▲ From top left, Hukkle, Ping, Booooong, and Bookja. Photo courtesy Juck Juck Grunzie
Seoul all gal underground rockers Juck Juck Grunzie are the exact opposite of the current manufactured Korean girl groups who sing mindless pop songs and dance around.
“I think Korean people don’t like our music,” says vocalist and synthesizer player Ping matter-of-factly (the members of the group have all adopted stage names). “Many people here like pop music and entertainers. They like girl groups, not girl bands.”
It won't take most music fans long to figure out that Juck Juck Grunzie do not make sweet pop melodies or acoustic folk songs. The group’s appearance alone is usually enough. Ping has a tattoo of a marijuana leaf on the back of her right arm. Guitarist Hukkle has a lip ring and always wears black Dr. Martens boots when playing.
When the two team up with bassist Booooong and drummer Bookja, the four-piece turn out a dynamic array of feedback-heavy anthems at often extremely loud volumes. Live sets usually culminate with a rousing take of “Too Drunk to F#ck” by legendary American punks Dead Kennedys.
“When people first see us they think we’re a bit strange and are sometimes a little scared of us,” laughs Ping. “Some people think we’re a bunch of tough ladies and we will beat them up! We’re not tough or scary people. We don’t really care what people think, though.”
Juck Juck Grunzie was formed in early 2007 by Ping and Hukkle. Both had recently broken up with their boyfriends and were feeling angry. They decided to channel that energy into starting a new band with only female members. They found Booooong through the Internet and met Bookja through a mutual friend.
The act made their live debut in April of that year at a Kurt Cobain tribute show. They played only one song, a cover of Nirvana’s "Hairspray Queen." Excited to be a part of the concert, the ladies selected special outfits for the event.
“We only wore lingerie when we played,” shares Ping. “The audience was screaming so loud while we were playing, and a lot of people were talking about our band after that concert. Four females wearing lingerie and playing noisy rock music? People thought we were a bunch of crazy girls.”
Since then, they have gigged all over Seoul and have shared stages with international acts like Australian garage punks Dead Farmers and acclaimed American indie rock group Tera Melos. They’ve ventured outside of their hometown for live dates in Suwon, Daegu, and on Jeju Island. Juck Juck Grunzie first played Jeju Island last year. They returned at the beginning of October to play at a protest of the Gangjeong naval base.
“We believe there’s no reason for a naval base to be built there, so we wanted to perform,” says Ping. “People were there to protest, not for a concert so many people were just sitting down and listening. But some people really liked our band and were standing up and dancing.”
In May, Juck Juck Grunzie self-released their debut EP, “Soundchecking.” Recorded in 2010, all five of the disc’s tracks were captured in only one take.
“The original plan was that the EP was just going to be a demo CD,” explains Ping. “We weren’t going to release it. But when it was finished, we thought ‘Why not release it?’”
Despite the post-punk effort having only been out for a few months, the group already stopped performing its songs live. Wanting their first full-length album (which they plan to issue next year) to have a more experimental sound, they have been incorporating elements of garage rock, shoegaze, and psychedelic music, along with a whole lot of distortion, into their recent offerings. And in all honesty, Juck Juck Grunzie have never sounded better.
“The EP has a lo-fi feel to it and reminds me of our past. I like it, but I want us to be better players for [the] next album. I want our new music to be noisier and harsher. I want it to make audiences go wild.”
For more information on Juck Juck Grunzie, visit tinyurl.com/3vwyy47 or club.cyworld.com/juckjuck
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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