PATiENTS recently concluded another highly successful UK and Europe tour. The hybrid punk trio from Seoul spread their wings a little further this year, forgoing Liverpool Sound City (a festival they’ve played three times) to play a dozen dates that included the Focus Wales showcase festival and Barcelona’s Primavera Pro festival.
Their tour included shows with fellow Seoulites 57 (Oh-Chill), intergalactic electronica duo Tirikilatops and London punks Damidge.
Despite a gig cancelled due to the fraudulent actions of a member of bar staff, that, of course, left PATiENTS angry and upset, the spirits of the trio weren’t dampened and the tour ended on a high.
PATiENTS aren’t strangers to a BritROK interview, and this year we decided to skip the tour questions and get down to business – which of course means talking vinyl records, David Bowie, and PATiENTS’ not-so-secret weapon.
You premiered both of your new tracks in the UK last May. What process have the songs gone through between then and release?
Sumin Jo: We wanted people to listen to our new songs before, and during, our 2017 UK & Spain tour – so we premiered and released them in the UK just before our tour. We released 2 songs “Space Call Girl” & “Game Boy Game Girl” internationally in May. We have already released “Space Call Girl” in the Korean music market and we will release “Game Boy Game Girl” in Korea this summer. At the same time, we’ll also release a new music video. We hope you enjoy it!
Has anything changed with either of your songs in those 12 months?
Sumin Jo: We wrote the songs more than a year ago, and finished recording a year ago. So we made some new songs in the 12 months [between first playing and releasing the current singles]. We are not sure when it will be released but we will start recording soon.
You have worked with Poclanos and DFSB Kollective to release these singles. What are the benefits of working with other labels and distributors?
Sumin Jo: The reason that we worked with 2 labels (Poclanos & DFSB Kollective) is simple. Poclanos is a professional [distributor] for the indie music market in Korea and DFSB is one of best for the International music market with Korean indie. So I don’t expect many problems with distributing. Poclanos is interested in Live events in Korea too, DFSB concentrate on online distribution. They can help us in both ways. That’s all! I love you guys. Despite that, we are still on DIY promotions by Steel Face Records.
Space Call Girl differs from your previous music. Was it your intention to do something that sounded new for PATiENTS?
Sumin Jo: I love the classic punk rock sound and style – but my members Kwon, Soowon and I always have a natural desire for new songs and new styles. ‘Space Call Girl’ is an output of our desire. We mixed each members’ musical taste and the process was fun and smooth. We could easily mix our taste, but it was difficult to mix in lyrics and text. We wanted to sing about someone’s death, hopeless love and wandering life in one song. So the crazy song title ‘Space Call Girl’ came out.
Particularly during the instrumental section Space Call Girl sounds reminiscent of David Bowie’s experimentation with electronic sounds and frequencies, vocal harmonies and dreamscapes. Did you draw any inspiration from Bowie? Or is this coincidental?
Hyuckjang Kwon: Thank you for your nice question. If you felt David’s sound from ‘Space Call Girl’ it’s my great honour. Because he’s one of my favourite artists. But I’m not sure about the sound of David embedded in my memories. Maybe I have his sound in my unconscious. Because when I was a kid I listened to his songs many times. When we normally make new songs, we don’t refer to any other sound. Anyway, thank you for comparing to David’s sound. It’s a great honour!
Sumin Jo: I think it is coincidental and of course we love David Bowie!
Since PATiENTS first year in the UK, we’ve seen a change in drummers, Sumin’s stage presence develop, and Kwon go from being a good keyboard player to being possibly the strongest weapon in the PATiENTS arsenal. How do you feel PATiENTS have changed and grown over the past few years?
Sumin Jo: Thank you for noticing these points, I am glad to hear that. It was natural to us because we are not lazy guys, we have fought almost every day for better a destination four our band. I want PATiENTS to become the band you can always expect something better from. We will keep our tradition but we will demolish our rules.
Hyukjang Kwon: We always try to make new sounds when we practice or compose songs. Previously, on the album “18” the keyboard sounds mostly used piano or organ sounds. That was not sufficient for our new works. We needed a new sound, like a strong electronic sound, so we found a more PATiENTS styles rock sound! I think our band’s sound is getting good, and improving! It’s a good direction for my band. Check out the new sound!
Your music is often described without any mention of the genre ‘punk’ – except when making reference to the Sid Vicious / Billie Joe Armstrong style hair of Sumin Jo. How important is it to PATiENTS to be considered ‘punk’?
Soowon Choi: Sumin’s hair is definitely punk. As you can see, we are based on punk, but we want to try to become a fresh band with a punk colour, and our punk is a mental psychopath [manic and changing].
Hyukjang Kwon: Genre doesn’t matter for our music. Because recently everything is mixed. Fashion, art, everything… our generations are making changes. When I started PATiENTS I didn’t care about genres, and they still are not important for me. My concern is to make good music.
Sumin Jo: I am Punk, and PATiENTS is PATiENTS. There is no problem if somebody says we are punk or not. But I know PATiENTS is a great punk band.
You’re set to release a vinyl edition of Space Call Girl, and recently released a vinyl edition of Night Flight featuring Hyenam Sin. Has vinyl had the same return to popularity in Korea as it has in the west?
Sumin Jo: Vinyl is not so popular in Korea but I like to release vinyl. CDs have almost died in Korea and these days artists in Korea are trying to make and find ways [for interesting releases]. Someone released an album by book and someone released album on a USB. I like vinyl and digital – old and new.
Fans of vinyl often say music sounds better when played in this format – do you feel there is a noticeable difference in your sound between mp3 and vinyl?
Sumin Jo: The big difference between mp3 listeners and vinyl listeners is vinyl listeners have nice speakers, space, and system for listening, and mp3 listeners don’t. It is the major difference!
It might be a case of differing compression, and method of listening – but it’s hard to deny the satisfactory crackle as the needle hits vinyl. The depth of sound available through a vinyl recording is a little closer to the live sound of a band, but still no true comparison.
Unfortunately, PATiENTS have no plans to ship their vinyl releases overseas as yet – so compressed mp3 remains the most convenient option for international fans.