Friday, March 20, 2015

Interview with Korean Glam Metal Band, Victim Mentality

I recently had the opportunity to ask Kyung Ho Sohn, the guitarist of glam metal band Victim Mentality, a few questions about their career, their stint at SXSW this week, among other things. Heavily inspired by 80's glam metal, the quartet produces humorous and at times thought-provoking music while donning heavy makeup and a lot of leopard prints. They recently performed at SXSW, their first gig abroad. They have another show coming up tonight at The Majestic as part of the Korea Night Out series by Seoulsonic, so if you are in the area and still haven't seen them, you definitely should go check them out!

Can you introduce yourselves first? 
Hello! We are Victim Mentality. We are mostly active in Seoul. We formed in 2009 and we play glam metal with roots in heavy metal. Krocodile is on vocals, Kyung Ho Sohn is on guitar, Scorpion on bass, and Tarantula on drums.

I see a lot of 80’s glam metal in Victim Mentality. Are there any glam bands that you’re into? Any particular role models for the band?
Most of 80’s heavy metal bands were our idols. We first started Victim Mentality by copying bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Then we started to change our band’s direction into glam metal, and we were really inspired by music by artists like Motley Crue. When I (Kyung Ho) was young, I really enjoyed Poison, Cinderella, and Vixen, and I think I naturally was inspired by them. Of course, we took a lot of inspiration from traditional heavy metal bands like WASP and Stryper.

Your lyrics are always so great! Really easy to relate to. “Don’t Spit on Me” is particularly great. Where do you get the inspirations for your lyrics? 
It’s all things that happen around us. We sing about normal things that happen around us, instead of fantasy fiction, sci-fi, or something philosophical like life and death. We usually sing about the hardships and love of youth, or the struggles of the working people.

Do you coordinate your own outfits? They’re always so outrageous.
We get the fabric from the market in DDM. We even have a wholesaler we often buy from as well. When we get the fabric, we go to a costume shop in Itaewon. We request the clothes to be made to fit our bodies there. They’re all custom-made, as we design on the spot or bring references.

Are any of the members active in bands outside of Victim Mentality? 
I’m part of a symphonic black metal band called Dark Mirror ov Tragedy. I’ve been originally interested in all aspects of metal music, and I’ve been active in a melodic death metal band since I was 20. I like what they usually call extreme metal, so I’ve been active in Dark Mirror ov Tragedy for 7 years. The other members are only part of Victim Mentality.

If you take a look at the members’ names… Krocodile, Scorpion, Tarantula… Kyungho, why don’t you use a stage name? If you had to choose one right now, what would it be? 
I actually use “Senyt” as my stage name for Dark Mirror ov Tragedy. I originally planned on using a stage name for Victim Mentality, but since I’ve been using a stage name since I was 20, I wanted to use my real name for once when Victim Mentality debuted. But I sometimes regret it, when I look at myself in makeup and leopard.

The upcoming SXSW shows are your first show abroad. Is there anything in particular you are preparing for these shows? Anything you’re worried about, or really excited about? 
Our goal is to show 100% of our charm. Glam metal is from the US. I think the audience will understand what we are doing, and what we are trying to express. So we’re really curious as to how they will react.

Are there any bands that you are looking forward to seeing at SXSW? 
We’ve liked a melodic death metal band called Allegaeon, and we heard that they will be at SXSW. We’ll be definitely checking them out.

What about any cities or festivals you want to perform at?
We want to perform at Sunset Street in LA, the home of glam metal. 

Your first full-length album “Heavy Metal Is Back” will be released soon. What kind of album will it be? How different is it going to be from “Magic Finger?” 
“Magic Finger” is an album consisting of the early songs we wrote after forming Victim Mentality. So the traditional heavy metal elements are strong. Because like I’ve said earlier, Victim Mentality was a straight-up heavy metal band inspired by bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. As time went by and we positioned ourselves as a glam metal band, we created “Heavy Metal Is Back.” Of course, there’s still the heavy metal element we pursued in “Magic Finger,” but we also tried to put in a more melodic and mellow element. If “Magic Finger” was about the primitive metal disposition, “Heavy Metal Is Back” tried to make various elements and emotions of heavy metal into a Victim Mentality style.

