[Interview] Say Sue Me bring the Busan sunshine to chilly Glasgow
It was a fairly sunny and warm evening in Glasgow (at least for a early May evening in Scotland) when I headed over from Edinburgh to see Say Sue Me play their sole Scottish date in their UK tour. The venue chosen, the CCA in the city centre, is known for attracting a pretty diverse and open minded audience and I immediately noticed a wide range of ages from people in their late teens up to one older man with a walking stick who had to move to the front for a seat on the stage in between sets.
There were 3 acts playing with the group second on the bill after local band Breakfast Muff and before headliners Otoboke Beaver, an all female punk-rock four-piece from Kyoto. The audience took a while to warm to the support act but by the time Say Sue Me came out an enthusiastic crowd had formed ready for the band.
The group was exactly how I’d anticipated, but in the best way. Considering their drummer had joined them only a few days before for this tour (the band’s original drummer is very sadly in a coma after an accident and the band have been fundraising for his healthcare costs) their playing was very tight and you could immediately tell each member was very into and dedicated to their music – always a good sign at the start of a gig.
Their unusual blend of straight up surf rock and 90s style indie is not something you hear often in the chilly west of Scotland but their beach-side origins permeated through the music and transported the crowd from a cool spring Glasgow evening to a hot summer Busan night. The band’s focussed playing almost forced all of us to really pay attention to their music and although there wasn’t much interaction between them and the audience during the songs, there were a lot of positive interactions between lead singer Sumi and the crowd in between and there was definitely a lot of goodwill towards the group.
Say Sue Me are an understated group. There are no frills in their performances or the clothes they wear on stage but that’s one of their big strengths. Their raw passion really shines through and allows anyone who takes the time to pay attention to appreciate their music. The rebellious antipathy of title track Say Sue Me‘s “When I leave this job, I’ll never get a new a new job” definitely resonated with the audience and it was just what we all needed on a tired Wednesday night.
All in all, the band were an impressive live act and their chilled out but fun music was the perfect antidote for the unbridled madness to come from the relentless Otoboke Beaver.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to talk to the group in person but they kindly answered a few questions by email beforehand.
How would you describe your new album?
‘Say Sue Me’ is our debut release outside Korea and it’s a compilation of our 2014 debut album We’ve Sobered Up and our 2015 EP Big Summer Night with a bonus new song from 2017. We’ve also released Semin, a 7 inch vinyl 4 track remastered EP with 2 previously released songs and 2 new tracks.
Who and what are your main influences as a group?
We’re really inspired by old surf music, old pop, old garage rock, and 90’s indie bands like Yo La Tengo, Pavement, and Seam.
You’re known for having a strong surf rock influence. What draws you to that style?
Actually, we didn’t intend to do that style. But, our practice room is really close to the beach, so we think it just makes us to do that kind of style.
Why did you decide to team up with a British label for this release?
They contacted us and we thought it would be good chance for us. Also, as you know, British rock scene have great effect on rock & roll world. We want to be a part of it.
Indie music in Korea tends to be associated with Seoul and particularly areas like Hongdae. What is the music scene in Busan like and how has it influenced your music?
Venues in Busan like to have audiences drinking and dancing. They have a pure rock & roll soul. That’s made us into real rock & rollers.
How does playing gigs in the UK compare to back home? What do you think of the audiences?
We just finished the first show in London. They focused on our playing and it was lovely!
Your songs are mostly in English. Do you think that helps people from other parts of the world connect with your music?
I think so, to some extent, but it’s not the most important thing.
Now you’ve ticked the UK off the list, is there anywhere else you’d like to tour?
Anywhere in the E.U.!