The boys are excited. With their basic English and my broken Korean and lots of help from Papago, we talk about their U.S. tour and of course, their music. With a sound reminiscent of British indie rock, SURL is very much a band of our times. With requisite Gen Z angst, rocking instrumentation, and the haunting vocals of Seol Hosung, SURL is definitely a band to watch. Last year they performed at SXSW and currently, they are on a U.S. tour.
The band SURL debuted in 2018 with the song “Stay Here,” and has since made an impression on music fans in Korea and beyond. The four members met in high school, remember their names: Lee Hanbin on bass; Oh Myeongsuk on drums; Kim Doyeon on Guitar, and Seol Hoseung on guitar and vocals.
How do you feel about coming to the US for the tour?
Honestly, I still can’t believe it. It was my first visit to the U.S. last March to participate in SXSW, and that was a lot of fun, but I’m really excited to be performing in 13 places in the U.S. this time. I think it’s going to be hard just looking at the schedule, but aside from all that, I think it’s a rare opportunity in my life, so I want to spend it well.
I’m more nervous than when I went to SWSX last year. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also worried because there are a lot more performances and schedules to go to. So it feels more fun and it’s amazing and I’m thankful that there are people coming to see our concert in America.
It feels new to be back after a year. This time, I came on a tour, so I think I can feel the country of America a little more.
How would you describe SURL’s music to someone who has never heard it before?
If you’re used to it, I think it’s a sound that you’re used to. There are so many bands in the world and we’ve been influenced a lot by them. Even so, it won’t be exactly the same as them, and honestly, it’s not that famous yet, so I think it’ll make you think, “There’s a band that does this in Korea.”
Rather than just British rock or blues, it’s a genre that doesn’t belong anywhere.
Who are your musical influences?
I’ve been influenced by artists like Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, etc., but I can’t say it because each member has a different taste. Thanks to that, I was able to make various music. I think we’re inspired by each other.
Personally, there are world-class drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and the band Nine Inch Nails.
You are such a young band, what is a dream you have for the band SURL? How do you see yourselves in 5 years?
It’s obvious, but I want to be famous first. I haven’t achieved very good results yet, and I don’t have satisfactory work, so I want to achieve it first. After that, I want to achieve good results not only in music but also in fashion, and I want to collaborate with world-famous clothing brands. Of course, in order to do that, you need to know more and study more than now.
I think it would be great to be a band that tours around the world in 5 years.
How do you write your songs – who writes the music and the lyrics? What inspires you?
There are a lot of times when the song comes out while playing together. We often gather in the studio and share ideas. We usually get together and talk about what theme we’re going to choose and write lyrics based on that, or we write lyrics based on our own experiences. And we each write and choose the best one.
What’s something you want to do or see when you get to the US?
I want to go to a museum related to Jimi Hendrix in Seattle. When I first started playing the guitar, I was really shocked when I heard Jimi Hendrix’s music, and I became a fan after that. It would be a great experience for me if I could see and feel things about Jimmy with my own eyes.
I think this tour is an opportunity to feel the land of the United States. I want to feel the American horizon that you can’t see in Korea.
I want to take great pictures while walking on the streets of New York and San Francisco.
As the tour is scheduled to mainly by car, there is a chance to capture the entire U.S. with our own eyes. I want to get some inspiration.