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Interview with Big Eye’s Kate Eldridge

This is an email interview I did with Kate from Big Eyes after a total fail with MP3 Skype Recorder failed a couple days prior when I actually got to talk to the entire band.  Taking this opportunity to say FUCK YOU MP3 SKYPE RECORDER. DO NOT RELY ON THIS PRODUCT.  You should see the error reports on this fucking thing.  This was the first time I did a phone/ skype interview that didn’t actually record.  I’ve had some irresponsible moments, and that was a big one for me.  
Anyway, Kate was nice enough to do an email interview with me. Yay!  Find it on punknews soon!


Your new album Almost Famous is out this month – How are you feeling? 
Very excited and slightly anxious for it to come out!  We recorded it back in October (at Red Lantern Studios in Portland, OR with Adam Becker) and I wish we could’ve gotten it out a little sooner, but we really took our time with every little detail on the album so we would be completely happy with it.  

How do you think it turned out?  
I think it turned out awesome.  I really like all the photos, the whole layout.  It comes with a double sided poster, which I’ve never had in any release I’ve been involved with.  We really put lots of thought and effort into the whole layout.  

What was the inspiration for the album title?  
The movie!  We all love that movie and thought it was a funny title.  Our first LP title Hard Life was also a joke.  We’re definitely not a joke band but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.  

I’ve listened to the new album and to me it’s a little heavier and rock ‘n’ roll than Hard Life.   In fact it’s been said that the darkness of the northwest has left its mark on you.  Would you agree? Were you trying to take the sound in a particular direction?  
I’ve definitely been listening to a lot of 70s and 80s hard rock lately.  The weather out here also affects your mood, so I could see it affecting our sound a bit.  People in Seattle like a lot of super heavy music, so we have probably also been affected by the other bands we play with and get to see while living out here.  I wasn’t planning on taking the new album in any specific direction, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I also play an SG now instead of a Mustang, and a Marshall cab instead of a Fender cab.  Definitely adds a thicker tone to my guitar sound.  

I saw pictures from your recent video shoot.  Can you tell us about that experience and which song it’s for?  Didn’t you shoot some scenes from Kate’s recent birthday party?  
The video is for our song “Back From The Moon” that came out as a 7″ single on Grave Mistake last year.  It was so fun filming!  Most of it was super relaxed.  The first day was us running around Portland (literally and figuratively, haha), nothing too wild and crazy, but still super fun.  The second day we filmed us actually playing the song, in this giant warehouse that Chris works in.  That was pretty trying on my patience because we had to play the same song like 30 times, but I know it was worth it!  The third day of filming was at my birthday show.  Mean Jeans came up for it and we sold out the Comet Tavern – what a great night!  

How was the recent west coast tour with Criminal Code, Audacity, and Mean Jeans?  
Last August we hit the road with Mean Jeans for ten days down to San Diego for Awesome Fest.  The shows ruled and we all had a good time, even decided to put out a split afterwards on Dirtnap Records!  In November/December we toured to the east coast with Audacity for about five weeks.  It’s harder to tour in the winter because people get lazy and depressed when the weather sucks so turnouts aren’t always as good, but it was still a good tour nonetheless.  We got to have Thanksgiving at my mom’s house on Long Island…mmmmm!!  Last month we did a ten day tour with Criminal Code and it ruled!  The shows were really good and the weather was amazing the whole time.  Taiga got peed on one night.  That was ridiculous. 

You guys really tour relentlessly – what summer tours do you have planned?  
We just announced our May/June tour, which starts in [a couple] weeks. [I put the dates and links at the bottom of the interview]  We are headed east again and have some killer shows lined up!  In D.C. and Richmond we are playing with our good buddies (and labelmates!) Night Birds.  In Springfield, IL we are playing a fest with Tenement and The Copyrights.  We just got added to Sled Island in Calgary.  Hitting some cities I’ve never been to as well!   

