Rocking in the UK – Interview with Galaxy Express
The big day has finally arrived as the kick off of the UK’s first Korean Rock tour ‘Korea Rocks’ begins tonight at Tunbridge Wells Forum. Yesterday we brought you an interview with the first of four acts Apollo 18 and today we give you world touring rock group Galaxy Express. The trio, made up of guitarist/vocalist Jonghyun Park, bassist/vocalist Juhyun Lee and drummer Heekwon Kim, have attracted both attention and acclaim since forming in 2006. With their infectious blend of unmissable music and performances the group were sure to gain the attention of Korean music moguls and fans alike. Receiving high praise for their 2007 EP’s (“To the Galaxy” and “Ramble Around”), anticipation was high for Galaxy Express’s 2008 “Noise on Fire” full-length debut. The double album did not disappoint and was honoured with the “Best Rock Album” award at the 2009 Korean Music Awards.
This was followed by the group announcing that they planned to write, record, and release their next album in just 30 days, a mission that would be dubbed the ‘Wild 30’ project. After 30 days of sharing their process via sites with their fans the group kept to their promise and released their work which was fittingly titled “Wild Days”. Since the group have continued to be on the up being ranked #22 on 100Beat.com’s 100 best Korean CDs of the 2000s in 2011 along with winning the “Musician of the Year” prize the same year. Just last year the group released their 3rd full-length album in 2 years the self-titled ‘Galaxy Express’, an album which in my own opinion showed a more mature style of rock. Remarkably the group have also been able to tour both North America and Canada numerous times and have recently toured the US playing 26 concerts in 13 states in March 2013.
Thank you to guitarist/vocalist Jonghyun Park for answering our questions.
What groups or artists influenced you to begin a band?
Jonghyun Park: For me personally, it was Crying Nut that made me want to learn how to play music and be in a band. I saw them playing on TV in the late 1990’s. They looked so cool and had such amazing energy. I went to watch one of their concerts shortly after that and they blew my mind. I wanted to be able to make music like them.
You have previously worked with Hyundai Card music how does it feel to be a part of the Korea Rocks UK tour?
Jonghyun Park: We’re really happy to be a part of this tour. We’ve never played in the UK before, so it’ll be fun to be able to explore it with Apollo 18, Goonam, and Gate Flowers.
Korean rock seems to be amongst the genres of music in Korea that are widely undiscovered by international fans (of Korean culture). Do you think these gigs across the UK will help you to connect with a new fan base?
Jonghyun Park: Hopefully this tour will help us expose our music to new fans. We love meeting new people, so we’re excited to talk with the people who come to the Korea Rocks shows.
Musically you are described as mixing garage rock, punk, and psychedelic sounds. Which other artists would you compare your music to?
Jonghyun Park: We’ve drawn a lot of comparisons to groups like MC5 and Guitar Wolf.
You’re one of the most popular rock groups on the Korean music scene. What do you think it is about you that makes you stand out from the crowd?
Jonghyun Park: We enjoy what we do and have a lot of fun playing music. I think people see how much fun we’re having and want to follow along. We’re very grateful when they choose to do this.
Filmmaker Seunghwa Baek travelled with you on tour to film “Turn It Up to Eleven 2: Wild Days” (After previously filming “Turn It Up to Eleven” with Galaxy Express and his own group Tobacco Juice). After being screened at Korean film festivals last year it’s being shown overseas this year. Do you think this will cause an increase in international fans for the group and are you looking forward to the feedback you are likely to receive?
Jonghyun Park: I’m not sure if the film will cause our international fan base to increase. Originally we were hoping to get some live footage from last year’s tour to use in music videos. But Seunghwa suggested making a full documentary about the tour. We thought it was a cool idea. The documentary is kind of like a photo album for us. It reminds of us the things we experienced on that tour.
Last month you toured the US, playing 26 concerts in 13 states. As this wasn’t your first time touring the US do you think fan response has improved and do you enjoy touring the US?
Jonghyun Park: Being able to tour anywhere is always a lot of fun. This was the third straight year we’ve done an American tour. The tours have all been great experiences and we’ve got lots of great memories from them. Because we’ve done US tours in 2011, 2012, and 2013, we’ve been able to see our fan base in the US grow a little bit each year. And each year we seem to get a bit more press for our tours too, which has been great.
Touring the US each year is sort of becoming a tradition for us. It would be awesome if we can do the same thing with the UK too!
We would again like to thank Jonghyun and the other members of Galaxy Express for the interview and wish them luck on tonights first performance and the later tour dates.
Beyond Hallyu will be attending the London, Barfly concert but if you would like anymore information please visit the official Korea Rocks Facebook page here and for tour dates and information please see our previous article on the Korea Rocks UK tour and the other groups that will be peforming. We hope to see many of you there!