Interview: …Whatever That Means

Image courtesy of ...Whatever That Means
Image courtesy of …Whatever That Means

It’s always fun to connect with bands and this spring, I was lucky to virtually meet Jeff and Trash from …Whatever That Means as we prepared for ATK Magazine’s second “Korean Indie Music” panel at Toronto Kpop Con. They were gracious enough to be the musicians on the panel via Skype (thanks again!) and share their opinions and thoughts. So when I heard they were doing another US tour, we took the opportunity to interview them. Keep reading to hear more about the band, their music and more. And of course, check our their shows if you’re in one of the cities they are visiting.

All the questions were answered by vocalist/guitarist Jeff Moses.

Poster courtesy of ...Whatever That Means
Poster courtesy of …Whatever That Means

The Interview

Hi there, can you please introduce yourselves and your band, …Whatever That Means, to our readers.

Sure! We’re a melodic punk rock band from Seoul, Korea. We’ve been playing for over seven years, have two full-length albums, several EPs, and are about to release a split 7″ record with a great punk band from Seattle named Burn Burn Burn. We’ve played all over Korea, have toured in Malaysia and Singapore, and will be doing our second US tour in July and August of this year.

I know you’ve probably been asked this before but is there a story behind your band name, …Whatever That Means? Can you tell us about it?

Trash and I are married and we had a punk rock show as our wedding reception after party. I didn’t have a band at the time and was planning to throw something together as a one-off project for the show so when the poster was made, it listed all the real bands and then said, “and Jeff….whatever that means.” When I finally had a band lineup set for the show, we decided to call ourselves …Whatever That Means because we wanted to be able to say our name of was on the poster. Since it was supposed to be a single-show project, it didn’t really matter that it wasn’t a great band name, but then we kept playing and the name stuck.

You are releasing a new split 7″, Blowing Minds and Melting Faces, with Seattle band Burn Burn Burn on July 23rd. Can you tell us a little about it and how it came about?

We met Drew from Burn Burn Burn on our American last tour. He and I talked for years about doing a release together, and when …Whatever That Means decided to come back to the US this year, it just seemed like the right time to make that finally happen. Burn decided to officially release two b-sides from their last album, and we had some new songs we were really excited to record, so it all worked out just right.

...Whatever That Means live by Ken Robinson
…Whatever That Means live by Ken Robinson

As a writer, I’m always curious about album titles. What’s the meaning/inspiration behind the title of your new split 7″, Blowing Minds and Melting Faces?

Basically, we were drinking one night and trying to think of the most ridiculous names possible for a pop punk album. The terms “blowing minds” and especially “melting faces” aren’t usually used when defining pop punk, so we thought it’d be funny. That’s really it. Why be serious when you can make a joke to oversell how great the album is? And we thought the album art would be pretty cool.

I’ve been lucky enough to listen to your new split 7″ (I especially like “This Betrayal”); what’s your songwriting process? Who or what influences your music and songwriting?

I’m the primary songwriter for …Whatever That Means. I don’t have an actual process. Usually I’ll get a single melody line in my head or someone will say something that could be a good lyric, and it all just kind of naturally builds from there. I do a lot of initial writing in my head when I’m driving around the city on my scooter. Then I record a really simple demo and send it out to everyone, so they all have a good handle on the basics of the song by the time we get to practice. Then we just start playing through it over and over and everyone gets to put their own little touches on the whole thing. That’s the fun part of it all. Seeing how it changes and improves from the original demo to the final song.

You’re about to embark on a west coast US tour staring July 23rd, which coincides with your new release. This is your second time touring in the US, is there anything you’re looking forward to?

A lot of Korean bands like to tour in as many different places as possible, but I’m a big fan of touring somewhere for a second time. The first time is always so hit or miss. It’s great to go back again and fill the schedule with the better venues you learned about along the way and play with bands that fit on the bill with you a little better. Burn Burn Burn helped out a lot this time around, so we’re really excited about checking out the new places they suggested.

...Whatever That Means live by Ken Robinson
…Whatever That Means live by Ken Robinson

If someone wasn’t familiar with …Whatever That Means, what song would you recommend they listen to first?

It’s hard to pick a single song. We move around a lot within the melodic/pop punk genre. We have some more aggressive stuff and some really poppy stuff. I think that’s why I’m so proud of the new record. The three songs on there – “I Can’t Take It,” This Betrayal,” and “Just Another Day” – show a lot of the different things we try to do so I think that’d be a great place for anyone to start.

Speaking of your songs, what’s your favourite song to play live (and why)?

“Sixty-Eight, Twenty, Two” and “Phase” have been favorites for a long time. People usually get pretty excited during those two, and they’re good sing-a-long songs.

Has anything unusual or funny happened during one of your shows?

There are always unexpected things. I remember one night a while ago, there was a guy in the crowd who was out of control and kept messing with a lot people, especially some of the women, in the crowd during one of our sets. Halfway through one of our songs, Trash decided she’d had enough and stepped up to the front of the stage and kicked him square in the chest. That put an end to that. Fortunately, someone was snapping a picture right at that moment so we got it on film! Just last weekend, we were playing a song from the new album for the first time, and when it was time for the lead guitar, I didn’t hear anything coming from Bialy. I looked over and he was dancing around in the crowd and his guitar was leaned up against the amp. Turns out he’d broken a string, and since it was the end of the set, he decided to just go out in the crowd and sing along with everyone else. Good times.

...Whatever That Means live by Jon Dunbar
…Whatever That Means live by Jon Dunbar

Finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

Between recording the new record, planning our tour, planning a US tour for our label mates Full Garage, releasing a new compilation album on our World Domination, Inc. record label, and just life in general, we have been insanely busy. We don’t have any solid plans for after tour except for our yearly Halloween show in Seoul in October. Beyond that, we’ve got some new song ideas that I’m hoping to work on during down time on tour, and then hopefully we can get back into the recording studio before the end of the year.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Thanks for reading about us, and hopefully we can meet up on the road sometime. But if you can’t make it out to a show and want a physical copy of our new 7”, hit up the presale on Burn Burn Burn’s Bandcamp page or just shoot us an email at wdibooking@gmail.com.

Here are the band’s US tour dates:

If you missed the poster at the beginning, here are the dates and locations of their west coast US tour.

  • July 23 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Double Down Saloon
  • July 24 – Fresno, CA @ TBA
  • July 26 – Corvallis, OR @ The Interzone Café
  • July 27 – Seattle, WA @ The Kraken
  • July 28 – Tacoma, WA @ Real Art
  • July 29 – Portland, OR @ Foggy Notion
  • July 30 – Reno, NV @ PB&J’s
  • July 31 – Berkeley, CA @ 924 Gilman Street
  • August 1 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Redwood Bar

Just the facts: Social media edition

And of course, you can stay up-to-date with …Whatever That Means via their social media site. So check them out!

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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