When are you coming to Europe this year?  What are most looking forward to seeing and doing when you get here?  
We are headed out to Europe in October.  We are going to be there for four or five weeks.  I’ve never been there so I’m looking forward to just about everywhere!  We are going to be in Warsaw on Halloween so I’m curious to see what that will bring.  Very excited to go to Italy, Dillan and I both took Italian in school.  I’m hoping we have time to hit Scandinavia too, it looks wild up there.  Also, England!  I watch a lot of movies and TV shows based there, ha ha.  And Spain, to meet you!  Hehe 

Amongst the touring do you all have time for jobs or is Big Eyes pretty much your full time job?  
Big Eyes takes up more of our time than anything else but it doesn’t pay very well, haha.  I babysit, Chris works as a cook at Linda’s Tavern and as a construction worker at this badass warehouse.  We filmed that music video at that warehouse!  Dillan is “unemployed” right now but he goes to school sometimes.  

I read that you just turned 25.  So you’ve pretty much been in bands for the entirety of your adulthood.  Has this always been a goal of yours or do you have other career goals that you imagine you’ll aim for at some point?  
I’ve been playing in bands since I was 13.  My high school bands played a few cool shows but we never toured or anything.  I’ve been touring since I was 19 and I have no plans on stopping, haha.  Besides playing in bands, I’ve worked with children since I was 13 (babysitting, being a camp counselor, subbed at a preschool a few times).  I’m sure whenever I get burnt out on this shit I’ll just go back to school to be a preschool teacher or something.   

I read that you’ve always been drawn to Seattle and finally made the move in early 2011.  What was it that drew you to Seattle and has it lived up to your expectations?  
Seattle’s a beautiful city.  I’ve been almost everywhere in the United States and it was the only place I could see myself actually living for an extended period of time.  The weather isn’t as extreme as New York, but it still has changing seasons which I appreciate.  I couldn’t ever live in California where the weather is pretty much the same all year round, I need change in my life.  The folks I babysat for in NY moved out here in 2009 and I would come out and visit them and always be super bummed when I had to leave.  I finally decided to move out here in 2011.  But I’m kind of slow with making new friends here, I still feel like a bit of an outsider.  I don’t think everybody gets my sense of humor or something.  

As you’ve grown up playing in different bands, how do you think you have you changed as a musician and bandmate?  
I think once I realized I needed to be in a band where I wrote all the songs, I was a lot easier going and easier to work with.  I used to have power struggles being in bands where everybody contributed material.  I can be bossy and I like to have my way.  What can I say?  I’m an Aries, ha ha 

How has your lyrical inspiration progressed over time as a songwriter?  
I used to try to keep things vague so nobody could tell when songs were written about them.  I don’t really care anymore about hiding things.  I’ve been trying to get more specific with my lyrics to draw a better picture, and if somebody thinks a song is about them, they may be right.  

Kate, I read that you are sometimes treated differently or as a novelty because you’re a woman.  What is a message you’d like to get out to those with these narrow-minded attitudes?  
Ha ha this question always comes up.  I never understand when people see me as “different” for being female and playing the guitar, but I don’t understand a lot of things people think.  I never viewed myself as any different from the dudes I grew up hanging out with and playing music with, I was just always one of the group of music nerd kids.  It’s just something I started doing when I was 12 and I practiced my ass off.  I guess that’s mostly a dude’s thing to do.  Whatever.  I’d rather be compared to ALL GUITARISTS and not just female guitarists.  Free your mind.  

Did anything make you second guess performing in a traditionally male-dominated genre?  Has the response been what you expected?  
I never thought about it, I just always loved music growing up and decided I wanted to play.  I wasn’t looking for a response from anybody.  

I think you guys are a great inspiration for any young girl who might be feeling a little unwelcome or self-conscious about their involvement with punk.  What hopes do you have for young girls discovering punk these days?  
I hope that they don’t think they are any different from any young boys discovering punk because they aren’t.  It’s 2013 and the internet makes everything accessible to anybody.  If somebody blows you off then screw them, find other people to talk to and hang with.  Don’t smoke weed at shows if you get awkward, because I used to do that and then I wouldn’t talk to anybody and had a hard time meeting new people.  It was mostly because I was young and stoned and awkward, not because I was a young girl.  Good luck!  Don’t take people too seriously.  There’s a lot of morons out there.  

