Interview with Crash

interview - 25.05.2009 13:00

Heavy metal band Crash talk about their beginnings, the emotional power of music, and just what role heavy metal has in Korea.

As one of the pioneering bands in the Korean metal scene, CRASH have worked with many important Korean artists as well as gaining recognition and performing with several major international artists as well. CRASH took the time to answer some of our questions about the band, music and the Korean metal scene.

Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?

AHHN: We're a heavy metal band from Korea. We follow heavy, fast, power metal stuff and, simply, we play and express what we want.

How did you meet and form the band? Where does the name Crash come from?

AHHN: Hm… that's an old story. I liked heavy metal more than anything. At that time, South Korea was full of bands making music like that of Mötley Crüe, Ratt, etc. This was probably the time society changed. The members and I met at the end of the 80s while we were gaining musical experience… like an academy? We talked about the new times and formed the band. Our first cover song was Leper Messia from Metallica.

While searching for a word and the meaning for the final frontier, we chose the non-substantive synonym CRASH. It's not the moment right before, nor a process, but the immediate moment. Because we always wanted to “express” this border, we decided to take the name CRASH, which still bears this meaning.

Why did you decide to become musicians?

AHHN: I think nothing is as deplorable as a life in which you can’t express yourself. Through the need to break out I choose music. And there was nothing more absorbing than music. What’s so fascinating about music is that you can express yourself in various ways more than through any other medium. A picture is one-dimensional and a sculpture is three-dimensional. But music (at lives) can be heard, can be seen and according to each person’s intention it causes unlimited reactions. Out of the existing music genres heavy metal displays all this the best and absorbs it. That’s why we chose heavy metal out of the numerous music genres.

Du-Byung: I liked rough guitar riffs above all, and that I could do what I wanted to do.

Jae Yong: Emotions in music can't be expressed in any other way. I wanted to express the emotions of my music.

Yong Uk: I listened to Slayer and Metallica and was addicted.

Thrash metal is usual seen as an American music genre, with bands like Slayer, Sepultura and Anthrax being some of the forerunners. Do you try to bring some Korean influence into your music? If so how do you do this? If not, why do you choose not to?

AHHN: That's out-dated. Do Korean bands really have to do that?

Du-Byung: Nowadays we don’t put a lot of effort into that. Even if we don’t try to give our music a Korean feel, it still is nice if it happens naturally.

Yong Uk: In the past we often tried to. I believe there are also many Korean elements that can go with thrash metal elements.

You write your lyrics in both English and Korean. Why do you choose to do this? Do you want to appeal to a more international audience?

AHHN: What's special about Korean is that you need a lot of breath and it's not that the voice sounds strong but rather harsh and listless. I think the advantage of using English in music is that it can reach more people. 70-80% of all songs are in English.
Of course we want to be able to reach our fans more often.

Du-Byung: We are a thrash metal band. Of course we want to meet more with our overseas fans.

Is there any particular message you wish to transmit through your music? Do you think that music is a good medium for communication?

AHHN: Many people are living their lives being dragged along by their family, organizations and the society which they are in, rather than living by their own will. Will they feel satisfied about the life they've lived when they look back on their lives someday?

Of course I'm not trying to ignore all the worth they have. But... I just want to let them enjoy their freedom during those moments they listen to our music, and feel sympathy toward their real lives.

And I don’t speak Japanese, but I can communicate with Japanese musicians through music... it makes sense, right?

Jae Yong: Of course music is a good medium for communication. I think one can deliver messages not only through lyrics, but through concerts as well.

Yong Uk: In my opinion we are mainly trying to deliver messages which are not told by mainstream music, and which contain a deeper meaning. I believe there is no better communication medium than music.

Are there any Korean bands that you particularly like or admire?

AHHN: ASIANA.

Du-Byung: gumX, Baekdusan.

Jae Yong: Sinawae.

Yong Uk: None right now.

You’ve had the opportunity to open for several major international rock bands in Korea. Which have been the highlights for you?

AHHN: We performed together with the English band Bush. It was a long time ago and with a band of a totally different genre. But through that, I got a new opinion about the music business and the audience.

I always remember failures more than successes, because I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

Jae Yong: Testament. Of course it's a band I like, but the energy those guys radiated and the concert itself nearly gave me goose bumps.

Yong Uk: Mad Capsule Markets, Testament.

What’s your favourite thing about touring? What can one expect from a Crash live show?

AHHN: The moments the audience are listening to our music, going with the rhythm and enjoying the music. The feeling of breathing the same air and sharing the same energy in a narrow place.

What's characteristic about our gigs is that we don't play a loose sound but a tight one. You have to use the energy that you are not able to endure.

Du-Byung: Before performances I feel like I do before going on a trip. On stage it's like riding a rollercoaster. The audience is always really agitated and there's nobody but headbangers.

Jae Yong: It’s the harmony between the fans. It’s just indescribable when there’s a mosh pit.

Yong Uk: It's interesting to experience the reverse situation when going to a live.

Your last album was released in 2003, are there any plans to release a new one?

AHHN: We are currently in the last phase of recording our new album. We are presenting some “younger” riffs. We produced the album with our original line up and it’s our goal to release it before this summer. That’s why we started recording right away.

Of course it’s heavy metal of fast and great power!!

What is your opinion of music videos? Do you have any plans to make some in the future?

AHHN: Music videos are quite an important medium in the 21st century. The problem is that the balance of production and consumption in Korea doesn't come off that smoothly. That's why many bands suffer from the dilemma of video production. Compared to the expenses the effect is too little. But if by any chance if you want to be introduced abroad, then you must have one.

