I havent’ been able to see Romantiqua live yet. The last time I was in Seoul, they played the night I arrived, but I wasn’t able to get to the show in time.
Their three-song single When and Where is an amazing introduction to the type of music the band plays and it’s been a long wait to hear new music. Being on Gogol Records with Modsdive, Romantiqua play another side of music compared to Modsdive and Apollo 18. All the bands complement each other well, but Romantiqua need to release more music.
A little know fact is that Anton, drummer of Romantiqua, who answered the questions was also the 3000 “Like” on the koreanindie Facebook page.
Can you introduce Romantiqua? Where did the band’s name come from?
Romantiqua is a four piece instrumental band from Seoul. We’ve been together with this lineup for just about two years now. At the beginning the music was mostly airy and melodic, but there was always this desire to infuse it with a hard rock edge.
We wanted our name to reflect this same synthesis. As usual, alcohol helped solve the name problem. Hyun and his wife found a bar called 로만티카, and that stuck. It had the soft and tough elements we wanted to express. A certain toughness is necessary to succeed in romance, isn’t it? The English spelling [-qua] was really just a stylistic choice.
How did the band form?
Everyone had bands that had recently broken up. Hyun and ChangHyun were working together at the time, so they talked a lot about ideas for a band and their ideal musical style. They started jamming with SungJoon, who had played with Hyun in Oriental Lucy. But they had problems with drummers. They went through a few different drummers over the first year before a mutual friend introduced me [Anton] to the band. That first time I jammed with them I knew there was something special happening.
How would you describe the band’s music?
Dreamy, instrumental rock and roll. Tough love. Psychedelic. There’s a word we toss around sometimes—homesickness. Musically, our songs reflect a nostalgia we all have for 60s and 70s rock, while still trying to explore forward because we know we can never go back to that time, nor would we want to.
Thematically, the music does the same thing. It’s like a traveler that always misses home, but refuses to quit exploring the world.
What are Romantiqua’s musical influences?
We all have different influences, but the giants of rock and roll are our common thread. Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Bowie, Queen, The Rolling Stones.
But there’s a lot of everything else in there, too. Jazz and the blues, pop, post-rock, prog-rock, Latin. We don’t really think about how we’re utilizing these elements, only that we don’t want to be repetitive of the past, and we try to blend our influences organically.
Is Romantiqua preparing to record any new music?
We’ve just started recording our first full-length album. The drums are nearly finished, and they sound bad-ass so far. The EP we released last March was only meant to put something into people’s hands, but we’re excited to put the full-length out there.
I’ve described the band as post-rock, but it’s hard to understand how this type of music is created. How do you arrange songs when the band is writing them?
A lot of people have described us that way, but we don’t consider our sound post-rock. Our songs come about, and leave room for, a lot of experimentation. But everything we do has its roots in classic rock.
Arrangements come about just by finding a unifying theme, and experimenting around it in every direction possible. We end up trashing a lot of great ideas, because in the end, the songs dictate themselves, they speak to us.
And, most importantly, when we’ve finished a song, we continue to experiment with it. That uncertainty, knowing that we may decide to change our songs at any time, keeps them fresh for us. That’s important.
The band is on Gogol Records with Modsdive. How did you get signed to the label?
We were friends with HyunSeok and the guys from Apollo 18, but they weren’t familiar with our music. At the end of last year we played a couple shows with them and they really liked what we were doing, the energy we played with. HyunSeok wanted to sign us to Gogol so we could play more shows together, bigger shows.
The band was able to play at Ansan Valley Rock Festival. How was that experience?
Ansan was definitely the high point of all of our musical careers so far. You know, that’s the sort of thing you dream about when you’re a teenager trying to figure out your instrument.
And then as you grow up you begin to see how difficult it is to end up on a stage like that. The entire weekend was amazing, and we were glad to share it with our buddies from Modsdive and Toyshop.
Is there a difference between playing a show at a venue and playing a festival?
The only real difference is the anticipation leading up to it. It’s hard not to get psyched out and feel a bit of pressure going in, waiting for your time.
However, once we were on stage it’s all the same. Just us and the music. Except for the lights. Those lights are as hot as the sun.
What’s your favorite venue to play in Seoul?
We really love playing at Salon Badabie. There are a ton of great venues in Hongdae, but Badabie never lets us down. It’s always fun and relaxed, always great lineups.
Maybe it’s the intimacy of that space. Sometimes they move the gear into the middle of the floor, open-stage style, so the audience can surround the bands as they play. Those shows are the most fun. It gets a really great energy flowing between us and the audience.
Are there any other Korean bands that impress you?
There are so many great bands here right now, that list could be endless. The bands that really get to us are the ones that we strive to be like. Apollo 18 has the energy. Hollow Jan has the emotion and really strong compositions. Hommage has the technical mastery over their instruments.
We want all of those things, in our own way.
Any plans for the rest of 2013?
We’re focused on the album right now. We’re hoping to have it mixed and mastered and ready to go before the end of the year.
And next month we head to Taiwan to play the Beastie Rock festival. This will be our first time playing internationally, so we’re stoked.
Apollo 18 is playing there as well, so it’s sure to be a ridiculous fun time. As always, we want to keep expanding our audience.
Anything to say to readers?
Thank you for supporting Korea’s indie rock scene. There is so much life and energy in it, and it really wouldn’t be possible without the support of music lovers. There’s a camaraderie here among artists and fans that a lot of cities don’t have.
We’re glad to be a part of it. And come out to see Romantiqua. Be noisy, be rowdy, shout obscenities, dance, make love. At the heart of it all, that’s what we do, rock and roll.
Since it sounds like When and Where was just a sampler of Romantiqua’s music, the full-length should hold something very special. Apollo 18’s Gogol Records has a lot of room for growth and already contains some impressive bands. With Romantiqua heading to Tawian, they will be able to introduce their music to another audience.
Maybe in the future, Gogol Records can bring its full roster of bands on an international tour.