I’ve only seen Galaxy Express once in Hongdae during Monster’s Rock Show Volume 3in 2012 when they played with Crying Nut, Yellow Monsters, and locofrank. The band was one that I had wanted to see for a long time and I finally got the chance.
This time, I figured I should try to ask different questions than ones I’d seen asked before.
Please introduce yourselves and add one fact that people might not know.
Jonghyun (Guitar/Vocals): Hi, we’re the Korean rock band Galaxy Express. We like to play loud rock, punk, and psychedelic music. One fact that people might not know … um, how about that all three members of our band are incredibly well-endowed and are incredible lovers!
Your third album was one of the best of 2012 and it sounds like the band spent more time making the album. Did you spend more time on this one compared to the others?
Jonghyun: Yes, we did. We started writing our new self-titled album last April when we got back from our 2012 USA tour. We recorded the album from August until the end of October. After do things so quickly on our 2010 Wild Days album, it was really great to be able to take our time making this album.
Is there any song on the album the band is most proud of?
Juhyun (Bass/Vocals): I’m really proud of “Horongbul.” It starts as a simple song, but then it has a huge explosion of energy. Playing that song live gets me really excited.
Jonghyun: I like “Cha! Cha! Cha! Cha!” It’s got a lot of energy too. There are sounds of race cars zooming around on the song. We played at Taebaek Racing Park in Korea during an F1 car race last summer, and Juhyun recorded the race sounds on his cell phone. It was so loud at the track. Our heads were shaking every time the cars sped by us.
Heekwon (Drums/Shouts): I love all the tracks on our new album!
You’ve become one of the best known Korean indie bands in the United States, are there any other bands you think people should know about?
Juhyun: People should also know about Apollo 18. They are an amazing indie band from Seoul that make really powerful music. We’re fans of the band, and the members are all really awesome people too. We were actually hoping to tour the US together with Apollo 18 this year, but their drummer has a family commitment this month that he can’t miss. We’re hoping that we can team up with them for an international tour another time.
Love Rock Company is the home to Galaxy Express. Is this your own label to support your music? Do you have any other bands on the label?
Jonghyun: Love Rock was formed by Galaxy Express and Telepathy. The label is run by the very smart and talented Myoungshin Ki. The bands on the label are Galaxy Express, Telepathy, and Pavlov. But Telepathy are on hiatus right now while the band members complete their mandatory military service.
The documentary Turn It Up to Eleven 2: Wild Days covers your second trip to the United States and SXSW 2012. Why did you decide to record the second trip? Was it because it was self-funded and not part of Seoulsonic 2K12?
Jonghyun: We asked Seunghwa Baek to come on tour with us last year. He’s the drummer in Tobacco Juice and is also the director of the Turn It Up To 11 film that came out a few years ago about Tobacco Juice and Galaxy Express. We thought Seunghwa could just get some video footage from last year’s tour for a music video or something. But he suggested making a feature-length documentary about the tour. It sounded like a cool idea, so we went ahead with it.
How was the response to the documentary when it released? Any plans for a digital release or physical copy?
Jonghyun: We’ve gotten a lot of good responses to our tour movie. It won the Audience Award at the 2012 DMZ Korean International Documentary Festival. The movie was screened in some movie theaters in Seoul in November too and Seunghwa and us did Q&A sessions afterward with the audiences that came to watch it. People said they admired how ambitious Galaxy Express are, and said that our actions during the film inspired them.
Juhyun: I think the film may be released on DVD in the future. It’s streaming on some Korean websites now. The international version of the film has English subtitles during the Korean speaking parts and will be screened in San Francisco on March 17 and March 22 during CAAMFest. We’re looking for more opportunities to have it shown overseas as well.
Since your 2013 tour is your third time coming to the US and your third appearance at SXSW, do you have any new expectations about playing during the festival?
Jonghyun: We don’t have any expectations. We’re going there with completely open minds. SXSW is an awesome festival and we’ve had amazing times there in 2011 and 2012. I’m sure participating in the festival again this year is going to be really great too. One thing that is a bit funny for us about this year’s SXSW is that we’ll be performing right before the K-pop group f(x) on March 12 at Elysium. We’re not really familiar with their music, but we think the ladies from f(x) are going to be much better looking than most of the groups we usually play with!
From what I’ve heard, the month-long tour is finally venturing to other parts of the US and playing in smaller towns. How do you think this tour will differ from the previous ones?
Jonghyun: This tour is going to be lot bigger than our previous American tours. In fact, this is the biggest tour we’ve ever done as a band. We’ll be playing 28 concerts between March 7 and April 6. There are going to be a lot more long drives to make, but sitting inside a vehicle for long stretches of time each day just means we’re going to have a lot more energy to burn when we finally get to play!
How have you been preparing for this tour as opposed to the other ones?
Juhyun: We’ve been preparing the exact same way as we have for our past tours. We’ve been practicing our new and old songs to make sure everything sounds good and tight for when the tour starts. We’ve spent lots of time fine tuning our tour schedule. And we’ve been getting new T-shirts and CDs ready to sell on tour.
Are there any places GE is excited to play?
Juhyun: I’m excited to go to Las Vegas. I want to do some gambling. I think Galaxy Express can have a lot of fun in Vegas and maybe get into a bit of trouble at the same time!
Jonghyun: I think San Francisco is going to be cool. We’re playing a preview show for CAAMFest, so hopefully more people will want to watch our tour documentary after seeing us play. We’re friends with the San Francisco band Melvoy and are excited to get to hang out with them again too.
Heekwon: I’m looking forward to seeing Las Vegas as well. And after we play in Las Vegas, we’re going to visit the Grand Canyon, which I’m really excited about. I’ve wanted to see the Grand Canyon ever since I was a child.
Are there plans for a third documentary during this trip?
Jonghyun: We’ll be touring with a camera crew again. The plan is to make a five-part series about our experiences in the US on this tour. I think the footage will just be shown online.
Does the band have a favorite beer from the US?
Jonghyun: We like Lone Star Beer. We drank a lot of it during all our Texas gigs last year. It’s pretty cheap and tastes really good, especially after getting wild and sweaty onstage.
After the tour is over, what’s the first thing you will do when you return to Seoul?
Heekwon: I’m going to give my wife a big kiss!
Jonghyun: I’m going to go to a jjimjilbang, which is the Korean name for a public bathhouse.
Juhyun: I’m going to eat the Korean soup called gamjatang.
What the one question you are tired of answering?
Heekwon: All questions about K-pop. We get asked so many different questions about K-pop, but we don’t really know anything about K-pop so it’s tough to answer them.
The band will not disappoint on this third trip to the US. Their energy during live shows is amazing and they are really nice people to talk to afterwards. Really, you should buy them beer after they play to thank them for playing.
Be sure to see the band if you can and if you’re in San Francisco, watch Turn It Up to 11 Part 2: Wild Days at CAMMFest 2013.