Interview With Rocket Diary

interview - 05.16.2008 08:00

Interview with punk band Rocket Diary after the release of their debut album.

Rocket Diary are a South Korean punk rock band who have been active since 2002. In 2007, their first full-length album District 13 was released and they're currently recording a single-album, which is scheduled to be released this year. KoME thought this was a great occasion to interview the band and get to know them better. Ham Byung Sun, the vocalist of the band answered our questions via e-mail.


Can you tell us about how the band was formed?

Ham Byung Sun: It was formed when we were high school students as all the members lived in the same town. In middle school, I met the drummer, bass player and keyboardist, the second guitarist joined during high school. At first, there were two bands who shared the same studio but as some members quit we put both together and Rocket Diary was formed.


Has the line-up of the band changed since your formation?

Ham Byung Sun: Until our first single, we had five members (guitarist, bassist, drummer, vocalist, keyboardist). But after that the keyboardist quit and Hong Sun Ki joined the band as the second guitarist for the first full-length album. Now it has been 2 years we've played with this line-up.


Is there a special story behind the band's name?

Ham Byung Sun: Actually, our name was OFF-Limits from 2001 to summer 2005 and when our first single came out we played under that name. But we thought that the name wasn't cool and changed it. By majority verdict we decided on Rocket Diary.


How do you work on your music? Do you write the lyrics first then add the
melody or the other way around?


Ham Byung Sun: This is case by case. Mostly we make a riff first and then the other members complete the rhythm. After that I write the lyrics. Sometimes we also make songs during jam sessions about lyrics, I write casually in my notepad and then choose a rhythm that matches.


Ham Byung Sun, you write all the lyrics, do the others have a say in the matter as well? How do you decide when to put English in the lyrics?

Ham Byung Sun: Usually, I write the lyrics alone, so the other members get them after test recording. I have been writing alone for such a long time, so that's easy for me, but sometimes we share our opinions about lyrics. A friend of mine helps with the English lyrics. It's not easy to translate them, as the lyrics have to match with the rhythm. So she has had a hard time sometimes.


Because of the partially English lyrics, people outside Korea find it easy to listen to your music, have you ever thought about playing abroad?

Ham Byung Sun: We played Japan before but that's not an English-speaking country. Actually, our music isn't mainstream in Korea, so we want to play in countries that are more tolerant of rock music. Singing in English definitely isn’t enough for foreigners but I think that our music can overcome this.


On your Myspace you say you play pop, emo and punk rock like Jimmy Eat World. What other bands influence you and what do they mean to you?

Ham Byung Sun: Actually, our music can't be defined as only pop or emo punk. I think that genre has no meaning. I agree our music is similar to that music and it's just a reference before listening to our music, which is why I wrote about Jimmy Eat World on my Myspace, but there are many bands that are similar to Rocket Diary.


Many people like Asian music because it sounds different from mainstream western music, why did you chose to go with the western style?

Ham Byung Sun: Many people like Asian music?! Really? I didn't know that. Our music can't be defined as Asian or western music. The origin is western music, that's right but American, British, Japanese and Korean bands sound similar.

Do you think Asian bands always play Asian style? I don't think so. We just play what is good music for us, as nowadays one can listen to any country's music at home. The important thing is, we should find our originality that's not defined as just some style.


What are your thoughts on the Korean music scene?

Ham Byung Sun: Korea is having very hard time. There's an imbalance. I think the good musicians and audiences are increasing but the most serious problem is that people turn away from CDs.


It has been some time since you released your last album, District 13, what have you been doing during that time?

Ham Byung Sun: Usually we have a lot of live shows, we still do, at live houses, open air shows etc. We just play everywhere.


What can you tell us about your new release? When is it going to be released?

Ham Byung Sun: We haven't decided yet. We're still working, but it's almost done. After that we're going to design the jacket. That’s easy work. I think around May or June we can launch our single-album. It will have 3 songs and show more maturity.


Do you tour a lot in Korea?

Ham Byung Sun: Sure. We played in Busan, Dae gu, Gwang-ju and other cities in Korea. Actually, in Korea there are just a few live houses, and they're inferior too, but we want to play more live shows this year.


Do you have any funny or weird anecdotes about touring you'd like to share
with us?


Ham Byung Sun: Last summer we toured with the band Yellow Puffer. We were 11 people, all the same age and characters, so we felt like we were on a school trip. When we had meals it was very hard to choose the menu because there were so many of us!

Some bands like to test new songs live before recording them. Do you take this approach?

Ham Byung Sun: Since we play all year round, we play some songs first. We test the feeling of the audience. A few months ago, performed the tracks from this release.


What do you prefer: working on new songs in studio or playing live?

Ham Byung Sun: We like studio recording more because we can work in more detail.


What are your personal favourite songs from Rocket Diary?

Ham Byung Sun: There is no your smell, that's my favourite.
When I wrote that song I drank beer. At that time some, I thought about a melody and then just played my acoustic guitar and completed it really quickly. The lyrics were written fast too. This song is for a past love.

Morning Glory, the Korean title song for the One Piece movie, was released as digital single. What is your opinion about people preferring to download music instead of buying CDs?

Ham Byung Sun: We feel a little distressed about that. We actually like CDs more.


Any final words for our readers?

Ham Byung Sun: Hello and thanks for reading about us. Please try to listen our music sometime. I hope you good day with good music, good food and good people. Bye!

KoME would like to thank Ham Byung Sun and Monky Global for making this interview possible.
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