While you’re celebrating your recent release, what other goals do you have for Big Eyes? Short or long-term.  
It’d be nice to have the band pay for our rent.  It’d be a lot easier to stay focused if we all didn’t have to worry about paying rent.  Regardless, we will keep playing, writing and recording.  It’d be cool to go on tour in a big ass tour bus one day, ha ha.  Like in the movie “Almost Famous”!  We are hoping to go to Japan sometime in 2014 too.  

“ALMOST FAMOUS” tour dates May/June 2013

29 Weds – Portland, OR @ The Know
30 Thurs – Boise, ID @ The Crux
31 Fri – Salt Lake City, UT @ Blue Star Cafe

1 Sat – Denver, CO @ Rhinoceropolis
2 Sun – Omaha, NE @ Middle House
3 Mon – Iowa City, IA @ Public Space One
4 Tues – Chicago, IL @ 86 Mets
5 Weds – Pittsburgh, PA @ Roboto Project
6 Thurs – Philly, PA @ The Great Indoors
7 Fri – Washington, DC @ Casa Fiesta (*w/ Night Birds)
8 Sat – Richmond, VA @ Gallery 5 (*w/ Night Birds)
9 Sun – Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio
10 Mon – Boston, MA @ Charlie’s Kitchen
11 Tues – Montreal, QC @ TRH Bar
12 Weds – Ottawa, ON @ Pressed
13 Thurs – Toronto, ON @ Skramden Yards
14 Fri – Detroit, MI @ Trumbullplex
15 Sat – Springfield, IL @ Black Sheep (Dumb Fest)
16 Sun – Milwaukee, WI @ Linneman’s (RRRC Episode 5 Premiere)
17 Mon – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
18 Tues – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
19 Weds – Winnipeg, MB, Canada @ The Windsor Hotel
20 Thurs – Regina, SK, Canada @ The Mercury Cafe
21 Fri – Calgary, AB, Canada @ Bamboo (Sled Island)
22 Sat – Calgary, AB, Canada @ The Palomino (Sled Island)



No Friends – s/t

A fine first effort from supergroup No Friends -Municipal Waste’s Tony Foresta on vocals, and New Mexican Disaster Squad’s Richard Minino (drums), Sam Johnson (guitar, vocals), and Alex Goldfarb (bass, vocals).  These tunes might sound more familiar to New Mexican Disaster Squad fans – while it’s nothing super unique, this album offers some quality hardcore with melodic tendencies.  While Municipal Waste might fuck you up, No Friends will simply get you to bounce around, sing along, pump your fist, and have a lot of fun.

After a few spins, I’ve come to appreciate the lyrics and vocals most of all.  While they’re not all the most ingenious, they’re not to be taken lightly as they challenge our society.  Addiction to material possessions is denounced in the aptly named “Material Addiction”, “Loaded Question” confronts political figures and their agendas, and “Never Ending Fight” describes an ending relationship.

Vocals are mostly angry shouts from Foresta with more melodic back-ups from Johnson and Goldfarb.  The dynamics in vocals match the music on this album.  The fast drumming and riffs push through the whole album accompanied by prominent bass lines giving off the apparent 80’s hardcore feel, until a breakdown brings a more mid-tempo and melodic vibe to the table.  The bass lines stick out during the entire album as almost every breakdown stems from a  bass solo.  The musical attributes brings  Paint it Black’s CVA to mind, but No Friends maintains a distinct quality especially through lyrical style.

The dynamic sound here will pave the way for a wide fan base.  For fans of: Black Flag, Dillinger Four, Paint it Black, Descendents.


This review can also be seen on punknews.org

Title Fight . . .

from TF myspace

Interview has been posted on Punkews.org. Check it here!


Kingston, PA’s Title Fight has been rapidly gaining popularity among a variety of punk fans over the last six years. Their brand of pop-punk earns them spots on line-ups across the board – from Trapped Under Ice to Tigers Jaw. Their latest EP, The Last Thing You Forget, was released in June on Run for Cover Records, and their first full-length is finally in the works after a handful of seven inches. After just wrapping up a full U.S. tour, they’re already back on the road with New Found Glory for a few East Coast and Midwest gigs. Stephanie Thornton talked with this up-and-coming band about the latest EP and future material, influences, and the effect this band has on its underage members.

