Here at Droid Rage we like all kinds of bands from all kinds of places.
One of those bands is South Korea’s
The Geeks, So I thought it was time to ask them a few things, here’s an interview I just did with Seo.
DR: So do you want to introduce your self dude?
Hey man. This is Ki from The Geeks. I usually scream at the top of my lung.
DR: You guys have been around for a while now, do you want to take us right back… when and where did you start up? And what made you decide to do a Hardcore band?
It is our 17th anniversary this year. Wow. This is crazy. 17 years of playing hardcore music with the same band… What’s more crazy is that we’ve been pretty much active the whole time… Anyway, long story short, we started in 1999. Technically, we had our first guitar / song writing practice in 1997 under the name of The Geeks. Jun, our guitarist and I were in the same junior school and we were a table mate. He was a pioneer back then and got me into alternative/heavy music. Punk was our first love back then, we evolved further naturally.
We were lost souls. Korea was the most pressured country you can every imagine if you are teenager. The social pressure from every angle to make you study and comply with social educational system. Hardcore and Punk were what kept alive. The positive aggression and power of DIY really touched our heart. The music, The Message. We loved hardcore and it was just only matter of time that we formed a hardcore band to write our own music.
DR: What was your first introduction to HC and what were the HC bands you guys grew up with?
I guess my very first one was Nirvana in a broader sense. (As someone claimed, they were the biggest punk band) On more serious note, I believe it was Fugazi and the first Beastie boys. We didn’t have a lot of hardcore albums available in Korea. Remember, it was mid 90’s! We had to rely on imported CDs. From there, we discovered hardcore essentials like Minor Threat, 7 Seconds, Black flag as the first patch and went on to more youth crew stuff such as Youth Of Today, GB, Chain, SBS, BOLD etc. Bands from those two areas shaped who we were as teen age kids. It is funny we only found out 90’s hardcore scene after 2000 (pre-internet era). Those youthcrew/straight edge bands like In My Eyes, Ten Yard Fight, Floorpunch, Strife, Mouthpiece quickly became huge influences on us.
DR: How was the HC scene in Korea when you first started out?
With you guys being one of the first bands I guess not much, right?
The were a couple of hardcore / punk bands before us. We are like 1.5 generation I must say. One thing for sure was that we were the first old school/youthcrew/straight edge band in Korea.
DR: You guys pretty much introduced the Korean youth to The Straight Edge. That’s pretty amazing… how did that take off and is it still very prominent today?
Not sure if the readers know this. Korea is the the biggest drinking country in the world. By far. The level of social pressure is outrageously high. Please google it 🙂 It was a big shocker to a lot of people. I can stay it definitely left a mark in the scene. I think Straight edge in general delivers a positive message to people and make them question and open their eyes. “Wow there’s another way”. Small changes however small will add up to bigger changes in the future.
DR: What was that first US tour like for you guys? Who were some of the bands you played with?
The first US tour took place in 2005/2006. It was with Down To Nothing/Outbreak/Champion/The First Step and bunch of other great bands like Verse, BOLD, Lion of Judah + so much more. (We played a lot of individual shows)
DR: How many times have you guys been over to the US now, and what have been some of your favourite shows and places to play?
Our second full US tour was with Bane, Modern Life Is War, Down To Nothing, Ambitions and Hour of the Wolf.
Our third US tour was SXSW and we played a couple of shows in boston, philly and texas areas
Our fourth US show was at This Is Hardcore 2015.
I honestly can’t pick one. All great. Just great memories through and through. Just being able to go on tours with my favorite hardcore bands was my dream come true. Plus, having played in all these big shows and festivals, I am still in awe of it…
DR: You lived in the states for a while right? How did that come about and what were you doing there?
I came to the US in 2004 for the first time to go to Insted reunion shows and Posi Fest. I stayed in Boston for a month and went to as many shows as I could. I became friends with so many cool people. To name a few: Sweet Pete (In My Eyes) and Have Heart (when they just released a first ep), guys from Think Fast Records.
Then, I got accepted to an internship program at Hyatt hotel located in Maryland. With that, I lived in the states for about a year around 2005. My job was to serve customers at restaurants and banquettes.
As you could imagine, I dedicated all of my free time to going to shows while I was there. I remember, I actually did my first actual on-the-road driving in the US from maryland to Boston for a mental record release show / floorpunch reunion show. I didn’t even know how to drive but I felt like I had to. I then got into an accident big time on the way back… Stuck in the road for 5 hours. What a life 🙂 Anyway, I made awesome new friends in DC/Baltimore area: guys in Lion of Juda (Currently in Give), The First Step to name a few.
Another layer to the story. Think Fast released our first EP “What’s Inside” in 2005, which was the beginning of the history. I met Larry in 2004 while I was in Boston and he offered the change in late 2004. Album was released in 2005 while I was in the US. With that as background, Ryan from Outbreak offered us a chance to go on tour with them and Down To Nothing…. Unbelievable. I remember being freaked out and having a group chat with other members from Korea. It was a simple decision. We embraced Nike’s philosophy “Just Do It” and the rest was history.
DR: What do you guys do in your professional day to day life?
I am currently working for a car company. In marketing as a senior brand manager. I’ve applied all the philosophies, ethics and creativity from hardcore / music management to what I do at work. It works beatifully.
DR: What are your top five favourite Straight Edge Hardcore bands and records? And what bands would you say influenced you as a band?
OK I will just narrow it down to straight edge bands.
1. Youth Of Today: We are not in this alone
2. In My Eyes – Nothing To Hide
3. Carry On – A Life Less Plagued
4. Have Heart – Things We Carry
5. Champion – Promised Kept
As you can notice, a lot of hardcore bands after 2000 are listed here. Needless to mention, I love all the classic youth crew hardcore bands like GB, Chain, Minor Threats, BOLD, but we actually had personal bonds with “newer” bands and they have been real huge influences on us.
If I’m allowed to add more, non-edge bands like Bane, Modern Life Is War has influenced big time. Bands like Outbreak and DTN really took care of us when we were on tour. They showed us what hardcore was about.
Most importantly, all hardcore bands in Korea and other countries we’ve toured with were our motivations. These bands we’ve interacted with defined our sound. This band is all about pushing the envelope and rising above no matter what. They showed us that.
I just want to make sure we are viewed as an asian band that only loves North American bands. We are not. We equally love EU hardcore, Japanese Hardcore, South East Asia Hardcore, Latin American Hardcore as well. You will be blown away by how much we know about your scene. We listen to these bands all the time. On a daily operation of this band, they are our true motivations, bigger than bands I listed above.
Being in the same hardcore band for 17 years that never stopped exploring, the real connection we’ve made with all the bands we’ve played with and all the kids we’ve interacted with have kept us going. It still rings true to this date and won’t change.
DR: Thanks for your time Seo, any bands you think we should be listing to right now from Korea and beyond The Geeks.
There are just tons of new bands.
All I Have, No Shelter, Turn For Our, Find The Spot, the kitsches, Scumraid, Combative Post, Things We Say, End These Days. These are just a tip of the ice burg. There are so many great bands.