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.