Interview: Galaxy Express

Huge thanks to Galaxy Express for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer a few questions for ATK Magazine. They start their US tour tonight (March 7th) and will be spending the next month touring the American west and mid-west, including performing at SXSW 2013. Keep reading to see what they have to say!

Courtesy of Galaxy Express
Courtesy of Galaxy Express

Hi there, please introduce yourselves to our readers.

Jong-hyun: Hi, everybody! We’re Galaxy Express from Seoul, Korea.  We play loud and wild rock and psychedelic music.  We have released three full-length albums and have been lucky enough to perform throughout Korea and in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Canada, and the United States.  We’re doing another American tour in March and April.  We hope you can come see us play!

Who are your musical influences?

Jong-hyun: We all like a lot of different rock, punk, and psychedelic music.  Growing up, we were into things like Nirvana, Green Day, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, Crying Nut, Sanullim, and Shin Joong-hyun.

What made you start Galaxy Express?

Jong-hyun: Galaxy Express was formed by Ju-hyun and I in 2006.  We had both been playing in different punk bands.  Ju-hyun watched me play a show in Hongdae one night where I performed some old Korean rock songs and Ramones covers and he thought it was cool.  His band was breaking up because some of the members had to go to the military.  So he asked me if I wanted to make a new band together.  We had a different drummer at first, but he injured his hands right before we were going to start recording our first EP.  We asked Hee-kwon to play drums on the EP.  After recording the EP, we asked him to join the band permanently.

You have played gigs in the US and Canada before, how was it different from playing gigs in Korea?

Jong-hyun: The gigs themselves are basically the same.  Korean audiences and North American audiences like to cheer, dance, and have fun at shows. The most noticeable differences to us are the equipment and the drives.  In Korea, clubs have drums and amps for bands to use so you don’t need to bring lots of things to shows with you.  In North America, all bands bring their own amps and drums to each gig.  The US are Canada are both much bigger than Korea so the drives are a lot longer too.  In Korea, if you drive for six hours, you will be on the other side of the country.  But in North America, you can drive for six hours and still be in the same state or province.

If you could play a gig with any North American band, which group would it be?

Jong-hyun: Ju-hyun loves the new ZZ Top album, so it would be fun to open for them!  We’re friends with the Canadian band You Know I Know and the American groups Melvoy and Duke.  We’d love to play more shows with all three of them too.  And actually, we’re going to play with Duke on March 9 in San Angelo, TX at a bar called The Deadhorse, so we’re getting one of our wishes already!

Do you miss Korean food when on tour? Which western food do you like to eat while in North America?

Jong-hyun: Yes, we miss Korean food while we are away.  We like to eat western food like pizza, hamburgers, and tacos while we are on tour.  We’re hoping to have some free time while we’re in Texas to eat some delicious barbecue.

It’s been a while since I lived in Korea but the indie (rock/punk/alternative) music scene was mostly underground and in Hongdae clubs. How has the rock/punk music scene changed in Korea in the past 5 years? Do you think it will ever be mainstream?

Jong-hyun: The indie music scene in Korea keeps getting a bit better with each passing year.  There are lots of really good bands based in Hongdae.  More festivals are starting each year which is giving local indie bands a chance to play on bigger stages and get more exposure outside of Hongdae.  And more bands are trying to tour overseas too.  This is not only giving bands more experience, but also letting more people around the world learn about Korea’s indie scene.  It’s a slow process, but things are improving.

We are seeing more Korean bands coming to North America and you’ve been a few times. Do you think the North American music scene is becoming more receptive to Korean bands?

Jong-hyun: Yes.  I think before a lot of indie music fans in other countries knew about cool bands from Japan, but didn’t really know much about Korean acts.  With more Korean bands touring internationally and also getting more overseas press, people are beginning to learn more about great bands in Korea too.

If you could say anything to your North American fans, what would you like to say?

Jong-hyun: Thank you for listening to our music.  We really appreciate your support!  We’ll be touring in the United States from March 7 – April 6.  On this tour, we’re going to play 28 gigs.  It’s the biggest tour we’ve ever done, and we’re really excited about it.  We hope you can some see us play.  If you come to one of our upcoming concerts, please come say and “hi” after the show too because we love meeting new people. 

And if we’re not playing anywhere near you this time around, we hope you can come watch us the next time we’re in North America!  Thank you so much for taking the time to read this interview.

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Want more info on their American tour? Check out our earlier article on Galaxy Express. Or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. And go see them if you have the chance!

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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