Rock’N’Roll Radio were one of the breakout indie rock bands from 2013, whose groovy beats and smooth guitar melodies instantly struck a chord with music fans and gained them a strong international following. I’ve personally found their upbeat yet chill numbers great for long drives, late nights and lazy Sunday afternoons, and always find myself going back to the excellent Shut Up and Dance for a pick-me-up.
I’m really looking forward to the exciting new stuff they’re working on. All of the questions were answered by the band’s guitarist and vocalist Naehyun Kim.
June 11 Saint-Étienne, France @ Thunderbird Lounge
June 15 Paris, France @ Le Buzz
Can you introduce the band? How did you choose your band name?
Hi, we’re Rock’N’Roll Radio from South Korea! We’re a four-piece band that formed in March 2011. In 2013, we released our full length debut, Shut Up and Dance. That album helped us win “Rookie of the Year” at the 2014 Korean Music Awards. Last year was a great year for our band.
In addition to winning a Korean Music Award, we also toured in the US twice. In March 2014, we played at SXSW and CAAMFest and in October 2014 we played at CMJ and Culture Collide. And this June we’ll be playing at Midem in France and then doing gigs in Saint-Étienne and Paris.
Our name was actually the title of a song by a band called Go Go Beat. Go Go Beat featured all of the members of our group except for me. We also considered using the name Shall We Dance?, but in the end we all thought that Rock’N’Roll Radio sounded better.
How would you describe your music?
We all like different styles of music, and we mix them together to make Rock’N’Roll Radio. Our songs have funky rhythms and sentimental melodies. And our music has a retro feel to it too. We’ve recently began labeling our sound as neo psychedelic disco.
How did the band get started?
All of us used to be technicians for YB. Jinkyu, Minkyu, and Minwoo did that from 2002, and I started doing it when Minkyu and Minwoo needed to do their military service. That’s what led to the start of our band. Minwoo and Minkyu have been in bands together since middle school. They met Jinkyu in high school and started a band together. That band was called Go Go Beat.
Jinkyu was kicked out of the band in 2009. Around that same time I was fired from a band I was playing with, so the two of us formed a band called Burning Flowers. Then the four of us met in 2011 and Rock’N’Roll Radio was created.
What is your process when writing and creating new songs?
Our songs are made through jam sessions. We usually start with a guitar riff or a melody line and then jam together from there. Jinkyu usually leads the jams and give lots of ideas on how he thinks a new song should progress. We follow his lead.
What are your musical influences?
I like bands like Depeche Mode and Talking Heads. Minkyu and Minwoo enjoy stuff like Red Hot Chili Peppers, D’Sound, and Incognito. Jinkyu is into UK bands like Foals and Franz Ferdinand.
After releasing your first album, you came to the US on tour last year. Now you are preparing for a European tour. What are you expectations?
Our US tours last year were really good. We got lots of compliments and even talked with an agent in North America. We were really surprised by the positive reactions we received. I think our France tour is going to be a lot of fun. I hope we enjoy ourselves and get to meet many beautiful girls!
Was it surprising to get attention for your music internationally?
Over the last few years, a bunch of really cool, unique rock bands from Korea including us have been introduced to international audiences by groups like Seoulsonic and KOCCA. They’ve worked hard to help Korean bands get attention for their music overseas.
And sites like Korean Indie and people like Chris Park have been a big help in introducing Korean bands to listeners around the world. And for that we’re very thankful.
Your music is very groovy and dancey, I imagine it would be very fun live. What can listeners expect from your live show?
Our intention is to make people dance. I think our playing is exciting but sometimes the lyrics in our songs can be sad, but by that point people can’t stop dancing!
Have you been working on new music since Shut Up and Dance?
We’ve been working on some new songs. And while we’re in France, we’re going to record a new EP in Paris with Romain Tranchart from the French band Modjo, Gregory Louis, and Yan Memmi. The EP will be released probably around August or September in Korea and France. We’re excited about this new release. Please watch out for it!
Any last words for our readers?
Reading this interview and listening to our music are great and we thank you for doing these things. But if you really want to experience Rock’N’Roll Radio, come out a show!