Korean Music Interview: HarryBigButton

So many magical groups outside of the realm of K-Pop have begun their life in the spotlight with a little help from the show Top Band. This latest band that we had the pleasure of interviewing is no different. HarryBigButton are one for the heavy rock lovers out there seeking out fresh new takes on reliable older sounds. Sounding somewhat like the lovechild of Metallica (when they were good) and Slayer, they are a group screaming out for a little love and attention.

And damn do they deserve it.

Bursting onto the Korean Indie Rock scene in 2011 with their self-produced EP Hard ‘N Loud the group quickly became fan favourites and the EP was noted for having a 90’s Rock/Metal feel with a unique twist. This rise in acclaim between both fans and critics increased in the same year when they joined band survival show Top Band for its second season. However, despite great fan response and interest the group were kicked off in the final 16. Not letting that get them down, they continued to play shows and festivals and gradually built up a wide following and fanbase both inside and outside of the Korean rock and indie scene both in Korea and internationally.

Releasing their album King’s Life a year later in 2012, the band looked set for success when founding member Sungsoo Lee (Vocalist/Guitarist – former member of both Crash and SpooN) suffered a car accident that rendered him unable to play or perform for several months. During this time period, the band underwent a number of lineup changes with members choosing to leave to persue other routes within the music industry. However, they were soon back on their feet when drummer Kang Dae-hui and bassist Neil Smith were taken on. Ready to take on the rock scene again the group quickly got back into the swing of playing round and about Seoul re-establishing their fanbase again and slowly building on it.

This year saw the release of their eagerly awaited follow up album Perfect Storm finally occur and also saw another change for the group with members when their drummer left and was replaced with Taegi Kim. Although the group has undergone many lineup changes it’s clear to see that, with their latest lineup, they plan to stick around and continue to make an impact for a long time to come. We spoke to lead singer Sungsoo to find out more.

How would you describe your music in three words?

I like to describe our music as ‘Straight’, ‘Positive’ and ‘Modern-Vintage’.

Where does your name come from?

It’s originally from cockney slang meaning a cheap and vintage looking car stereo with chunky big buttons.

It would seem that K-pop is still the most marketable Korean music internationally. As musicians, do you ever feel that alternative music coming from Korea is misrepresented and undervalued by record labels?

K-pop’s got more exposure to the global audience than other Korean music obviously. I read comments on HarryBigButton’s music video the other day saying they never knew rock music exists in Korea as they’ve only watched K-pop videos on YouTube.

Korean rock music needs more exposure to global audiences. I really appreciate the attention you give Korean rock music. This will definitely help rock bands in Korea get more attention from international audience. Thanks Beyond Hallyu!

A lot of groups have travelled outside of Korea to Europe to play gigs for international fans while also gaining more fans in the process. Does Harry Big Button have any plan to do the same in the near future? 

Definitely we’d love to travel outside of Korea and play gigs. We’ve been preparing for long time for that. We’re ready to play! So we hope to see you soon.

What would you say drives the group to continue making music despite the difficulties musicians have to overcome such as attracting a fanbase and then annoying said fanbase when their music style changes slightly?

Making music is what I do and what I like most. Any difficulties cannot be compared to not making music at all. As long as music is in me, I won’t stop.

What are your plans for the future?

I am focusing on two things at the moment. One is making our second full-length album and the other is preparing oversea live shows in the near future.

What do you think the response towards more alternative Korean groups would be if they attempted to market their music more to a western market?

I think marketing towards a bigger market is necessary. The Korean music scene – especially for rock music – is quite a lot smaller than the western music scene as far as I know. It’s not only about the market size but also meeting new audience is always great thing for musicians.

Do you, as a group, intend to market your music towards a more western market at some time in the future? 

I believe there’s no barrier when it comes to music. We take a lot of pride in our music. We hope HarryBigButton as a rock band will appeal to the western market at some point.

We’d also like to hear more feedback from people outside of Korea. So please take a listen to our music or visit our website and social networks and let us know what you guys think.

If you like the sound of Harry Big Button and want to find out more about the group you can check out their website or support them by buying their music on Bandcamp. They can also be found on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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Co-founder and Editor at Beyond Hallyu
Lover of Korean hip-hop and indie music...and Unicorns.
  • Taintedmemory

    thank you for doing the interview i absolutly love harrybigbutton. amazing job!!!!