You can click Read More for the interview.

First of all, I saw you guys a couple weeks ago at St. Stephen’s in D.C. with Trapped Under Ice and Lion of Judah. You put on a great show and nearly everyone was going off. Considering you generally play a pop-punk style, are you surprised that hardcore kids react to you like they are at a Madball show?

Ned Russin: We started off playing generally all hardcore shows so we are pretty much used to it. In Wilkes-Barre we weren’t really categorized into a “pop punk” band or a “hardcore” band, we were just a band of 13 year-olds really. It’s not really surprising to us now, but at things like Sound and Fury, United Blood, and This is Hardcore to see that many kids going off is just kind of crazy; but at the same time, we are still all hardcore kids so it just makes us feel at home.

You guys are always on the road and you’ve played shows with a wide variety of bands from pop-punk to hardcore, what kind of reactions do you get from audiences across the board? Do you have a preference for shows you most enjoy playing?

Shane Moran: I feel that our reactions tend to be pretty much the same whether we are playing to a “hardcore” audience or not. Kids either go off or they don’t. Although, it’s hard for us to tell if kids are into it if they’re just standing around staring at us because we ourselves are so used to going nuts for bands that we like when we see them live. That’s our nature I guess. I’m sure there are kids that are still into us but just don’t react the same way. I actually think I’d prefer that over kids beating the shit out each other when we play.

Ned: I don’t think playing with different types of bands changes our reaction. It seems that no matter what kind of show we play we get the same reaction. I don’t really care what type of show we play.

Your touring schedule is booked through the end of this year. Where are your favorite spots to play and why? Where would you love to tour that you haven’t yet?

Shane: Long Island, D.C. / Baltimore, and Richmond are always really good to us and we get a chance to see some of our best friends. I’d like to tour California more extensively and hopefully hit up Europe in the near future.

Ned: Our favorite places to play have to be at home, Richmond, and Long Island. DC and Baltimore are always awesome too. I really want to go everywhere possible. Places I really want to go to in the future are Japan and Australia.

Ben Russin: Florida and Kentucky are cool too.

Considering the variety of bands you play with, what kind of variety has there been amongst Title Fight’s influences?

Shane: A lot. If a band is influenced by only one genre of music or a certain kind of sound it is really easy to get lost in that and end up sounding watered down and boring. We try to make our music unique and exciting for us to write and listen to. We draw a lot of inspiration from bands that went out of their way to sound unique.

You guys are about to embark on a tour with New Found Glory for three weeks at the end of this month. Has New Found Glory had much impact on Title Fight? What kind of expectations do you have for the upcoming tour?

Shane: I’m not so sure if they have had a huge impact on our music but definitely on each of us individually. I’ve loved this band since I first heard them in seventh grade and they’re still relevant to me to this day. Coming Home was such a great record. I still listen to all of their albums regularly. I have a New Found Glory flag hanging up in my room at home. It’s serious. I am glad I’ll be able to watch them every night for 3 weeks straight. Other than that I don’t know what to expect.

Ned: I saw New Found Glory for the first time when I was 11 I think when they toured with Blink on the Take Off Your Pants and Jacket tour. They played a local venue in Wilkes-Barre a little before that and they sent out the whole show to it. From then I was pretty much a fan. Catalyst was a huge record for me and Coming Home is awesome. As far as my expectations go, I am really just trying to keep them grounded. I know we are going to be playing for a lot of people and a lot of which have never heard of us, but I am just going to try and have as much fun as possible.

Title Fight is a fairly young band, your material only dates back three years. Yet you play tight with a good dynamic amongst the band members and you have an established fan base. To what can you most attribute the success of this band so far?

Shane: I think the “success” can be attributed to the way we tend to go about things. We have always had these things that we wanted to do as a band and we would work towards whatever little goal we had set until we got it. We have just tried to keep things moving and whatever came our way we would try to capitalize on. We have been doing what most bands normally do and some people seem to care about us and that’s really cool.