But I'd like to shoot at least two or more music videos for our new album.

Do you think that your music has changed or evolved since your first album, Endless Supply of Pain? If so, was this a natural progression or did you make a deliberate choice to make changes?

AHHN: I believe that evolution and outcome are natural. Over time we evolve. Our changing needs and opinions will always exist in our music, reflected there naturally. This change will continue, I think.

There will always be people who either like or dislike a new album which is different from the ones before. We're just guys who are trying to differ from yesterday and long gone things.

Jae Yong: That’s natural. We are doing heavy metal but the music we want to express has no limits. We want to spread our music more and only make crash-like music.

You’ve worked with Colin Richardson, who has also produced music for bands such as Cradle of Filth, Slipknot and Sepultura, on several of your albums. How did you come to work with him? What (if any) impact did he have on your music?

AHHN: For me he was a good model because I learned something about the role of a producer. During the production of the album, which we did together, he was like another member of us, and because of this we tried various processes with various results. He is a good person who understood me as much as possible.

Jae Yong: Colin is a producer with whom a musician feels comfortable with. We’ve had great concerts and recordings.

Yong Uk: Because he is a producer who holds onto metal, it was a great experience for Crash.

AHHN, you worked with Seo Taiji & Boys on the track Gyosil Idea, which was met with a lot of controversy at the time due to its subject matter. Did you expect such a reaction from critics? If you released a similar song today do you think the reaction would be any different?

AHHN: Working with an idol was was something new and interesting. The topic itself wasn’t the problem, I think, but the fact that an idol chose it. If it hadn't been an idol but just someone random who had chosen it, it probably wouldn’t have caused such a big reaction.

This is a sick part of Korean culture.

A lot of artists, even pop bands, are having their music censored in Korea at the moment. How do you feel about music censorship?

AHHN: Actually, we don’t have a problem with censorship itself. It exists to protect the heritage of national emotions or something. There are indeed different opinions, but I don’t want to disregard the older generation’s efforts to preserve the conservative parts of our culture.

But it seems that the purpose and the criteria of this censorship isn't about national emotions or even culture anymore, but decided by political issues or other things we could never accept. I think it's really stupid.

When you understand the tyranny of large-scale enterprises and that the government and those established enterprises are contrary to the freedom of expression and culture, then you’ll come to respect all Korean musicians for sure.

That’s what I call a crippled democracy. I think of Korea as a country, in which the proportion of socialism and democracy is 7:3. Of course those contrary to freedom of expression are sick.

Du-Byung: They are sick.

Jae Yong: They are sick.

Yong Uk: They are sick.

In general, what is the Korean audience's reaction to your music? What is the metal scene like in Korea?

AHHN: Whoever likes our music is respected by us and respects us as well. The message our music contains is that we and our fans are respecting each other. In my eyes, the relation between fans and musicians, who are making real music, is the same all over the world.

Du-Byung: Our fans are always active and very passionate. The Korean metal scene isn’t in a very great state, but the support of the fans enables us to be on stage.

Jae Yong: To play heavy metal in Korea is really difficult. The image of heavy metal as nothing more than noisy music still exists.

Yong Uk: Korean fans are the best and the fact that the metal scene is not able to support it’s fans is really a pity.

Several bands that we’ve interviewed before have had a negative view of the Korean music scene as a whole. What is your opinion of the current Korean music scene? Do you share this negative outlook?

AHHN: Haha... There's always hope. We just wish for the people who've had a negative opinion to not forget about it, if they've worked in the music business for some time. Present times are always full of dissatisfaction. Everything has its negative side. But the problem is only that they couldn't see the opposite side. The media discusses idols a lot more than the music of bands. You'll understand it quite simply if you understand the difference between ideal life, and real life.

Jae Yong: There's barely anyone in Korea who purchases albums. In fact, there are more and more cases of people being treated like idiots when they go to buy an album. MP3 downloads are the reason for this change. In my opinion there are few musicians who are happy with this situation.

Yong Uk: At the moment it is negative but it's not an exaggeration to say that an end to it is in sight.

The internet plays a big role the modern international music scene. How do you think the internet has affected Crash, and do you think it will play a bigger role in the future?

AHHN: The internet has influence over the whole world. Not only on music but on everything. It’s just the beginning.

The internet still isn't used seriously for band promotion. In future I want to promote our band through many different ways. I see the connection between the technological aspect of humanity and the cultural aspect of humanity as a new possibility to always be on stage. If it comes to this, we will be more influenced by it.

Do you have any plans to play overseas in the future? Are there any places you’d particularly like to play in?

AHHN: There's a lot of ideas that we're currently thinking about, and a lot of ideas that we still evolving. One of the countries is Japan, with which we keep a relationship running, but there are in fact many obstacles. November last year we had a show in Japan. There will probably be more performances.

Where do we want to perform? Brixton Academy!

Yong Uk: Although we have lots of plans there's nothing in particular yet. In Japan and then in Europe, America, southeast Asia, that's where I would like to perform.

Do you have a message for the KoME readers?

AHHN: We are a heavy metal band from the very small country Korea. I just want to say:”Try to listen to our music!”. Is there anything else to say…

Du-Byung: Thank you very much for reading this interview. Always remember the heavy metal band CRASH. Our music will make you headbang for sure.

Yong Uk: When you are listening to our new CRASH album, you will hear serious thrash metal from the Far East. Hehehe.
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