Interview: Crying Nut (at SXSW)

A pioneer in Korean punk rock, Crying Nut is one band you shouldn’t miss when you’re exploring the Korean music scene. They’ve been together for more than 15 years and are back in North America for a short American tour. I had the chance to catch them live in 2012 when they played at Canadian Music Week (CMW) in Toronto and it was a fun, energy-filled show. If you get the chance to see them live, jump on it… great music, great live vibe… what’s not to love. If you can’t catch a show, check out their latest album, Flaming Nuts. I particularly like The Pirate’s Path, Lego and Summer.

Crying Nut took a moment out of their busy schedule and answered a few questions for us. Keep reading for their answers!

Image courtesy of Crying Nut
Image courtesy of Crying Nut

Hi there, please introduce yourselves to our readers.

Yoonsik Park: Hi! We’re the five-piece romantic and handsome punk band Crying Nut from Korea! I play guitar and sing in our band, Sangmyun plays guitar, Kyungrok aka “Captain Rock” plays bass, Sanghyuk plays drums, and Insoo plays accordion and keyboards. We’re touring in the US from March 11 – 18. We hope we can see you at one of our gigs!

What made you start Crying Nut? When did you do it?

Yoonsik Park: We started Crying Nut in 1993 and began performing from 1995. The band originally was a quartet with me, Sangmyun, Sanghyuk, and Kyungrok. Insoo joined us later on. We were the first punk band in Korea. We were really inspired by what the early ‘90s alternative bands were doing in the US and wanted to do something similar.

Image courtesy of Crying Nut
Image courtesy of Crying Nut

You have played gigs in North America before, how was it different from playing gigs in Korea?

Sangmyun: There is a lot more traveling for shows in North America than in Korea. Most Korean indie bands play in Seoul’s Hongdae area so it’s easy to get to gigs. And even if you do play outside of Seoul, it’s only a few hours of driving. In North America, when bands are on tour they often have to travel several hours each day to get to their gig.

Yoonsik Park: Korean clubs have drums and amps that bands can use as well. But in North America, bands have to bring all of their own stuff. The system for sound checking is different in North America too.

Insoo Kim: The actual shows weren’t so different though. We played hard and had a lot of fun during our sets. And the audiences cheered and had fun too – the same as they do in Korea. After a few of our sets in North America, the bartenders at the venues bought me drinks and said they liked our show. That was great. Free drinks are always good!

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

Sangmyun: We met a really cool band called Melvoy two years ago at SXSW and became friends. I’d love to play with them. We all miss them.

Insoo: I want us to open for Motorhead! But they aren’t a North American band. For North American bands, I’d love to do some gigs with Melvoy or Pinata Protest. Our good friends in the Korean band Galaxy Express have done several North American tours. I’d love to play in Canada or the US with them sometime in the future.

Image courtesy of Crying Nut
Image courtesy of Crying Nut

What’s the most bizarre thing to happen while you were onstage?

Yoonsik: We did a show in the past at a small theater. During the last song, we decided to switch spots with the audience. We told them to come up onstage, and we went and played in the middle of the theater. The owner of the theater was not happy about us doing that!

Insoo Kim: At SXSW in 2012, we played in an old, wooden venue. There were lots of people jumping around during our set and the police came and stopped the show. They were worried that the venue would collapse from so many people jumping inside!

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

Sangmyun: I don’t miss Korean food while we’re on tour. I like all kinds of food. For this tour, I’m really excited about eating lots and lots of barbecue while we’re in Austin for SXSW.

Image courtesy of Crying Nut
Image courtesy of Crying Nut

How has the rock/punk music scene changed in Korea since you formed?

Sangmyun: There was a rock scene in Korea before Crying Nut came along, but there wasn’t a punk scene at all. We’re the ones that started the punk scene in Korea. The bands now are better than they were in the past. And more acts are getting opportunities to play at major festivals in Korea and tour overseas as well.

We are seeing more Korean bands coming to North America – including 15 performing at SXSW this year – and you’ve been before. Do you think the North American music scene is becoming more receptive to Korean bands?

Sangmyun: There’s a lot of talented bands in the Korean indie scene. It’s great that more and more are getting the chance to showcase their talents overseas. Most of the Korean indie bands that have toured overseas have gotten great reactions so far. And I think all of the bands going to SXSW are going to get a lot of love as well.

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

Sangmyun: Come hang out with us and see us play. We’re all good guys and love meeting new people. I promise we don’t bite!

Finally, what are your plans for 2014?

Yoonsik Park: We did some shows in Japan in February. And we’ll be playing concerts in Texas and Los Angeles from March 11 – 18. When we get back from the States, we plan to record a new single. And after that, we’ll keep gigging wherever we can.

Don’t miss the chance to catch Crying Nut live! Crying Nut’s March US tour dates:

  • March 11 Austin, TX @ (10:30 pm) Elysium (Official SXSW Showcase)
  • March 13 Austin, TX @ (5:15 pm) Spider House Cafe and Ballroom (The Texas Rock N Roll Massacre 2)
  • March 14 Austin, TX @ (4:30 pm) The Dog & Duck Pub (Exchange Entertainment presents)
  • March 15 Austin, TX @ (6 pm) Antone’s Records (Freddie Steady’s 14th Annual Frontier a Go Go Rock & Roll Hootenanny)
  • March 16 San Antonio, TX @ Limelight
  • March 18 Los Angeles, CA @ Cafe Nela

For more information about them and their social media links, please check out their About Me page.

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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