Ned: We are a band that is made up of friends. We have been a band for six years now and we are going to be a band for much longer because we decided to start the band because we were friends. We all work well together and we all have a great time.

On that note, just how old is everyone in Title Fight? Has this band interfered with or changed any critical ‘growing up’ steps such as graduating high school and going to college?

Shane: I’m the oldest at 20. Title Fight has been around since all the other guys were in middle school. This band has always been the most important thing to me so a lot of “growing up” stuff like jobs and school has always taken the back seat. Most recently the band has made its biggest interference with us having to drop college but I couldn’t be happier.

Ned: I’m 19. I am a freshman in college now. After we got the New Found Glory tour offer we kind of realized we had to make a choice between college or Title Fight. I know that college is important and I am going to go back, but we decided we had to take a chance. I am going to finish school later.

Ben: I’m also 19 (considering I’m Ned’s twin), and Jamie also just turned 19. Throughout high school, we always played on the weekends and toured over breaks. We made sure it never affected our school work too much, but now we have to take the opportunity to tour as much as possible.

In the same vein, as a successful young band, when you look back to the start of the band, what goals have you already accomplished as a band and what goals remain?

Ned: For me, we pretty much accomplished the only goals I ever had: we put out a 7″ and we did a tour.

Ben: We recently completed our first full U.S. tour this past summer which was a big goal of ours. A common goal of most bands is to get as big as they possibly can. And we’d love to do that too, but I’m more concerned with having fun while traveling around the world, and playing to as many new faces as we can.

You just released a new 7” on Run For Cover Records, The Last Thing You Forget, in June. Musically, it seems you’ve shifted gears a bit on this last release, adding a bit more aggression and depth. What was the motivation behind the change in sound on the new release? How do you feel about the way the record turned out?

Ned: I don’t think there was a motivation to change the record rather than just we wrote songs. I feel like the three new songs on The Last Thing You Forget are our best songs we have written. I think the record is great, but we are definitely striving to top that with the release of our next record.

Ben: Yeah, I don’t really know what the motivation was. I guess the progression just kind of happened naturally. And I’m very happy with how the record turned out. Jay Maas of the Getaway Group did a great job engineering, mixing, and mastering it.

How has the response been so far for the new material?

Shane: So far so good.

Ben: I’ve heard a lot of positive responses so far, which is awesome. We only released three new songs, though, and people have made it pretty obvious that they are waiting for more.
How do you feel about the evolution of Title Fight’s sound? What are you most proud of and what do you feel has changed the most?

Ben: Well, I feel like we’ve come a long way since we were in 6th grade. I know it’s cliché to say, but I definitely think we know what our sound is now, and what direction we’re headed next. I’m most proud that we can still have our catchy riffs and vocal melodies similar to previous recordings and build on top of that with more “mature” elements. The lengths of our songs are still fairly short, but there is now so much more packed in them.

I’m a big fan of the lyrics on the new release. I feel they are relatable and well put. How have you changed lyrically and what is most inspiring lyrically?

Ned: I feel like we haven’t changed lyrically that much, we have just kind of grown up and gotten better at writing in general. Besides inspiration from real life, I take lyrical inspiration from Blake from Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil a lot.

You announced on your website that you are in the process of writing an LP. Is The Last Thing You Forget any indication of where Title Fight is headed? What’s next for Title Fight musically?

Ned: The Last Thing You Forget is definitely an indication of where we are going musically. We are trying not to limit ourselves for this release in saying that we have to sound a certain way, but I feel like the things that we have been writing is a progression of The Last Thing You Forget

Ben: It might be similar to The Last Thing You Forget musically, but it’s obviously going to be very different at the same time. We’ve been experimenting with some new ideas lately, and it’s going to be put together with much more thought. If you liked the new songs on The Last Thing You Forget, you’ll definitely like the new ones we’re writing now, and I hope that we’ll be able to gain a lot more fans through the new song-writing process.

Will you be working with Run for Cover on the new LP as well? If so, what makes Run for Cover Records a good match for Title Fight?

