BUSAN, South Korea - About a month ago, I was hand-delivered an autographed CD of
, the Seoul-based rockabilly band that the has garnered enough attention that the
ran a feature on them last week. The article waxed on the standard fare press phenomena and the typical journalist jolt of, "WOW! These guys aren't Americans!"
This is to be expected. Regardless of where you hail from in the world, your music will most often fall under some comparison to the American sound in one way or another. Like it or not, comparisons and stereotyping are here to stay.
According to the L.A. Times article:
"In a conservative culture in which parents dream of their daughters meeting a nice Korean boy, (lead vocalist) Velvet Geena recalls sneaking out of the house in her rocker boots to join the band for gigs.
Her band mates, all slicked-up pompadours, U.S. Navy tattoos and cut-off sleeves, made old-school moves straight out of Memphis, one spinning a big slap bass decorated in flames and leopard print, with the rhythm guitarist named Tiger crouching, gyrating, peeling off exaggerated guitar strokes."
At any rate, when I got home I opened the Rock Tiger CD, read the personal messages from the band and was happy to see that their handwriting is as bad as mine. Then I gave it a spin.
The opening cut Kimchibilly grabbed me immediately as I flashed back to seeing the Stray Cats in Cali years ago (comparison) and wondered if the Tigers had studied music in the States (stereotyping).
By the fourth track, "Cry Baby," I was hooked by Velvet Geena's voice and the whole band's tight arrangements. And then came track five: 봄날 (Spring Days), a driving, chord swiping tune with rapid fire drums and some fantastic harmonies on the chorus. Track eight, 꿈의 구장 (Field of Dreams) is also laced with some pretty sweet harmonies as well. Call me a wuss, but good harmony always gets my inner dormant hippy going.
It was at this point that I knew The Rock Tigers were for real. They've been together since 2001 and with names like Tiger, Eddie Tarantula, Jack "The Knife," and Velvet Geena you gotta figure they are a little out there --a quality required for all true artists.
The CD is filled with 12 solid tracks and one decent one. I will definitely be in attendance this weekend at Vinyl Underground when they play with fellow Seoul act Seoul City Suicide
and for good measure, my favorite local hard core rock band, The Headaches
, will be pumping out their high energy sound.
As for The Headaches, I'll give you a little tip: Keep your eyes and ears on the bassplayer Im Guk --the brother is unreal. Im Guk is a true talent, along with Robbie ripping it up on the lead guitar, Tharp turning turnip red wailing on the mic and the always solid Ryan O'Connell on drums.
Gonna be a good night. See you there.
Tickets for the show are 10,000 won including a free drink. For more info on the show check out the event page here.