Apollo 18 are one of the first bands I got to meet in person. Finding out that the music from a band I liked was made by individuals who were laid back and friendly was an amazing experience. I keep tabs on the band through different social networks and the past year, the trio have been really busy.

The summer is the prime festival season in Seoul and Apollo 18 made appearances. But now the band is traveling outside of South Korea to Russia and Taiwan to bring their music to new audiences again. Apollo 18 is heading to Russia for V-Rox in August and Taipei for Beastie Rock in September.

Hyunseok, guitar and vocalist, gave me an update on what the band has been doing since the release of Black.

Hyunseok  of apollo 18 on the ground in Manchester

Apollo 18 hasn’t had new music since your Black EP in late 2011, what has the band been doing?

Since releasing our Black EP, we’ve been playing gigs in Korea and have done a few overseas tours. We played some shows in Canada in the fall of 2012 and also appeared at the fantastic Pop Montreal music festival.

This past spring, we went to England and Wales for several gigs and had the chance to play at two great festivals there as well, Focus Wales and Liverpool Sound City.

This past weekend we played on the main stage at Seoul’s City Break festival alongside the likes of Metallica, Rise Against, and Rocket From the Crypt. That show was a lot of fun!

We opened our set with a tribute to our good friends, the awesome Korean band Galaxy Express, and later in our concert Kyungse Bae from Ninesin and Hwantaek Lim from Hollow Jan both did guest vocals on a few songs.

In a few days we’re flying to Russia to play at the V-Rox festival. And in late September we’ll be playing in Taiwan at Beastie Rock Festival. We may do a show in China in the fall, too. Details are still being worked out for that.

This past February, Daeinn released an album with a side-project band called Gage. He also spent a few months in the spring and summer producing the upcoming full-length from Juck Juck Grunzie. And this past spring we started our own record label called Gogol Records.

It seems like more people internationally have been exposed to your music through the Korea Rocks tour in the UK. How was the response from the audience?

The response from crowds in the UK was really good. The Korea Rocks tour included us, Galaxy Express, Goonam, and Gate Flowers. The crowds seemed to enjoy all four of the bands on the tour. And we all got good reviews from the press in the UK, too. The Liverpool Echo newspaper’s Getintothis blog called the Korea Rocks daytime party at Liverpool Sound City the highlight of the festival’s final day.

It was surprising to hear about Gogol Records, how did the idea for the label happen?

We’ve been talking about making Gogol Records for a long time. We had some friends that wanted to put out records this year so we decided to finally start the label. We’re hopeful that we can use the experience we’ve gained in Korea and through our overseas tours to help other bands.

How did you sign Modsdive and Romantiqua? Are there any more bands that will be on the label in the future?

We’ve been friends with the guys in Modsdive and Romantiqua for several years. Sunghoon from Modsdive has played as a live session player in Apollo 18 before. And Sungjoon from Romantiqua has done tattoos on Sangyun and me. All the members in both bands are really good people.

Modsdive and Romantiqua are both great bands as well. We’re really happy to be able to have them on Gogol Records. Romantiqua released their When and Where EP through Gogol in March, and Modsdive released their The Stasis Of Humanity album in April.

Both discs are really good! The other bands who are part of Gogol Records are Juck Juck Grunzie and National Pigeon Unity. Gogol Records may be a new imprint, but it already has a lot of talented acts on its roster!

Is there a band that you want signed to Gogol Records?

For now, four bands are enough I think. Three of the bands are currently busy working on new albums, music videos, and even setting up some overseas gigs.

And when National Pigeon Unity finish their army service next spring, I think they’ll want to release something quickly as well. But we’re always keeping an eye out for other acts that we think could be a good fit for Gogol Records.

You’re playing some more gigs overseas at the V-Rox festival in Russia and Beastie Rock Festival in Taiwan. Do you find international shows more fun to play than shows in South Korea?

Being able to travel to new places to share your music is always a really cool experience. Meeting people from all different backgrounds is a lot of fun as well. We’re very lucky because we’ve met so many amazing people while touring overseas.

But as far as the actual shows go, concerts in Korea and overseas aren’t really that different. We play hard and loud. And people cheer, clap, and sometimes get a bit wild. Gigs are fun no matter where they are.

Is this the first time Apollo 18 is heading to Russia?

Yes, and we’re really excited about it! When we formed Apollo 18 we thought we’d just play around locally. We never thought we’d have the chance to perform in places like Japan, Taiwan, England, Wales, the United States, Canada, and now Russia.

We’ll be playing in Vladivostok at a new music festival and conference called V-Rox that’s happening from August 22 – 25. We’re going to perform there on August 23 and 25. We don’t know much about Russia’s music scene, so we’re really interested to listen to some new bands, meet some new musicians and music fans, and to drink some vodka!

We’re going to V-Rox with Goonam and No Brain. We toured the UK this spring with Goonam and last fall we played a show in Jeju with No Brain. Both acts are really cool, so it’s going to be a lot of fun to spend a few days exploring Russia with them.

This will be your second time heading to Taiwan. Do you have any new expectations for Beastie Rock?

I think Beastie Rock 2013 is going to be a lot of fun. This is the third year of the festival. It’s going to take place in Taipei from September 27 – 29. We’re going to play on the 28th. We played at the festival in 2011 and the audience was awesome!

We were really surprised by how excited people seemed to be about our music. Over the past two years we’ve gotten a lot of emails from people in Taiwan asking how to buy our music and when we’ll be coming back to play there again. We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone there again.

Beastie Rock is also going to be really cool because Romantiqua will perform at the festival too. It will be their first time playing abroad. We’re excited about playing at Beastie Rock and spending a few days in Taiwan together with them. I think we’re all going to have a great time!

When can fans expect a new release from Apollo 18?

That’s a good question! Hopefully we can put out something new next year. We recorded Black in Japan, and we’re looking into possibly recording our next album overseas as well.

We’ve talked a bit with a producer in the UK that’s interested in working with us. He has a lot of experience and has some good ideas for Apollo 18. We’d like to record with him, but it’s going to be expensive so we’re not sure if it will be possible or not yet.

For those who have been waiting for new Apollo 18 music, Hyundai Card Music put out a brand new song and music video from us in late May. The track is called “Spontaneous Human Combustion.”

Anything to say to fans?

If you’ll be around Vladivostok on August 25 or Taipei on September 28, come see us play! And if you can’t make it to those shows, we hope we can rock out with you somewhere else in the near future. Thanks so much for reading this interview. And thanks to Korean Indie for writing about Apollo 18 again. We really appreciate everyone’s support!

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Korean Indie Editor-At-Large The person in the background watching over everything.