Apollo 18 returned from their crazy first United States tour, taking them through SXSW and the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival with many stops in between. Even after the conclusion of their US tour, they played a couple dates in Japan on their return.
Now that they’ve been back in Korea for a little bit, I emailed the band asking if they would be willing to answer some more questions, this time about their experience in the United States.
Thankfully, they agreed and in-between readjusting the time difference they sent back answers to my questions.
From the first day of the tour to the last day, how did your expectations change?
Daeinn: Our expectations didn’t change during the tour. This was our first American tour, so we didn’t know what to expect in each city. Every day was a new experience for us with new venues, new bands, and new people. Everyday we learned new things. The whole experience was great and has made us a stronger band.
Was there a most memorable show?
Hyunseok: We have so many good memories from all of the shows. We played at The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The area around the venue was so beautiful and the crowd was awesome. There was a really good artist area also with lots of food and drinks.
We played on a bill with Dr. Madd Vibe (Angelo Moore from the legendary ska rock band Fishbone) and the show was sold out. Angelo bought our CD after the concert!
Tulsa was really cool, too. We played at The Eclipse. The owner of The Eclipse was so kind to us. He gave us an apartment to use while we were in the city. After the concert the bartender at the club told us we did a great job and then she pulled her shirt down and flashed us!
Daeinn: Our official SXSW showcase at Headhunters in Austin was really memorable for me. We were exhausted because of jetlag, but we were so excited. The club was hot and we played with a ton of energy. It was a really fun show.
I also liked our gig at Dragon’s Den in New Orleans. The crowd was small because it was a Monday night. The bartender was a great guy and kept giving us a lot of shots and other things. Our playing was really psychedelic that night. Our tour manager said it was the best Apollo 18 gig he had seen in a long time.
How much food did you eat?
Daeinn: We ate lots of Mexican food. It was good. Texas BBQ was so delicious. We ate po-boys and gumbo in New Orleans as well. Actually, a lot of the American food we ate was too salty for us.
We were surprised. By the end of the tour we were really missing Korean food. We found some Korean instant ramen in the international section of a supermarket and ate that a few times which helped a bit.
Any big problems or issues like broken van, getting lost driving, or speaking English?
Hyunseok: We had no big problems during the tour. Everything went pretty smoothly. We did get lost a few times. We played the first show of our tour in Dallas. After the gig we decided to drive through the night to Austin for SXSW.
We arrived in Austin around 5 a.m., but we couldn’t find our hotel. We drove around for two hours trying to find the hotel we were booked at. Daeinn was sleeping in the back of the van, but Sangyun and I were so tired.
Daeinn: English was a little difficult for Sangyun, but he did a good job. He gets nervous when speaking English to new people. He told us in Houston that he sweats a lot when fans ask him questions in English after our gigs. He said, “People is so kind, but when they talking to me my back become very wet.”
How do you think audiences responded when you played?
Daeinn: All the audiences were really kind. People clapped and cheered loudly when we played. Afterwards many people told us how much they enjoyed our concert. Some people told Hyunseok that Apollo 18 were “badass” after one concert. He didn’t know what the word meant, but they explained that they thought we were awesome so he was happy.
We got lots of great compliments from other musicians, too. At Hoeks Death Metal Pizza in Austin an awesome band called Head Crusher said during their set that we were their new favorite band. Another really good band called The Spittin’ Cobras said the same thing onstage in San Antonio, too.
Are there any plans right now for where you are going to tour when you return this Fall?
Daeinn: We would like to play shows in Canada and some different areas of the U.S. in the fall. We don’t have any specific plans yet on what cities we will visit. Right now we’re focusing on making plans for the summer. We will start making our fall schedule once all our summer plans are figured out.
With the tour over, are there any changes the band will make when you plan a tour again?
Daeinn: During our March tour, we played 16 concerts in 13 days. We had no days off while we were in the U.S. We went to Japan right after the U.S. and played two concerts in Tokyo. In total, we played 18 gigs in 21 days. We were really tired by the time we came back to Korea.
For the next tour, we will schedule some days off. We are hoping to cut down on the long drives between cities as well. A lot of our concerts this time were in Texas and Texas is so big. We want to do more promotion for the next tour. Our first tour was scheduled kind of late.
We will have more time to organize our second North American tour and we have a better idea of what to do now, so I think things will be even better next time around.
Are there any great stories during the tour?
Hyunseok: We played an afternoon backyard concert in Austin at Zhi Tea. It was such a cool place to play. The atmosphere at the party was pretty laidback, so we played most of our post-rock material instead of our heavier songs. While we are playing the organizer told our tour manager that she thought we were great.
He said that we were usually louder, but were trying to do a quieter set. She laughed and said “This is them trying to be quiet?” Right after we finished, two police officers showed up because of noise complaints. I guess we weren’t being as quiet as we thought!
Daeinn: Our show at Night Rocker Live in San Antonio was called “SXSW Spillover Barbecue and Music Fest.” Outside of the club they had a BBQ with so much delicious food for the bands and fans to enjoy.
Some people had their children with them at the BBQ. The kids were all really cute and loved hard music like Slipknot. We sat down on some grass to eat our food and the kids asked if they could eat with us. They were really cute. They said, “Yay, we get to eat with the rock stars.” We had a lot of fun talking with them. We gave them all autographed Apollo 18 CDs and stickers. That made them really happy.
Once again, I have to really thank Apollo 18 for taking time to answer questions. It’s rare to find an international band making a huge impact in the United States.