The upcoming SXSW shows, first album release, anything else you guys are planning at the moment? 
We will be continuing with performing. And we plan to release a single album near the end of the year. We want to get Victim Mentality known through live performances.

I found out that Krocodile is the leader (?!) of Free Meat Eaters’ Union, while researching for the interview… Do the other members also like meat? If you all had to choose your favorite kind of meat, what would it be? 
We all like meat. I’m particularly lazy with grilling them though, so I like beef or when someone else cooks it for me. I like cow intestines a lot too.

Thank you! I hope you enjoy some great BBQ in Austin.
Thanks! This was a fun interview.

Monday, February 2, 2015

[update] a quickie.

A quick update.

  • If you have the time, check out this interview Anna over at IndiefulROK did with the lovely duo Kim Sawol x Kim Haewon  that I translated. Their EP was one of my favourite releases of 2014. 
  • ....Speaking of 2014, the "best of 2014" lists are coming. I just need to sort some stuff out first...
  • Another thing that's going to happen (and I promise) - recaps of Unpretty Rapstar. And this time, we will try to make sure that we get through the entire thing. Shouldn't be as difficult, since there will be less episodes. We'll see though. 
  • I recently moved to Chicago. It's a big city and I don't have that many friends. If you are in the area, definitely hit me up and we can talk about silly things like Korean music and food together, maybe. 
Music-wise, recent rotations, among others:
  • The Quiett feat. Saetbyeol "Nothing". Download the track here
  • 18gram's self-titled first full-length album. Listen to "Secret Forest" here. This band is fronted by Ryu In Hyuk of Eastern Sidekick, one of my favourite bands! 
  • From the Airport's first full-length album You Could Imagine was surprisingly disappointing for me, personally. 
  • Purity Ring's latest songs "begin again" and "push pull" from their upcoming 2nd album. I'll be seeing them in June, so excited! 
  • I went to see the Cold War Kids last weekend. I'll also be going to the Pitchfork Festival in July, along with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds show in May. 

Anyway, let me know if you've listened to anything interesting lately. I've been kind of behind on recent music. 

I'll be back soon! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

[album reviews] Loro's, Epitone Project, Kim Dong Ryul, Paloalto, and More.

It's been a while since I last posted any type of music review on this blog, but tonight's one of those nights! I'm feelin it! In the last few years, whenever I actually talked about any kind of album/singles it was through my "Best of the Year" posts, which meant that I only ever got around to blogging about music that I really enjoyed. But there are other music that I think is just okay, or that I really dislike! So here we go! Brief reviews (with star ratings out of five, as always) though, because it seems like I have lost the ability to write extensively about anything...

Loro's | W.A.N.D.Y
2014.10.02 | ORM Ent | Mirrorball Music

Oh boy. Loro's finally released their much-anticipated second album after five years of nothing (their last EP, Dream(s), was released in 2009) and the wait was most definitely worth it. I wish I could talk more about this album because there's just so much, so much sounds and words and beautiful things happening, but I probably won't be able to put into words how I feel about this album. How I felt about this album when I listened to it for the first time ever. In its vast sounds, this album reaches out, breaking free of what Loro's was initially known for. There's darkness ("Homo Separatus"), there's light ("여기가 우리 만나는곳"), and ultimately, there's hope ("송가"). What a beautiful album.


Epitone Project | 각자의 밤 (Each One's Night)
2014.09.16 | Pastel Music | Neowiz Internet

If you've been around for a while, or if you've poked around this blog a lot, you might remember that I wasn't the biggest fan of Epitone Project (Cha Se Jung)'s last album, A Day in a Foreign City. I'm glad that I can say that his latest album is an improvement from that album. There's more variety in this album, and the various female featurings definitely help his music stand out. I also appreciate how he seems to be exploring more genres. This is a solid, easy-listening type of music, well-suited for a sleepless night.