Shane: We are in the process of figuring that out now. Run For Cover is a great match for Title Fight because we have a strong friendship and relationship with Jeff, he has a really good roster right now and he showed an interest in our band when no one else seemed to give a fuck.

What have you been listening to lately? What up and coming bands could you recommend to us punknews readers?

Shane: Lately: mewithoutYOU – Catch For Us the Foxes, Fairweather – Lusitania, Brand New – Deja Entendu. Check out : The Menzingers, Transit, All is Fleeting, Tigers Jaw

Ned: Lately, I have been listening to Jawbox “For Your Own Special Sweetheart”, Fleet Foxes “Fleet Foxes”, and some other stuff. Check out Gypsy

Ben: Lately: Audio Karate – Lady Melody, Paramore – Brand New Eyes, Brand New – Daisy, and Polar Bear Club – Chasing Hamburg. Check out the bands Ned and Shane said plus Make Do and Mend, Cruel Hand, Backtrack, Foundation, Mother of Mercy, Daylight, and Basement. Also, new WB bands Dead End Path and Rare Form

The Geeks

Punknews.org finally got my interview with Ki Seok So of the Geeks up on the site. Check it out here

Undoubtedly the most popular hardcore band based Korea, The Geeks should be one of the first coming to mind when you think of Asian hardcore. Among the “K-Pop” permeating the entire country – Rain, Big Bang, Wondergirls– the substantial hardcore scene causes a great sigh of relief. Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, The Geeks sit tight on both Korea’s Townhall Records and Florida-based Think Fast! Records. Their brand of positive melodic hardcore does well in both hemispheres. While they rarely get a chance to visit the West, their LP Every Time We Fall is available for your listening pleasure on their Punknews profile page, and they are currently working on a new EP. Recent Korea resident Stephanie Thornton talked with lead singer Ki Seok So about The Geeks’ reputation, the hardcore scene in Korea, and cultural differences playing into the same international scene.

You can click Read More for the interview.

Think Fast!’s website claims “The Geeks is to Asia what Youth of Today was to American Hardcore.” What are your thoughts on this heavy statement?

I agree with you that it is a heavy statement. I do not think we have changed the Asian hardcore scene as dramatically as YOT did to American hardcore. However, I am certain we did make an impact on Asian kids to some degree.

We put every effort we can into this and luckily we put out records on an American hardcore label and went on tours with leading hardcore bands around the world. I believe it showed the rest of the world that hardcore exists and how it is done in Asia and clearly left a positive impact on some Asian hardcore kids.

I mean, people love fast-core bands from Japan like Gauze, but it is a different scene from the one we are in. This scene existed for a long time but it wasn’t recognized at all. Call it old school hardcore, call it youth crew hardcore, call it straight edge hardcore, call it whatever it is, people generally do not know much about other hardcore scenes in Asia besides Japan. There weren’t many bands doing what we do before us and FC 5. In terms of that, I am proud of our achievement and some kids in Asia must feel proud of that. Asia Hardcore Pride.

You guys are on Townhall Records in Korea and Think Fast! Records based in the U.S. Since you can’t often make it out to the states, what is The Geeks’ “long distance” relationship like with Think Fast! Records?

The relationship between TF! and us has been really tight since day one. We still get in touch with each other pretty often. Sometimes I just call Larry from calling cards to see how he’s doing. For instance, Larry just sent me a message right after YE Yang’s surprise win. Even though we haven’t released an album nor been on tours in the US for about two years, we have been actively playing shows inside and outside Korea and gotten involved in many things – Hong Kong Tour, Japan tour. Plus we brought Have Heart, Terror , and Down to Nothing to Korea. Whenever we are on the road, we try our best promote TF! Records and let people know how sweet they are.

TF! has done a tremendous job getting our names out to the world over the past years, and we tried to promote TF! In other countries we were in – especially Asia. We always move forward to come up with new projects and it just worked perfectly for both of us. So I think it’s really mutually beneficial and solid “long distance” relationship.

I know it’s hard for you all to find much time off. How often do you get a chance to play abroad? Does this have any effect on your goals for the Geeks?

