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Hello Asia! Interview: Juck Juck Grunzie (South Korea) on playing at Glastonbury and new album this year

Hello Asia writer Erin Smith chats with Korean band Juck Juck Grunzie. Originlly forming as an all-girl post punk outfit in 2007, Juck Juck Grunzie has been a staple in the Korean indie music scene. Erin chats with Juck Juck Grunzie's vocalist Ahreum Lee, guitarist Jeehye Ham, bassist Boong and drummer Kyunghyun Lee about their upcoming appearance at Glastonbury Festival, wearing different costumes onstage and the release of their new album later in the year.

Where do you draw the inspiration for your music?

Jeehye: When the band formed we drew a lot of our inspiration from noise and post-punk bands that we liked. But now I think we’re more influenced by classic rock from the ‘70s and psychedelic music.

If you could describe Juck Juck Grunzie’s music as a flavour (e.g. chocolate, coffee, bulgogi) what would it be?

Ahreum: I think it would be bibimbap – all mixed together and delicious!

You recorded your EP Soundchecking in one take. What was that experience like? Would you do it again in the future?

Ahreum: We had never recorded anything in just one take before, but we wanted to make the EP sound as close to our live sound as possible. So that’s why we decided to use that method. I think the atmosphere of recording everything that way comes out a bit on the EP. For anyone that hasn’t heard it yet, our 2011 Soundchecking EP can be streamed on Soundcloud here: Soundchecking. And our “Psycho” full-length debut can be streamed here: Psycho.

When we play live now, our sound is more lush and layered. So I don’t think we’d record like that again. It was cool to experience once, but we want to try different methods of recording for future albums.

Your last record, Psycho came out in 2013, so it was a while ago now. Can we look forward to new music from you soon?

Boong: Most definitely! We’re hoping to release our sophomore full-length effort next spring. We’ve been working on new songs and we’re going to start recording some of them after we finish our Europe tour.

Has the live indie music scene in Seoul changed since you started Juck Juck Grunzie? How is it different now?

Jeehye: In some ways Seoul’s indie scene has changed a lot in the eight years we’ve been together. One of the big changes is that the scene has been commercialized. Now there are conglomerates that fund “indie” shows in stadiums. But in other ways, the scene hasn’t changed at all. The dynamic of the underground indie scene is still very similar as it was when we first started.

Ahreum: There are a lot more opportunities for indie bands to tour outside of Korea now, which is great to see. Over the past few years, more and more acts have been heading abroad to play shows in other parts of Asia, North America, and Europe.

You’ve caught people’s attention with your stage clothing as well as your music - your famous underwear debut in 2007, soccer uniforms, pajamas - how do you decide “we’re going to play in pajamas tonight”?

Jeehye: A lot of those shows where we wore costumes happened a long time ago. It’s not something we do at every gig. As for wearing our pajamas to play, we wanted to make that show more fun and cozy so that’s the main reason why we wore pajamas! When we’ve worn costumes in the past, I think the costumes were kind of a reaction to bands that care too much about looking fashionable onstage.

You’re playing at Glastonbury this month, and doing shows in London and Germany - what should overseas fans expect from a Juck Juck Grunzie live show?

Ahreum: They should expect to hear some very cool noisy psychedelic rock. As we mentioned earlier, our live sound is very lush and layered. There’s lots going on sound wise for people to enjoy. And we might play one or two of our new songs during the tour as well. So overseas fans may get a sneak preview of what to expect from our second full-length album!

What are you most looking forward to about visiting England and Germany?

Ahreum: We're most looking forward to meeting other good bands and making friends!

If you could play a show anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Boong: We want to play everywhere we can! We’ve only toured outside of Korea once before and that happened when we performed in Taiwan in 2013. We’re looking into setting up tours in China and Canada too. Hopefully everything works out as planned and we can travel and perform in those countries as well.

After your shows in Europe, what’s next for Juck Juck Grunzie in 2015?

Kyunghyun: The plan is to get to work on our next album! That’s going to be one of our main focuses over the coming months.

Juck Juck Grunzie 2015 European Tour

June 25 Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Pussy Parlure)
June 26 Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Gully Outernational)
June 30 London, UK @ Windmill Brixton
July 1 Berlin, Germany @ Kantine am Berghain
July 4 Berlin, Germany @ West Germany

For more information on Juck Juck Grunzie: Facebook