So when I read his lyrics, I understand where he is coming from really well and it makes me think about a lot of things. His lyrics are really good too. I knew he was a good lyric writer in the past as well, but … the first album was kinda hacked together with songs from all over the place. However, the songs and lyrics on the second album feel more complete.

# Is there anything you would like to say to new fans who found out about the March Kings through your new album?

Jae-ho: We have fans? … Where are they? Hummm …. seeing as it was such a long hard slog to get it done, I would say please listen to the first album a lot too.

# If you listen to this new album in track order it seems to progress from calm songs to more songs with a more intense feel to them.  Which song came out closest to what you were aiming for and which is your favorite song?

Sung-hoon: For me, ‘Midnight Moon’. I mentioned the madchester sound before, but I think this song has that sound. The song is a slightly more refined version of what it started out as. It is a joyful / danceable song that makes you want to bounce.

E-su: The more I listen to the album the more I think that ‘Dizziness’ is the song I like the most.  However you look at it, it is a song about our band so when I listen to that song it reminds be about our past. The song’s sound as well, it is the kind of style I really like.

Jae-don: I like the song ‘Rosemary’. Out of all the songs on the album I like playing Rosemary and ‘Silhouette of Spring’ the most. Especially Rosemary, the lyrics are not exactly upbeat but when 재호 was done writing them and I read through them, I thought that they were great lyrics. None of us are in our twenties anymore and I think the lyrics are well refined and they express our more mature lives really well, I could identify with the lyrics really well. Lots of the lyrics on the first album were about specific moments from the past, but the lyrics on this album are more of a reflection on our overall life experiences so far. These kind of lyrics give me the feeling that we can keep on making music, despite not being in our twenties anymore. I think our music is all really great, but if you were to just take the lyrics without the music I don’t think you would be inviting us to play at your party anytime soon.

Jae-ho: What! Why not?

Jae-don: Ah, well …. I guess our music would create a very unique atmosphere at a party, and Silhouette of Spring is quite an uplifting song. It has some kitschiness like some of the songs on our first album, I think we should keep on making songs with that kind of feeling in the future too.

Jae-ho: When we were making the second album I really wanted it to have a kind of psychedelic style. So I like the songs ‘Dizziness’ and ‘Love Flows’ the most. They have a kind of post punk / psychedelic feel to them… and I think that kind of style is my musical preference. I think it is important that the March Kings have these kind of songs.

Sung-hoon: Ah, that’s why you made one of them the first track and the other the last track on the album!

# What are the best and worst things about being based in Daegu?

Sung-hoon: There is one best point on the financial side of things. The rent in Daegu ...

E-su: Yeh, but the pay rate is lower too ...

Jae-ho: The scene is really, really small so there are probably lots of good points …. But I can’t think of any!

E-su: The air is good.

Sung-hoon: The scene is small, but I think I can say that everyone in it is really focused and although it is a minor scene there is a real sense of community between everyone involved.

Jae-ho: There is not as much competition as there is in Seoul, so it feels a bit like bands can concentrate on their music a little more. The fact that we can think just about our music is definitely a plus point about being based in Daegu.

# Why do you think it is that the scenes in the other smaller cities struggle to develop like the scene in Seoul?

Jae-ho: Because everything is concentrated in the capital city really, not just music.

Sung-hoon: If I was 18-20 years old again, I think I would find the scene in Hongdae much more fun. There are lots of really great musicians playing across loads of different genres.

Jae-ho: It is a structural problem with society really.

# How do you think things would have turned out had you started as a band up in Seoul?

Sung-hoon: If we had started out in Seoul, we would be rock stars and I suspect we would have appeared at Jisan Rock Festival by now.

Jae-ho: I have thought about that a lot. I often wonder what life would be like for me now if I had gone to Seoul and played music. I think our music style and emotion would be really different. In Seoul it is easy to end up being swayed by the latest trends.

Jae-don: I think the March Kings would have disappeared. Or we might have changed our name and style to something else.

E-su: Jae-ho might have even become a rock star.

Jae-don: Sung-hoon would have probably made a psychology consulting company or something.

# Who are some other Korean artists you like, and why?

Sung-hoon, Jae-ho: We are massive Say Sue Me fans… Kim Il Du too.

Sung-hoon: I have a weakness for lyrics. I really admire songs that have great lyrics. I like Jae-ho’s lyrics a lot. I really like and am really attached to artists like Kim Hyun Shik and Kim Il Du.

Jae-don: Kim Il Du. As for rock bands, Bulssazo. I don’t have a special reason for that, it’s very unique and soft. They use lots of lines from famous movies in their songs, I like that.

Jae-ho I listen to all of Kim Il Du’s songs. I think I know his lyrics better than anyone else's. Also, musically I really like Yamagata Tweakster too.

# What has been the happiest moment you have had while being in the band?

Sung-hoon: I am often happy.

Jae-ho: You are a happiness preacher...

Sung-hoon: I think I get that happy feeling when we are playing live. The song Blue Light from our first album is especially precious to me, we have a video of the moment we made that song. I think our feelings and state of mind were expressed so well in the video as well as in the song. And that made me happy.  

Jae-don: I am most happy when I have finished work and I am getting ready to go to practice.

E-su: I like performing. I am really happy when we are at practice.

# Lastly then, what are the aims for March Kings this year?                                      

Sung-hoon: To make it onto the main stage at the Pitchfork festival? I reckon they will be contacting us fairly soon. I would love to play a really memorable concert. If you look on youtube you always find amazing concerts that everyone is talking about. I want to play one of those shows, where everything from the venue to the fans is all in harmony.

E-su: I like to think this is just the start for us.

Sung-hoon: If we can win some awards or something, perhaps people will get to know us more. Contact us! We are waiting for you call.

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The March Kings' <Spring Will Come> :

Digital : Naver | Bugs | Genie | Melon | M-net | Olleh Music  | Monkey3music | iTunes

Physical : Yes24‎ | Aladdin | Hyang Music | Interpark | Kyobo Online | Hot Tracks

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Interview : Doyeon Lim, Eunji Kim, Jin Kim
English Translation : Patrick Connor & Doyeon Lim
Edited by : Rock N Rose
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For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/themarchkings
Twitter : https://twitter.com/themarchkings
DoIndie : http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/bands/the-march-kings

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