▲ Band members Choi Hyun Seok, Kim Dae Inn, and Lee Sang Yun. Photo courtesy Apollo 18
While 2011 saw K-Pop continuing to gain greater worldwide recognition with homegrown idol groups like 2NE1 being crowned “Best New Band in the World” by MTV Iggy, the last 12 months have also seen the Korean underground scene making more international inroads. Already pegged as one of the country’s top indie acts, this year Seoul’s Apollo 18 stood out as the most ambitious as well.
Crowned “Rookie of the Year” at the 2010 Korean Music Awards, the hard-hitting rock trio of guitarist Choi Hyun Seok, bassist Kim Dae Inn and drummer Lee Sang Yun began 2011 by having their 2009 “The Blue Album” full-length listed on Soribada’s 100 best Korean albums of the 2000s. However while pleased with the domestic praise, Apollo 18 were more concerned with making their mark abroad.
In March, they embarked on their first American tour to perform at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas. The massive event featured 2,000 acts from 60 countries.
“We were actually accepted for SXSW 2010 but couldn’t go because of money issues,” says Choi. “It was disappointing to have to pass up such a good opportunity. This year we knew we needed to work harder so that we could have more chances to play high profile events like SXSW.”
Wanting to take full advantage of their time in the States, Apollo 18 scheduled other shows in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. Playing a total of 16 concerts in 13 days, despite their lack of downtime, they had no shortage of interesting experiences.
“Touring in the US was really fun,” says Choi. “During SXSW we played at a backyard party and the police came because we were too loud. It felt very ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ to us. We also played at a pizza shop during the festival. That was really cool, and is something that would never happen in Korea.”
“After SXSW we performed in other places. We played at a cool festival called The Valley of the Vapors in Arkansas. It’s held during school holidays so there were many teenagers there. They were very energetic. We also played a show in Oklahoma. The bartender was an older woman, and after we finished she said she loved our music and then flashed her breasts to us. We were really surprised!”
▲ Photo courtesy Apollo 18
On the way back to Korea, the band stopped in Tokyo, Japan for a pair of gigs before finally returning home. Away for three weeks in total, was there anything they missed?
“Korean food,” laughs Choi. “We were excited to eat as much Western food as we could. We had some great Texas barbecue in Dallas and loved eating breakfast at places like [family restaurant chain] Denny’s, but most of the food was too salty for us. We stopped to look for kimchi whenever we drove past big supermarkets.”
This past July, Apollo 18 performed at Korea’s Jisan Valley Rock Festival and at Japan’s world-renowned Fuji Rock Festival. In August they turned in a fantastic headlining set at Jeju’s 8th annual Stepping Stone Festival and also appeared at Taiwan’s Beastie Rock Festival.
“Over the course of three weeks, we did four festivals in three countries,” says Choi. “We had an awesome time at all of them. It was a dream come true to be invited to Fuji Rock. Playing beside a beach on Jeju Island was amazing too.”
On Nov. 23, Apollo 18 released their new “Black” EP. Written in April and recorded in Tokyo in May, the four-song offering sees the group building upon their tightly woven blend of post-hardcore and post-rock with more intricate structures and even a brief pop melody on album opener “Sonic Boom.” Apollo 18’s strongest effort to date, the Web site Wakesidevision’s review of the EP proclaims, “‘Black’ is one of the best releases of 2011 and quite possibly the best of the year.”
Apollo 18 will begin work on their next full-length album in January, and hope to issue the disc before summer. Currently considering touring options for 2012, they plan to do everything possible to keep their profile skyrocketing.
“We have so many great memories from this year,” says Choi. “It was our goal to tour other countries and we achieved what we wanted to do. It’s important for us to keep pushing ourselves as a band. This year has been very good for Apollo 18, but we want to make 2012 even better.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published without the prior consent of Jeju Weekly.
Mail to email@example.com | Phone: +82-64-724-7776 Fax: +82-64-724-7796
#505 jeju Venture Maru Bldg,217 Jungangro(Ido-2 dong), Jeju-si, Korea, 690-827
Registration Number: Jeju Da 01093 | Date of Registration: November 20, 2008 | Publisher: Hee Tak Ko | Youth policy: Hee Tak Ko
Copyright ⓒ 2009 All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published
without the prior consent of jeju weekly.com.