Interview: Gate Flowers

Courtesy of the Gate Flowers
Courtesy of the Gate Flowers

One of my favourite things to read has always been interviews, and as a music fan, music interviews have a special place in my heart. A good interview feels like you’re having a conversation with the band. You get the chance to step, however briefly, into their lives and get to know them just a little better. And we’re happy to allow you to meet Gate Flowers.

Gate Flowers are a Korean rock band – who along with Apollo 18, Galaxy Express and Goonam – are touring the UK from April 24th to May 4th as a part of Korea Rocks (click the link for more info). While I’ve never seen them live (I have been lucky enough to have seen Apollo 18 and Goonam in Toronto), I did get a chance to send them some questions and their guitarist, Seungshik Yeom was gracious enough to answer them.

But before I get to the interview, let’s give you some more background on them. They are a four member hard rock band whom I’ve heard other writers compare to Nirvana. I do hear shades of grunge rock (I have their album, Times, on repeat as I write this) in their music but also elements of Red Hot Chili Peppers (alternative) and perhaps even some Soundgarden (hard rock), with most of their songs being driven by the strong, soulful vocals of Keunhong Park. If I had to describe this award-winning (the Hello Rookie prize for being the most promising new band in 2010 and both the Rookie of the Year and Best Rock Song at the 2011 Korean Music Awards) band in one sentence it would be “a Korean alt-rock band with shades of 90’s grunge, Gate Flowers have an addictive sound that I think Western audiences will dig.” I know I like it!

But without further ado, here is the interview with Gate Flowers. All the answers are by Seungshik Yeom (guitar). The other members of the band are Keunhong Park (vocals), Jaein Ryu (bass) and Chongeun Yang (drums).

Gate Flowers Interview

Hello, please introduce Gate Flowers to our readers. Tell us a little about your band.

We’re a rock band from Korea. We first formed in 2005, but then took a break from 2006 to 2008.  We’ve been playing ever since then. In 2011, we won Rookie of the Year and Best Rock Song at the Korean Music Awards for our track “Army Reserve.” Next week we’ll be doing our first international tour as part of Korea Rocks!

You will be touring the UK, along with Galaxy Express, Apollo 18, and Goonam, sponsored by Hyundai Card Music. Tell us about your gigs and why our readers should go.

We’ll be playing at the Focus Wales and Liverpool Sound City music festivals and doing club shows in Tunbridge Wells, London, and Manchester too. Our show in Tunbridge Wells is at a venue called Tunbridge Wells Forum. It was voted as the best small venue in the UK last year. It should be a lot of fun to play there!

People should come to the shows because the tour will feature some of the hottest bands in Korea right now. We’ll show you something that’s new, powerful, and deep, and we’re certain you’ll have a great time at the gigs!

This is your first international tour, what are you looking forward to most and why?

We’re just looking forward to having fun with all the different audiences we meet.

What’s the best and worst thing about playing clubs?

The best thing is the intimacy. The worst thing is the heat! It gets really hot onstage when you play in a small club.

Who writes the songs? What are your main influences for them?

We all write the songs together. We are influenced by good arrangements in all styles of music. Songs that have great energy, that gradually add intensity, that have unusual patterns, and that have sudden surprises all influence and inspire us when crafting our own music.

Tell us a story about a day in your life as a band.

I usually get up before noon, and go to the studio around 1 pm. We use to charge any member that was more than 30 minutes late getting to the studio $10. But we stopped doing that. Now if one member is more than 30 minutes late, everyone else leaves. Because of this rule change, no one is ever late anymore. When everyone gets to the studio we work on new music and rehearse for shows for a few hours. Then in the evening we all head home. 

At home, our vocalist tends to read a lot of books and play computers games. Our bassist majored in engineering and makes his own effect pedals. Our drummer is a professional illustrator and recently got married so he’s busy with both of those things. As for me, I used to be a heavy smoker and drinker but I recently quit both and have started working out every day. I don’t know how long that will last, though.

What’s the most unusual thing to happen while you were playing a gig or touring?

After our first TV appearance on Top Band, we were scheduled to perform at a club in Seoul called Bbang.  We used to draw just a few people when we played there. But when we arrived after being on the TV show, there was a huge line of people waiting to get in to see us play. We hadn’t promoted the gig at all. People just searched for themselves to find out when and where we’d be playing. We were so surprised.

What are your dreams and goals for Gate Flowers?

We want to keep growing as a band and musicians, and we hope to be able to play our music for more and more people in more and more places. 

Other than your UK tour, what else do you have planned for 2013?

We plan to release a new EP in the coming months. We will be playing at a bunch of some festivals in Korea too.

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

This UK tour is our first time to share our music with people outside of Korea, but we hope to tour in lots of other places in the future too. We definitely want to come to North America sometime and play concerts there as well. We hope to see you all soon! 

Gate Flowers on Social Media

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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