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'People always get excited when we get wild'Galaxy Express plays a popular mix of garage punk and psychedelic sounds
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승인 2012.02.24  16:42:05
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▲ Photo courtesy Galaxy Express

Seoul’s Galaxy Express is comprised of guitarist Park Jong Hyun, bassist Lee Ju Hyun, and drummer Kim Hee Kwon. Over the last six years the trio’s infectious hybrid of garage punk, psychedelic sounds, and riotous gigs have helped make them one of South Korea’s premier rock ‘n’ roll outfits.

While the country’s mandatory military service often causes the death of many Korean bands, it actually led to the birth of Galaxy Express.

“Ju Hyun called me after watching me play a show in Seoul,” shares Park. “I covered many old Korean and Ramones’ songs at that gig. He was playing in a punk band called Ghetto Bombs at the time, but some of the members had to go to the army. He asked me about starting a new band together. He said he wasn’t so worried about the musical style, he just wanted to make something with lots of energy and passion.”

The pair started writing material together with a different drummer. An emergency caused them to reach out to Kim for assistance on their 2007 debut EP, “To the Galaxy.”

“Our original drummer injured his hands right before we were scheduled to start making our first EP,” explains Park. “I’ve known Hee Kwon since middle school and I asked him to help us for two months while we made the EP. He didn’t know much about rock music when he started playing with us, but he really enjoyed the raw spirit of the genre. When we finished the EP, we invited him to become a full-time member.”

With their lineup solidified, Galaxy Express quickly began climbing the local rock ranks. Fans and critics praised their 2008 “Noise on Fire” full-length, and the disc went on to capture Rock Album of the Year honors at the 2009 Korean Music Awards.

“When we started Galaxy Express many indie bands were making music that was influenced by grunge and shoegaze, or making sweet acoustic pop music,” says Park. “I think people were really hungry for rock music, but there weren’t a lot of rock acts. We tried hard to make our performances really energetic and heavy. We love jumping off amps and doing other crazy things when we play. People always get excited when we get wild.”

After winning Musician of the Year at the 2011 Korean Music Awards, Galaxy Express embarked on their first North American tour. They played shows at Austin, Texas’ renowned South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference and Festival, and at Canadian Music Week in Toronto. They also did gigs in New York, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The latter concert saw the band performing for Korean-American actor C.S. Lee (from the TV series “Dexter”) and Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn.

And while their tour focused on big cities, the Galaxy Express guys unexpectedly got to enjoy a bit of small town American life too.

“The day before SXSW started we were scheduled for an event that we thought was at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel,” laughs Lee. “It turns out we had actually been booked to play at a house party thrown by a man named Rich Carlton. It was in a very rural area 30 minutes outside of Austin. We played in his garage and he had a big barbecue for us. There were around 50 people there and everyone was so kind. It was a lot of fun.”

Galaxy Express will be returning to the United States in March for another string of dates from March 9 to 25. They will appear at SXSW again and will also perform at San Antonio’s The Big Spill Festival and The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

“As soon as we started last year’s tour, we began talking about coming back to the US again,” says Park. “Getting everything organized for an overseas tour is a lot of work, but it’s a great learning experience. We’ve been encouraging other Korean indie bands to try and tour in the US or other countries too. It’s something any band can do if they really want to.”

After their American concerts, Galaxy Express will start crafting their next release. No concrete release date has been set, but they hope to issue the album before year end. The band would love to perform more gigs overseas in the summer or fall as well if possible.

“The only thing we really have to do is keep making music,” offers Lee. “If we can do that, everything else will fall into place.”

For more information on Galaxy Express, visit About.me/GalaxyExpress or Facebook.com/GalaxyExpressKR.
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