Interviews with Gate Flowers and Goonam
As promised, it's time to catch up with the final two bands from the Korea Rocks tour which kicked off on Wednesday of this week.
Guitarist Seungshik Yeom of Gate Flowers is in an excitable mood, "This is our first international tour so
we're really excited. The UK has a rich musical history so we're really happy to be able to play there. We're all fans of British groups like Queen, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Cream. It's not just British bands though, we have a diverse range of influences such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Jaco Pastorius, Michael Jackson, Medeski Martin and Wood". Impressive influences indeed and that shows through in their music which fuses tight, funky bass lines, sharp drumming and understated riffs to create an accessible rock sound for their singer to wail, Vedder-like, all over. Touring internationally is not something every band manages in their lifetime so now that Gate Flowers have achieved this ambition, I wanted to know what else they had in their sights, "Most Korean bands have a really small fanbase, which makes it hard to tour internationally. Hopefully tours like this will help change that. We’d like to play at Royal Albert Hall. We’ve watched videos of live performances by bands like The Who and Cream there. We’d like to enjoy the atmosphere of a venue like that that has such an amazing rock‘n’roll history". Well, you know they say, aim for the moon and even if you miss you'll be among the stars - high ambitions indeed but then why not? Not enough bands think big these days so it's nice to hear a group of musicians not feeling constrained by money, society or, in their case, politics, "Things [the situation in North Korea] are more complicated than what people are seeing from the outside, so it's not something we can easily answer".
|Gate Flowers - Black, white and moody|
|Goonam - not actually conjoined|
The final band on the bill for this tour are simply known as Goonam (or more complicatedly known as Goonamguayeoridingstella) which is probably something profound in Korean but to my ignorant eye looks like the name of an obscure Welsh town. Ung Joh, guitarist with the band, is on answering duties for this one and, he has a strange ambition for the band on this tour, "We’re excited to spend two weeks learning about the UK’s music scene and meeting local people. We really love parks and we’re hoping to spend some time visiting a few parks there as well. We also like David Bowie and the Stone Roses". Interesting, parks, Bowie and the Roses - take note British Tourist Board, this is what visitors to our country want. Now, I would love to visit South Korea but funds dictate that this is never likely to happen so that next best thing is having some top quality South Korean bands visit this country instead. It's got to be pretty hard for these guys though, what with the political situation in the other half of their country and the thousands of miles (never mind thousands of Won) it would take to play to audiences around the world, "We need jobs and we like making music, so a band seemed like a good idea! Most Korean bands are indie acts, so trying to find ways to fund overseas tours can be very challenging. There have been problems between North Korea and South Korea for a long time now. It’s not a new problem". Goonam are probably the odd ones out on this tour, stylistically speaking and Ung Joh is quick to agree, "I think our sound is very unique. I like to describe it as being like the flow of a river. Other people have described it as soulful psychedelic dance music". Although those aren't necessarily the words I would have jumped straight to, I have to say I think those 'other people' have pretty much hit the nail on the head. Combining blissed out electronics, funky guitars and loose rhythms, Goonam create a sound perfect for cruising around with the windows open and a big old pair of shades on.
So, that's your lot. Essentially, we have learned that South Korean bands have talent, great influences, huge ambition and a penchant for hanging around in British parks. Furthermore, if the musical elite of South Korea are to be believed, we have nothing to worry about from our mysterious cousins in North Korea. Catch the tour if you can and if you work for the Royal Albert Hall, then drop me a line and I'll hook you up.
April 28 - London @ Barfly
May 1 - Manchester @ Night & Day Café
May 3 - Liverpool @ Studio 2 (Liverpool Sound City)
May 4 - Liverpool @ Kazimier Gardens (Liverpool Sound City)
Korea Rocks - https://www.facebook.com/KoreaRocks
Gate Flowers - https://www.facebook.com/bandgf
Goonam - https://www.facebook.com/goonamgua