[INTERVIEW] …Whatever That Means
This week we caught up with Jeff and Trash, husband and wife duo that form half of Seoul based melodic punk band …Whatever That Means. So, let’s turn on the BritROK Spotlight, and found out more about the band, the punk scene, and their upcoming US tour.
Trash: We’re a melodic punk band from Seoul, Korea named …Whatever That Means. We’ve been together since 2009, have toured all over Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and are about to head out on our second US tour.
Jeff: We’re a pop punk band. We usually say ‘melodic punk’ in interviews because the term pop punk has kind of come to mean something along the lines of ‘not really punk rock.’ We don’t sound like Blink-182 or New Found Glory. Basically, our music has a lot of energy and aggression, but the vocals are always very melodic with a lot of harmonies and guitar solos building on top of that. We’ve been really influenced by bands like Bad Religion, The Descendents, The Bouncing Souls, and Face To Face.
Trash: We want to sell lots of records, get really rich, and be famous! Just kidding. I think we write songs that a lot of people can relate to. Lyrically, we talk about a lot of things that most of us have gone through. Musically, it’s got a lot of energy but has so much melody. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.
…Whatever That means formed in 2009 for a one-off project performance at a punk show to celebrate the wedding of members Jeff and Trash. Though one night quickly turned into seven years of hard work to build a solid reputation, and gain praise such Alternative Press Magazine’s assertion that WTM are ‘the pop-punk face of the Korean music scene’.
Jeff: I think it took us a while to really find our sound. We all came from different musical backgrounds, and I had never been the principle songwriter for a band. Member changes have also had a real impact on how seriously we’re able to take the band and the kind of music we can write. I don’t know if I would’ve believed seven years ago that we would be about to put out our fifth release and head out on our fourth international tour right now.
The group hails from all across the globe. Jeff Moses(Guitar/Vocals) is originally from Pennsylvania, America; Trash Yang Moses (Bass/Vocals) and Daewon Kim (Drums) are both Korean natives, and Bialy Mlody (Guitar/Vocals) hails from Poland. The group have for the most part never struggled with their interesting mix of cultures.
Jeff: Everyone asks that, and honestly … no. I mean there are times that I guess I could point at some minor cultural differences to blame problems on, but really, it has a lot more to do with personality differences than anything else. I get along with these guys better than any band I ever played with in the US, and I think we all communicate pretty well with each other when there are issues that need to be dealt with.
Many are often surprised that there is a punk scene in Korea, but even just a glimpse at some of the personalities within the community will prove it is a scene to keep an eye on.
Jeff: Yeah, a lot of people are definitely surprised. I was too when I found it. The scene here just isn’t as big as you’d expect in a country with such huge urban areas like Seoul, and so people don’t find out about the bands here. When it comes to Korean music, unfortunately, people automatically think K-pop. But I can say with full confidence that the underground musicians I’ve met here are some of the most talented there are. They’re also very passionate. You have to be when there is close to zero chance of commercial success. It really has to be about your love for the music and performing.
The scene boasts plenty of acts, all with their own unique draw, and …Whatever That Means have plenty of suggestions regarding who you should be listening to.
Jeff: Definitely. Just to list a few, SkaSucks, Burning Hepburn, Animal Anthem, Chain Reaction, and our label mates Full Garage, who are actually also touring the US West Coast this summer from July 6th through the 22nd. Info on their tour is available at our record label site.
Following the release of their first full-length album Sounds From The Explosion in 2011, the group ended their year with a tour of the US. July 23rd marks the start of their second US tour, beginning in Las Vegas.
Trash: We just want to build on the success of that tour. We booked the whole thing kind of blindly and were lucky to play some really great shows along the way. We’re heading back to a lot of the same cities and several of the same venues. We’re really excited to see the friends we made last time around and show them how far we’ve come since then.
…Whatever That Means will be returning to the stage at 924 Gilman Street (affectionately known as Gilman to fans) in California. It is a venue with a lot of history as it was pivotal in the 90s revival of pop-punk.
Jeff: Oh, man. It’s huge. That was the only show on the last tour where we were all really nervous. Gilman is such an important place in the history of American punk, and to be able to step onto the same stage where Operation Ivy, Green Day, and Rancid all got their starts is pretty incredible. In fact, when I booked this tour and the last one, the first thing I did was find out when Gilman could fit us into their schedule. Then I just built the whole tour around that date.
The same day sees the group release their latest album also. This release has a little bit of a twist however. Blowing Minds & Melting Faces is a split 7″ ep with Seattle punk rock band Burn Burn Burn.
Jeff: In 2011, we played at Nemesis House in Tacoma, Washington. It was one of the coolest shows we’ve ever played. Burn Burn Burn’s singer and I struck up a bit of friendship that night and have stayed in touch ever since. We’d talked a few times about releasing a split album, but when …Whatever That Means decided we were definitely coming back to the US, we agreed the time was finally right.
Stay tuned to BritROK for a review of Blowing Minds & Melting Faces. In the meantime you can stream …Whatever That Means’ music via Bandcamp.
You can also pre-order digital and/or vinyl versions of the split 7-inch record via Burn Burn Burn.