Yes, it totally affects us negatively [as far as] what we want to achieve with the Geeks. In our dreams, we should be touring all over the world as we speak, but you must face reality and adjust to it. The situation is really unfavorable in Korea where even taking more than three to four days off is a very tough task. I want to play abroad at least one or two times a year. If the schedule is set two months in advance, chances are better. We still need to come up with good excuses though because we can’t just tell them we will be on tour in a Korean working environment.

[It’s our goal to go to] Europe and South America, more countries in Asia where we have never been before — exchange views and make new friends. We all know that life is hard but we will try our best to squeeze as much time as possible for touring.

Where have been your favorite places to play outside of Korea?

Baltimore, Boston, Seattle, Florida, California, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Tokyo, Japan would be my personal favorites.

Obviously you all are a positive straight edge band, drawing comparisons to American bands like Youth of Today, but do you feel Korean culture has had a big impact on your attitude and lyrical content to a noticeable point? What, if any, differences do you notice between your lyrics and those of Western bands?

This is a really tough one. I have been to many countries and studied their cultures for both academic and personal reasons and I concluded that Korean culture is really unique in its own way. Very different from what is widespread in western culture. Due to hardcore music, I’ve had several chances to realize and compare the differences. Based on those assessments, I managed to create my own standard of what to take and what [to leave], what should be changed or kept.

I don’t want to get political in our lyrics although I do really care. Sometimes I feel that something must be done to an educational system in this country where kids are forced to sit at the table and study all day. So I try to address those issues in our lyrics.

As the country adhering to Confucianism more than any other, Korea’s society tends to be strict and conservative in various ways. How has your band managed to gain popularity under these conditions?

Your assessment as to Confucianism is absolutely correct. However, what Confucianism does to this difficult environment is small and limited. There are other factors combined with a historical and social background that created a tough situation for anyone involved in the music industry, including mainstream and underground scenes. As Korea went through a military government period and an economic development period (often referred as Miracle of Han River), our grandparents’ and parents’ generations had to sacrifice everything. Work, work, work to support family and speaking your mind can give you a hard time. I think there formed this typical view that considers chasing your dreams and living your life a bad and amateur thing to do in someone’s life. Mandatory Military Service definitely made an already bad situation even worse. I have given a lot of thought to how it is what it is, so I can go on and on, but the bottom line is it’s just tough. How did we manage to gain popularity? I think that’s because we never gave up, and people really appreciate that.

Drinking seems to be a popular evening and weekend past-time amongst most Koreans – is that fair to say? Although it’s not a major point in your lyrics, you’re still regarded as a straight-edge band. What sort of reactions to you get on the straight edge side of things?

Yes, it is absolutely fair to say that the whole culture revolves around drinking for the most part. The most common question I get whenever I tell people I don’t drink is “How can you live?” Korean people don’t understand the concept of living an alternative lifestyle (it can also be applied to the case of vegetarianism). I am not saying people are ignorant or anything like that. People just aren’t aware of those lifestyles.

It was really hard for me to keep my edge status in the first stage, especially in the first year of college and in mandatory military service. In the military service, I almost got beaten by this crazy old-timer for refusing to drink. It has been and still is a struggle on my end, but this is how I choose to live my life. Fun comes from taking control!

My perspective on Straight Edge is that it is a personal choice. People are entitled to choose how to live their lives and I do not want to force anyone into this lifestyle. I think other ideas floating in the scene are the same in that sense. Although Straight Edge is not a major subject of our lyrics, what I am trying to address in my lyrics is to make people open their eyes to these ideas that are shared in the scene and realize there is so much more in this world than just living a life carefree. I have massive hatred for ignorance that some stupid assholes have, though. I absolutely hate it when people are trying to mock me. But thank God things are changing now. With the internet generation, people have become more individual so it is getting gradually accepted. For the rest of my life, I think it’s my mission to make people understand that it’s ok not to drink!

How does the hardcore scene promote itself and grow in Korea? What are your thoughts on its current state?

Environment for any type of bands playing rock music in Korea is in a severe condition. There are not enough infrastructures and not enough people to understand and support this music. It is very closely connected with the drinking that was already mentioned. People rather just sit down in the bar and play drinking games to just get wasted until they pass out. They think spending 10 to 20 bucks on any creative and cultural thing is a total waste whereas I think spending 200 bucks on the bar is worthless. So we are struggling.