Wutan & Buggy | Hol!day
2014.09.03 | Stoneship / VMC | CJ E&M

I didn't know much about Wutan or Buggy coming into this but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless! I'm not too familiar with either artists' previous track records (except that Wutan was on the second season of Show Me the Money, also known as that season that I didn't even bother with), but I am definitely looking forward to what they do next. "Blue Lemonade" is a total jam, and although "Watermelon Juice" is questionable (and it features Kimchi Homie Park - are you for real?), this is an addicting album with some really stylish and trendy beats.


Paloalto | Cheers
2014.09.23 | Hi-Lite Records | Neowiz Internet

As expected from Paloalto, a solid, classy album. From the opening track "Forrest Gump" featuring the amazing Mayson the Soul, to the last track "Footprint," this album screams classy all-over with its clean-cut flow and hooks. Paloalto's been around forever but it's admirable how he constantly puts out solid works - his album from last year, Chief Life, was also another notable piece of work. I especially appreciate how he never seems to give in to current trends - he seems to always maintain his style. I don't have any other words for him than classy. He's classy all over.


퓨어킴(Puer Kim) | Purifier
2014.09.02 | MYSTIC89 | Loen Entertainment

I've had a lot to say about this album but I've talked so much about it to everyone who ever brought up Puer Kim, I don't want to go too much into it here. I'm not trying to purposefully hate on the album, but as someone who very enjoyed Puer Kim's previous independent releases Mom & Sex and O, this album was a disappointment. On one hand, I'm glad that she's getting the exposure she is getting now with MYSTIC89, but at the same time, I really wish they'd just let her write her own damn songs. She's fully capable of writing captivating music, we've all seen her do that. How MYSTIC89 (/Yoon Jong Shin) seems to be restraining her from writing her own songs is a mystery to me. This EP is not bad - her voice is lovely, and her lyrics are interesting enough. It's just a shame that we can't witness her (original) unique sound on her mainstream debut album, that's all.


김동률(Kim Dong Ryul) | 동행 (Companion)
2014.10.01 | Music Farm | Loen Entertainment

It's amazing what just a simple voice can do. And how after all these years since Kim Dong Ryul debuted in 1993, he maintains the sentimentality that makes his music so attractive. He is one of the most consistent singer-songwriters in the scene, and I find it truly admirable how his music always seem so timeless. There are definitely some weaker songs on this album, but then there are other songs that really get to your heart, like the title track "How I Am," or "청춘 (feat. Lee Sang Soon)," and my personal favourite, "동행," the last track that also shares the title with the album.


김사월x김해원(Kim Sawol x Kim Haewon) | 비밀 (Secret)
2014.10.10 | Kim Sawol x Kim Haewon | Mirrorball Music

Where have these two been all this time? The duo's first EP together, Secret, is phenomenal. From the very first track "비밀" I knew right away that I was in for a treat. It's a dark chocolate kind of music, at times bitter, at times sweet in a gloomy but sexy kind of a way. The way the two voices come in and out of songs just at the perfect moment is so artfully done, I am floored. Fatal in its simplistic charm, Kim Sawol x Kim Haewon's Secret is definitely one of my greatest finds this year.


윤덕원(Yoon Dukwon) | 흐린 길 (Faded Path) 
2014. 09.30 | Studio Broccoli | Mirrorball Music

Yoon Dukwon of Broccoli You Too's solo album is at times very different from Broccoli You Too's music, and at times it's not. It seems more concerned with a 90's ballad sentimentality (which becomes blatantly obvious in "신기루") which is a departure from the usual Broccoli You Too music one might be familiar with. But it's refreshing, and definitely fascinating how this is the type of music Yoon Dukwon wanted to make as a solo artist. The sincerity shows, and it's much appreciated.


Enjoyed/hated any of these albums? Want me to review any other albums? Leave a comment below.