Even bands playing mainstream music are having a hard time. Needless to say, hardcore music has a worse situation. But our scene is great. It’s just pure and awesome. It is very frustrating sometimes but making our best endeavor to keep this scene existing is something we all are proud of.

What Koreans bands would you recommend to those unfamiliar with the scene here?

Things We Say, No Excuse and Burn My Bridges are outstanding bands from South Korea. If you are looking for fast but melodic youthcrew, Things We Say is your answer. Revelation Records indicated that Things We Say is my side project band, but it’s completely wrong. I am more of like what Walter [Schreifels] was to Youth Of Today to Things We Say. If you are looking for mid-tempo hardcore, No Excuse and Burn My Bridges are your perfect choices. No Excuse is Ku Seok from Townhall records singing and J from Things We Say playing guitar. Burn My Bridges is pure awesome.

I know Terror was in Korea this September. How often do Western bands get a chance to play in Korea and what are your thoughts on that rate? What do touring bands do for the scene here?

When it comes to hardcore, it is not rare to have Western bands play in Korea. It just requires so much money and effort to do so. The real problem is we do not have scene that is big enough to cover the expenses. Even with bands covering some portion of their flight tickets, we lose so much money from doing it. It may sound like I am whining and bitching about this but it’s true that it costs us a lot. We do have a great scene here but that’s why we promote shows to normal rock audiences. Hardcore kids and normal crowd are aware of how hard it is for them to play shows here in Korea. So they are just very appreciative of that. Through these shows, kids were inspired and learned that hardcore is not about making money and becoming a rock star, it’s something we work for together. That’s the spirit of passion and inspiration. What they do for the scene is priceless.

What bands have been personal influences for you and what bands influence The Geeks overall?

I can’t speak for other members but Youth Of Today is the one for me and I am sure they have been one of the biggest influences for us along with other Straight Edge hardcore bands from 80’s and 90’s. But over the past years, bands that we became friends from touring and playing shows together have been bigger influences for us. I am not going to name all of them but we found the real value of hardcore by making unforgettable memories and exchanging our views.

The Geeks cover “Shiner” on the Kid Dynamite compilation. How was that opportunity presented to you and how do you feel about the finished compilation?

It was given by our good friend Charles from Get Outta Town Records who put out CDs for this project and also released our LP in the US. He’s the one of the best guys I’ve ever known and has always helped us a ton. I love Kid Dynamite and respect what they have done. Also I know they deserve all the respect shown in this complication. So we are honored to participate in this.

When can we expect to hear something new from the Geeks?

We are working on a new EP with Think Fast! (US) and Townhall Records (Korea). I don’t know exactly when it gets done, but hopefully soon. The process is really slow. It was supposed to come out around this time, that was our initial goal anyway, but things have delayed. The biggest constraint is that all of us are heavily occupied with our full time jobs, and even during our free time one of our member’s lives really far from Seoul. We will get things done soon. More details will be announced when it is ready.

The Geeks are in their tenth year. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Out of all our accomplishments, there are two things that I feel most proud of. Firstly, the Korean hardcore scene we have right now, no matter what the size is. We worked really hard with our friends and have put our every effort into this to keep that going. Sometimes it is frustrating but I just appreciate that I am surrounded by the people who care about the meaning of this music and its message. Second is the fact that we have positively changed (or inspired) some people’s lives around the globe on some level. You see it is really hard to influence just one person in your life so it is such a privilege to have that opportunity.

What sort of goals do you have for the Geeks at the moment? – short term and long term.

Short term : 10th anniversary show and a New EP

Long term: To keep playing shows as long as we can. To tour as many other countries as possible.

Independene Day

July 4th is shaping up to be an amazing day.  None More Black announced that they will be putting on a free show in Philadelphia and I am stoked.  I just missed the boat on these guys, checking them out only when they released their last album, This is Satire, in 2006.  They broke up shortly afterwards and I never got a chance to see them live.  I will be there.  Thanks, Punknews.